Were You Involved In A Truck Accident in San Diego?
Every day, thousands of commercial trucks deliver goods to communities in the San Diego, CA, area and throughout the state. These large vehicles are crucial to the economy, and truck drivers have one of the most demanding jobs in America. While most truck drivers operate their vehicles safely, follow all applicable trucking industry regulations, and do their best to complete their routes attentively, some truck drivers make negligent errors that result in devastating truck accidents. Other drivers are also capable of causing truck accidents when they fail to drive responsibly near commercial truck drivers.
San Diego truck accidents are more damaging than motor vehicle accidents involving smaller passenger cars and more challenging to manage from a legal perspective due to the devastating injuries and substantial economic losses they usually cause. It’s common for truck accident victims to face very difficult legal battles when they must fight to recover their losses from truck accidents caused by others.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in San Diego and you are unsure of what to do next, look no further. Speaking with our San Diego truck accident lawyer can help guide you in the right direction and inform you of your legal rights and possibilities for compensation.
Our award-winning injury attorneys and professional staff are available to help you in your time of need and are here to discuss your case at your convenience. We are available to help you 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Why Should You Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Any motor vehicle accident has the potential to change your life forever. However, due to the severe nature of most truck accidents, these incidents are much more likely to be highly damaging to those involved. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh roughly 40 tons and stands 13 feet off the ground. When this type of large vehicle has an accident with other nearby vehicles, the occupants of those other vehicles are likely to sustain catastrophic and often life-changing injuries.
Attempting to manage your legal affairs on your own after a truck accident is difficult, especially when you must deal with your accident’s medical and financial aftermath. You would need to manage all your court filings on your own while managing painful injuries and strained household finances due to your inability to work. Additionally, even if you manage to complete the preliminary stages of your claim on your own, you could mistakenly settle for much less compensation than you legally deserve. When you have suffered extreme injuries that interfere with your ability to work and provide for yourself and your family, this could mean years of incredible financial strain.
Hiring an experienced San Diego truck accident attorney means you can rest and recover knowing your case is in trustworthy hands. Legal representation you can trust eliminates many risks you would certainly face if you attempted to handle your case alone. Your legal team will handle all of your case’s procedural requirements, such as ensuring you meet the deadlines for all necessary court filings. When you choose Chris and Frank to represent you in a San Diego truck accident claim, we’ll work closely with you to determine your best available legal options and the best approach to your current case. We’ll carefully guide you through each phase of your case until you reach the best possible outcome, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for your losses.
What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?
A San Diego truck accident lawyer can perform several valuable functions to assist in your recovery after any commercial truck accident. First, they will assist you in determining the fault for your damages. Truck accidents are often more complex than standard passenger vehicle accidents when it comes to determining liability, and it’s likely for more than one party to bear fault for your truck accident damages. You can rely on your attorney to help you gather physical evidence, witness testimony, and other vital materials you may need for proving liability for the truck accident.
Once you and your legal team have established liability for your damages, you must calculate the exact scope of those damages. It’s common for truck accident victims to initially undervalue their claims because they are simply unaware of their recovery options afforded under California’s personal injury statutes. Hiring the right San Diego truck accident lawyer not only increases the chances of succeeding with your claim but will also likely lead to much more compensation than you could have expected to secure on your own.
Navigating a truck accident case typically means dealing with complex insurance matters before proceeding with a civil claim. Truck drivers and their employers must carry liability insurance that applies to the auto insurance every California driver must have, but dealing with these insurance carriers is very difficult. Once a trucking company notifies their insurer an accident involving one of their drivers has occurred, the insurance company will immediately get to work doing everything it can to minimize its policyholder’s liability and encourage the claimant to accept the lowest possible settlement. Your San Diego truck accident attorney will lend authority to your insurance claim and reduce the chance of you experiencing any unjustifiable pushback from the insurer against your legitimate claim.
Insurance may cover your losses, or it may only cover a portion of them. Depending on the scope of your damages, you may need to take further legal action following your insurance claim payout to secure full compensation for your losses. You can rely on your San Diego truck accident attorney to not only guide you through the insurance claim process but also provide valuable legal guidance as you navigate your related legal matters.
