Truck Accident Attorney in San Francisco, California
Commercial truck accidents often cause serious injuries and death. When truck drivers and their employers are negligent, people in smaller vehicles pay the price. In California, the four leading causes of truck driver negligence leading to injuries and death are driving at unsafe speeds, improper turning, unsafe lane changes, and failure to yield the right-of-way to a passenger vehicle. These are always dangerous operator errors, but when they are executed by someone driving a multi-ton vehicle, others on the roadway suffer.
At The Law Office of Bennett M. Cohen, P.C., our personal injury attorney fights for clients and their families who bear the brunt of trucking negligence. Commercial truck accidents are not like accidents involving only passenger vehicles, which is why it’s so important to reach out to a skilled attorney for legal guidance.
If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident in San Francisco or anywhere else in California—or if your loved one was severely injured or killed—set up a consultation with us today.
Are There Special Laws for Operating Trucks?
The rules of the road must be followed by every operator of a motor vehicle. Those rules are designed to keep others safe on California roadways, and everyone owes everyone else a duty of care. However, the sheer size and weight of commercial motor vehicles make them subject to additional federal and state laws and regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets stringent regulations designed to increase the operational safety of commercial motor vehicles. An experienced truck accident attorney knows the FMCSA Manual inside and out and uses its regulations to investigate crashes caused by truck operator negligence. The State of California requires that commercial motor vehicles subject to registration by the U.S. Department of Transportation adhere to FMCSA regulations.
These regulations cover a broad range of issues involving the safe operation of large trucks and semi-tractors, including the medical fitness and training of drivers, required inspections of the truck and trailer, loading, equipment, and the number of hours a driver can log on the roadway during a specific period of time. Any violation of any regulation constitutes negligence. Under California law, negligent parties are financially responsible for the injuries, death, and damages they cause.
California sets a two-year statute of limitations on both personal injury and wrongful death claims arising from trucking accidents. For personal injury claims, the two years begins on the date of the crash. For wrongful death claims, it begins on the date of death.
Who Can Be Liable for Damages in California Trucking Accidents?
Liability, or fault, in a trucking accident can rest with more than just the person operating the semi-tractor at the time. Any or all the following parties may be responsible for accidents if they were negligent:
The truck driver is the most likely party to be negligent in the safe operation of the truck.
Because most truck drivers are working in the agency and employment of a trucking company, the company is responsible for any negligent acts of its drivers. Moreover, the company could have direct negligence, for example, by allowing a driver to log too many hours on the road for the sake of profits. The trucking company provides the liability insurance coverage for its drivers and they are required by law to carry high policy limits due to the exposure they have to causing serious injury and death.
If the failure of a defective part of the semi-tractor or trailers contributed to the cause of the crash, the truck or part manufacturer could also be held liable for the damages suffered by crash victims.
If cargo is improperly loaded or not properly secured and its shifting causes or contributes to cause the crash, those who loaded the cargo may be liable.
Individuals and companies responsible for maintaining the safety of trucks and trailers may be held liable if their failure to ensure the safety of the vehicle caused or contributed to cause the crash.
What Are Common Factors of Liability?
Truck driver fatigue, health status, inadequate training, and failure to properly inspect and operate the truck safely are often liability factors. These can contribute to those four most common causes of truck driver-caused crashes mentioned previously.
Drivers of other vehicles involved in the crash could be assigned liability as well if they do or fail to do something that contributed to it. California observes pure comparative fault which means any financial recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to a victim in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
Road conditions may also figure into the liability equation. Slick roads or other hazards in and of themselves may contribute to the cause. However, truck and vehicle operators nonetheless have a duty to operate their vehicles in a manner safe for conditions.
How Can I File a Claim After a Truck Accident?
If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent commercial motor vehicle, you should meet with a truck accident attorney right away. The investigation of truck-involved crashes is vital to your personal injury claim, and preservation of evidence is critical.
If your loved one was severely injured by a negligent truck driver and is no longer competent to pursue a personal injury claim on their own—or if they died as a result of the crash—talk to a truck accident attorney right away. If someone else holds a certain durable power of attorney, they may be able to file a personal injury claim on the incapacitated victim’s behalf. Otherwise, the court can appoint a conservator to pursue a claim.
The surviving spouse or domestic partner, surviving children of the deceased or their grandchildren if the parent is deceased, and in some case, the parents or putative spouse of the deceased, may file a wrongful death claim.
Truck Accident Attorney in San Francisco, California
Personal injury and wrongful death claims stemming from truck accidents are extremely difficult to pursue without the help and guidance of an experienced truck accident attorney. Trucking company liability insurance policies with high limits mean a significant amount of money may be on the line, which means their insurance companies and their attorneys will do everything possible to deny or devalue your claim. That’s why we’re here to help. Contact The Law Office of Bennett M. Cohen, P.C., in San Francisco to set up a free case consultation.