Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer
Large commercial trucks may be found on roads and highways throughout Sacramento County, including Interstate 5, State Route 99, and the Capital City Freeway (I-80). While all motor vehicle collisions have the potential to result in devastating consequences, those involving big rigs may cause particularly catastrophic damage due to the overwhelming size and weight of these vehicles. Since there is a high risk of injury to others on the road in tractor-trailer accidents, truckers are held to a higher standard of care than drivers of passenger cars. Unfortunately, not all truck drivers follow state and federal safety guidelines, and negligence is often the cause of 18-wheeler collisions. In these cases, injured parties and families of decedents may seek justice with the assistance of legal counsel.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a big rig crash, contact our Sacramento truck accident attorneys at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. Our skilled injury lawyers are available anytime to meet with you, review your 18-wheeler collision case, and provide free, friendly advice.
As trucking accident attorneys in Northern California with decades of collective experience, we are committed to helping families move forward after crashes that have impacted their lives. Our team of skilled lawyers has a track record of success in personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from semi-truck collisions. When necessary, we work with experts in the field to build solid and compelling claims against negligent truck drivers and trucking companies. If you or a family member has been involved in a recent crash involving a tractor-trailer, contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation. At AutoAccident.com, our legal team serves clients in Sacramento County and across the state of California.
Not all traffic collisions are alike. Those involving big rigs often have devastating consequences because of their size, weight, and force that greatly exceed passenger vehicles. That is why those in smaller cars are more likely to suffer serious injuries or even death than occupants of semi-trucks. Following is statistics on crashes involving large trucks in the United States:
- The National Safety Council (NSC) data for 2019 suggested that around 118,000 big rigs were involved in traffic collisions resulting in injuries. This accounted for an overall increase of 5 percent from the previous year.
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately 36,096 traffic fatalities were reported in 2019. Of these accident-related deaths, around 4,119 were attributed to crashes involving large trucks, accounting for roughly 11 percent of all motor vehicle collision fatalities.
- A 2019 report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revealed that 27 percent of fatal trucking collisions occurred on highways, and 57 percent took place in rural areas.
- Information in a trends table for 2017 by the Analysis Division of FMCSA suggested that Texas had the highest number of fatal big rig crashes with 649, followed by California with 361 and Florida with 292.
As with any civil case, an independent investigation by an experienced injury lawyer is necessary to collect evidence and adequately determine fault. In motor carrier claims, it is crucial to send a letter of preservation of evidence to negligent parties to ensure that all potentially relevant evidence is not concealed, altered, or destroyed. While there is a preexisting obligation not to do so, a spoliation letter provides the necessary relief to be sought out from the court in situations where the defendant does not comply with the notice. Evidence that may be indicative of liability may include but is not limited to:
- Distracted Driving: Commercial truck drivers, like other motorists, are prohibited from using mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. To establish that the trucker was distracted at the time of the 18-wheeler wreck, evidence such as a traffic incident report, cell phone records, eyewitness testimony, and video surveillance of the accident scene must be presented.
- Driver Training and Screening: Truckers are required to undergo training to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). The employer must also have medical documentation establishing that the truck driver was medically fit for the operation of a commercial vehicle. Routine alcohol and drug screenings are also expected to combat truckers' drunk driving and opiate use.
- Hazardous Materials: There must be appropriate signage placed on a tractor-trailer that is hauling loads deemed dangerous to warn others on the road. This is generally displayed in the form of a placard placed on all sides of the 18-wheeler. Safe handling, loading, and securement are also expected for hazardous materials.
- Hours of Service (HOS): All truck drivers and trucking companies are expected to follow the requirements set out by the FMCSA in 49 CFR 395 regarding hours of service. This regulation specifies the maximum amount of time truckers are allowed to be on duty in addition to the number and duration of rest periods. Truckers and carriers must also ensure logbooks are updated accordingly.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Trucking companies must thoroughly inspect and adequately maintain large commercial trucks to ensure they are in good working condition for the road. Inspection reports establishing the types of maintenance performed before and every trip is crucial as they may provide details suggestive of mechanical failure.
Unfortunately, the most common causes of truck accidents are preventable. When truckers and truck companies ignore laws and regulations for the trucking industry, that may compromise the safety of others on the road. Those parties that fall short in state and federal safety standards may be held liable for crashes that occur. A skilled Sacramento truck accident lawyer at AutoAccident.com may help you and your family hold them accountable.How is Negligence Proven in a Tractor-Trailer Collision Case?
To recover financial compensation in a civil case, a skilled California truck accident lawyer must demonstrate that the trucker and trucking company was liable for the incident. To establish negligence, the evidence must be provided to satisfy these four elements:
- Duty of Care: A truck driver is responsible for operating their big rig safely and within state and federal laws.