Determining Liability for a San Diego Truck Accident
Perhaps the most challenging part of securing compensation for a truck accident in San Diego is establishing liability for your damages. Truck accident claims often raise tough questions concerning liability due to the legal concept of “vicarious liability.” This term applies to any situation in which one party, usually an employer, bears legal responsibility for the actions of another party, typically an employee. In a truck accident claim, the truck driver may have caused your accident, but the details of the case may indicate that their employer shares fault for the incident.
Every company operating within the trucking industry must uphold various strict regulations from agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Department of Transportation, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failure to abide by or enforce these regulations can easily lead to catastrophic accidents. Trucking companies must also follow strict rules when it comes to their hiring and employee vetting practices. For example, a trucking company must verify a driver applicant’s credentials and commercial driver’s license certification before hiring them and assigning them work. They must also ensure their drivers do not pose any extraordinary risks, such as having a history of drunk driving.
When a trucking company fails to uphold applicable regulations or actively engages in negligent practices, it is likely to absorb liability for accidents its drivers cause. A truck accident claim falls within the purview of personal injury law, and every personal injury claim filed in the US revolves around the legal concept of negligence. This term describes a failure to act with reasonable care in a given situation. Therefore, while vicarious liability is likely to come into play for your truck accident claim, it will still be necessary to identify the defendant and establish their negligence to secure compensation for your losses. There are four elements of negligence in a civil claim:
- Duty. The plaintiff needs to prove the defendant owed them a duty of care in the situation in question. For example, every driver has a duty of care to avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Breach. The plaintiff then needs to prove how the defendant breached this duty of care, either by direct action or inaction, when a reasonable person would have taken appropriate action. Following the previous example, a clear breach of duty of care would be a driver operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
- Damage. The plaintiff only has grounds for a civil claim if the defendant’s negligence caused actual harm. A San Diego truck accident lawyer will help their client calculate the full range of the damages they can include with their lawsuit.
- Causation. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that their claimed damages result from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause. The plaintiff’s attorney must leverage the evidence in the case to prove their client’s damages would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence.
Successfully establishing these four elements of negligence will be crucial for winning your truck accident claim in San Diego. Your legal team may need to leverage physical evidence from the crash scene, records from the vehicles’ computers, cell phone data, and traffic camera footage if it is available. They may also need to secure eyewitness testimony from other drivers and bystanders who witnessed the truck accident as it occurred. Chris and Frank can help you determine what you will need to establish the defendant’s liability for your damages and then assist you in gathering the records you will need to prove the full scope of your claimable damages.
Some truck accidents involve complex technical questions, and you may need the assistance of various expert witnesses to prove liability for your damages. For example, suppose the defendant contests your description of how the accident occurred. In that case, an accident reconstruction expert can examine all the physical evidence and records to determine exactly how the incident transpired. This can help you prove responsibility for the accident, and other expert witnesses can potentially help you prove the full scope of your damages. For example, suppose you intend to claim pain and suffering as damages in your claim. In that case, a medical expert can testify to the full extent of the medical complications your accident caused and the future issues you are likely to experience because of the defendant’s actions.
Potential Damages From a Truck Accident
California personal injury law allows a plaintiff to recover all losses inflicted by a defendant’s negligence with minimal restrictions. Essentially, California’s personal injury statutes aim to allow a plaintiff to become “whole” again following a personal injury. Unfortunately, truck accidents can easily cause catastrophic and life-changing injuries, creating tremendous economic problems for victims and families. Therefore, securing legal counsel you can trust is essential if you intend to maximize your recovery to the fullest extent possible under California law.
