Getting into an accident with a truck is frightening. What would be a fender bender with another passenger car can result in serious injuries or even death when the other vehicle is a truck. If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident, call the truck accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation. And if you think you can’t afford to hire a truck accident lawyer, think again. We promise no up-front fees or out-of-pocket expenses. Plus, you don’t pay unless we win, so call today.
When you drive in the greater Los Angeles area, you share the road with a variety of commercial trucks. Many of those trucks are enormous big rigs. You’ll also encounter delivery trucks, vans and utility vehicles like garbage trucks. While we all try to be extra cautious around trucks, inevitably truck accidents do happen.
After a truck accident, you need the resources and experience of a powerhouse personal injury law firm by your side. You can be sure the trucking company will have a team of attorneys working for them. Often, they’ll make a lowball settlement offer or even attempt to blame you for the accident.
The truck accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm are very familiar with these tactics and know-how to combat them. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a truck accident, don’t wait to call us. Waiting can hurt your case.
Below you’ll find some valuable information regarding truck accidents and how best to proceed.
What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Federal regulations allow truck drivers to drive for up to 11 hours at a time, with many drivers going well beyond that time frame. They travel thousands of miles at a stretch to meet strict deadlines. This can cause a deadly combination of driver fatigue and speeding, both leading causes of catastrophic truck accidents.
Municipal trucks, like fire trucks or ambulances, can also get into major accidents as they speed through city streets to get to an emergency. Other factors that contribute to truck accidents include:
- Driver error – As previously noted, truck driver fatigue and speeding are two of the leading causes of truck accidents in California. Other examples of driver error include:
- Distracted driving
- Poor training
- Failure to obey traffic signals
- Large blind spots
- Alcohol and/or drug use
- Vehicle Issues – By their very nature, trucks present obvious safety problems. For example, even a perfectly maintained truck carrying a full load of cargo needs 525 feet of room to come to a full stop. To put that into perspective, that’s the length of two football fields! That, along with drivers having to deal with huge blind spots makes them inherently dangerous to all of the passenger vehicles surrounding them. Adding poor maintenance to the mix increases the risk even more. Some common truck maintenance problems are:
- Overweight trailers
- Loads that aren’t secured properly
- Brake problems
- Tire problems
- Not following the truck’s recommended maintenance schedule
- Weather – California is rightfully famous for year-round great weather. Yet rain, snow and high winds can come on suddenly, especially at higher elevations. Encountering bad weather can make a truck driver’s job even harder, especially if they’re already fatigued. Hydroplaning and swerving can send a truck out of control in an instant, endangering everyone in their path.
Truck accidents often are some of the deadliest and most severe, as these statistics show:
- 1 in 10 highway fatalities involve a large truck
- 3,986 deaths were a result of truck accidents nationwide in 2016
- 97% of fatalities in truck versus passenger vehicle accidents were the occupants of the passenger vehicle
- 92% of deaths occurred on highways, freeways, or major roads
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
Any accident is traumatic but being hit by a truck can have devastating consequences on a person’s life. If you are injured as a result of a truck accident, here is a checklist of action items you should do if you are able:
- Get out of harm’s way immediately, but only if it’s safe to do so.
- Call 911 immediately.
- Seek or demand medical treatment.
- Get witness contact information, as well as the name of the driver and trucking company.
- Take photos of your injuries and injuries to anyone else. Also photograph damage to all vehicles involved, as well as the truck and the scene of the accident including traffic signals and street signs.
- Do not give any statements or sign any documents given to you by a trucking company or insurance representative. And don’t apologize! Apologizing to anyone will be used against you as proof of fault for the accident.
- Keep all accident-related medical bills and receipts in a secure place. Your attorney will use these to calculate some of the damages (financial compensation) you should be entitled to.
- Enlist the help of a proven powerhouse truck accident personal injury lawyer immediately.
It’s very important to follow these guidelines immediately after a truck accident to make sure your rights are preserved.
Types of Trucks and Accidents
When we think of truck accidents, we may envision huge big rigs. That’s understandable since it’s probably the most commonly featured truck when the evening news highlights a particular traffic accident. They make for dramatic visuals, but they aren’t the only trucks that get into major accidents on our freeways and streets.
