If you or your family member sustain injuries in a commercial truck accident, you require legal help from a competent truck accident attorney. The accidents involve unique issues which must be addressed well for you to receive fair compensation. Common personal injury issues in a commercial truck accident include multiple-party liability, federal regulations and Trucking company policies, or severe injuries and property damages. Other issues are compromised evidence and larger insurance minimums.
Navigating a truck accident alone will also be stressful because you require a personal injury attorney well-versed in California commercial truck accidents laws. The personal injury attorney will help you learn more about truck accidents. Also, they will help you obtain fair compensation. Below are personal injury issues in a commercial truck accident in California:
Larger Insurance Minimums
Commercial trucks require a higher coverage than the other vehicles since accidents involving a commercial truck will result in great property damages and severe injuries. In the state, there are several minimums for insurance companies that all commercial truck drivers should meet. The liability insurance agencies will consider the freight destination and the freight when determining the insurance minimums to apply. Each truck driver willing to travel within the state in a vehicle more than 10 tonnes gross vehicle weight must have the state’s interstate ID, as well as the insurance, including the following:
- $20,000 per catastrophe and $20,000 per vehicle.
- $300,000 in household liability insurance.
- $750,000 in freight liability insurance.
- $5,000,000 hazmat liability insurance.
- $1,000,000 in oil transportation liability insurance.
Interstate Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
When a truck driver wants to travel in another state, the law requires them to meet the state requirements and the requirements stated by FMCSA to receive their MC number. Commercial truck drivers won’t lawfully operate their vehicles when they have no legal operating authority number. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration insurance requirement is primarily liability insurance covering property damage and bodily injuries up to a certain amount based on the kind of freight hauled:
- $5,000 per truck in cargo insurance involving household commodities.
- $300,000 for vehicles with non-hazardous freight below 10,000lbs.
- $10,000 per appearance in cargo insurance with household commodities.
- $750,000 up to $5000,000 for general freight in trucks above 10,000lbs.
How Commercial Truck Accident Victims are Affected by Insurance Minimums
The injuries resulting from commercial truck accidents are extensive. For example, one of our commercial truck accident scenarios involved a trailer colliding with a motorist. After conducting our work, our attorneys negotiated a settlement worth $14m, far from the truck insurance requirements. Many of the commercial truck accidents our attorneys have handled resulted in victims' compensation higher than the insurance policy minimums. How is it possible? Most large freight operators like JB Hunt, UPS, FedEx, Schneider National, and TFI generate billions of revenue and aren’t tethered to insurance policies.
When you are involved in a commercial truck accident, many trucking companies don’t cover your damages. However, when you are involved in an accident involving a small truck company, that’s where the insurance minimum might cause problems. If your claim for the sustained injuries is above the defendant’s insurance policy, the attorney may examine your case to include other possible fault parties.
The trucking broker or shipping company may also be liable, turning a $750,000 case into a million-dollar lawsuit. Regardless of whether the involved trucking company is small or big, the critical part for the injured victim is to build a solid case to increase the chances of winning huge compensations. Thus work with a competent truck accident lawyer.
Multiple Party Liability
Several parties are involved in the commercial truck operation. Every party has its set of duties to ensure the truck is ready and safe on the road. You may hold multiple parties responsible for your sustained injuries and damages when you engage in a commercial truck accident. But, the parties will try to distance and avoid the fault to ensure they don’t engage in the compensation.
You will require an aggressive truck accident attorney to help you identify the party responsible for the accident and who you will owe compensation for your damages and injuries. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, our lawyers have well versed in the trucking industry and the responsibilities of each party at the truck operation. So, our attorneys will help you determine all the parties responsible for your injuries and damages to help you receive fair compensation for your damages. The following are the potential party held accountable for a commercial truck accident in California:
The most common cause of truck accidents arises from driver errors. When you suffer injuries from a commercial truck accident due to the driver’s negligence, you need to seek compensation from the driver's insurance company. You may work with our attorneys to help you determine whether the truck driver is responsible for the accident. The attorneys will help you determine the liability by examining the following:
- If the truck driver suffered fatigue before the crash.
- Whether the driver operated the truck while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If the truck driver failed to anticipate road hazards.
- Whether the driver violates traffic laws.
- If the driver was distracted and thus did not focus on the road.
