Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Truck accident litigation can be far more complicated than car accident cases because of the nature of these accidents. Even though truck accident frequency is low, the consequences from these crashes are often far more devastating because cargo-load can cause fatalities, disabilities, and severe injuries. After an accident with a big truck or 18-wheeler, you, as the victim, need an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve. This type of accident can be a traumatic experience and only a licensed, experienced attorney can ensure you are correctly compensated by all responsible parties.
Types of Truck Accident Lawsuits We Handle
There are various types of trucks on the road. Semi-trucks are approximately 20 times heavier than most cars on the highway. This means the occupants of other vehicles involved are far more likely to be injured or killed during accidents. If you’re involved in a collision with a semi-truck, you must identify the type of truck that was involved in the crash so that your lawyer can explain your associated rights. Often, insurers try settling for as low an amount as possible and will inevitably try to shift the blame from their client to you. Keep in mind, any vehicle with a gross weight of greater than 10,000 pounds is considered a big truck, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).
Moet Law is the experienced truck accident attorney firm serving Irvine, Orange County as well as Ontario, California in the Inland Empire. Part of our experience includes identifying the type of truck involved in the accident. That is important because we are aware of all the legal and additional requirements each type of truck and its driver must meet before it is even driven on public U.S. roads.
Types of Trucks:
- Big Rigs
- Cargo Trucks
- Coal and fuel trucks
- Commercial buses
- Concrete, construction, steel, and logging trucks
- Delivery and moving vans
- Emergency vehicles like fire, emergency, and EMS trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Tanker trucks
- Tow trucks
Our job at Moet Law, is to represent you and all of your interests resulting from the accident. We pursue compensation in an effort to reimburse you for all of the expenses you have incurred as a result of a truck accident. This includes damage to your property, medical costs, wage loss, emotional trauma, and other expenses incurred.
What Should I Do at The Scene of a Truck Accident?
Often, the moments after the initial impact are the most dangerous – especially if heavy vehicles like trucks are involved in a vehicle accident. The hazards that you will need to look out for are many. But keep in mind that the size of the truck obstructing the roadway can make it difficult for passing vehicles to observe bystanders and survivors.
Depending on the cargo the truck is carrying, and f there has been an associated spill, the conditions on the road can also make roads dangerous for other vehicles on the highway. Add to this any blind spots and potentially harsh weather conditions, and you should exercise extreme caution, because survivors of the initial crash can be struck by passing vehicles.
The first step following an accident with a truck is to remain calm while you determine whether you and the others involved in the crash are okay. If it is safe to do so, remain in your car and turn your hazard lights on. Injured people should not be moved because their injuries can be exacerbated by movement.
Call 911 for help and wait at a safe distance from the wreck. First Responders should block oncoming traffic and provide medical assistance to anyone who needs it. Do not say anything that could be used as evidence to hold you liable for the accident, even though you may feel tempted to apologize. Only give your statement to police and your insurance company representative. Don’t speak to anyone else about the accident. Make a note of the names, addresses phone numbers, and driver’s licenses of all the parties involved in the accident. If there are any witnesses, collect their names and contact numbers. Also, ask for the names and badge numbers of the policemen attending to the scene. Photograph your vehicle, the truck, and any injuries.
What Are the Steps I Should Take After a Truck Accident?
After the truck accident, request a copy of the police report detailing your crash. Officers at the scene will tell you when the report will be ready and where you can collect it. Make an appointment to see an experienced truck attorney near you. And do not agree to speak to anyone from the trucking company’s insurance company or sign any forms sent before your legal consultation.
In the meantime, get a valuation from your insurer for the damage caused to your property. And keep a record of all your medical treatments and doctor’s visits.
Create a folder where you keep copies of test results, medical prescriptions, treatments, and a journal with your symptoms and pain levels.
Record any missed days at work, events, and activities, and keep a detailed list of any other expenses you incur that are caused by the accident.
Finally, do not accept a settlement payment from the tucking insurance until you have spoken with a truck accident attorney.
How Do I Get Compensated for My Injuries After a Truck Accident?
Any injuries that you have received in a trailer accident are liable for compensation. This compensation includes your car or other personal property that was wrecked, medical expenses, lost wages, future earning potential lost because of the accident, your pain, and psychological trauma. Depending on the type of truck involved in the accident, your truck accident attorney will probably begin a lawsuit against the truck driver, the trucking company, and their insurers.
However, other parties can also become relevant to such cases. These could be the loading company, truck manufacturer, government departments, etc.
When a winning settlement is reached, whether this is through negotiation or litigation, you will be compensated for your damages.