News reports and the public at large use interchangeable terms when referring to trucks. While some are understandable, others can be confusing. Is a semi-truck the same as a big rig? Or is it different? Read on to find out more.
Tractor Trucks – Also referred to as bobtail trucks, this is the front of the truck. It’s where the engine and driver cabin are located. They can be driven on their own. Tractor trucks with no cargo trailer or flatbed attached are common sights on our freeways. Even with nothing attached, these are large vehicles that can cause serious damage and injuries in a crash.
Big Rigs – There are several names for a tractor truck with a cargo trailer attached to it. One of them is big rig. Other well-known terms are 18-wheeler, semi and tractor-trailer. Those are all terms for the same type of truck, and they are all classified as commercial vehicles. If they are fully loaded with cargo, they require a skilled driver to control. Given their sheer size, there’s no such thing as a fender bender between a big rig and a passenger car.
Tanker Trucks – These vehicles combine two dangers: an oversized truck and hazardous materials. Tanker trucks have been known to burst into flames on impact, causing a serious accident to be even more horrific for everyone involved. Besides the crash itself, a driver unfortunate enough to get into an accident with a tanker truck can suffer burns and smoke inhalation injuries. Deaths are also common.
Delivery Trucks – Amazon has been a game-changer in the retail world. But millions of deliveries mean thousands of Amazon trucks and vans on the road. That’s not counting the other delivery trucks out there. Like large trucks, many of those drivers are also trying to meet deadlines. Being hit by a speeding delivery truck can translate into a serious accident and injuries for those in passenger vehicles.
Utility Trucks – Utility trucks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They can include street cleaning trucks, ambulances, garbage trucks, postal trucks, fire trucks, and even construction trucks. Unlike big rigs, utility trucks generally have access to all roads and highways, no matter their size. And if responding to an emergency, they can go well above the posted speed limits.
There is one other unique fact you should be aware of if you get into an accident with a utility truck. In most cases, they are owned by city, state or federal agencies. That means anyone involved in an accident with a utility truck only has 6 months to present an accident claim.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accident injuries can be severe because of the size and mass of the trucks, especially when a multiple-axle, big rig is involved. The various types of injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Wrongful death
- Spinal cord injuries, up to and including paralysis (full, partial, permanent, and/or temporary)
- Broken bones/fractures
- Whiplash injuries
- Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine injuries
- Back pain, including strain and sprain
- Nerve injuries and damage, numbness, and radiculopathy
- Cuts and lacerations
- Crush injuries
- Scarring and burns
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses
Sadly, of the 4,102 people killed in collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles in 2017, 68% of the victims were the occupants of the passenger vehicles. In comparison, 17% of the occupants of the trucks were killed in these accidents. All of the other victims were either pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
At The Dominguez Firm, we have over 30 years of experience handling wrongful death claims for truck accident victims. We know that no amount of money can atone for the death of a loved one but obtaining justice can bring solace to grieving family members.
Truck Accident Investigations
Accidents involving big rigs are different from regular car accidents. Besides a police report,
the trucking company itself will immediately send investigators to the scene of the accident. They are not responding quickly so they can help you. Their main goal is to protect their own interests.
If you were injured in an accident with any type of commercial truck, you need an attorney by your side. Don’t believe any investigators or insurance agents who tell you do not need a lawyer. Remember, they are paid by the trucking companies that employ them. Their only goal is to minimize your claim and pay you the least amount possible.
Should I Accept the Trucking Company’s Settlement Offer?
Absolutely not! Always speak to a truck accident lawyer before you sign or accept anything. You can’t go back and ask for more money if the settlement money runs out. What looks like a generous amount can quickly evaporate when you have serious injuries.
What is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
Given the severity of most trucking accident injuries, victims can require hospitalization and many times, surgery. Besides these hefty medical costs, you may also need:
- Rehabilitation and/or physical therapy
- Long-term care
- Home and vehicle modifications
That’s not even factoring in the mental toll that such a traumatic accident can have on you and your family. Then there’s lost wages as some victims cannot return to work for weeks and months. For victims with permanent injuries, they may be unable to ever work again.
