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If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial trucking accident, you need the experienced San Diego truck accident lawyers of Gomez Trial Attorneys to protect your rights. Large trucking companies have their own investigators and attorneys fighting for them, you need someone on your side. When truck collisions do occur, trucking companies involved in the accident often send representatives to the accident scene to confront accident victims immediately following the event, when they are most vulnerable. These agents work to handle everything at the scene of the accident so that they can limit or mitigate their company’s liability. By working with the experienced San Diego truck accident lawyers of Gomez Trial Attorneys, victims can have control and participation in ensuring that their rights and interests are protected. The San Diego truck accident attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys are dedicated to helping people across California, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties.
Large trucks, such as tractor-trailers or semis, are responsible for one out of every eight deaths in automobile collisions. When a truck driver or trucking company makes a mistake it usually has severe consequences. Frequently, it is the occupants in the car struck by the semi that are killed or crippled while the truck driver walks away unharmed. Due to the shear size and weight of large trucks, they pose great risk to other vehicles on the road. That is why there are federal and state regulations that are designed to help ensure safety. However, truck drivers and their companies continue to violate regulations and endanger lives.
It’s important to have lawyer who specializes in truck accidents.. There are different issues and considerations when investigating and pursing a truck accident claim. These considerations include:
The most common type of truck accident is truck rollovers. Rollovers occur when a driver loses control of the vehicle and the truck begins to slide sideways and jackknifes. When this happens, something can trip the vehicle and causing a rollover. It could be a curb, guardrail, or soft or uneven grounds on the side of the roadway are objects that can trip the vehicle. An aggressive turning truck will also cause a truck to rollover, if it is done at high speeds with a tight turning radius. Because of the severity of these types of accidents, the aftermath tends to be devastating.
One type of truck accident is an air brake malfunction. Air brakes are designed to stop a tractor-trailer in around 100 feet with a traveling speed of 35-40 mph. Air brake malfunctions mostly occur when a semi-truck is going downhill. These huge vehicles that weigh up to 80,000 lbs. cannot handle the stress put on the air brakes when going downhill. Even when a driver is continuously applying the brakes when driving on an incline, the air brakes could malfunction. This can be a dangerous scenario for passenger vehicles driving in front of the truck or within its vicinity.
Types of trucking accidents include:
As many residents of San Diego and surrounding towns know, San Diego is one of the best places in the United States to call home. But another fact is also true: It’s a very dangerous place to be in a truck accident. Our large population and major highways mean that big rigs and tractor-trailers are dense within many parts of San Diego.
California is, in fact, one of the most dangerous places in the nation for truck accidents. Approximately 361 people were killed in California truck accidents in the last year for which statistics were available, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Nationwide, 116,000 truck accidents caused injuries.
Truck accidents can be catastrophic, simply because a big rig can top out in weight at around 80,000 pounds, versus an average car’s 4,000-pound weight.
If you’ve been in a San Diego truck accident, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs).
First, if you haven’t yet seen a doctor, do so immediately. Your health and safety come first. Only a doctor can examine you and make sure you are appropriately diagnosed for injuries. Not all injuries hurt. Some of the most serious types, like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), may not have any initial symptoms at all.
Then, the most important action you can take after seeing a doctor is to contact an attorney. We aren’t just saying that because we are attorneys. The fact of the matter is, you may receive FAR less help and much less justice for your injuries if you don’t have an attorney fighting for you.
The reason is twofold. First, it can be very hard to know who or what caused a truck accident. Accidents involving trucks are frequently investigated by the Federal Highway Transportation Safety Administration (FHTSA) just because potential causes are complicated. Without knowing the cause, you cannot pursue economic compensation for injuries and damages done to you. You need to know where the responsibility for the accident lies. Another party must be at fault for you to pursue damage compensation.
Experienced truck accident lawyers know the ins and outs of truck accident investigations, while most people may not know where even to look to find the results.
Second, multiple parties can be to blame for the accident—and they may all be insured with different insurance companies, all containing different provisions and policies. It can be bewildering and intimidating. It is almost certainly going to be extremely complicated. An attorney will be experienced in sifting through the insurance complications—and can negotiate to see that you get the best settlement possible.
If you are in a truck accident caused by another party, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries, both physical and emotional.
Compensation can consist of payment for the following:
Victims of a truck accident can receive the compensation above in two potential ways.
First, because California is a fault state for insurance purposes, you can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier.
To do this, of course, you will need to know who the at-fault party is. You may exchange information with the driver at the accident scene, for instance, but in some cases, you may not know definitively if the driver is at fault.
Once you file a claim, an insurance company reviews the claim, plus available evidence about 1) the cause of the accident and 2) your injuries and their expected treatment. They determine what your claim is worth. They can deny or minimize a claim. In fact, they do so frequently.
Second, you may bring a personal injury suit in civil court for damages. A judge and jury hear the evidence and testimony about 1) the cause(s) of the accident, and 2) the nature and extent of the injuries. A judge and jury determine who was responsible. If they decide the defendant (the at-fault party) was responsible, they decide what your damage compensation should be.
