Trucks of all sizes are everywhere in San Diego. Given their huge blind spots and much larger braking areas, it’s always a good idea to give them plenty of room. Sometimes, however, that’s not possible. One bad decision by another driver or vehicle malfunction can quickly unleash a major collision. That, in turn, can lead to serious or catastrophic injuries to those in the passenger vehicle. It can even result in fatalities.
At The Dominguez Firm, our San Diego truck accident lawyers have over 30 years of experience handling these devastating accident cases. We know that getting hit by a truck is one of the most traumatic crashes a person can endure. Let us fight for the compensation you’re entitled to for your truck accident injuries or loss. Call us today at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation. Don’t take the insurance and trucking transportation companies on by yourself.
What Causes the Majority of Truck Accidents?
One of the main causes of truck accidents in San Diego is, well, there are a lot of trucks, especially heavy commercial trucks on the road. Given that Mexico, the U.S.’ second-largesttrading partner is so nearby, the county sees a lot of truck traffic to and from our neighbor to the south. When you drive in San Diego, odds are pretty good you’ll share the road with a truck just about every time you go out.
Below you’ll find some of the most common causes of truck accidents. Not all are the fault of the truck driver. Other parties, such as car drivers and manufacturers can also be responsible.
Distracted driving – A distracted driver on their cellphone is dangerous, but if a truck driver is engaging in the same sort of behavior, you can multiply that danger by 10. Distracted driving can also include eating, playing with the radio, or even combing one’s hair.
Needing to meet tight deadlines –Even though federal law has tried to clamp down on the number of hours truckers can drive per shift, many still go to or over the legally allowed limit, which is 11 hours. This can cause them to fall asleep at the wheel or travel at dangerously high speeds.
Driving under the influence – According to the NHTSA, only 3% of commercial truck drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2020 were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That’s the lowest percentage of any group, thankfully. By contrast, DUI passenger car drivers accounted for about 23% of fatal accidents in the same year, which is a disturbingly high percentage.
Poor maintenance – We’ve all heard or seen news stories about horrific traffic accidents caused by tractor-trailer trucks that blow a tire or have faulty brakes. These are two prime examples of poor truck maintenance. Several parties may be responsible for a truck’s maintenance. Usually, it’s the transportation company that owns the truck. Sometimes, however, it’s the trucker if he/she is the owner. It can be a truck leasing company too.
Vehicle defects – We know about defective cars, but trucks can also have them. If you, whether as a truck driver or car driver are injured in an accident because your vehicle had a defect, the manufacturer would be held liable and you would have the right to file a lawsuit against them.
Understanding the Different Types of Trucks
When we talk about truck accidents, we hear the words big rig and trailer bandied about interchangeably. But they’re not the same thing, nor are they always commercial vehicles. For example, the post office uses big rigs. Even though it’s a large truck, it’s considered a government vehicle. To help alleviate your confusion, here are the definitions of the different types of trucks you’ll find on San Diego’s streets and freeways.
Bobtail truck – This is the front end of the truck with no trailer attached. Another name for them is tractor trucks. You might be surprised to learn that bobtail trucks are harder to handle and brake in an emergency. The technology has improved in recent years, so bobtail trucks aren’t as notoriously unstable as they used to be. Still, it’s a good idea to give them plenty of space if you’re near one, especially on a rainy day.
Big rigs – This is another name for the bobtail with a cargo trailer attached to the back of it. The cargo trailer itself has no engine or steering wheel. Other names for this configuration are 18-wheeler, semi, and tractor-trailer.
Delivery trucks – The popularity of online shopping means delivery trucks are found everywhere in San Diego County. Amazon alone is continuing to build and expand its warehouse facilities throughout the county and even across the border in Tijuana. Walmart and other big box brands aren’t far behind. This growing proliferation of mega-sized warehouses means more delivery trucks. Like big rigs, they often need to meet strict delivery deadlines. That can lead to speeding and other forms of reckless driving.
Emergency vehicle trucks – Emergency vehicles have a major distinction from most other trucks; they can enter any neighborhood or street. The most obvious example of this is a fire truck, which has access to every street in the city, including those in private neighborhoods. Because they’re responding to an emergency, they need to travel quickly and cross red lights. This poses a danger to cars, pedestrians, motorcycles, and anything else in their path.
Tanker Trucks – Accidents involving tanker trucks are particularly horrific. Because they carry hazardous materials, there’s the potential for them to burst into flames in a crash. The rare survivors of tanker truck accidents are often left with serious burn injuries.