We at The Dominguez Firm have been helping truck accident victims for over 30 years. We know what a fair and just offer should look like given the particular facts of a case. We’re proud to say we have obtained six and seven-figure settlements for some of our truck accident victims over the years. While we can’t give exact numbers, we can approximate the compensation that you should be entitled to by comparing your case to similar cases we have handled.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Claim?
Generally, it’s two years from the date of the accident. But you should never wait until the last minute to file since it greatly reduces the strength of your claim. There are several reasons for this:
- Evidence can be lost or destroyed.
- Recollection of the facts can become hazier as time passes.
- A jury and the defense may question why you waited so long to file a claim.
And if your accident was with a government vehicle, you only have six months to file a claim. The sooner you file a claim and allow your truck accident attorney to get to work on your case, the better.
Why Do I Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Truck accidents are very complex. There can be multiple defendants to deal with including:
- The driver of the truck
- The trucking company that employs them
- Anyone involved with loading the truck if loose cargo caused the accident
- A leasing company if the driver works independently, and;
- If a mechanical defect in the truck caused the accident, even the manufacturer of the truck.
That can all add up to three or four defendants when you file a claim.
If you or a family member were injured in a truck accident, you most likely have serious injuries. The last thing you want to do is deal with such a complex legal matter on your own. The experienced truck accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm can fight for the fair and just compensation that you deserve. We have the experience and resources to take on multiple defendants and are well-versed in all of the state and federal laws governing trucks and truck drivers.
And if you’re worried about the cost of hiring an attorney, you shouldn’t be. At The Dominguez Firm, we promise: you don’t pay unless we win. You have nothing to lose, so call us today at 800-818-1818 for a free and confidential consultation.
If I don’t have insurance and can’t afford medical treatment, can you help me?
Yes. After your injury accident, the number one, most important thing is for you to get the medical treatment you need without delay to start the healing process. If you do not have health insurance, or if you have substandard health insurance, we can help you access top-rated doctors and medical facilities in your community who will provide treatment to you that is secured by a lien on your case. Your medical lien will then be part of your demand for compensation that we make of the at-fault parties. The lien will be paid back from the proceeds of your case. Also, if applicable, our staff might be able to help you obtain free or low-cost coverage from Medi-Cal, Medi-Care, and other similar programs.
If my injuries make me unable to work, can you help me get by?
Yes. We have relationships with lending companies that can help you get by while your case is pending with a loan secured by a lien on the proceeds of your case. When it comes time to demand a settlement or go to trial, we will include your inability to work and lost income (past and future) as part of your demand for compensation. Also, in certain circumstances, we can advance you money to help you through tough times that will be paid back once your case is completed.
Who is typically responsible for causing trucking accidents?
Parties that can be potentially at-fault for causing truck injury accidents include:
- The truck driver (whether an employee or owner-operator)
- The corporation, business, commercial enterprise, non-profit, or public entity that owns and/or operates the truck, or employs the driver
- The owner and/or lessee of the tractor
- The owner and/or lessee of the trailer
- The owner, seller, distributor, and/or buyer of the goods being shipped
- The operator and/or lessee of the tractor and/or trailer
- Maintenance companies that serviced the truck if a mechanical issue caused the accident
- The designer and/or manufacturer of the truck and/or trailer if there was a mechanical or recall issue
- The driver and/or entity that owns another vehicle (that causes or contributes to the accident)
- A public entity for roadway design or maintenance issues
How long do I have to file my lawsuit after a truck injury accident?
As a general rule, if you are suing only non-governmental parties, you have two years to file your lawsuit after the accident. If you are suing a public entity or any part of the government, then you have six months to file your claim, and then must follow strict rules to bring a lawsuit under the California Tort Claims Act. There are, of course, exceptions to these general rules since it is a highly technical and tricky area of law; therefore, it is essential that you retain the services of a top-rated personal injury lawyer to help you navigate these murky waters.
How long do truck lawsuit cases usually last?
