If you have been injured in an accident with a truck that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. For many reasons, accidents involving a truck and passenger vehicle can result in serious injury and significant property damage.

According to the National Safety Council, in 2019, 5,005 large trucks had fatal crashes with automobiles. This was an increase of 2 percent from 2018 and a 43 percent increase since 2010. A “large truck” is any medium or heavy truck with a gross weight greater than 10,000 pounds. Large trucks were also involved in 118,000 crashes that caused injuries but not fatalities. In all cases, the greater number of people who were injured or died in the accident were not occupants of the truck.

If you are injured in an accident with a large or medium size truck, you may be facing a long period of recovery from serious physical injuries. It is important you do not speak with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or their insurance adjuster without your lawyer present. Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators whose purpose is to protect the financial assets of the insurance company.

Call the San Bernardino personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw today or contact us through our website. During your free consultation, we will review the facts of your accident and advise you of what steps you could take next to pursue compensation.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer? Why Choose OnderLaw?

Working with an experienced San Bernardino truck accident lawyer can have a significant effect on the amount of your compensation. The team at OnderLaw can investigate the accident to help to support your insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit should you go to court and will fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve.

We have the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to protect your rights. It is crucial to avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster unless you are with your attorney. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters have experience getting people to say something inadvertently that could jeopardize their claim.

Your lawyer will review the facts of the case and help identify responsible parties. It is crucial to discover all potentially responsible parties so you can pursue compensation. The most obvious is the driver of the truck involved in the accident. However, your attorney may find other parties are also involved, such as:

  • Truck manufacturer
  • Truck mechanic
  • Insurance company
  • Government entity
  • Trucking company
  • Contractors

Our legal team will seek the best avenue for compensation for you. Many cases are settled out of court or handled in arbitration or mediation. Deciding on the proper course of action can be stressful. An experienced San Bernardino truck accident attorney can explain the options and offer advice on which strategy will produce the best outcome.

Causes of Truck Accidents

One of the most common causes of truck accidents is driver error. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 36 percent of fatal crashes, 23 percent of injury crashes, and 19 percent of property-damage-only crashes that involved a large truck happened at night.

Another factor in trucking accidents is the distance a truck requires to come to a full stop. This depends on the weight of the vehicle, which is different when the truck is empty and fully loaded. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that the stopping distance for trucks is nearly double that for cars. A fully loaded truck traveling at speed on the highway needs nearly two football fields to stop.

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a significant problem in the trucking industry. Truck drivers work long hours, and many do not get enough sleep. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets strict hours of service regulations. The rules cover how long drivers are allowed to be on the road. Drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive off-duty hours, and they must take at least a 30-minute break after driving for eight cumulative hours. Additionally, they may not drive after they have logged 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.

Drowsy driving has deadly consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being awake for at least 18 hours impacts a driver’s ability the same as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent. This jumps to 0.1 percent if the driver has been awake for 24 hours, which is higher than the legal limit in all states.

Distracted Driving

Truck drivers can be distracted for the same reasons that passenger vehicle drivers get distracted. Writing something down, talking on the phone, texting, looking at a map, or reaching for an object can all cause a driver to be distracted for enough time to cause an accident.

Work Zones

Nearly 30 percent of crashes that happened in work zones involved large trucks. These zones are particularly hazardous because lanes can change quickly, causing traffic to slow or stop suddenly. Flaggers and work vehicles entering or exiting the flow of traffic can also impact the speed at which traffic is flowing. Truck drivers cannot stop their vehicles as quickly as passenger vehicles, so many work zone crashes are rear-end collisions. For example, a large truck traveling 55 mph requires 50 percent more stopping distance than a car.

Driving Under the Influence

Because truck drivers work long hours and often do not get enough rest, they sometimes use drugs to stay awake. The three most common drugs detected in truck drivers after accidents are stimulants, marijuana, and narcotics. Alcohol is not used as frequently as it is a depressant. Truck drivers are usually trying to stay awake.

Other Causes

Truck drivers may also be responsible for an accident for other reasons. Drivers can be traveling too fast for conditions or be unfamiliar with the roadway. The vehicle may have brake problems, tire problems, or the cargo may shift. One study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 4,000 truck drivers involved in an accident were sick at the time.

