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Arcata Truck Accident Lawyer

Arcata Truck Accidents

California highways are traveled daily by thousands of large commercial trucks. Northern California and specifically the Arcata area are important interstate commercial routes. Of course, the same highways are shared by much smaller passenger vehicles. Commercial carriers are strictly regulated by the state and federal governments, but despite the rules and regulations, there are still many crashes involving commercial vehicles each year in Northern California.

Truck drivers and the companies that employ them are regulated for their vehicles’ safe operation and maintenance. If procedures fail, big rig crashes can happen. Even if all procedures are followed, there is still the potential for truck collisions, and when a large semi-truck is involved, many times, that means catastrophic injuries for the involved parties. Establishing negligence against a commercial truck driver and his trucking company is not always a simple task, but having an experienced Arcata, CA, truck accident lawyer on your side after such an occurrence can make a big difference in the outcome of your personal injury claim.

Top Causes of Commercial Truck Collisions

Accidents involving commercial trucks are often caused by an error or negligence by the truck driver or the trucking company. Below are the most common causes of truck crashes:

  • Improperly Loaded Truck Cargo: Unbalanced or improperly secured cargo can cause a big rig accident. Uneven weight distribution can lead to a trailer tipping over. Another scenario is mislabeled cargo, which could result in a hazardous spill or explosion.
  • Trucker Fatigue: Though there are regulations about how long a trucker can drive without stopping for rest, the issue of driver fatigue is still quite common for long-haul truck drivers. Fatigued driving is a frequent cause of accidents for all types of drivers.
  • Shoddy Maintenance: Large commercial trucks require regular maintenance and necessary repairs. Failure to keep up with such maintenance can lead to a trucking accident on the road. Examples of equipment failure caused by lack of truck maintenance include but are not limited to, tire blowouts and brake failure.
  • Negligent, Reckless, or Careless Driving: Truck drivers are human and, therefore, not immune to poor driving practices. Not following the rules of the road can lead to 18-wheeler collisions. With a vehicle as large as a commercial truck or tractor-trailer, special care must be taken to maintain adequate distance from other cars while conducting lane changes. Traveling at unsafe speeds increases the risk of a big truck accident.
  • Truck Driver Impairment: Because they are often under deadline, truck drivers have been known to consume drugs or alcohol to handle the stress of the job. Impaired driving is the cause of many traffic collisions involving big rigs.
Importance of Preserving Evidence After a Truck Collision

An experienced Arcata, CA, trucking accident attorney will immediately issue a “preservation of evidence” letter to the involved trucking firm. Many types of truck company documents will be crucial in proving liability, including repair and maintenance logs and the trucker’s employment records – which should include training logs, certifications, and drug testing results. The absence of such records can make proving liability in a truck accident claim more difficult.

Commercial Trucks and Minimum Insurance Requirements

California’s current minimum liability insurance for passenger vehicles is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. For commercial carriers, the minimum required limits are much higher. Trucking firms must carry commercial insurance policies with at least $750,000 in bodily injury liability coverage if the cargo is non-hazardous. If the commercial trucks transport oil, the minimum liability insurance required is $1 million. Carriers of certain dangerous materials require insurance of at least $5 million or a bond.

Because the limits are so high and the policies are expensive, commercial carriers will use tactics to pay as little money as possible on a truck accident injury claim. They may deny the case altogether. This is another reason that anyone injured in an accident with a commercial truck would benefit from retaining a top Arcata, CA trucking accident lawyer as possible following the incident.

What is the Value of a Truck Accident Case?

Because of the great weight of commercial trucks, it is often a high-impact accident when such a vehicle is involved. There are no “fender-benders” with a vehicle that large and heavy. Most often, the involved passenger car is beyond repair. The passenger vehicle’s occupants are subject to significant impact, which can cause catastrophic injuries or death. Some of the damages a person hurt in a trucking crash may suffer include:

  • Medical Expenses: Past medical bills and the cost of future treatment for injuries sustained in a trucking accident are recoverable. These expenses could include emergency department care, ambulance transport, hospitalizations, medications, surgeries, physical therapy/rehabilitation, assistive devices, and more.
  • Income Loss: Any lost wages that resulted from injuries sustained in the 18-wheeler accident are recoverable. This includes future loss of earnings if the injuries are so severe you cannot return to your usual job duties.
  • Loss of Consortium: If applicable, the spouse of an injured person may be entitled to monetary compensation based on negative changes to the marital relationship caused by the big rig crash and resulting injuries.
  • Wrongful Death: If a person was killed in a commercial truck accident, the decedent’s heirs can bring a wrongful death action. Damages include burial and funeral expenses, loss of income once earned by the decedent, and loss of companionship or parental guidance.
California and Comparative Fault

Comparative fault is a legal concept that is considered in California cases. That means that each person involved in a collision will be assigned a portion of the fault for the occurrence. The legal responsibility to pay for personal injury damages will be based on the percentage of liability for the truck wreck. Insurance companies will often employ “experts” and defense counsel to attempt to reduce the portion of their employee’s liability to pay less. The insurance companies aim to keep as much of their own money as possible. This can result in an injured person not being fully compensated for their damages. A top truck accident lawyer in Arcata, CA, will have the expertise to counter such insurance company strategies to maximize the monetary recovery for the injured client.

Below is a YouTube video aimed at commercial drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Truck Accidents and Time Limits for Filing

The California statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years. That means a truck accident injury claim must be settled, or a personal injury lawsuit must be on file with the court before the second anniversary of the subject incident. There are instances where the time limit could be longer (for example, if a minor is injured) or shorter (such as when one of the defendants is a government entity). If the time to file suit passes without action on the part of the injured person, all rights to financial compensation will be lost. This is another reason it is essential to retain an experienced truck injury lawyer in Arcata, CA.

Do I Need an Arcata, CA Trucking Accident Lawyer?

Cases involving trucking companies can be complicated and fraught with complications. Every truck accident injury case is different, depending on the facts of the incident. Because it is the sole purpose of an insurance company to keep its own money, those who suffer injuries caused by a truck driver’s negligence will usually encounter attempts by the trucking company to limit its own liability and downplay the injuries suffered. If the case ends up in litigation (or filed in Humboldt County, CA court), the insurance for the trucking company will have a team of defense attorneys on board to fight the claimed damages. It is essential to have an experienced Arcata, CA, truck injury attorney on your side to protect your recovery rights.

Trucking Accident Lawyer in Arcata, CA

Were you or a loved one hurt in a crash involving a commercial truck in Humboldt County, CA? Contact an experienced Arcata accident attorney at AutoAccident.com to discuss your personal injury case today at (707) 564-1900 or (800) 404-5400. Our lawyers offer free, friendly legal advice anytime.

For case results, look at the Settlements and Verdicts page of our comprehensive website, AutoAccident.com.

Editor’s Note: updated [cha 10.11.23] Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay mm ds [cs 1392]