San Jose Truck Accident FAQ
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates well over 400,000 traffic collisions involving large trucks each year across the nation. If you were in a truck accident in San Jose and suffered injury, you might feel overwhelmed on top of the physical pain from injury. Truck accidents often involve more damage and more severe injuries than a car accident, so it’s almost always in your best interest to consult with an attorney soon after the accident. We have provides this guide of frequently asked questions about San Jose truck accidents until you get the chance to schedule a free consultation with one of the skilled attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher.
Do I Have to File a Police Report After a Truck Accident?
Under California law you must report any accident including fatality, injury, or property damage. Truck crashes are typically severe, so it’s likely law enforcement arrived at the scene of the accident and completed a report. If you did not speak with law enforcement at the scene of the accident because you were transported to the hospital via ambulance, or they did not arrive at the scene, you must comply with the following reporting requirements.
- The at-fault driver must provide their contact information and vehicle registration information to law enforcement and those involved in the accident.
- The at-fault driver must also provide contact information for injured occupants. If the truck driver does not own his truck, he must provide the trucking company’s contact information, too.
- Drivers must provide “reasonable” assistance to those who suffered injuries by calling 911, giving them a ride to the hospital, or making transportation arrangements.
When a truck accident causes injury, fatality, or more than $1,000 in property damage, you must submit a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This form lets the DMV know you’ve complied with the state’s Compulsory Financial Responsibility Codes. Drivers typically demonstrate financial responsibility with proof of insurance; however, the DMV also accepts self-insurance certificates and financial responsibility bonds.
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.
How Soon Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim After a Truck 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.
Do I Have to Go to Court for a Truck Accident?
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.
What Are Common Truck Accident Causes in San Jose?
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
Who Do I Sue for Damages After a Truck Crash?
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.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer From the Trucking Company’s Insurance Carrier?
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.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?
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.
Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Truck Crash?
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.
If you sustained injuries in a San Jose truck accident, the skilled legal team at Bohn & Fletcher can advocate for you and diligently pursue the best outcome for your situation. Contact us at (408) 279-4222 online for a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.