Utility trucks – Like emergency vehicle trucks, utility trucks have no access restrictions. Examples include garbage trucks, construction trucks, and repair trucks. They don’t usually need to drive fast. They can, however, be vulnerable to an inattentive driver. For instance, telephone utility vehicles feature cranes so technicians can work on high phone lines. A distracted or reckless driver can easily cause an accident and seriously injure surrounding workers.
One final note on the different types of trucks. If you’re involved in a crash with a government truck, you only have six months from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. We’ll go into more detail about time limits directly below.
How Long Do I Have to File My San Diego Truck Accident Claim?
If you’re injured in a crash with a truck in San Diego or anywhere in California you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. On the other hand, if you got into an accident with a government truck, be it city, state, or federal, you only have six months to file your claim. These time limits are legally known as the statute of limitations.
If the trucking accident victim is a child, the statute of limitations is stopped, or tolled, which is the legal term, until they turn 18. The statute of limitations would be two years after the date of their 18th birthday. This is because minors can’t file lawsuits on their own. A parent or guardian would need to do it for them.
Except for an accident with a government truck, it would seem you have plenty of time to file your accident injury claim. This is even more so if the case involves a minor. But waiting is one of the worst things you can do. The main reason for this is vital evidence will certainly be lost if you wait days, months, or worse, years to take legal action. Any truck accident attorney will tell you this greatly diminishes the value of your case and the final compensation you could be entitled to.
Other reasons to file your truck accident claim right away:
- Defense attorneys will jump on your delay and question if your injuries were even tied to your truck accident.
- They’ll also challenge your recollection of what happened since so much time has passed. They’ll do the same to any witnesses or experts.
- As for witnesses, you could easily lose touch with them if you wait too long. People move or change their phone numbers all the time. Losing key witnesses is also harmful to your case.
- If the victim is a child, you want to make sure they receive the compensation they need to obtain the best medical care possible right now, not after they turn 18.
There are other exceptions to the statute of limitations listed above. Another one is if the defendant leaves the state of California. The statute of limitations would be tolled until they return or are brought back. As you can see, there are many scenarios regarding lawsuits and time limits. But there is one very important fact; it’s important to speak to an experienced San Diego truck accident lawyer immediately after your truck accident.
What Are the Different Types of Truck Accidents?
You’ve probably heard the term “jackknifed tractor-trailer”. It’s commonly used when talking about a major accident. But do you know what a jackknife accident is? Please read on.
- Jackknife accident – Also known as a rollover accident, this truck accident happens when the bobtail or front of the truck begins to move separately from the back of the truck, the trailer. Both ends can go in different directions from each other, causing the trucker to lose control. This usually causes the truck to form the shape of a camping jackknife, hence the name. This can be triggered by wide turns, an empty trailer, or slippery road conditions.
- Underride crash – This is one of the scariest and potentially deadliest types of truck collisions. They takes place when a truck has to stop suddenly, causing the passenger vehicle driving behind them to crash into their rear and become wedged under the back of their truck. In some extreme cases, the entire top of the passenger vehicle’s cabin can shear off.
- Loose cargo – A commercial truck carrying loose cargo poses a very dangerous threat to any motorists traveling behind them. Even if the cars behind the truck managed to avoid the cargo items, they can crash into each other when swerving out of the way. The company that was negligent in loading the truck would be liable.
- Head-on accident – This type of accident is usually deadly for anyone who’s unlucky enough to be in the car involved. Head-on accidents are generally caused by truck driver fatigue. This causes them to fall asleep at the wheel and drift into an oncoming traffic lane.
- Blown tire accident – Large trucks are more prone to blown tires than cars are. When a big rig blows a tire, the driver can quickly lose control of the truck and crash into other vehicles. Improper truck maintenance, trailers that are too heavy, or road hazards are leading causes.
- Sideswipe accident – Trucks have much larger blind spots than cars. Some drivers are unaware of this or are simply reckless. Regardless, know that being sideswiped by a big rig can cause permanent injuries or kill those in a car. Always avoid making unsafe lane changes or taking other unnecessary risks near them.
What would be a simple rear-end car accident at a low speed could leave you in the hospital if a truck hits the back of your car. T-bone accidents, whether the fault of the person driving the car or the truck can also be fatal. When you’re driving near a truck, show a healthy respect for their space and yours to avoid getting into an accident.
What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?
When comparing a big rig to a passenger car, the much larger size of the commercial truck is obvious. Trucks can be up to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles on average. Given this size difference, it’s no wonder truck accidents often result in permanent injuries and even deaths to those in cars.
Some of the most common injuries suffered in San Diego truck accidents are:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Permanent or temporary paralysis
- Scarring and burns
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
In 2019, there were 300,050 large truck accidents in the U.S. In those crashes, the occupants of the passenger vehicles were 4 times more likely to die compared to those in the trucks. Specifically, 2,757 passenger vehicle occupants died compared to 679 people killed in large commercial trucks.
