Accidents involving large trucks, such as tractor-trailers and semi-trucks, are a common occurrence on California roadways. Unfortunately, accidents involving vehicles of this size and weight are more likely to result in death or catastrophic injuries. When this happens, you can rest assured that the truck accident lawyers at Pathway Law Firm, PC, will provide you with the comprehensive representation you need.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
There are many factors that may contribute to truck accidents. However, some of the more frequent causes of truck accidents are listed below.:
Truck Driver Negligence
Truck drivers are under immense pressure to deliver their goods in a certain amount of time as the entire trucking industry operates based on a strict schedule. The pressure caused by these deadlines causes some truckers to engage in negligent behaviors, such as:
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Use of stimulants or other illegal drugs
- Improper lane changes
- Driving more hours than regulations allow
Improperly Loaded Cargo
Although there are federal rules and regulations that govern the proper way to load cargo, these rules and regulations are not always observed. This can lead to cargo spillage and debris being thrown haphazardly onto the highway. Some of the causes of improperly loaded cargo include:
- Improper cargo covering
- Overloading of trailers
- Underloading of trailers
- Uneven weight distribution of cargo
- Improper cargo bracings
- Inadequate number or type of tie-downs used
Poor Truck Maintenance
Trucks require regular maintenance to stay in prime working condition. Failure to adhere to a regular maintenance schedule results in truck accidents that could have been prevented. Examples of problems caused by improper truck maintenance include:
- Worn or mismatched tires
- Unbalanced tires
- Under/Overinflated tires
- Broken brake light or turn signal
- Defective 5th wheel couplings
- Missing reflective tape
- Faulty brake system
- Improperly positioned mirrors on both sides of truck
- Defective trailer/brake connection
- Ineffective windshield wipers
How much is Your Truck Accident Claim Worth in Bakersfield, CA?
The severe injuries and property damage suffered in a truck accident can devastate your life. Fortunately, if you were injured in a truck accident that was caused by another party’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim.
Some of the most common types of damages that may be awarded in a truck accident claim include:
- Past and future medical expenses: To cater to the extensive medical care that is often required following a truck accident. This can include the costs of hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitative care, and any other necessary treatment.
- Lost income: For the wages and earnings you have lost due to your injuries. If your injuries have caused you to miss work or become unable to work in the future, this can be a significant part of your damages.
- Pain and suffering: For the physical pain, emotional trauma, and other types of suffering you have endured due to your injuries.
- Property damage: To repair or replace any personal belongings damaged in the accident.
- Emotional distress: To address the anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues resulting from a truck accident.
The best way to determine the value of your truck accident claim is to consult with experienced Bakersfield, CA, truck accident lawyers. An attorney will review the facts of your case and help you understand your rights and options.
Punitive Damages for Truck Accident Victims in Bakersfield, CA
In addition to the compensation for your economic and non-economic damages, you may also be able to recover punitive damages if the defendant’s misconduct was particularly egregious. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.
To recover punitive damages in a truck accident case, you will need to prove that the defendant’s actions were gross negligence or intentional misconduct. This is a higher standard than mere negligence and can be difficult to establish. Our experienced California truck accident lawyers will be able to investigate your case and help you pursue punitive damages if appropriate.
Injuries That May Affect the Value of Your Bakersfield Truck Accident Claim
As mentioned above, the value of your truck accident claim will depend on your case’s specific facts and circumstances. In addition to the severity of your injuries, other factors that may affect the value of your claim include:
- Whether you were partially at fault for the accident
- Whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions that were aggravated by the accident
- Whether you will be able to return to work and earn the same income as before the accident
- Whether you have suffered any permanent physical or emotional injuries
Common injuries that may raise the value of your truck accident claim include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Emotional trauma
- Permanent disability
Working with an attorney who understands medical conditions and their effects on accident victims is critical to ensuring that you receive the full value of your claim. Our experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyers are exactly who you need on your side.
Who Pays for California Truck Accident Accidents?
The minimum amount of insurance that a trucking company must carry is $750,000. However, many companies carry much more than this.
Generally, the trucking company’s insurance policy will cover the damages caused by one of their trucks up to the policy limit. If the accident was caused by a defective truck part, the manufacturer of the defective part may also be held liable.
In some cases, the truck driver may also be held liable for damages. For example, if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, he or she may be held personally liable for the damages.
