Contact a San Diego truck accident lawyer before contacting the trucking company’s insurance company to preserve your legal rights and avoid insurance tricks like blaming the victim. James Iagmin has been handling personal injury claims since 1997. He has a proven track record of achieving the best possible results for his clients.
Here are some practical steps to follow to protect your legal rights if you were injured in a trucking accident:
Be sure to contact an attorney immediately. Trucking accident claims are subject to various statutes of limitations. Thus, waiting to talk to an attorney may jeopardize valuable legal rights.
Three legal criteria compose a legitimate trucking accident claim:
Liability for the accident depends on who caused it. There may be several liable parties, including the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader, manufacturer of a defective part, and the government agency responsible for maintaining safe road conditions. Expect each at-fault party to deny responsibility for the accident and blame others.
There may be several factors that caused the accident, and an extensive investigation will likely be necessary. Trucking companies and insurers will conduct their own “investigation” of the accident to gather evidence to deny your claim. From our experience, you will need your own team of experts to prove liability in trucking accident claims. Proving liability may involve interviewing witnesses, obtaining logs and inspection reports, analyzing engine controls and other electronic data, detailed site inspections, and obtaining the testimony of specialized technical experts. Each of these tasks requires the knowledge and skill of an experienced lawyer.
Suppose you were injured in a trucking accident through no fault of your own. In that case, you can recover for past and future medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damage, and other damages. If someone has died, the victim’s family may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
Due to the size and weight of trucks, the results of trucking accidents are often disastrous and result in devastating injuries such as brain, spine, and burn injuries, as well as wrongful death. Expect the insurance companies to hire doctors to testify in court that your injuries are not as severe as you say. You will need your own medical experts and a skilled lawyer to assess the nature and extent of your injuries accurately.
Commercial truck drivers are required to carry significant insurance in case of accidents. Specifically, they must hold public liability insurance, cargo insurance, and a surety bond.
However, do not expect trucking companies or their insurers to have any sympathy for you, no matter how great your suffering is. Commercial trucks carry insurance policies, but trucking companies and insurers fight tooth and nail to avoid financial responsibility for trucking accidents. They will hire lawyers, doctors, and technical experts to go to court, blame the accident on you and claim that your injuries are not as severe as you say. Thus, you will need a skilled lawyer to achieve a fair result if you are injured in a trucking accident.
Commercial trucks (also known as “tractor-trailers” or “big rigs”) can weigh tens of thousands of pounds and pose unique risks on the road due to their size, weight, blind spots, and lack of maneuverability. As such, trucking accidents are rarely minor. The severity of the collisions is one reason trucking is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Specific trucking safety rules, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, protect truck drivers and other motorists. However, people don’t always follow these rules, and trucking accidents still occur tens of thousands of times yearly. Truck drivers are often on tight deadlines and may have the incentive to violate safety rules to meet them (such as by exceeding driving hour limits).
Safety rules violations are a common cause of trucking accidents. Other common causes of trucking accidents include:
Cell phone use: It is illegal for commercial truck drivers to hold a cell phone in their hand while driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA’’) outright banned cell phone use for commercial truckers, bus drivers, and other commercial drivers. A first offense can cost violators up to $2,750, and multiple violations can cause the driver to lose their commercial driver’s license.
Mechanical failure: Truckers and trucking companies need to maintain their trucks in working condition. The FMCSA requires trucking companies to inspect, repair, and maintain their trucks regularly. They also must keep records of these inspections, including details about the work performed and on what date. Inadequate inspection or maintenance may lead to mechanical failures that cause accidents. Mechanical failures include brake failure, tire blowouts, missing lights, transmission failure, broken windshield wipers, and coupling detachments.
Negligent or reckless driving: Federal and state laws hold truck drivers to the strictest possible driving safety standards. Even a momentary lapse in judgment can have devastating consequences when driving a semi-truck. As such, the law strictly forbids truck drivers from speeding, making dangerous lane changes, parking unsafely, and breaking traffic laws. Truck drivers and their insurers are responsible for the damage when a driver’s negligent or reckless driving causes an accident.
Driving under the influence: Driving while intoxicated is always dangerous and illegal, but it is especially dangerous for truck drivers. As such, it is a crime for truck drivers to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04% or higher, which is lower than the .08% limit for non-commercial drivers. The law strictly forbids commercial drivers from driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. Truck drivers are also subject to drug and alcohol testing requirements.
Improperly loaded cargo: Proper cargo loading is essential to trucking safety. Improperly secured loads may fall from the truck. Unsecured loads may shift, causing the semi to overturn or jackknife. Improperly loaded liquids can cause hazardous leaks or spills. As such, federal law requires truck drivers to secure and distribute cargo properly. Drivers must ensure that all tailgates, doors, spare tires, and other equipment are secured. Loads must not block the driver’s view or impede the driver’s movement. Certain types of cargo, such as logs and automobiles, have special loading requirements.