Many plaintiffs are unaware of some types of compensation they can include with a personal injury claim until they secure legal representation. An experienced San Diego truck accident attorney will guide their client through calculating their damages, often uncovering channels of recovery the client would have likely overlooked on their own. For example, your damages in a San Diego truck accident claim might include:
- Compensation for your immediate and future medical expenses. When a defendant’s negligence causes physical injuries to a plaintiff, the plaintiff has the right to seek compensation for all of the medical expenses resulting from the incident. This includes immediate medical expenses like hospital bills and the anticipated future costs of medical treatment the plaintiff requires, such as physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- Repayment of lost wages. Your truck accident injuries may leave you completely unable to work for an extended time, during which your family will not have your income to manage household expenses. You have the right to recover lost wages caused by the defendant’s negligence. Additionally, suppose your truck accident resulted in a permanent disability that will prevent you from working for the rest of your life. In that case, you have the right to claim compensation for your lost earning capacity. Your San Diego truck accident attorney can help you calculate the income you could have reasonably expected to earn in the future had the accident not occurred.
- Property damage. Your vehicle likely sustained severe damage in your truck accident. The plaintiff in a truck accident claim can include vehicle repair or replacement costs as economic damages. They can also claim compensation for any other personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
- Pain and suffering. California law allows a personal injury plaintiff to recover financial compensation for non-economic damages like physical pain and emotional trauma caused by a defendant’s negligence. The amount they receive hinges on the severity of their injuries, the difficulty of their recovery, and the likelihood that they will experience long-term or permanent complications from their injuries. A plaintiff who develops a permanent disability that interferes with their ability to live independently and earn a living will likely secure a substantial amount of pain and suffering compensation from a successful truck accident claim.
Once you secure legal representation from an experienced San Diego truck accident lawyer, you might discover that your claim is worth much more than you originally anticipated. Additionally, it’s possible to receive punitive damages depending on how your accident happened. A plaintiff cannot directly demand punitive damages in a civil claim, but a judge may award them at their discretion when a defendant’s actions exceeded the scope of typical negligence or involved any illegal activity. The amount of punitive damages hinges on the severity of the defendant’s behavior and overall financial status.
How Do Truck Accidents Happen in San Diego, CA?
Truck accidents happen for many reasons that standard passenger vehicle accidents happen, but tractor-trailers are vulnerable to a few additional risk factors that do not apply to typical passenger vehicles. For example, some of the most commonly reported causes of truck accidents in California include:
- Distracted driving. The leading cause of all traffic accidents in the United States is distracted driving. Every driver has a responsibility to pay attention to the road and maintain control of their vehicle at all times. Unfortunately, even a few seconds of distracted driving can be enough to cause a deadly truck accident.
- Driving under the influence (DUI). It is illegal for any driver to operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. For commercial truck drivers, the legal limit is .04%. Even slight intoxication can be enough to diminish a driver’s reaction time and spatial awareness. Therefore, whenever a driver causes a truck accident because of DUI, they are sure to face criminal prosecution and civil liability for the resulting damages.
- Truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers have demanding job responsibilities and spend more time driving than most other drivers. When they are too tired to drive safely, they can easily cause accidents. Therefore, the FMCSA upholds strict hours of service and required rest standards that all truck drivers must follow and all trucking companies must enforce.
- Truck driver negligence. Truck drivers are expected to control their vehicles and operate them responsibly. If a truck driver makes a negligent error that results in an accident, both the driver and their employer could absorb liability for the resulting damages.
- Poor truck maintenance. Large commercial trucks have more demanding maintenance needs than most other vehicles. Therefore, the parties responsible for performing truck maintenance must ensure all truck maintenance is completed safely and on time. Failure to perform required maintenance or failure to do so correctly can easily lead to a serious truck accident. In addition, the party responsible for faulty truck maintenance will absorb liability for the resulting damages.
- Improperly loaded or overloaded cargo. Commercial trucks have higher centers of gravity than smaller vehicles that sit lower to the ground. This makes them more vulnerable to tip-overs and rollovers when their cargo isn’t properly balanced and secured. When a truck’s cargo load isn’t balanced correctly, a sharp turn can be enough to flip it on its side and cause a devastating accident.
- Speeding and moving violations. Truck drivers have a duty of care to abide by posted speed limits and traffic signals. Speeding is especially dangerous for large trucks that require much more time and distance to slow down and stop compared to smaller vehicles.
- Third-party liability. Some truck accidents occur due to the actions of third parties. For example, if a negligent driver somehow caused an accident with a truck that affected you and your vehicle, that third party would bear responsibility for your damages.