- Breach of Duty: There was a breach in the legal duty outlined above through the at-fault party's failure to act.
- Causation: The trucker's actions were the direct cause of traumatic injury or property damage.
- Damages: The truck driver's actions resulted in harm to others.
Liability in a Sacramento truck accident is not limited to the trucker. It may extend to those who employed the driver of the 18-wheeler, the manufacturer of the large commercial truck, those who loaded it with cargo, and more. Establishing negligence is the cornerstone of motor carrier claims. Recovering maximum compensation requires the expertise of a top-rated California truck accident attorney.Who Can Be Held Liable in a Big Rig Crash Case?
Liability may lie with several defendants in a lawsuit involving a large truck, including:
- The driver of the big rig
- The company that loaded and weighed the 18-wheeler
- The insurer that provided a commercial policy for the vehicle
- The company that employed or contracted the semi-truck driver
- The manufacturer of parts and equipment for the large commercial truck
A skilled Sacramento truck accident lawyer has the experience and resources to investigate a tractor-trailer crash to pinpoint fault to help injured parties and families of decedents obtain justice and compensation.Types of Compensation in a Sacramento Semi-Truck Collision Case
When it comes to a bodily injury claim for a commercial truck accident, compensation is categorized as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages represent the financial losses incurred because of the incident and traumatic injury. Conversely, non-economic damages are not straightforward to calculate as they are intangible in nature and differ in value from case to case. Some of the compensatory damages that may be recovered through a motor carrier claim may include:
- Past and future expenses for medical treatment of injuries related to the tractor-trailer crash
- Lost wages for the time that was missed at work to recover from an accident-related injury
- Loss of future earning potential if permanent injury or disability was suffered in the incident
- Loss of consortium for the significant disruption an injury has had on a marital relationship
- Pain and suffering for the effect that physical pain and emotional suffering has had on the claimant's life
In some semi-truck crash cases, it may be necessary to obtain the opinion of an accident reconstruction expert for an evaluation of the scene and inspection of electronic information stored in the system of the 18-wheeler. This may be through the form of a reenactment and virtual simulation to explain how the crash resulted in serious injury and damages to a jury.Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim for a Fatal Tractor-Trailer Wreck?
Under California law, surviving family members may have the right to seek financial compensation after a deadly big rig crash if the incident resulted from another party's negligence. This process generally involves a wrongful death action against the truck driver and trucking company responsible for the crash. The surviving spouse, domestic partner, and children have priority to filing this type of claim, as outlined in the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60. If none of these relatives exist to move forward with the case, other family members may be eligible.Recoverable Damages in California Wrongful Death Truck Accident Cases
Through a wrongful death case, survivors may be eligible to recover economic and non-economic damages. These may include the costs of medical treatment for the decedent's final injury (recoverable through a survival action), expenses for funeral and burial services, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of future financial support, and lost care and companionship, love, and support. When faced with such a situation, it is essential to hire the best truck accident lawyer serving Sacramento, California. Your attorney will build a strong case on your behalf and do everything in their power to seek the full financial recovery you deserve.Sacramento Truck Accident FAQ
Can you seek punitive damages in a semi-truck accident case?
Under the California Civil Code Section 3294, claimants may seek punitive damages in specific civil cases. It is essential to understand that compensatory damages in an 18-wheeler collision case are different from exemplary damages. The sole purpose of punitive damages in a civil case is to hold the at-fault party liable for their egregious conduct and to deter similar behavior in the future.
Clear and compelling evidence must be provided to prove that punitive damages are warranted in the case. Working with an experienced Sacramento truck accident attorney may significantly improve your chances of recovering fair compensation in addition to punitive damages in your motor carrier claim.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim for a truck accident?
Parties injured in tractor-trailer collisions in Sacramento County and across California have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit in civil court. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, claimants only have two years from the date of the incident to file a commercial truck accident lawsuit if an insurance settlement agreement has not yet been reached.
If the two-year statute of limitations has expired with no lawsuit filed, the court may dismiss the case, and the right to recovery of financial compensation may be lost. Hiring a truck accident injury lawyer is essential to ensuring all filing criteria and deadlines are met.
How much will a lawyer cost for a semi-truck accident case?
After a big rig crash, it may be challenging to overcome traumatic injuries. Financial hardship and physical recovery are among the greatest of concerns. Since 1982, our California personal injury law firm has provided clients the support and guidance they need. We work hard to obtain full financial compensation for our clients through case settlements and verdicts. Learn how our Sacramento truck accident lawyers can help you with your case by calling (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
Editor's Note: updated 12.6.23 Photograph Source: "Quintin Gellar" via Pexels ds [cs 2247]
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