Located in Kern County, the city of Bakersfield has experienced explosive growth in the last few decades. A lower cost of living, especially for housing has attracted hundreds of thousands of new residents from neighboring coastal areas such as Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Many industries have also been drawn to Bakersfield’s more inexpensive open areas.
As always, along with the good, there’s the bad. Its prime location at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley makes the city an important transportation hub. Trucks are an everyday sight on nearby Interstate 5 and local roads and freeways. Sharing the road with all of those big rigs, delivery trucks and tanker trucks means local residents are at greater risk of being involved in a truck accident in Bakersfield, CA.
If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident in Bakersfield, call the personal injury lawyers at The Dominguez Firm for a FREE consultation at 800-818-1818 today. We can travel to your home or hospital at a moment’s notice. Below you’ll find out more about how our Bakersfield truck accident attorneys can help you.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
When traveling in Bakersfield or anywhere in California for that matter, it’s always good to give large commercial trucks plenty of space if you can. Due to their size alone they have much larger blind spots and require more room to come to a complete stop. Still, even when being careful, truck accidents occur.
Truck accidents happen for many reasons, but among the most common are:
- Driver fatigue – Federal law allows truck drivers to be behind the wheel for a total of 11 hours per shift. Unfortunately, pressure to meet deadlines means many will ignore this requirement. Deadlines can cause them to speed or fall asleep at the wheel, often with catastrophic and even deadly consequences to anyone in a passenger vehicle.
- Distracted driving – Truck drivers aren’t supposed to be on their phones while driving, but just like other drivers, sometimes they are. The difference is that due to their sheer size when they cause distracted driving accidents, they can easily make the evening news.
- Alcohol or drug use – As with distracted driving, a truck driver under the influence poses a lethal threat to everyone around them.
- Poor vehicle maintenance – We’ve all heard of horrific accidents caused by tractor trailer trucks that blow a tire or have faulty brakes.
- Unsecured loads – A large commercial truck that loses its cargo is dangerous for anyone else on the road.
- Weather – We may think of California as being perpetually sunny but fog, mist, and even ice can cause dangerous road conditions in and around Bakersfield. This can lead to trucks hydroplaning and swerving.
What are Some Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Bakersfield drivers don’t have to contend with just delivery trucks. Every conceivable type of truck travels through and into this city. What they all have in common is that any one of them can cause major injuries or kill individuals in a passenger car in a crash. Bakersfield truck accident victims who survive can easily suffer catastrophic injuries.
Among the most common injuries are:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Burns and scarring
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Emotional problems such as PTSD and depression
Even some of the so-called “minor” injuries on this list such as whiplash can require hospitalization and have lingering effects for months and years. Some, such as TBIs can lead to permanent injuries, including paralysis.
Should I Call a Lawyer After My Bakersfield Truck Accident or Deal with the Trucking Company Directly?
If you were injured in a Bakersfield truck accident, call the personal injury lawyers at The Dominguez Firm right away. The sooner we can get started on your case, the better. Do not deal with the trucking company directly, in spite of what they may tell you.
The trucking company’s main goal is to settle your claim quickly and for the least amount possible. They are a business; therefore, they avoid paying out six and even seven-figure settlements when they can. They are so aggressive that they are known to send investigators to the scene of the accident even before the police. If an employee for the trucking company is telling you to deal with them directly, they are only acting in the best interests of their employer, not yours.
Why are Truck Accidents More Complex?
Truck accident injuries are usually serious – Being hit by a big rig while traveling in a car is one of the most frightening experiences a person can suffer. Serious, life-changing injuries and fatalities are common. This alone makes the case more complex than cases where there are minor injuries.
Multiple parties may be involved – When a semi gets into an accident, they can easily hit several surrounding cars. This can mean multiple people are involved in the accident, all with their own individual attorneys.
There can be multiple defendants – These can include the trucking company, the driver, a leasing company if the truck was leased, a cargo company if loose cargo caused the accident, and even the manufacturer if the accident was caused by a truck defect.