Ultimately there are many different ways that truck accidents can occur in San Diego, CA. Your legal team will help you review the details of your recent truck accident and determine which party or parties bear liability for the resulting damages.
You should remember that California upholds a pure comparative negligence law, which means a plaintiff could lose a percentage of their case award if an investigation reveals they are partially responsible for causing their claimed damages. If you suspect you are partially at fault for your recent truck accident, consult your attorney about your concerns. They can help you effectively leverage available evidence to minimize any comparative negligence you might absorb. If a judge assigns a plaintiff any percentage of fault for their claimed damages, the plaintiff loses the same percentage of their case award.
Settlement Negotiation for a Truck Accident Claim
A truck accident claim is a civil claim, and most civil claims filed in San Diego are settled outside the courtroom. Private settlement offers advantages to both the defendant and the plaintiff. The defendant can move past the situation more quickly and avoid the expense of protracted litigation, while the plaintiff can secure compensation for their losses more quickly than they would through a trial. When you have suffered losses in a truck accident and another party is responsible for the incident, your San Diego truck accident attorney can help you prepare for the settlement negotiation process.
The first step toward recovery will likely entail an insurance claim and negotiations with the defendant’s insurance carrier. Insurance companies have the right and the legal responsibility to investigate every claim received. Having an attorney assist you with your negotiations with the insurance company will increase the chances of securing maximum compensation through the defendant’s insurance coverage. If the defendant is a large trucking company, their liability coverage could potentially cover the full scope of your damages. However, if they do not have sufficient coverage, you will need to take further legal action. Finally, you and the defendant will need to settle the remainder of your damages that insurance can’t cover.
Private settlement typically requires compromise from both sides. For example, the defendant must accept liability and agree to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. In exchange, they may be able to settle for less than a judge might award the plaintiff. On the other side of the case, the plaintiff may not receive as much compensation through settlement as they might win at trial. Still, they save money on legal fees and obtain compensation much more quickly when they agree to a settlement.
Your San Diego truck accident lawyer will guide you through the settlement process. If for any reason, the settlement does not generate reasonable results for you, your attorney can help you proceed with further legal action against the defendant.
What to Expect From Your San Diego Truck Accident Lawyer
Hiring the right San Diego truck accident attorney to represent your claim will make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. While it may be possible to navigate a minor car accident claim on your own with little more than an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy, truck accidents are very different from most other vehicle accidents. They tend to cause much more substantial damages. Your truck accident may have left you severely injured, unable to work, and permanently impaired, and unable to support yourself and your family. You need legal representation you can trust in this demanding situation.
When you choose Chris and Frank to represent you in a San Diego truck accident claim, we will help you approach this demanding situation with confidence and peace of mind. First, we will assist you in determining which party or parties bear responsibility for your damages. Then, if your claim involves multiple defendants, we will help you gather the evidence you will require to establish their degrees of liability for your damages. Next, we’ll help you explore every available channel of compensation, potentially helping you recover much more compensation than you expected at first.
We can help you navigate an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy and then take further legal action if their coverage is not enough to compensate the full scope of your damages. In addition, we’ll help you through settlement negotiations with the defendant. If, for any reason, the settlement does not generate the results you deserve, we are not afraid to take your case to court to ensure your recovery.
A truck accident can be a life-changing experience. If you suffered physical injuries, developed long-term medical complications, and sustained substantial economic losses due to another party’s actions, you have the right to hold them accountable for these losses through a personal injury claim. Chris and Frank believe in providing client-focused and compassionate legal representation to every client we serve in the San Diego, CA, area. If you are unsure of the best way to approach your truck accident claim, we can help. Contact us today and schedule a case review with an experienced San Diego truck accident lawyer.
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“They take a very sincere and purposeful interest in their clients. I am glad I hired them. Having an accident shakes up your whole world. You may think you can handle it by yourself. You could be making a big mistake. Don’t make that mistake. These folks have high standards in professionalism and their ethics are exceptional. You can’t bs them so be straight up. These are very competent attorneys. They don’t blue sky you and they will work hard to make you whole again.” Shawn S.
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