Commercial trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles – they can weigh up to 30 times more, and they carry a wide range of products and materials, some of them toxic. When a truck accident occurs, significant damage and severe injuries often result.
Unfortunately, truck accidents are a common occurrence on the roads of California, especially when the truck driver is fatigued. At Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers, we have experience helping victims of truck driver fatigue accidents pursue the financial compensation they deserve.
An accident with a commercial truck may cause injuries that require months of expensive medical treatment. You might need physical therapy, pain management, and surgery. If you end up with a disability, you may need to hire a home health nurse or someone to assist you with routine tasks. It’s a significant financial burden – one that you shouldn’t be responsible for paying.
Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers is a nationally recognized law firm that has successfully represented truck accident victims for nearly two decades.
Take Immediate Legal Action If You Get Hurt in a Truck Accident
If a fatigued truck driver caused your accident, you should begin working on your case right away. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll receive compensation. There are strict deadlines you must comply with, and if you miss them, you could lose your right to hold the at-fault driver liable.
Following are crucial steps to take following your accident:
Call 911. All accidents that result in injury or death must be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours. You should wait for an officer to arrive at the scene and investigate.
Exchange insurance details. Ask the truck driver for their auto insurance information and their employer’s name so you can file a liability claim once you determine who’s at fault for the crash.
Collect evidence. If you’re able to, gather evidence at the crash site, such as photos, damaged property, and anything else that seems relevant.
Talk to witnesses. If there are eyewitnesses, write down their names and phone numbers. They could be beneficial to your case if you need someone to confirm your version of events to an insurance company or jury.
Go to the hospital. Seek medical care immediately after the accident occurs. If you wait too long, the insurance company will likely deny your claim because they won’t believe you sustained injuries as a result of the truck accident, or that they’re serious enough to require treatment.
Repair vehicle. Bring your car to a repair shop and get an estimate of the damage. Keep the document so you can add it to the amount of compensation you’re seeking from an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Hire an attorney. Contact Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers and speak with one of our San Diego truck driver fatigue lawyers. We’ll investigate your case and build a strong, persuasive argument that you deserve full compensation.
How to Determine Liability in a Truck Accident Caused by Driver Fatigue
Seeking compensation is a complex and confusing process, especially for people who have never been through it before. Even though the truck driver was tired, their employer could actually be liable for the accident. It all depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the crash. It’s crucial that you figure out who was at fault to ensure you’re pursuing a financial award from the right person or entity.
Trucking companies are typically responsible for an accident victim’s losses if they use negligent hiring practices. There are regulations they must follow during the hiring process and throughout an employee’s career as a driver.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucking companies must:
- Investigate all accidents that occur during a driving shift
- Provide ongoing training and education programs
- Perform a complete background check on prospective drivers
- Confirm everyone has a valid commercial driver’s license
- Adequately inspect, maintain, and repair vehicle fleet
- Review driver logs for hours of service
- Perform random drug and alcohol testing
Violation of any of these regulations could allow the accident victim to pursue compensation from the trucking company for their actions that led to the crash.
There are circumstances where the trucker is the only person responsible for an accident. For example, there are hours of service regulations they must comply with to reduce the risk of driver fatigue and prevent accidents from occurring:
- Drive for no more than 11 hours after ten off-duty hours
- May not drive after 14 consecutive hours on duty, following a period of 10 hours off duty
- Take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours driven
- Spend no more than 60 hours on duty after working for seven consecutive days or 70 hours on duty after eight consecutive days
Cases involving commercial vehicles usually involve the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is the failure of one party to prevent harm to another by exercising a degree of care a reasonable person would exhibit under similar circumstances. To prove the truck driver or their employer was negligent in causing your accident, you must show the following elements existed:
- The at-fault party owed you a reasonable duty of care;
- They breached their duty of care;
- If it weren’t for their actions, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt in the accident;
- Their breach of duty was the direct cause of your injuries; and
- You incurred damages.
Your San Diego truck driver fatigue attorney will review all the elements of your case to determine who should be held liable. We understand this is a traumatic period in your life. You’re already treating your injuries and paying your medical bills. The last thing you want to deal with is a legal case. Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers will relieve your burden and handle every step so you can focus on recovering.
The Damages You Can Seek After a Fatigued Truck Driver Accident
There are three types of damages available if a fatigued truck driver caused your car crash. Damages refer to the expenses and losses a person suffers from an accident. Economic damages are expenses, and non-economic damages are intangible losses. They may include the following:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Out of pocket expenses
Quantifying economic damages is simple because there’s an invoice or billing statement to refer to; however, non-economic damages are a bit more complex. When an insurance company is reviewing someone’s claim to determine a fair value, they might use some of the following contributing factors:
- Type and severity of the injury
- The extent of emotional or psychological harm
- Availability of relevant evidence proving liability
- Duration of the recovery period
- Impact of the injury on daily routine
- Total hours missed from work
- Disability resulting from the accident
- The extent of medical care required in the future
All the damages above are available in an insurance claim and lawsuit. A third type of damage is only available in lawsuits – punitive damages. Rather than compensating the injured victim for their losses, it’s intended as a form of punishment against the at-fault party.
After a fatigued truck driver accident, a jury will only award punitive damages if you can provide clear and convincing evidence that the truck driver or their employer acted with:
- Oppression: Conduct subjecting someone to hardship that lacks regard for their rights;
- Malice: Causing intentional harm with conscious and willful indifference towards the safety or rights of others; or
- Fraud: Intentional deceit, misrepresentation, or concealment of facts to deprive a person of their legal rights or property or to cause injury.
How California’s Fault System Affects an Accident Case
When it comes to financial responsibility after a motor vehicle crash, the fault system requires the at-fault party to pay for the victim’s damages. If you have proof that the truck driver was tired and that’s what led to your accident, you could file a claim with their auto insurance company for compensation.
State laws require all motorists to hold valid insurance with minimum limits of liability. Those limits cover an injured party’s damages after an accident occurs. Although the standard limits for passenger cars are $15,000 for bodily injury and $5,00 for property damage, commercial truck drivers must have at least $750,000 in liability. This significant gap is necessary because commercial vehicles can cause a lot more damage than a passenger car. They can also lead to more serious and fatal injuries.
Speak to a Dedicated San Diego Truck Driver Fatigue Lawyer
Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers is available 24/7 to take your call and offer legal advice for your truck accident case. Our founding partners bring extensive legal knowledge and experience from working at large firms in San Diego. Since opening our firm in 2007, we’ve been able to recover over $1 million for our clients around California.
We bring a personalized approach and open communication to each case we take. Our team understands the importance of being available when our clients need us the most. You’ll always be a priority while you’re working with us. We get to know our clients and create the right approach to meet their individual needs. You can depend on us to provide you with guidance, support, and one-on-one attention from start to finish of your case.
If a fatigued truck driver caused your accident and injuries, speak to one of our San Diego truck driver fatigue lawyers from Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers today. You can schedule a free consultation by calling (888) 233-5020. A representative is standing by and ready to discuss your case with you.