State and federal laws and trucking regulations are involved – There are multiple state and federal laws governing trucks, transportation companies, and drivers. This makes it important to have an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer who’s well-versed with these laws by your side.
Trucks have a black box – Many large commercial trucks have black boxes that record speed and other data. This can be used as additional evidence when determining the cause of the crash, something not available in an accident between two cars.
Trucking companies will defend themselves aggressively – Unlike an accident between two cars, any crash with a truck means a trucking company, sometimes referred to as a transportation company will be involved. They are notorious for defending themselves aggressively against personal injury truck accident claims and immediately send investigators to the scene of any accident.
Fortunately, The Dominguez Firm has its own in-house investigators ready to arrive on-site at a moment’s notice. It’s vital to have an investigator from your legal team present right away when determining the cause of the accident. This is especially important when the people in the passenger vehicle need to be transported to the hospital immediately, which is often the case. They can’t present their side of the story to investigators and authorities.
What Compensation Could I be Entitled to for My Bakersfield Truck Accident?
The legal term for the compensation you could be entitled to is called damages. There are two types of damages, economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are meant to compensate you for the expenses your Bakersfield truck accident caused. This would include bills from the date of the accident, current bills, and those you incur in the future. Some common examples are:
- Ambulance fees
- All medical bills including emergency room care, hospital bills, visits with medical specialists, and medical procedures including any surgery
- Property damages, which would be the damage to your vehicle
- Mental health counseling
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Home modifications
- Long-term care
Your economic damages are clear cut. Your attorney adds up all of your bills related to your crash.
The non-economic damages you could be entitled to are meant to compensate you for the emotional toll your truck accident is having on you and your family. These can’t be added up; however, your case can be compared to similar cases to get a general sense of your non-economic damages.
Examples of non-economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (that is, loss of companionship)
California imposes no limit on what can be awarded in non-economic damages for a truck accident. That’s one of the main reasons why non-economic damages are often the largest part of a person’s final settlement or verdict.
How Long Will My Bakersfield Truck Accident Case Take?
Your case will take as long as needed to get you the maximum legal compensation you’re entitled to. That may sound very vague, but it’s true. There is no secret formula for figuring out how long a case may take. No Bakersfield personal injury attorney can answer this question with a precise time frame.
Your attorney can, however, review certain factors to determine an approximate time frame for your case. These factors can include:
- The number of vehicles and/or people involved
- The possibility of multiple defendants
- The extent of your injuries
If your truck accident involved multiple vehicles, there will be several parties involved. That will add time to your case. Another factor is whether the truck driver was an employee or independent contractor. If they were an employee, the trucking company will be named in any lawsuit too. If they were an independent contractor who leased their truck, their leasing company will also be named as a defendant. If your truck accident was caused by an unsecured load or vehicle defect, the loading company or manufacturer respectively will be named in your lawsuit.
An important component of your claim is the extent of your injuries and your period of recovery. As with any major injury, it will take time to heal. Even injuries that are permanent may show medical improvement. MMI, or maximum medical improvement means your doctor believes you have recovered as much as medically possible. You may still have pain or other physical problems, but your doctor doesn’t feel your condition will improve much beyond your current state. Reaching MMI is an important part of your Bakersfield trucking accident timeline.
Could My Truck Accident Case Go to Trial?
Probably not, but it could happen. Most cases, particularly truck accident cases settle before going to trial. However, if it comes down to it, The Dominguez Firm’s team of award-winning in-house trial lawyers are ready to present your case to a judge and jury.
We are a full-service law firm, not a referral service. If the insurance and trucking company lawyers won’t make a fair and just offer for your Bakersfield truck accident injuries, we have the resources and personnel to go to trial. Not every law firm can say that. Going to trial is expensive, so some law firms will settle for less to avoid doing so. The Dominguez Firm won’t do that. If we can get you the maximum compensation possible without going to trial, we certainly will. Nonetheless, we won’t leave money on the table to save time.