Common Types of Truck Accidents in California
There are over 3.5 million licensed truck drivers in the U.S. and there were 4,761 fatalities involving trucks across the country in 2017, and more than 9,000 injuries. Only 17% of these fatalities were truck occupants and 65% were occupants of passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, the other 14% of victims were motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
Trucks are very prominent on Californian roads because they are the most used form of transportation for goods in the state. An accident with a semi-truck, which weighs 20 times more than a normal car, is highly likely to result in injuries and fatalities.
When the average passenger car weighs a mere 3,000 pounds, an accident with a light commercial vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds can be serious. Class 8 trucks are the heaviest on the roads, and these weigh in at more than 33,000 pounds. An accident with one of these can inflict tremendous damage. As a driver in Orange County, especially in Irvine, Anaheim, and Santa Ana you cannot avoid sharing busy roads with them.
Over one thousand truck accidents are recorded on average on both the I-5 and I-10 annually resulting in over 250 fatalities. Additionally, one of the most dangerous roads in the country is Highway 99 in California which has the highest number of accidents per 100 miles in the U.S.
According to statistics, 52% of truck accidents occur on major roads, 32% on interstates and highways, and only 15% on minor roads. Among the most common commercial vehicles involved in truck accident lawsuits are semi-trucks, buses, delivery cans, fuel trucks, and tractor-trailers.
Trucks are long and high, and this not only causes a problem with stability on the road but also creates blind spots for truckers obstructing their view. Other factors that contribute to crashes involving trucks include mechanical problems, maintenance issues, and unsafe driving practices.
Speeding leads to over 25% of the overall traffic fatalities each year. Unfortunately, when speeding, a big truck that is also loaded needs 20 to 40% more time to come to a complete standstill. The moving cargo on a truck can also lead to a lack of stability or can prevent it from making a successful turn if the driver is speeding.
If a tractor-trailer must make a sudden stop, the trailer can swing on either side and collide with another car beside it. This is known as a jackknife in trucking terms. Inadequately secured cargo can lead to load drops that can spill onto the road or vehicles. Finally, if a trucker loses control of his truck, it can easily tip in what is known as a rollover.
Common causes of truck accidents:
- Break failures or worn breaks
- Tire problems (tire blowouts are extremely dangerous)
- Driver fatigue (federal law only allows 11 hours of driving at a stretch, but these are often exceeded)
- Distracted driving
- Poor visibility in bad weather
- Poor road conditions
- Blind spots
- Negligent reversing or overtaking
- Heavier loads than allowed
- Bad drivers
- Load spillage
What Should I Do if Contacted by Someone from the Trucking Company?
Never respond to any communication from the trucking company or their insurers before you get a consultation with a truck accident attorney. Do not agree to sign a statement or make a recorded one to the trucking company or their insurer. Ignore any forms they send for you to sign; let your lawyer see them first.
Trucking companies and their insurers have the resources to fight you at every turn, even if you were not at fault for a trucking accident.
When you hire an attorney, it is their job to look for some of the finer points that caused the accident. Sometimes, these may even be missed by the police. In most cases, they often include negligent hiring practices, inadequate supervision, insufficient training, fatigue driving under the influence, etc.
Your attorney can also look for information about the driver and if there have been previous violations like distracted or aggressive driving. We can also establish if the driver was using a prescribed or over-the-counter medication that could have affected the driver’s driving on the day.
How Much Does a Truck Crash Lawyer Cost?
The team of attorneys at Moet Law has a long track of experience in dealing with truck accident cases and claims. We understand the complexities of injuries and fatalities caused by these types of accidents.
Whether you were involved in a collision with a truck while driving your passenger vehicle or if you are a truck driver injured because of some form of negligence on the part of your employers, you deserve compensation.
At Moet Law, we only work on a contingency basis which means we only get paid once your claim is successfully paid out. This is very important because defendants like transportation companies and insurance carriers can afford to hire some of the best representation. This type of payment system allows you to have the best possible representation ensuring you get paid for all damages, your injuries, medical costs, time lost from work, pain, trauma, and trying to piece your life together again after the devastating wreck.
How is Compensation Determined After a Truck Accident for Injuries, Damage, etc.?
Serious trucking accidents require that you hire the services of a truck accident attorney to investigate all angles of the accident. The compensation you deserve includes everything from medical expenses to lost future earnings. There are many angles that your truck accident attorney needs to look at to ensure you get a settlement for all the damages, and your pain and suffering will be countered in. The lawsuit is most likely to not only be against the driver of the truck but may also include the trucking company and the insurance company.
At Moet Law, we start with a personal inspection of the accident site. This is critical and should be done as soon as possible after the accident. We look for debris, tire marks, take measurements, and seek any other evidence. If necessary, in the investigation of the crash, we may need t to employ the services of experts. These may include accident reconstruction or roadway design experts. We also look for any evidence that may have been recorded by cameras in the area.
