Most of us steer clear of semi-trucks while driving to avoid accidents. But what about tractor trucks, also known as bobtail trucks? If you live in Bakersfield, CA you’re bound to see them. They’re the passenger cabins of big rigs but without any cargo trailers attached. This type of truck might not seem as intimidating but it can be just as dangerous as a tractor-trailer or semi-truck for different reasons.
Accidents with tractor trucks often leave those in passenger vehicles with serious injuries. Truck accident cases are also complex because they can involve federal, state and even municipal laws. To add to the complications, trucking transportation companies are notorious for aggressively defending themselves against accident claims. This is not the sort of accident claim you want to take on by yourself, especially if you’ve suffered major injuries or lost a loved one.
The Dominguez Firm has over 35 years of experience handling truck accident injury cases in Bakersfield and throughout Southern California. Let us defend your rights and fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries. Call us today at (800) 818-1818 for a free consultation. Below you’ll find out more about Bakersfield tractor truck accidents and your rights if you suffer injuries as a result of one.
Tractor trucks are very difficult to handle. One important reason is their weight is unevenly distributed. Because they aren’t carrying cargo, most of the weight is on the front wheels. This makes them more unstable and harder to maneuver. Also, even though they aren’t nearly as large as semi-trucks, they still require some distance to come to a full stop. So if the truck driver needs to brake or turn suddenly it can easily cause an accident. This is one of the rare types of accidents that can leave both the truck and car drivers with injuries.
If there are any silver linings in all of this it’s that bobtailing, that is, driving a big rig without the trailer isn’t cost-effective for the trucking companies since they aren’t transporting anything. For this reason, they don’t routinely travel our roads and freeways. That would explain why, according to the FMCSA (page 78), only 1.5% of bobtail trucks were involved in fatal accidents in 2019. Another positive is that truck drivers are trained on how to operate these vehicles, so they have a clear understanding of the limitations of their trucks.
Most accidents happen quickly and without any warning. Truck accidents are no exception. Certain factors account for most of these truck accidents and can be the fault of either the truck driver or the person driving a car.
- Distracted driving which can include eating, texting or playing with the vehicle controls instead of watching the road
- Manufacturer defects to the truck or the other vehicle
- Poorly maintained roads or signage
- Poor weather conditions
Many people are surprised by the last cause on this list. However, winter driving can be a real concern in Bakersfield and most of California’s Central Valley. The entire area experiences a weather phenomenon known as Tule fog from approximately November to March. This thick ground fog settles on the ground and causes very dangerous driving conditions that can lead to an accident. Over the last several years, multiple major accidents have happened due to it, often with catastrophic injuries and deaths.
In most cases, a collision between a truck and a car will cause serious and even permanent injuries to those in the car. As for the bobtail truck driver, they run a high risk of overturning in an accident. That can also leave the truck driver with major injuries. In both cases, the accident victims can face hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical bills over a lifetime. This may sound like an exceptionally high amount, but accident injuries such as paralysis or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can require extensive medical care over decades. Given the high cost of medical care in the U.S. and the years of attention needed these figures are accurate.
To put all of this in perspective, an offer of $100,000 for your accident injuries from the trucking transportation’s insurance company probably won’t cover the first six months of your medical care if you had severe injuries. Also, it’s highly unlikely the insurance company will offer you a multi-million dollar settlement for your accident injuries, as we’ll discuss in the next section.
The Insurance Adjuster for the Trucking Transportation Company Says I Don’t Need to Hire a Tractor Truck Accident Attorney. Should I Handle This Claim Myself?
As noted previously, trucking transportation companies will aggressively defend themselves against truck accident lawsuits. They will do this regardless of the severity of your injuries. One common tactic they use to try to pay you less is to scare you off hiring a personal injury attorney. They may tell you truck accident lawyers will complicate the process and slow things down. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Trucking companies are for-profit businesses. They are not in the habit of handing out large settlement checks to truck accident victims and will do everything they can to keep it that way. One is to avoid dealing with an attorney representing the accident injury victim. If you want to exercise your right to the maximum legal compensation for your injuries, you need experienced Bakersfield truck accident attorneys by your side.
Trying to handle your truck accident case by yourself can prove disastrous for you and your family at a very difficult time. You’ll likely be shortchanged plus there’s no going back and asking for more money in the future. Instead, let an experienced personal injury law firm deal with the trucking transportation insurance company while you concentrate on feeling better.
Accidents with serious injuries require the services of experienced personal injury lawyers. You need an accident lawyer with a winning track record handling truck accidents. That should include being well-versed in all federal and state trucking regulations related to accidents. The attorneys should also know how to negotiate with the trucking insurance companies regarding your accident injuries. And of course, they should offer free consultations for anyone injured in an accident.
Here are some questions to ask when looking for a Bakersfield truck accident attorney:
- How long has your firm been handling truck accident cases?
- Are you a referral service or a full-service personal injury law firm?
- Do you help undocumented immigrants injured in accidents in Bakersfield?
- I suffered injuries in a truck accident but don’t have medical insurance, can your firm still help me?
Make note of how accident injury firms answer the phone when you call for a free consultation. Are they polite? Are they patient when answering your questions? You want a firm that will not just meet your expectations but exceed them too. That should include outstanding, compassionate customer service. If you have serious injuries from a Bakersfield truck accident, you and your entire family are impacted. You not only want a law firm that offers quality representation, but you want one that cares about its accident injury clients too.