- Whether the driver suffered a medical condition that rendered them to be disabled
- If the commercial truck driver is involved in reckless behavior like overspeeding
Our truck accident attorneys will carry out investigations to review the case and determine whether the truck driver has any prior infractions or traffic law violations on their driving records. The attorneys will also obtain the data recorded during the accident to know the vehicle's speed before the crash. Thus the attorneys will use the data to determine whether the driver is at fault in the accident.
The company which loads the truck should ensure the contents are safe and secure for road traveling. The company will become responsible for the compensation once the court proves the accident occurred due to the loading company's negligence. Thus, when the truck accident is cargo-related, the truck accident lawyer must review the following circumstances to determine whether the loading company will be held accountable for the crash:
- Was the commercial truck cargo exposed?
- Was the truck's cargo loose and unsecured before the truck accident?
- Did the truck's content or cargo fall from the truck?
- Did the tractor-trailer or truck drop or tip over due to improper distribution of the content weight?
Your lawyer will examine the commercial truck's cargo record to examine whether the shipment owner, transporter or loader was responsible for securing the truck's content. When your attorney discovers the loading company failed to fix the cargo secured, you will then receive compensation for your damages. Ensure you work with your truck accident attorney in each legal phase to help you avoid making mistakes that might result in unfair compensations.
A truck company may also be held responsible for a truck accident in California. The company is responsible for training staff, hiring qualified drivers, and using alcohol and drug screening to avoid substance abuse. When the truck company fails to uphold its obligations, it will be held accountable for the accident. A skilled attorney will help you pursue your compensation from the truck company when:
- The truck company hired unskilled drivers without a commercial driver’s license from the state.
- The trucking company hired a driver with a record of alcohol or drug violations.
- The truck company did not train the drivers on how to handle commercial trucks on long-distance travel.
- The trucking company encouraged or allowed the drivers to violate FMCSA’s service hours.
- The truck company did not supervise their driver's behavior while on the road.
When a truck company owns a commercial truck, it becomes responsible for regularly inspecting and maintaining the vehicle. Our truck accident attorneys will obtain the inspection log of the truck company and review their employment details. After receiving the employment records, we will use them to determine whether the truck company violated federal rules or hired unskilled drivers who are at high risk of causing truck accidents. When our attorneys discover the truck company violated any laws when employing the drivers, it will become responsible for compensating the suffered damages.
Spare Part Manufacturers
Another common cause of commercial truck accidents is mechanical failures and defective truck parts. When you suffer injuries due to defective parts, the manufacturer will be responsible for your injuries and damages. However, most mechanical issues are a result of poor maintenance, but the following parts may indicate a defective part in a commercial truck:
- Brake failure.
- Transmission failure.
- Tire blowouts.
- Defective lighting.
- Steering system failure.
- Defective trailer hitch.
A truck lawyer will review the maintenance logs to determine whether the manufacturer’s negligence brought about the mechanical issues. The attorneys will also investigate whether the vehicle’s brand is commonly known for its defective parts. Your truck attorney will also help you calculate the amount of compensation you should receive after the case settlement.
Property Damages and Worse Injuries
The weight and the size of the commercial trucks mean a high propensity for harm. So, the accidents may leave the victims with disabilities for their entire life. The common worse injuries suffered in a commercial truck accident include:
- Severe traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burns resulting from trucks transporting flammable contents
- Vegetative and coma states
- Wrongful deaths
- Broken bones
Approximately 29% of all commercial truck accidents lead to severe injuries, whereas 1.5% results in victim’s fatality. Most victims of commercial truck accidents are motorists in small vehicles. Since the trucks are larger vehicles, they tend to crash the small vehicles and result in severe injuries.
Evidence and Investigations in a Commercial Truck Accident
Sometimes the trucking firms tend to reset their box recorders or logbooks to hide their behavior. However, when you work with a competent truck accidents attorney, they will help you recognize subpoena records and inconsistencies from data recorders or GPS, which might conflict with the defendant’s accounts.
Investigating a commercial truck accident might not be a simple task. Your truck accident attorney needs to immediately start investigations to determine whether the company or driver violated any laws. The investigations include sending experts and investigators to the accident scene to obtain any potential evidence of negligence or fault. In a commercial truck accident, the evidence will consist of:
The witness statements in a truck accident may be used to prove the driver's negligence. For instance, the witness may help the court determine whether the driver was aggressively driving, whether the truck's part failed, whether the cargo was falling or whether an unexpected issue occurred during the accident.