Negligent hiring/training of drivers: Trucking companies must hire and train safe drivers. Thus, trucking companies may be liable for negligently hiring or training drivers. Examples of negligent hiring include failing to check driving records, failing to do criminal background checks, failing to do drug and alcohol testing, failing to do medical fitness screening, and failing to respond to complaints about specific drivers. Trucking companies are legally required to strictly supervise their drivers with logbooks, drug tests, and other mechanisms. Failure to adequately supervise employees may give rise to liability for the trucking company.
Tire blowouts: Tire blowouts can cause semi-trucks to swerve, jackknife, lose control, and cause serious accidents. As such, the law requires truck drivers to inspect, maintain, and replace the tires on their trucks to ensure their safety. Tire blowouts may be caused by over or under-inflation, mismatched tires, improper cargo loading, defective tires, excessive braking, improper maintenance, lack of inspection, and poor road conditions.
Distracted driving: The FMCSA estimates that 71% of semi-truck accidents are due to distracted driving. Losing focus for merely a moment can be disastrous when driving a big rig or near one. At 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for five seconds means you’ve traveled the length of a football field without seeing the road. Common distractions include cell phones, texting, dispatch devices, maps and GPS, eating, reading, pets, grooming, and adjusting the radio. Distractions outside the vehicle include other vehicles, billboards, buildings, and people.
Fatigue or drowsiness: Driver fatigue is one of the biggest dangers facing truck drivers. In 2007, the FMCSA reported that 40% of trucking accidents happened because the driver was inattentive or fell asleep. Truck drivers have stressful jobs with long hours, tight deadlines, and heavy lifting. As such, drivers may combat fatigue with caffeine, smoking, drugs, and alcohol. Driver fatigue is often due to lack of sleep, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, long working hours, sleeping problems, or a combination thereof. Certain medications are known to cause drowsiness. Alertness tricks like rolling down the windows or turning up the radio are not real solutions for fatigue and can give drivers a false sense of security. Driver fatigue combined with difficult driving conditions like low visibility can be a recipe for disaster.
Dangerous roads: The government must maintain roads in a safe condition. Failure to do so may cause trucking accidents which result in devastating damage. When road defects cause trucking accidents, the government entity responsible for maintaining the roads may be liable for the damage. Road defects include poor design and disrepair. Examples of road defects include potholes, inadequate signage, broken or missing lights, overgrown shrubbery, missing guardrails, poor drainage, and missing shoulders.
James Iagmin has been handling personal injury claims for more than 25 years. He has a proven track record of achieving the best possible results for his clients. Jim is known in the legal community for being an outstanding attorney and kind, compassionate, and intelligent. Jim is a recognized leader among personal injury attorneys and served as President of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. Jim has achieved success for his clients in the highest-stakes cases and received many honors and awards for his skill as a lawyer.
We are a small law firm and manage our caseload so that you receive the attention and care you deserve. Our attorneys at Williams Iagmin, LLP, are experts at handling the legal aspects of trucking accident claims so that you can focus on your recovery.
A gentleman suffered a serious brain injury in a collision with a tractor-trailer. He was unable to return to work and needs close supervision. In addition to the settlement, the gentleman kept his rights to lifetime medical care through worker’s compensation.
Complete this form or call us today if you were injured in a trucking accident and would like to meet with a San Diego truck accident lawyer. You will have the opportunity to meet with an attorney from Williams Iagmin, LLP, for up to 20 minutes and learn legal strategies which may help you achieve the result you want. You will receive a well-written summary of the facts of your case for free. We offer a no-fee guarantee, which means you only pay if we win your case.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Insurance Filing Requirements
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Traffic Safety Facts
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Hours of Service (HOS)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Mobile Phone Rule Fact Sheet
Code of Federal Regulations – 49 CFR 396 – Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance
California Vehicle Code – California Vehicle Code Section 23152(d)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Motor Carrier Safety Planner – Alcohol
California Vehicle Code – California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Drug & Alcohol Testing Program
Code of Federal Regulations – 49 CFR 393, Subpart 1 – Protection Against Shifting and Falling Cargo
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Cargo Securement Rules
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – CMV Driving Tips – Driver Distraction
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – The Large Truck Crash Causation Study – Analysis BriefConsumer Attorneys of San Diego
James Iagmin has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury claims. Jim has a proven track record of achieving successful results for his clients. Jim is known for being a compassionate, caring and intelligent attorney and is recognized in the San Diego community for his integrity, character and skill has a lawyer. Jim has received numerous honors and awards for his abilities as an attorney.
Tell us what happened and Jim will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your case. The consultation is without obligation and we receive no fees until we win your case. Let us know how we can help you.
James Iagmin is widely recognized by his clients, fellows lawyers and others within the San Diego community for his integrity, compassion, intelligence and skill as one of the top accident lawyers in San Diego.
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