In most jurisdictions, once you file a lawsuit the trial date will be set 12 to 18 months into the future, which typically marks the longest time frame your case should take. In some cases, especially if your injuries are severe, it might benefit you to wait until your injuries have stabilized to file your lawsuit, which can add time to the total length of your case.
How does your firm prove negligence and win truck cases?
We pride ourselves on having 24/7 staff and investigators that can hit the ground running once you retain our firm on your injury case. We believe immediate and intensive investigations and fact-finding is integral to build the foundation of a winning case. Our top-rated, award-winning personal injury lawyers have a roll-up-their-sleeves mentality and dig deep into the facts of a case when developing their strategy to successfully win it. Our attorneys have a keen grasp of the interplay of federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern truck operation. We also have the resources to retain truck accident experts that offer opinions as to the cause of the accident and your injuries.
In many cases, we look beyond the facts of the accident itself to determine if a company pressures its drivers to engage in unsafe practices that put profit over safety. Unfortunately, these types of systemic problems are more pervasive than you can imagine, and we target all potential at-fault parties to hold them accountable for the injuries, pain, and loss they cause.
We also have great success because we have our proven, in-house trial team that stands at the ready to take your serious injury case all the way to trial, before judge and jury. With a $29 million verdict and several $10 million settlements to their credit, our trial team is an industry leader that strikes fear in opponents.
What types of damages and monetary claims can I make in my case?
In addition to having to prove liability, you must also prove your damages. “Damages” is a term used in the law to categorize all of the medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses you have suffered from your accident in the past and in the future. These include the following:
- Medical costs
- Lost earnings
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage and loss of use of vehicle
- Out of pocket expenses, including medical insurance co-pays
- Re-training or re-education to find a job you are able to do if you’ve become disabled
- Any other expenses or lost opportunities you’ve incurred as a result of your accident
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death (loss of support, loss of companionship, loss of love, and many others)
- Loss of consortium (for the spouse of the injured victim)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health illnesses
- Any other non-economic loss that you’ve suffered a result of your auto accident
Proving damages typically takes a coordinated effort between your medical team of doctors and providers as well as lifecare planners, vocational experts, and accident reconstruction experts, among others. We are adept at putting a winning team of experts together to champion your case and maximize your compensation to the fullest extent of the law.
Factors Affecting Your Settlement
Factors that contribute to the value of a truck accident settlement include:
- Severity of your injuries
- Magnitude of the property damage to your vehicle
- Length of hospital stay
- Prognosis, amount of time, and costs of your anticipated recovery
- Whether there’s a permanent disability or life-long injury
- Time away from work and/or inability to continue working
- Your health and lifestyle pre-accident
- Your age
- The negative impact on your life
Selecting A Law Firm To Represent You
Over our 30 plus year history, we have amassed over $1 billion* in total recoveries for injury victims in nearly every type of injury case you can imagine, thousands of which have been truck injury accidents. We have a 96%* success record that puts us at the top of the industry when it comes to success, for over more than three decades.
We always put the client first and we approach each case with empathy and compassion. We not only handle all of the details of your case, but we also help you with all of your needs along the way. We think of the client-lawyer relationship as more like a team, where teamwork yields the best results. To that end, we are with you every step of the way and will keep you informed about your case, answer any questions you might have, and include you in all major decisions.
Our three core values are: compassion, service and results. We apply these values to every single case and every single client. At The Dominguez Firm, you are not just another number or case. We take tremendous pride in providing you with the best service in the industry. Our team of lawyers and professional staff work tirelessly on your case, and if your case requires a jury trial, our in-house, award-winning trial team stands at the ready to take your serious injury case to verdict. We have the firepower and resources to fight back against major insurance companies and defendants, which allows us to hold them accountable for the injuries and wrongs they have caused. When someone injures you, it’s our mission to make things right by maximizing your financial recovery to restore you to the life you had before their negligence harmed you.
The Dominguez Firm has experienced truck injury lawyers to assist and get you the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has suffered a truck injury accident, call us at any hour for a no-cost consultation at 800-818-1818. There is no obligation. If there is no recovery, there is no fee!