Generally, a Bakersfield truck accident claim will include the truck driver, but not always. This type of accident case can have more than one defendant, including:
- The truck driver
- The trucking transportation company that employs them
- If the accident was caused by cargo that came loose, the company that loaded the truck
- If the truck was leased, the leasing company
- If the accident happened because of a mechanical defect to the truck, the manufacturer
Another possible defendant would be the driver of another car if they caused the accident. As you can see, truck accidents can be much more complex compared to a car accident.
If you shared liability (the legal term for fault) for your truck accident in Bakersfield, you can still sue the other driver for your injuries in California. This is because California is a comparative fault state. The court will decide your percentage of fault from the details of your truck accident and discount that from your final compensation.
One important note regarding fault in accidents; what you think happened may not have, especially if you sustained serious injuries and needed to be rushed to the ER. If you’re badly hurt, you’ll be disoriented and possibly in heavy pain. In short, your judgment is likely impaired.
By hiring an accident lawyer right away, you can let them investigate your truck accident and determine liability while the evidence is still fresh. And under no circumstances should you apologize to anyone at the scene of the accident or accept any blame. The insurance company will most certainly use it against you, unfair as that may sound.
If you are injured in an accident with a tractor truck, semi-truck or other large commercial truck in Bakersfield, you would be entitled to financial compensation, legally known as damages for your injuries. The amount of compensation would depend on the particulars of your truck accident case. One of the most important is the extent of your injuries. Another would be whether you share part of the blame for your truck accident or not.
Damages are broken down into two categories, economic and non-economic. Economic damages are meant to compensate you for the expenses you have because of your truck accident. These can include:
- All medical costs
- Ambulance fees
- Hospital bills
- Any needed surgery
- Medical consultations, including with specialists
- Physical therapy
- Mental health counseling
- Long-term care
- In-home modifications
- The cost to replace or repair your car
- Lost income and potential income in the future if you can’t return to work due to your accident
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for the emotional toll your truck accident injury has had on you and your family. These damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (for the spouse of the injured person)
- Diminished quality of life
California places no limits on how much can be awarded in non-economic damages. For this reason, they often make up the largest part of a Bakersfield accident injury victim’s compensation.
If the defendant’s behavior was particularly malicious, the court may award punitive damages. This category of damages is rare and is meant more to make an example of the defendant rather than reward the accident victim. An example would be if a tractor truck driver caused an accident due to road rage.
How Long Do Truck Accident Cases in Bakersfield Usually Take?
Most Bakersfield trucking accident attorneys will tell you this is one of the most common questions they are asked. They’ll also uniformly reply that it depends on the facts of your individual accident case. In short, because no two truck accident cases are alike, there is no simple answer. However, your attorney can give you a rough estimate of how long your truck accident case will take based on the following:
- The extent of your accident injuries – If you got into an accident with a tractor truck, you probably suffered serious injuries. To determine your damages, you must reach MMI or maximum medical improvement. That is the point at which a doctor determines you’ve healed as fully as possible from your injuries. Reaching this point can take weeks or months. Your truck accident case can’t proceed until MMI is reached.
- The number of other parties involved – A truck accident can easily involve more than one car, pedestrian or truck. More parties mean more attorneys, documents and usually, more time.
- Whether there were questions about who was at fault – If there are questions about liability, also known as fault, thorough investigations are needed, which can add to the time your truck accident case takes.
- The response of the insurance company for the trucking company – Sometimes insurance companies do the right thing and make a fair offer for your truck accident injury right away. If they don’t, your case will take longer as negotiations will continue. The insurance companies will often make an initial low offer to see if you’ll take it. An experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer will be fully aware of this tactic and advise you accordingly.
Note that most personal injury cases don’t go to trial. However, if the insurance company refuses to do the right thing and compensate you fairly for your accident injury, The Dominguez Firm has the in-house litigation attorneys and financial resources to go to trial if necessary. Of course, you as the client will have the final say on any offers you receive, but if you and your Bakersfield truck accident lawyer agree you should go to trial, your case will take longer.
At The Dominguez Firm, we know the last thing you should worry about after your truck accident is figuring out how to pay an accident lawyer. That’s why we work on a contingency basis. That simply means our Bakersfield truck accident lawyers get paid from a percentage of your final settlement or verdict amount. That percentage will be clearly marked in the representation agreement you sign with us when you become our client. There are no retainer fees, hidden costs or out-of-pocket expenses whatsoever.
We’re often asked what happens if we can’t secure any compensation for your Bakersfield truck accident injury case. This very rarely happens, but if it does, the simple answer is; you would owe us nothing. If there is no recovery, there is no fee!
Accidents happen when we least expect them. If you were injured in a truck accident in Bakersfield, you’ve likely suffered serious injuries. Whether you were in the truck or a car, let the award-winning attorneys at The Dominguez Firm help you recover the compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries. You can be sure the trucking transportation companies have semi truck accident lawyers working hard for them. Make sure you do too.
Call us today for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818. After an accident, don’t take on the trucking transportation companies on your own. Let The Dominguez Firm fight for your rights. We can travel to your home or hospital at a moment’s notice.