A national distributor or a corporation involved in the shipment of the truck’s cargo may also be held liable if their negligence contributed to the accident.
Proving Fault after a Truck Accident in Bakersfield, CA
Proving fault after a truck accident can be complicated. There are many federal and state regulations that apply to the trucking industry.
By following the following steps, you can increase your chances of proving fault and collecting the compensation that you deserve:
- Call the police at the accident scene and request a copy of the accident report.
- Get the contact information for all parties involved in the accident, including the truck driver, trucking company, and witnesses.
- Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and the damage to your vehicle.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible and keep copies of all your medical records.
- Do not give a statement to the trucking company’s insurance adjuster or sign any documents without consulting an attorney first.
- Contact an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer to discuss your case.
To prove fault, you will need to show that the truck driver or trucking company was negligent. Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would under the same circumstances.
Bakersfield Truck Accident Claim Process
The first step in filing a truck accident claim is to contact an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer. Your attorney will review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a valid claim. If you have a valid claim, your attorney will file a complaint with the appropriate court on your behalf.
The next step in the process is to serve the complaint on the defendant. The complaint must be served within 120 days of filing. Once the complaint is served, the defendant has 30 days to file an answer.
If the defendant does not file an answer within 30 days, your attorney can request that the court enter a default judgment against the defendant. A default judgment means that the court finds in favor of the plaintiff without having to hear any evidence.
If the defendant does file an answer, the next step is to conduct discovery. Discovery is the process of gathering evidence and information from both parties. This usually includes things like depositions, interrogatories, and requests for the production of documents.
Once discovery is complete, both parties will submit pretrial motions. These are motions that ask the court to make certain rulings before trial. For example, a motion for summary judgment asks the court to find in favor of one party based on the evidence that has been presented.
If no pretrial motions are filed, or all pretrial motions are denied, the case will proceed to trial. Both sides will present their evidence at trial and argue their respective cases before a judge or jury.
After both sides have presented their cases, the judge or jury will render a verdict. If you win your case, you will be awarded damages. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
If you lose your case, you may be able to appeal the decision. An appeal is a request for a higher court to review the lower court’s decision. The higher court may agree with the lower court’s decision or order a new trial.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer in Bakersfield?
The cost of hiring a truck accident lawyer in Bakersfield will vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, the facts of your case, and the amount of damages you are seeking. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will only charge you if they can recover damages for you. On average, contingency fees range from 33% to 40% of the total amount of damages recovered.
You should also be aware that there are certain expenses that you may be responsible for, even if you hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis. These expenses can include things like filing fees, court costs, and expert witness fees.
Trial/Litigation vs. Out of Court Settlement
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. This means that the lawyers for both sides negotiate a settlement agreement, and the case is resolved without going to trial.
There are several benefits to settling a case out of court. First, it saves both sides the time and expense of litigating the case. Second, it allows the parties to avoid the uncertainty of a trial. Third, it allows the parties to resolve their differences without requiring further litigation.
Of course, there are also some drawbacks to settling a case out of court. First, the settlement may be less than what you would have been awarded at trial. Second, by settling out of court, you give up your right to have a jury hear your case.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to settle or go to trial is up to you. Your lawyer can provide guidance and advice, but the final decision will be yours.
How Our Experienced Bakersfield Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
The experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyers at Pathway Law Firm will fight for the full and fair compensation that you deserve for your injuries. We will investigate the accident, gather evidence, and build a strong case on your behalf.
We will also negotiate with the insurance companies and work to get you the best possible settlement. If the insurance company refuses to give you a fair settlement, we are prepared to take your case to trial.
We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that a truck accident can take on victims and their families. We will work hard to get you the compensation needed to move on with your life.
California Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents in Bakersfield
Per the California statute, a person injured in a truck accident has two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. There are a few exceptions to this statute, including:
- Mental incompetence
- Inability to file a claim
- Latent injury (or injury that does not manifest until a later date)
- Minority – for a minor involved in an accident, the two-year statute of limitations begins on their 18th birthday
Contact Pathway Law Firm Today For a Free Consultation
If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact Pathway Law Firm today. We understand how a truck accident can disrupt your life and provide the detail-oriented representation you need to recover the compensation you deserve. Our clients are our priority, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, as always, we don’t collect any money from you until your case successfully concludes in either a settlement or verdict through the courts.