Common Injuries Suffered in Truck Accidents

Most physical injuries happened to the driver of the passenger vehicle involved in an accident with a large or medium-sized truck. Several types of injuries can happen, including:

  • Whiplash
  • Sprains and strains
  • Broken bones
  • Back injuries
  • Burns
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Disfiguring facial injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Crush injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Wrist and hand injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Foot and ankle injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Knee injuries
  • Lacerations and “road rash”

Who is Responsible?

After an accident with a truck, it can sometimes be difficult to determine who was responsible. California operates under comparative negligence for personal injury. This means that the plaintiff and the defendant are responsible to other parties for the percentage of damages they caused.

The trucking company’s insurance company will work hard to place as much responsibility as they can on you. This means that if the case goes to court, their financial liability will be less. Let’s say, for example, that you suffer a physical injury during a San Bernardino truck accident, and you sue the driver for negligence. The judge awards you $100,000 for damages. However, if the trucking company’s insurance company can show that you were 30 percent responsible for the accident, they are responsible to pay you only 70 percent of the award.

Accidents involving trucks are often more dangerous because of the heavier size and weight of the vehicle. The type of liability insurance the trucking company carries will depend on the size of the vehicle, the cargo it is carrying, and whether the vehicle is being used outside of commercial use.

Truck drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license. The license can have added endorsements that allow the driver added responsibility. For example, the license may include vehicles that transport hazardous material, double trailers, or tankers. The license may also have restrictions placed upon it, depending on the driver. For example, the license may restrict the driver from a truck with a manual transmission, vehicles without airbrakes, or a medical variance.

A skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer can help build your case by gathering evidence from the accident and using resources such as expert witnesses and accident reconstruction. This may help to accurately prove the percentage of fault you hold and can significantly impact your compensation.

Compensation for a Truck Accident Claim

After a truck accident claim, you may be entitled to compensation that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and exemplary damages.

Medical expenses typically include any expenses paid to healthcare providers that are related to your original injury. These may be bills issued by doctors, hospitals, surgeons, for diagnostic testing, pain management, and prescription medication. It’s important to remember that your claim is based on your past medical expenses for the injury and any accident-related future medical expenses.

After a truck accident, you may not be able to work because of your injuries. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. Additionally, if your injuries preclude you from being able to return to work in your present job or require that you receive training for a new job, you may also be entitled to the loss of future wages.

In a personal injury lawsuit, you may be awarded pain and suffering damages. This falls under the category of noneconomic damages. The compensation is intended to help you cover the cost of any mental or physical distress. It is difficult to determine this amount, but it can be part of the final settlement. Your attorney is experienced at attaching a dollar value to these kinds of damages and will assist you.

Most of the time, the court does not grant exemplary damages. These damages are awarded when the action was particularly malicious, and the court may include them to punish the defendant and try to prevent them from engaging in the same behavior again.

State and City Accident Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the number and type of vehicular crashes that result in death will differ widely from state to state. In California, they have recorded 3,316 fatal crashes that resulted in 3,606 deaths in 2019. Of these deaths, 33 percent were in cars and one percent were in large trucks. There were 2,031 single vehicular accidents which accounted for 56 percent of the overall number. It is important to remember that single vehicular accidents may be caused by the actions of another driver. For example, a truck may swerve, causing you to take evasive action that results in a single-car crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety records that 96 percent of people in California obey the seat belt laws, and 59 percent of those who are fatally injured were properly restrained. Additionally, 68 percent of California accidents that result in death happen in urban areas, while only 31 percent happen in rural areas.

Protect Your Rights — Call OnderLaw

California has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This means you must file a lawsuit within two years of having the accident. It may seem like a long time, but it passes quickly when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a San Bernardino truck accident.

It is important to note that you don’t have to make any decisions before speaking with us. These decisions have a significant impact on your personal and financial future, so it is crucial you don’t try to navigate the legal system on your own. Contact OnderLaw for a free consultation today. We will help to protect your rights, and we’ll discuss your best options for fair compensation after your accident.