Most trucking companies install GPS and by law must have other devices that report certain information following the rules of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). These devices are almost like the “black box” that airplanes have and are often either Electronic Control Modules (ECM), Event Data Recorders (EDR), or Electronic Logging Devices (ELD). The data from these devices is vital because it can show driving inputs from the truck driver and technical information about the truck. Your lawyers will also be interested in the data from before the crash. We look for the truck’s speed, whether the brakes were applied, what the tire pressure was, and any other crucial information about the collision.
From these devices we may find important information for your claim:
- Speed of the truck just before the impact
- The exact GPS location
- How the truck’s brakes were applied, if they were applied at all
- The angle the truck was steered at the time of the collision
- The RPM (revs per minute) of the truck engine
- The general activities of the truck
- What the tire pressure was
- Percent throttle of the big truck
- Other information that may be vital to your case includes whether the truck driver was wearing a seat belt, how often the operator exceeded the speed limit, whether the airbag was deployed, and if the trucker communicated with the trucking company after the crash.
Many trucking companies might try to conceal the information from these tracking devices and may even destroy them. This data is also usually deleted from most devices after 30 days. Your attorneys will seek the data as soon as possible after the accident to preserve it as evidence.
Truck accident attorneys also make sure to get any logbook evidence and keep a record of it. If you were in an accident with a big truck or 18-wheeler, we can determine if the trucking company or operator of the truck violated any commercial driving federal laws.
As Moet Law prepares your litigation, we also take into consideration that there is always more than just one interested party after a trucking accident. We include these in our investigation and watch for any action from their respective legal teams. These interested parties could include:
- Owners of the trucking company and their legal representatives
- Insurers of the truck and their legal team
- Manufacturers of the truck for any mechanical accountability, particularly the brakes
- Shipping companies may be pursuing compensation for deadlines missed
- Loading companies may be partly held responsible if the truck’s load caused the accident
- Other people hurt in the accident will also be looking for settlements from various.
Some of the most important federal regulations
There are hundreds of laws in place to cover all aspects of trucking and its safety. These include federal and state laws and if they are not complied with, the driver, or company that owns the truck can be held responsible for negligent behavior.
These laws include:
- After 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers may not drive for more than 14 consecutive hours. They must take a 30-minute break after every 8-hour driving period. Additionally, in 7 consecutive days, they may not drive more than 60 hours. In eight consecutive days, they may not drive for more than 70 hours.
- All drivers must comply with drug and alcohol tests before they are hired. Thereafter, they must pass spontaneous tests and must be tested after serious accidents. Even though the legal alcohol limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%, any trace needs to be considered a problem if there has been a crash.
- Loaded trucks cannot exceed weight, length, or height limitations and there are guidelines for all materials. Hazardous materials also have strict considerations, as do cargo loaders who need to secure their loads when transported.
- Most trucks must keep electronic logs to record driver behaviors and mechanical performance.
- Other than manufacturer part failure, commercial truck owners also must stick to the strict maintenance requirements as laid down by the law. Trucks must be inspected daily by the drivers before leaving with their loads, and all maintenance checks, tire changes, etc. must be done on time.
How Long Do I have After a Truck Accident to File a Lawsuit?
In California, you have exactly two years from the date of the trucking accident to file a lawsuit. Thereafter, a case is barred from going to court.
However, it is preferable if you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident so that no important evidence can be destroyed or lost. Witnesses can also not be relied on to remember details for very after the accident, so the faster their versions are preserved, the better.
Moet Law Group is an Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney and 18-Wheeler Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been involved in a trailer accident in Orange County, you don’t need to ask: “Is there a truck accident attorney near me?”
Moet Law is the trucking accident law firm near you in Irvine. We have years of experience dealing with trucking accident lawsuits and have concluded countless successful negotiations and litigations.
At Moet Law, our truck accident attorneys have years of experience in fighting similar cases. From the minute we start your case, we proceed with the documentation of the crash. We will scrutinize every aspect of your case, starting from the wreck, insurance policy information, medical records, and medical bills and your case will be built around this evidence. Your personal injury attorney will investigate even further by looking at all evidence from the accident and may request data from the trucking company.
Settlement negotiations will then begin with the defense to ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to. If a settlement cannot mutually be reached, then litigation is the next step in the process. The reimbursement that will be pursued includes damage to your property, medical expenses, potential loss of earnings, emotional suffering, and any other expenses deemed to have been incurred to you as the victim of the big truck accident.
With Moet Law, your initial consultation is free, and you are under no obligation. Thereafter, you only pay the attorneys after your case is completely settled.