Any type of vehicle accident can be stressful and could cause the potential for severe injury or, in some cases, death. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with a truck, you may be entitled to recover compensation for damages resulting from the accident. The negligence of the driver or company that oversees the care of the truck could have resulted in the accident, which makes them liable. While they may hold insurance policies that cover their end of the accident, the payouts to victims in such accidents are often minimal and seek to serve the interests of the at-fault party rather than to compensate fairly.
At the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes, our attorneys understand the way insurance companies and those in the trucking industry operate to minimize the financial damage they could be responsible for. Working with our skilled and experienced team, you will receive the aggressive representation that you deserve while you recover from your injuries or mourn the untimely loss of a loved one due to an accident. We are devoted to serving our clients and ensuring their rights are protected.
The goal for most trucking companies is to avoid any liability in the event that one of their rigs is involved in an accident. Although they are required to carry substantial insurance, avoiding any type of payout can save them money by avoiding increases in their policy amount. With the right attorney on your side, you can put up a fight against these big businesses in order to build a case against them that will leave them no choice but to accept their role. While we want to avoid putting our Bakersfield, CA clients through the court system, negotiations do not always work in maximizing the compensation you may be owed. Whether the liability lies with the trucking company or the individual driver, those at fault should be held responsible.
Ways that an attorney can specifically help your case are:
Because of the sheer size of a truck, accidents can be devastating to the other vehicles involved. Not only could the damage to the vehicle be extensive, but the injuries suffered could be severe or even deadly. While the severity of each case is different, and you may feel well enough to walk away from the accident, injuries could be masked by adrenaline or could take time to fully reveal themselves. Common injuries in trucking accidents include damage to the:
These injuries and others, including wrongful death, are just a few of the many ways those involved in a vehicle accident with a truck could experience potentially life-altering changes. In addition to the physical injuries that you may suffer, your lifestyle and employment may also suffer in the following ways:
One of the ways in which trucks become unsafe is when they are not properly maintained. The trucking company or the independent driver who owns the truck has a responsibility to properly maintain the vehicle in order to provide safety and security for not only the driver but for others on the road. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for any accidents that they are involved in. Common maintenance issues include:
Trucks have many moving parts that allow them to operate safely, and any one of the components that fail could be cause for an accident. Other types of maintenance issues include:
The truck driver, the trucking company, the maintenance technician, and the parts manufacturer all play a role in the proper maintenance of these large vehicles. Failure at any level could result in a catastrophic accident.
Negligent hiring practices could lead to unqualified drivers behind the wheel of the largest vehicles on the road. Trucking companies are required to conduct background checks on all drivers to ensure they are qualified and have the proper documentation to operate these vehicles. These background checks should include criminal records, employment histories, and driving records, including any moving violations.
If a trucking company ignores glaring issues on an application or on a background check, it could be held liable for allowing that person to operate a vehicle under their company’s umbrella. If the driver is not qualified, they should not be operating such vehicles.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies experience driver shortages and are left to use under-qualified drivers. This puts a huge safety risk on the road, but one they must accept if they choose to operate their company under such policies. The quotas and bottom dollar they are hoping to achieve sometimes outweigh what is right, and that creates reasonably unsafe conditions.
Some trucking businesses are responsible for hauling hazardous and toxic chemicals. An accident with a large truck is cause enough for concern, but this is compounded when the accident occurs with a truck that is hauling such materials. These types of hazardous materials can include anything from chemicals and gasses to everyday products such as cleaning chemicals and some paints. There are no special roadways that exist only for the transport of these materials, so trucks are required to use the public roadways.
Injuries suffered in an accident are already harmful, but exposure to these chemicals, if they are released during the accident, could cause further health risks such as blindness, organ damage, burns and scars, lung damage, brain damage, cancer, or mesothelioma. Unfortunately, many of these will not reveal themselves until long after the accident. If you are ever involved in an accident with a truck, it is important to not only gather information about the company, the driver, and other relevant information, but you should also gain insight into the contents of what they are transporting as well.
The cargo is another reason that you should seek a medical evaluation after being involved in an accident with a truck, as they can test for different exposures that may have occurred. Documenting these tests could help strengthen a future case should any long-term health problems arise.
Truck drivers are often required to drive great distances with few stops in order to meet the deadlines for the arrival of shipments. While there are regulations in place to help drivers stay awake and alert, these are often not adequate enough to fight the fatigue many long-haul drivers experience.
Fatigue is the result of both mental and physical tiredness in which a driver does not get enough sleep. When this happens, they become drowsy, and their ability to stay alert decreases. This hinders their ability to safely operate the truck and puts others on the road at risk for an accident.
It can sometimes be easy to spot a driver that is suffering from fatigue as you may notice the truck is swerving, driving in oncoming lanes, moving at a pace that is faster or slower than the speed limit, disregarding traffic signals, driving erratically, or not using proper turn indicators. If this sounds like the same characteristics as a drunk driver, they are essentially the same. The senses are decreased and therefore impact the decision-making behind the wheel, creating an impairment. Imagine a drunk driver behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle.
Trucks are a great way for companies and individuals to ship goods a great distance. Often these goods are large, awkward in shape or size, or require special attention. Properly loading shipments onto a truck means making sure that they are secure so that the truck not only operates as it should but that other vehicles on the road are not at an increased risk for an accident. Unfortunately, some truck drivers or companies may overload the cargo or take shortcuts to save on shipping times. Common ways that cargo is improperly loaded include:
The circumstances of each accident are different, which will yield different settlements. Damages that could be recovered include lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, or expenses associated with wrongful death. On average, however, trucking accidents in California settle around $43,000. Your Bakersfield personal injury attorney will review your case and help you understand the potential for your personal injury recovery.
Just as settlement amounts vary, so too do the fees that an attorney will charge for handling the case. For most personal injury claims, attorneys will not seek payment unless you recover damages. Depending on the amount of work your case needs and the experience of your attorney, they will generally accept between 33% to 40% of the final settlement as payment.
Most personal injury cases, including trucking accidents, could be settled in as little as nine months if mediation between all parties involved is successful. However, if there are disputes over liability, damages, or delays due to insurance claims, then the process of reaching a settlement could take years for all parties to reach an agreement.
While you may think working with your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance company may seem easy, entering these discussions without the help of an attorney is never recommended. Not only will an attorney represent you, protect your rights, and negotiate on your behalf, they are familiar with the tactics these companies try to use to minimize the damages they are responsible for.
If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a truck, the devastation left behind may leave you with more questions than answers. The skilled and experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Carl D. Barnes are ready to help you find the answers you need. These accidents are life-changing and require more than just time to medically heal. These accidents can leave you with long-term medical needs, have a negative impact on your income, and could potentially change your family dynamic through wrongful death.
You and your family should not be held responsible for footing the bill for the negligence of someone else. Don’t rely on at-fault parties to accept responsibility. Rely on the aggressive attorneys from our offices who will fight to help you maximize the compensation you may be entitled to. While you and your family focus on healing, let us focus on representing you. Contact our offices today.