San Jose Truck Accident Lawyer
When you have been injured in a commercial trucking accident, then you need to know who is financially liable for your losses. Get the help you need by working with a San Jose truck accident lawyer.
Table of Contents
- How to File a Claim After a Truck Accident
- Do I Have to Go to Court?
- What Are Common Causes in a San Jose Truck Accident?
- Who Do I Sue for Damages After a Truck Crash?
- Should I Accept a Settlement Offer From the Trucking Company’s Insurance Carrier?
- What Damages Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?
- Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Truck Crash?
18-wheelers or semi-trucks are some of the largest vehicles on the roads and highways of the United States. These massive vehicles travel side-by-side with smaller passenger cars, motorcycles, cyclists and pedestrians. The sheer size of these commercial trucks poses a significant risk of damage to the occupants of passenger vehicles. Thus, when commercial trucks are involved in a crash with smaller vehicles, the drivers and passengers often sustain serious or even fatal injuries.
If you were recently involved in a collision with a commercial truck, then you may be struggling with medical bills and debts from the injuries and damages you incurred. If so, let a San Jose truck accident lawyer from Bohn & Fletcher, LLP help you. Our attorneys are skilled and experienced in truck accident cases throughout California. We will do everything we can to get you the fair and full compensation you deserve. The trucking company may fight to avoid liability to protect its profits. However, with an attorney on your side, you can be confident that you will receive fair compensation.
What Are Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents in California?
Determining the root cause of your semi-truck accident is a crucial step toward building the strongest case possible. Finding the liable party helps streamline the claims process and allows your truck accident lawyer to focus our efforts where they are most needed. However, truck accidents may result from a wide variety of circumstances and causes that do not apply to passenger car wrecks. Investigating a truck crash requires a familiarity with not only big rigs themselves, but also with the commercial trucking industry. Still, in general, the causes of truck collisions can be narrowed down into two different categories: driver error and external factors.
When the Trucker Might Be at Fault
Some examples of driver errors that can cause truck accidents include:
- Driver Fatigue – Every state has different guidelines regarding how long a commercial truck driver is legally allowed to be behind the wheel before a break is required. However, federal regulations mandate that a truck driver can be on the road for no more than eleven hours at a time. Failure to comply with these regulations could make either the driver or the trucking company financially responsible when a crash happens.
- Speeding – Speeding is something that no driver should ever do, no matter what type of vehicle is involved. However, 18-wheelers and semi-trucks are especially dangerous when they are going too fast. Their size makes it even more difficult to stop quickly if needed, which could lead to a devastating collision.
- Distracted Driving – Commercial truck drivers are often required to embark on incredibly long journeys in one sitting. As such, they may find that their focus on the road wanders, causing them to become distracted by items like their cell phone.
When a Third Party Might Be to Blame
In addition to a truck driver being responsible for harm, sometimes truck accidents are caused by third parties or factors beyond the truck driver’s control. These may include:
- Equipment failure within the truck. Trucking companies are responsible for the upkeep of their fleet. Thus, if equipment failure contributed to the wreck, then the company may be liable.
- Construction on the roads. Poorly marked construction zones or negligent acts by construction companies may cause serious truck wrecks. In these cases, the company or agency in charge of the construction may be to blame.
- Unsafe driving habits from a third motorist. In some circumstances, your truck accident may result from reckless driving on the part of another motorist. For example, if a car cuts in front of a commercial truck, then the truck driver may try to swerve to avoid a collision. This can cause serious injuries if the truck swerves into another vehicle.
- Improper driver training by the trucker’s employer. Truck drivers require special licenses and extensive training. However, some companies may send unqualified or novice drivers out on the road to maximize profits.
- Dangerous road conditions. Poor conditions on the road due to negligent design or lack of road maintenance can cause serious wrecks. If this is the case, then the government agency in charge of the road may be to blame. These cases are complex, as different rules apply to claims against the government.
Who May Be at Fault in a Truck Accident Case?
In a typical accident involving two civilian vehicles, the process of determining fault is relatively simple. However, when you are trying to determine fault in an accident involving a commercial 18-wheeler, things become a little more complex. This is due to the fact that running these vehicles involves many different people and entities. Depending on the circumstances, several of these parties may be liable for the accident.