Unfortunately, many insurer carriers involved in truck accidents are not interested in seeing that injured people get money to pay their doctors or are compensated for time lost from work. They are in a position where they need to maximize profit for the insurance company.
Far too many of them have strategies in place of denying claims, delaying the payout of claims, and defending their insured. It’s a profit maximizing technique known as delay-deny-defend.
Delay tactics can include simply taking longer than necessary to get back to you with questions, to very slowly process a claim, and to delay every step of their own investigation into the causes of the accident and so on. They know full well that most truck accident victims will have high medical bills. If they are also unable to work, the victims are in a bind: bills piling up with limited or no money coming in.
As a result, victims can get desperate. When they are offered anything at all, they may leap at the settlement even though it’s much less than the injured person deserves.
Conversely, some victims may become frustrated or resigned to not receiving a settlement. Some may stop following up or even forget the claim.
Insurance carriers have a number of strategies for denying a claim. An adjuster may tell you that the accident occurred in a different way than it did—and that their insured was not the at-fault party. They may try to say that you are partly or fully to blame, or that another party is the real culprit.
Another technique is to maintain that your injuries are not as serious as they are. Insurance companies may also contest the treatment you are receiving, and say your injuries can be treated in a less expensive way.
They can also simply minimize the amount of pain and suffering. Insurance adjusters determine pain and suffering based on a number of factors, including the overall effect of your injury on your life, the amount of time required to recover, and so on. They can minimize all of these factors to result in less compensation than it is worth.
Finally, insurance companies often defend their own insured. They can hire investigators or forensic analysts to evaluate how the accident occurred, and use information that minimizes the involvement of their insured or says they were not responsible.
An experienced truck accident lawyer knows all these strategies and can properly negotiate with an insurance company.
In addition, insurance companies want to avoid a personal injury suit. A lawyer can bring a personal injury suit if you are not served well by an insurance company’s settlement, and the insurance companies know that. A judge and jury may be more sympathetic to you and your injuries than an insurance company.
Multiple parties can be at fault for a truck accident. The potential parties include the following.
Truck drivers – Truck drivers can operate their vehicles in an unsafe or imprudent manner. Speeding or violating other traffic laws can cause a truck accident. So can drowsiness or fatigue, distraction, or operating the vehicle while under the influence of impairing substances such as alcohol.
Truck drivers in California must be appropriately trained and licensed with a commercial driver’s license. If they are driving a certain weight class or type of cargo, they may also be required to receive specific endorsements. If they are driving without these, they may simply be unqualified to drive and cause accidents.
Drivers are also required to perform certain duties. They should inspect both the truck and its cargo periodically, for instance. FMCSA requires that they be periodically tested for alcohol and illegal substances. Failure to carry out these duties can cause or contribute to an accident.
Truck owners/companies – FMCSA mandates that truck owners/companies periodically inspect, maintain, and repair their trucks. The requirements exist so that trucks are always in good working order. An inadequately maintained or repaired truck can cause an accident. Tires can blow out, brakes can fray and not work properly, steering columns can make the truck hard to operate, and more. Records of all inspection, maintenance, and repair should be kept.
The owners or companies are also responsible for hiring appropriately trained and licensed drivers. If they do not, they can be partly responsible for driver error.
Trucks owners and companies also need to schedule drivers to comply with Federal guidelines on rest and sleep for drivers. An estimated 13 percent of truck drivers are drowsy and fatigued before an accident. Drivers are not allowed to work longer than 14 hours without sleep, and for more than a certain number of hours without breaks. Truck companies may not schedule drivers in such a way that they can get a good night’s sleep, however, or may pressure them to deliver cargo within a schedule that may not allow drivers to actually follow these mandates.
Subcontractors – Truck owners/companies often subcontract out certain work. A different company than the trucking company may perform repair and maintenance, for example. Specialized companies frequently load and pack cargo. Improper loading can make a truck more apt to roll over or jackknife, or make it harder to stop. Failure to load or secure cargo properly can cause or exacerbate accidents.
Manufacturers – Truck or component manufacturers that have made defective parts or the entire truck can be responsible if the defects are responsible for an accident.
Other drivers – Truck accidents can not only be extremely devastating, they can spread across large areas. If a truck overturns, for example, the accident can spread across all lanes of a highway. Because of this and similar possibilities, it is not uncommon for a truck accident to affect multiple drivers. Another driver could be responsible for your injury.
There are many methods of determining fault in a truck accident.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys our experienced California truck accident lawyers are committed to protecting your legal rights. There are many issues involved in making a claim, including knowledge of traffic and trucking laws, vehicle regulations, and liability issues. These issues must be handled with care and expertise. The team at Gomez Trial Attorneys will work on your behalf in order to maximize the compensation due to you. If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck or have lost a loved one in a collision with a semi, the San Diego truck accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help.
Gomez Trial Attorneys charges clients of truck accident claims on a contingency basis. What that means is the attorney is only paid if he or she wins money damages for you the client. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
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