Accidents between two commercial trucks can also cause catastrophic injuries or lead to fatalities. If you were a commercial truck driver involved in a crash with another truck in San Diego, you should also call The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation right away.
Should I Try and Deal With the Transportation Company’s Insurance Adjuster Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?
No, don’t take them on by yourself. Truck accidents in San Diego or any part of California are one of the most complex personal injury claims. Unlike car accidents or even motorcycle accidents, many involve multiple parties such as, bicycle riders, pedestrians, and others. Unless you have experience negotiating with several parties, you’ll likely have problems obtaining the settlement you should be entitled to from the insurance company. Beyond that, you might also have to take on some or all of the following:
- Defense attorneys
- The transportation company and their investigators
- One or more insurance companies
- The truck driver
- Any other drivers, motorcycle riders, cyclists, pedestrians, etc. involved
- If the truck was leased, the leasing company
- If the truck had a defective part, the truck manufacturer
Another issue that often arises with truck accident cases is that they fall under several jurisdictions. There can be more than one government agency investigating the crash. You could potentially be dealing with laws and officials from the County of San Diego, the city within the county where the accident took place, and the Federal Highway Transportation Safety Administration (FHTSA), which investigates commercial truck accidents.
Frankly, if you take all of this on by yourself, you’ll be in over your head. What you think you’re saving in legal fees won’t make up for the settlement money you’ll probably be leaving on the table. The insurance company’s tactics will be to delay your claim, make you lowball offers, and/or try to blame you for the truck accident so they can dismiss your claim outright. Hire a San Diego truck accident attorney right away.
Why Do I Need a Law Firm With Experience Handling Truck Accident Cases?
Trucking transportation companies are notoriously aggressive when defending themselves against truck accident claims. They will do this regardless of the extent of your injuries or loss. They are a business and paying out large settlements to truck accident victims and their families cuts into their bottom line. They are known to send their own investigators to the scene of a truck accident fast, in some cases even faster than first responders.
Hiring an attorney is a very important first step. But don’t hire just anyone. Make sure you go with a firm whose practice areas include handling truck accident claims. Just as you wouldn’t go to a dentist for a broken foot, you shouldn’t pick a random lawyer for your San Diego truck accident case. The Dominguez Firm has the in-house investigators, nationally-recognized litigation attorneys, and resources to successfully manage your case from beginning to end.
Most people have no experience dealing with lawsuits, let alone a truck accident case. Having to do so while recovering from serious injuries or mourning the loss of a loved one is even more daunting. Instead, let The Dominguez Firm represent you. We’ll deal with the trucking company, their insurance provider, all documentation, deadlines, and negotiations while fighting to get you the maximum compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries.
How Do I Pay The Dominguez Firm?
We work on a contingency basis. That means we only get paid at the end of your case from a percentage of your final settlement or verdict. That percentage will be clearly stated in the representation agreement you sign when you become our client. That percentage is fixed and won’t change depending on how much compensation we secure for you.
You don’t have to worry about any out-of-pocket expenses whatsoever when you hire The Dominguez Firm to represent you. There are no legal retainers or hidden expenses to worry about. Plus, if we’re unable to secure any compensation for you, our policy is you owe us nothing. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. So as you can see, you can afford quality legal representation for your San Diego truck accident claim.
I Think I Share Part of the Blame for My Truck Accident. Can The Dominguez Firm Still Help Me?
Yes, even if you share part of the blame for your San Diego truck accident, you still have rights. You can file a claim against those who caused your accident injuries. California is a comparative negligence state. That simply means you can receive compensation in civil court for your injuries as long as you’re not 100% responsible.
A court will decide your percentage of responsibility and subtract that from your final settlement or verdict amount. For instance, if you are found to be 30% responsible for your truck accident and are awarded $5 million, you would receive $3.5 million. $5 million – 30% ($1.5 million) = $3.5 million.
Don’t let any doubts about your truck accident stop you from contacting us. Instead of worrying about who was to blame, call The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation. We can answer all of your questions and more importantly, get started on your case right away. When it comes to such a large-scale accident, figuring out who did what will take a team of investigators. Besides, your recollection of the chain of events that caused the accident may not be as clear as you think, especially if you were seriously injured.
I Was Injured in a Truck Accident in San Diego, but I’m an Undocumented Immigrant. Can The Dominguez Firm Still Help Me?
Your immigration status doesn’t stop you from filing a truck accident claim. In California, you have the right to sue those responsible for your accident injuries, period. The reasoning, rightly so, is that your personal injury case has nothing to do with whether you’re an undocumented immigrant or not. Plus, you can file without fear of deportation. In short, your immigration status can’t be used against you or even brought up at any point during your case.