Truck accident injuries can be catastrophic and cost the victim tens, hundreds of thousands, and yes, millions of dollars over a lifetime. Our main goal is to make sure you have the money you need to provide for you and your family. You should have financial peace of mind while getting the best medical attention you deserve.
One final note on this topic, you are our client and this is your case. We will advise you as to the best course of action, but you have final say on anything we do. We won’t make any decisions without your approval and will always act in your best interests.
My Car Was Hit By a Bakersfield Fire Truck. Can The Dominguez Firm Still Help Me?
Yes, but the situation is a little different. If you were hit by a government vehicle of any kind and injured, you can file a claim against the agency the driver works for. That can be a city, county, state, or federal entity. The one difference is you only have six months from the date of your crash to file your claim.
So if a Bakersfield fire truck, postal truck, which is considered a vehicle of the federal government, or California State Park truck hit your vehicle, don’t delay in calling The Dominguez Firm.
Having said all of that, if your crash was with a privately owned or leased vehicle, you should still file a claim right away. You may have two years from the date of your accident to file your claim, but you shouldn’t wait. Waiting can seriously hurt your case. There are several reasons for this:
- Defense attorneys will question why you waited to file your claim.
- Vital accident scene evidence will be lost.
- Contact information for any witnesses can change, leaving you unable to get in touch with them.
These deadlines are known legally as a statute of limitations. If you do wait and the six months or two years from the date of the accident passes, you have no legal recourse, no matter how severe your injuries.
I’m an Undocumented Immigrant Involved in a Bakersfield Truck Accident. Can The Dominguez Firm Still Help Me?
Yes. Here in California, you have the right to file a claim for your Bakersfield truck accident without fear of being deported or suffering any other type of negative action. Assembly Bill 2159, as it is known was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016 and took effect in January of 2017.
Defense attorneys can’t bring up your immigration status at any point during your case, including if it goes to trial. If they do, our attorneys will quickly intervene to stop them in order to protect your rights. Even if it is mentioned, you don’t have to worry, it can’t be used against you.
Another important feature of the law changed how a personal injury accident victim’s damages are calculated. Previously, damages were calculated based on what the cost of the accident would have been in the victim’s home country. This was done regardless of how long the victim had been living in the United States. Since wages and medical costs are generally lower in most foreign countries, the victim’s final compensation was almost always very low.
Today, all personal injury accident victims have their damages calculated in the same way, regardless of their immigration status.
I Lost a Close Family Member in a Bakersfield Truck Accident. Can I Sue Those Responsible?
If you are the eligible next of kin, yes you can. You’d be able to file a wrongful death claim against those responsible for your untimely loss. Some of the damages you would be entitled to include:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of future financial support
- Household services the deceased provided. Examples include cleaning, cooking, and repairs around the home.
One note, if your loved one was killed in a Bakersfield truck accident because of a criminal act you can sue the defendant in civil court even if they were acquitted in criminal court. Examples would include a truck driver that was acquitted of causing the crash that killed your family member while driving drunk or due to a road rage incident.
If I Hire The Dominguez Firm to Represent Me for My Bakersfield Truck Accident Case, How Do I Pay You?
The Dominguez Firm works on a contingency basis meaning we get paid from a percentage of your final settlement or verdict when your case ends. You don’t have to worry about any hidden costs or upfront legal fees.
If you don’t have medical insurance, The Dominguez Firm can still help you. We work with an extensive network of outstanding medical providers who work on a lien basis. These providers won’t bill you until your case is resolved.
Finally, if we don’t recover any compensation for you, which is highly unlikely, you owe us nothing. In other words, if there is no recovery, there is no fee!
Call the Bakersfield Truck Accident Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm Today
There’s no reason to take on the trucking companies and their high-powered attorneys by yourself. Doing that can end up costing you dearly in the end. You want to concentrate on feeling better, not worry about your finances. Instead, call The Dominguez Firm today for a FREE consultation regarding your Bakersfield truck accident case at 800-818-1818. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.