If you are involved in a collision, then you may think that the fault automatically lies with the driver of the vehicle. However, corporations usually own 18-wheelers, rather than the drivers themselves. As such, business owners are required to carry insurance for their commercial truck drivers in case of an accident. This means that your San Jose truck accident lawyer will need to figure out if seeking compensation from the business is the right move.
In some instances, you may need to hold the manufacturer of the truck accountable instead. Semi-trucks require an extraordinary amount of routine maintenance and upkeep to be safe. If a malfunction in the vehicle caused your accident, then you can seek damages from the manufacturer if a design or production flaw was involved. For example, if the truck accident was caused by an issue with the brakes, then your lawyer will build a case that names the brake manufacturer as the negligent party.
A truck accident may result from a variety of different factors, so multiple parties may be to blame. Therefore, you should always work with qualified truck accident attorneys rather than try to file a case by yourself.
What Are Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Sadly, as compared to regular vehicular accidents, truck accidents are more likely to result in severe injuries and wrongful death. This is, in part, due to the inequality of weight and power between the two vehicles. In fact, as of 2016, a whopping 72 percent of all truck wrecks ended with some sort of injury to the passengers of the civilian vehicles involved.
Every accident is different, and so there are many different types of injuries truck accident victims may sustain. While there are a few injuries that are more common than others, your San Jose truck accident lawyers will know how to get you full compensation for losses and injuries like:
- Spine and Neck Injuries – In the worst type of back or neck injuries, the spinal cord sustains serious damage. Injuries like this could lead to complete or partial paralysis below the injury site.
- Head and Brain Injuries – Head injuries are the most common type of injury sustained after a truck crash. Unfortunately, they are also the most dangerous. The extent of the damage could range from a mild concussion to severe brain trauma. Most often, these injuries occur as a result of a head-on collision with a truck.
- Broken Bones and Fractures – It is rare that an 18-wheeler crash does not result in severe bone injuries. Broken bones might seem common, but damages in the form of medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering can accumulate quickly.
- Severe Burns – Particularly if the commercial truck was carrying flammable cargo or certain chemicals, you could suffer serious burn injuries that result in tremendous pain and disfiguring injuries.
Tragically, a high percentage of truck accidents result in fatalities or fatal injuries. If you lost a loved one in a truck crash, then you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover rightful compensation.
San Jose Truck Accident FAQ
Since our truck accident lawyers understand that the aftermath of a semi-truck crash is a confusing time, we have provided answers to a few commonly asked questions in the section below. If you do not see your question, then please contact our office so that you can speak with a lawyer directly about your case.
How do I file a claim after a hit-and-run with an 18-wheeler?
In some cases, it might be possible to track down the trucker so that you can file a personal injury claim against the driver or the trucking company. If the authorities cannot track down the driver, then you might be able to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance.
Who is responsible if a semi-truck’s cargo came loose and caused my wreck?
A lost load is usually caused by improperly restrained cargo or the failure of the restraints themselves. This could be the fault of the cargo’s owner, the team that loaded the truck or the manufacturer of the restraints or trailer.
Should I accept the settlement offer from the trucking company’s insurer?
You should never accept an insurance settlement offer for any accident without first having an attorney review it. In all likelihood, the initial offer will not cover all of your damages and losses; this is especially true of any future medical needs you might have that are related to the crash. If the insurer will not make a reasonable offer, then our truck accident lawyers can take them to court for a verdict that awards you full compensation.
I’m a Little Sore, but I Can Walk. Do I Have to See a Doctor?
Yes. You should always seek medical treatment after being involved in a traffic collision. If emergency response teams comes to the scene because you were involved in a severe accident, it’s likely you were transported to the hospital. In the rare event you were lucky enough to walk away from a truck accident, you should get checked out by a physician soon. Even soreness might be an indication of a serious injury. If you suffered whiplash or a traumatic brain injury from impact, obvious symptoms might not show up for days.
Protect your health and ensure you don’t do any further damage by letting a physician check for common accident injuries and give you the proper restrictions or clear you for activity. While your health should be the motivating factor, medical documentation for your injuries is paramount to prevailing in a personal injury lawsuit. It provides proof of injury to insurance companies and the defense, so they cannot question the cause of your injuries or suggest you had them before the accident.
California law requires people with injuries to take legal action against allegedly liable parties within two years from the date of injury. If you attempt to bring a suit against a truck driver or trucking company after the two-year window has closed, the court will not hear your case. Your attorney needs time to investigate and evaluate your case, and you want to allow time for a potential settlement, so you need to consult with a truck accident lawyer sooner than later.