Trucking Company Records
Each trucking company must maintain a record regarding their driver’s employment and supervision. For instance, a record indicating the trucking company failed to carry out the required alcohol and drug tests before the driver engaged in an accident will be negligent supervision.
Electronic Logging Devices
The FMCSA requires all truck drivers to maintain track of their working hours through electronic logging devices. The court may examine the ELDs to examine whether the truck driver worked beyond the necessary working hours.
Many commercial truck companies install cameras in their trucks, either facing the driver, the road, or both. The footage may help determine if the driver engaged in misconduct or negligent behaviors when the commercial truck had cameras.
Electronic Control Modules
They are also known as black boxes. The devices are used to record information concerning the truck’s speed, whether the truck driver applies brakes and any other information before the crash. A truck accident expert may retrieve and analyze the truck’s electronic control modules data to help the experts reconstruct the potential cause of the accidents.
Rules and Regulations for Truckers in California
Truck drivers hold commercial drivers licenses and should comply with the set regulations. The federal motor carriers safety administration set the federal laws that the trucking industry and employees should obey. Violating any of the trucking rules could result in severe accidents. The rules include:
Hour of Service Restrictions
The FMCSA limits the number of hours a person can drive without taking a break. The regulation helps reduce the chances of a driver causing an accident due to fatigue. Restriction on the hours a trucker drives depends on their schedule and whether the truck carries passengers or property.
Property carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 11hours after ten continuous hours off duty.
Property carrying drivers cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
Passenger-carrying drivers have15 hour limit after eight consecutive hours of driving.
Both the passenger and the property-carrying drivers cannot operate the truck more than 60 hours a week. Again, they cannot operate a truck for more than 70 hours within successive days.
Sleeper Berth Provisions
FMCSA has also imposed sleeper berth provisions that require commercial truck drivers to take certain breaks in their sleeper berths after driving for many hours. Drivers may split their 10 hours off with time as long as one off-duty period is at a minimum of two hours and the other one at a minimum of seven hours spent in the sleeper berth.
All the pairings of the sleeper berth must add up to at least ten hours.
If a driver ignores sleeper berth provisions, it could result in drivers fatigue and later an accident. At other times, the truck company may encourage the driver to break the rules by using incentives and bonuses for fast delivery. In case of an accident, the trucking company will be liable.
New Unpaid Rest Break Law in California
The FMCSA recently passed a law that took away commercial drivers' paid rest breaks. Under the law, trick companies should not offer paid rest breaks to their drivers. As per the law, truck drivers should receive a ten-minute break every four hours and thirty minutes after five hours. However, the new rule interferes with the safety of the trucking industry. Doing away with the paid break increases driver fatigue hence high chances of motor-related accidents.
Truck Company Liability for Injuries and Insurance Coverage
Many trucking companies avoided responsibility for injuries and damages by classifying their drivers as independent contractors. T today, companies cannot escape liability. Federal laws hold the company liable for all truck accidents regardless of the driver's employment status. It occurred when the driver was performing a work-related duty at the time of the accident.
A trucking company is also liable for accidents it contributed directly, for example, a lost cargo due to inadequate security. Again, The company's negligence, carelessness, or wrongful acts could lead to collisions. Here the company will be liable for the accident. A good example of negligence is lack of vehicle maintenance or employing incompetent drivers.
When the trucking company is responsible for a motor vehicle accident, it absorbs financial responsibility. In California, all truck companies must pay at least the minimum required amount of liability insurance. The insurance covers the victim's medical bills, property repair, etc. In California, truck drivers must purchase at least the minimum insurance coverage. The coverage will assist the driver when liable for the accident.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
Commercial truck accidents are usually complex cases. Therefore, if you suffer injuries in truck accidents, you have the right to hold the guilty party guilty. A skilled truck accident attorney will help you recover financial compensations for the injuries you suffer, including property damage, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we have extensive automobile accidents generally as well as truck accidents. We understand the unique issues which arise when you seek compensation after a truck accident in Los Angeles. We will also represent you at the court. Call us right away at 310-935-0089, and we will begin working on your case.