If you suffered injuries in a truck accident in California, you may wonder how to obtain compensation from those responsible. Like all other states, California has a statute of limitations that restricts how long you have to file a truck accident lawsuit in civil court, which is two years from your injury. However, certain factors can extend the time you have to file, and you may have shorter timefThe teames for submitting a claim depending on the parties involved in the truck accident.
You need a California truck accident lawyer who can explain everything involved with filing a truck accident claim and pursuing compensation for your injuries so you know what to expect. Reach out to an experienced California truck accident attorney for a complete review of your case and advice on your best course of action.
If the truck accident involved a government-owned vehicle, a dangerous roadway claim, or any other claim of negligence against a public entity, you must file a claim with the appropriate government agency. However, you have a much shorter period of time to file claims against the government.
For most personal injury and property damage claims, you must file an administrative claim with the government within six months of your injury.
When the government agency receives your claim, it has 45 days to respond. If the agency denies your claim, you have another six months to file a lawsuit in court starting from the date you receive the denial letter. If the agency does not respond or you don’t receive a rejection letter, you have two years from the incident to file a lawsuit in court.
You should speak with a lawyer immediately if your case involves a government entity. An attorney can determine how long you have to file a claim and explain the process involved. They can file your claim appropriately within any deadlines and deal with the parties involved so you don’t have to worry about it.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Sometimes, the court can extend, or toll, the statute of limitations, allowing you more time to file.
Some common exceptions include:
- The defendant is a minor under 18 years of age.
- The defendant is incarcerated in prison.
- The defendant is out of state.
- The defendant is declared legally insane.
The statute of limitations will begin when the defendant turns 18, returns to California, gets out of prison, or is declared no longer insane. To avoid the confusion and challenges involving tolling cases, consult an attorney regarding your options.
Filing Claims With Insurance Companies
Though you may have up to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in California, you may want to try to resolve your case without litigation. This process will need to be completed before the statute of limitations expires so that if the negotiation is not successful, you have time to file your lawsuit. As a result, you should often file a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Your attorney can contact the insurance company and begin the process keeping in mind the applicable statute of limitations.
Truck accidents are more complex than other motor vehicle accident claims because they often involve multiple parties and unique regulations. You may file a claim against the truck driver, but you can also file a claim against their employer and any other party who owns or operates the truck. You can also pursue compensation from those responsible for maintaining the truck and making the rig safe for road travel and hauling.
If a defective component failed on the truck and caused the accident, you may also pursue compensation from the product’s manufacturer, distributor, retailers, and others responsible for bringing the product to market. You may also have a claim against the truck’s manufacturer or any third parties responsible for installing the component on the truck.
Since many truck accidents involve shifting or falling cargo, you could also pursue compensation from the parties responsible for loading and securing the cargo. If the truck’s trailer failed or contributed to the accident, you may also pursue compensation from the trailer’s designer, manufacturer, and owner.
Licensing and Insurance Requirements for Truck Owners/Operators in California
California law requires the following drivers to have a motor carrier permit (MCP) to operate large commercial vehicles in the state:
- Any person or entity paid to transport property in their motor vehicle regardless of the vehicle’s size, weight, or type.
- Any person or entity that operates a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds.
- Anyone who operates a vehicle for transporting hazardous waste.
- Anyone who operates a vehicle with a separate cab and trailer and a combined length of 40 feet or more.
- Anyone who operates any vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
People who transport used household or office goods non-commercially, such as those moving their own property from one location to another, or those who operate light-duty or non-commercial vehicles within certain size and weight limits, typically do not need an MCP. The same holds for non-commercial motor trucks and two-axle trailers where the GVWR does not exceed 26,001 pounds.
For people and entities that must have CDLs and MCPs, California and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires them to maintain significant insurance coverage:
- $300,000 combined single limit for vehicles with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds
- $750,000 to $5 million combined single limits for vehicles with a GVWR of more than 10,001 pounds
- $5,000 per truck carrying household goods
- $10,000 per accident for trucks carrying household goods
Additionally, the federal government requires vehicles used in interstate commerce to have $750,000 of bodily injury and property damage coverage.
California also requires commercial vehicles to maintain certain liability coverage depending on the cargo they are hauling:
- $5 million for transporting hazardous material
- $1 million for transporting oil
- $750,000 for transporting general freight
- $300,000 for transporting household goods
Your attorney can investigate whether the truck driver or trucking company had the required insurance coverage on their commercial vehicle. If they did not, your lawyer will know how to pursue compensation from other sources and can advise you of your options.
What Do I Need to Do After a Truck Accident in California?
Following a truck accident in California, make your top priority your own health and safety as well as the safety and well-being of your passengers. If you can, move to a safe location away from the wreckage and move any vehicles to the shoulder or median.
If anyone sustained injuries, call 911 for medical assistance. Even if you do not think the accident injured you or your injuries appeared minor, see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries may not manifest immediately but could have serious consequences. Keep records of all medical treatment, including doctors’ visits, diagnoses, prescribed medications, and receipts.
You must also report the accident to law enforcement in California within 10 days if the crash caused injuries or death or if property damage exceeded $1,000. Failing to report an accident can result in serious criminal consequences.
Once you report the accident and ensure everyone’s safety:
- Get the trucker’s insurance information. If the truck driver caused the crash, you may need to contact the trucking company’s insurance provider. Obtain the trucker’s contact information. This goes for any other drivers involved.
- Gather evidence. Collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim. This may include photographs of the accident scene, damage to vehicles involved, injuries sustained, and any other relevant evidence. Obtain a copy of the police report if one was filed.
- Document expenses. Keep track of all expenses related to the accident, such as medical bills, vehicle repairs, towing fees, rental car costs, and any other out-of-pocket expenses. These documents will help when filing your claim.
- Contact your own insurance company. You may also need to contact your own insurance company and notify them of the accident. This is especially true if the truck driver did not have insurance or fled the scene.
- Get an Attorney. As soon as you can, contact an experienced truck accident attorney. A lawyer can gather all the necessary evidence for you and file your claim so you don’t have to worry about it. An attorney will also have knowledge of trucking laws and the resources to thoroughly investigate your case and hold all the responsible parties accountable. A lawyer can also deal with all of the insurance companies, including your own, and can handle all negotiations and communications with them.
The specific steps and requirements may vary depending on your insurance policy and the circumstances of the accident. Consulting an attorney who focuses on truck accidents and insurance claims can provide you with personalized guidance and assistance throughout the process.
Contact a California Truck Accident Attorney Today
To build the strongest case possible and get the maximum compensation you deserve, you need an attorney on your side with considerable knowledge and experience in truck accident claims. You need a lawyer who knows state and federal trucking requirements, understands how insurance companies operate, and how to seek compensation from the multiple parties who may bear liability for your injuries. Because truck accidents typically cause such expensive injuries and property damage, you have little time to lose and many costs to cover. Call a California personal injury lawyer now.