Also important to know; your final compensation or verdict will be calculated according to what your accident injuries cost you in California, not the country you’re from. We have won millions of dollars for undocumented clients in the past and will fight to get you the maximum compensation you deserve too. So, if you’ve been injured in a truck accident in California, you don’t have to be afraid to exercise your right to take legal action against those responsible. That goes for a motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or car accident as well.
How Long Will My San Diego Truck Accident Case Take?
Your truck accident case will take as long as needed to secure the maximum compensation you’re entitled to and deserve for your injuries. We know this isn’t a precise answer. It’s not our intention to frustrate you, but no personal injury attorney or law firm can give you an exact time frame.
What we can do is compare your truck accident case to similar cases we’ve handled in the past to give you a general idea of how long your case will take.
Other important factors to consider when estimating how long your case will take include:
- How many other parties are involved – Truck accident cases almost always include more than one party. Obviously, the more parties, the longer your case will take. This can include other plaintiffs, multiple defendants, all of their attorneys, and the additional documentation that goes along with that.
- The extent of your injuries – If you suffered serious injuries from your truck accident, your case will take longer because your period of recovery takes longer. Your lawyer will want you to reach MMI or Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is the point at which a doctor believes you have recovered from your injuries as much as possible. They don’t believe you’ll get much better than your current state of health. It may take you months or even a year to reach MMI. Reaching MMI is crucial to establishing what your exact injuries are.
- Whether your case goes to trial or not – If the trucking company and their insurance provider refuse to make a fair settlement offer for your injuries, The Dominguez Firm isn’t afraid to go to trial on your behalf. Most cases settle before that happens, but it can happen. We will only proceed with your approval, but if it comes to that, it will lengthen the timeline of your case.
Note that if we need to go to trial, we must abide by the San Diego court system calendar. In San Diego, and all of California criminal cases always take priority over civil cases such as yours. That’s why it’s common for there to be a wait for a civil court date.
What Compensation Could I be Entitled to For My San Diego Truck Accident Injuries?
When you file a civil lawsuit against the persons or entities responsible for your San Diego truck accident injuries, you are seeking damages. This is the legal term for the financial compensation you would be entitled to. They are broken up into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are meant to compensate you for all of the expenses you’ve had to take on because of your truck accident injuries. The most common and largest part of your economic damages are medical expenses, such as:
- Ambulance fees
- Emergency room bills
- Medical consultations
- Consultations with medical specialists
- All surgeries
- Physical therapy
- Long-term care
- Home modifications
- Mental health counseling
It’s no exaggeration to say something as catastrophic as for example, a brain injury can cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in medical bills. The average three-day hospital stay alone can easily be over $30,000. If you’re in the hospital for a week or more, it can reach six figures. That’s just the cost of hospitalization without the other expenses listed above. The dollar amounts can add up quickly.
Other economic damages you would be entitled to would be lost wages and the cost to repair or replace your vehicle, also known as property damage.
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for the emotional toll your San Diego truck accident injuries have taken on you. There is no law or legal worksheet that helps determine how much a personal injury victim should receive in non-economic damages. That’s why it’s so important to have a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney by your side. They can compare your injuries, and emotional losses with similar cases they’ve handled in the past to obtain an estimate of how much you should receive in non-economic damages.
These non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Even though non-economic damages are harder to calculate, California puts no limit as to how much can be awarded for your emotional losses. That’s why they usually make up the largest portion of a truck accident victim’s final settlement or verdict amount.
I Lost a Loved One in a San Diego Truck Accident. Can The Dominguez Firm Help Me?
If you are the legal next of kin of the deceased, yes you can file a claim against those responsible for your unexpected loss. But you wouldn’t file a truck accident claim. You would file a wrongful death claim. Some of the damages you could be entitled to include:
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
- Household services the deceased contributed
We know that no amount of money can make up for your loss. However, finding justice and having financial peace of mind can help greatly at such a difficult time.
Call the San Diego Truck Accident Attorneys at The Dominguez Firm
As you can see, San Diego truck accident cases are complex, involve multiple parties, and often cause serious injuries, and deaths. You need a full-service law firm with the in-house trial lawyers, investigators, and resources to see your case through from beginning to end. We are all of the above. The Dominguez Firm is not a referral service, nor will we close out your case for less because we can’t afford to go to trial. Defense attorneys know this and it gives you, our client, the kind of leverage other firms can’t offer.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a truck accident in San Diego, put our 30+ year successful track record to work for you and your family. Call us at 1-800-818-1818 today for a free case consultation. Plus, you don’t have to worry about upfront fees or out-of-pocket expenses. The San Diego truck accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm are here for you!