The vast majority of personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents, settle out of court. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company representing the driver, trucking company, or third party to reach an agreement compensating you fairly for the losses you have incurred from your accident and injuries. When settlement isn’t an option, your attorney will take your case to court to fight for a verdict in your favor.
The FMSCA studies and collects data about risk factors and causes of large truck and semi accidents across the nation. The following large truck accident causes commonly appear in state and federal reports:
- Driving while distracted
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication
- Speeding or going too fast for conditions
- Failure to yield
- Failure to clear blind spots
- Inexperienced drivers
- Cargo spillage
- Poorly maintained truck
Several different parties might be partially or wholly responsible when a truck crash occurs. Most tractor-trailer accidents aren’t simple cases because multiple parties can be involved. If you take legal action, your attorney might negotiate with or the court might rule against one or more of the following parties:
- Truck driver. Truckers who violate traffic regulations such as driving under the influences, texting and driving, or speeding, face financial liability if their actions cause an accident and injury.
- Trucking company. Several situations exist in which a trucking company might be held liable for an accident. If trucking companies fail to perform required maintenance on a truck, force their drivers to run “hot,” or encourage their drivers to break traffic laws to meet demanding schedules, they might be partially or completely liable for damages from an accident.
- Another driver. Other motorists might cut off a semi, ride in their blind spot, or violate traffic regulations, causing a truck accident with multiple vehicles.
- Truck/truck part manufacturer. Truck and truck part manufacturers might be held liable when a defective truck or part causes a crash. Defective tires are especially dangerous on 18-wheelers, often causing a driver to lose control when a blowout occurs.
Trucking companies carry large insurance policies because truck accidents are expensive, but that doesn’t mean they are eager to pay out large claims or verdicts. When they know their policyholder is at fault, they might try to avoid a large payout by offering a quick settlement soon after the accident. These types of offers are typically enough money to entice you to accept and waive your right to sue, but they often don’t provide the compensation you deserve after enduring pain and injury from a truck accident. You should not accept a settlement without consulting with an attorney. A qualified truck accident lawyer can often negotiate a higher settlement for you.
If you sue for damages after a truck accident, you might recover the following losses from a settlement or a verdict in your favor:
- Medical expenses including ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospital stay, surgery, x-rays, and medication
- Future medical expenses including corrective surgery, aftercare, physical therapy, specialist visits, and long-term nursing care
- Lost wages for time away from work due to injury, treatment, and recovery
- Future lost wages when a severe injury prevents you from returning to your job at 100 percent capacity
- Non-economic damages such as loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium with a spouse
If I Am Partially at Fault, Can I Still Sue for Damages?
California applies pure comparative negligence to personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents. Comparative negligence is the notion of shared liability which courts use to assess the extent to which a plaintiff might have contributed to an accident. A good attorney can work to shield you from claims that you contributed to your own injuries.
What If I Can’t Afford a Truck Accident Lawyer?
We handle the majority of our cases on a contingent fee basis. This means if you choose us to represent you in a truck accident case, you don’t have to pay money up front. Instead, we will deduct our attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you in the form of a settlement or verdict in your favor.
A truck accident can be a life-changing event which requires you to focus on healing and learning to cope with challenges your injuries might have caused. When you hire a truck accident attorney, they can investigate the accident and gather necessary documents and information to build a case against the liable party(s), freeing your time and mind from the stresses associated with the aftermath of a truck accident.
Injured or Lose a Loved One? Consult with a San Jose Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, then you do not have to handle the fallout alone. You are entitled to seek compensation to help you cover the damages you have suffered. The San Jose truck accident lawyers at Bohn & Fletcher, LLP are standing by to help. We can go to bat for you to help you build the case that gets you the compensation you deserve.
Our attorneys represent clients throughout the Bay Area, including residents of San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Saratoga and the surrounding areas. If you would like to speak to a member of our staff about setting up a free consultation, then give us a call at 408-279-4222. You can also get in touch with a truck accident lawyer by filling out our online contact form.
“I cannot thank Bohn & Fletcher enough. I came to Bohn & Fletcher with a very difficult case. It was an injury from years ago that had continued to get worse and as the medical bills came in my stress level increased. They went above and beyond time and time again. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions but they did what everyone else said was impossible. I am so relieved that this chapter in my life is coming to end. Thank you!”
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