Driving on our local freeways, such as the I-10 or I-15, we share the roadways with many large semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles. While most of these drivers are experienced and highly capable, occasionally some drivers are negligent in operating their vehicles, and when they are, our Rancho Cucamonga truck accident lawyer will be there to help.
Truck drivers operate large vehicles and have a responsibility to maintain high standards of safety. Where they fall short of those standards, serious accidents happen. At the Inland Empire Law Group, we represent clients who have been severely injured and lost family members due to negligent truck drivers.
Investigating a truck accident can be a complex maze of information, testimony, and evidence. The rules and regulations that truck drivers must follow when operating an 18-wheeler are lengthy and complicated. Those rules relate to how long a truck driver can drive and how many breaks they must take. Maintenance schedules must be adhered to as well.
So, let’s dive right in. Below is the definitive guide on how truck crashes happen and how a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney in Rancho Cucamonga can help get you and your family the compensation you deserve.
Common Reasons Truck Accidents Happen
Collisions between large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles injure thousands and claim the lives of hundreds of Californians each year. While these crashes can have any number of causes, common contributing factors include:
- Driving too fast for conditions. Faced with a demanding schedule, truckers may drive too fast for the current road or weather conditions, which can result in a devastating accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which governs the trucking industry, recommends that drivers reduce speeds significantly in inclement weather or on poorly maintained roads.
- Day of the week. For truckers who drive Monday through Friday, Thursday is the day of the week associated with the most truck accident fatalities. The second most common day of the week for large truck-related deaths is Friday.
- Time of day. Most fatal truck crashes occur between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. when roads are busiest.
- Truck defects and maintenance issues. Faulty truck components and poorly maintained commercial vehicles are frequently cited as causes or contributing factors in California truck accidents.
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway. Failing to plan their route in advance and familiarize themselves with the various distances, routes, and turns involved can increase a trucker's risk of causing a crash.
- Drug or alcohol use. Drinking behind the wheel or using drugs—even some prescription medications—can impair judgment and driving performance, leading to an accident.
Common Damages in Truck Crash Cases in Rancho Cucamonga
Most truck crash damages fall into one of two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. What's the difference? Economic damages are meant to compensate you for financial losses you've incurred due to the accident, such as all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, property damage repair or replacement costs, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate you for subjective losses that have no direct financial value. Examples include physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, scarring or disfigurement, and other intangibles.
According to our experienced Rancho Cucamonga truck accident lawyer, a third type of damages—punitive damages—are less common. Instead of compensating a victim for a financial or subjective loss, punitive damages serve as a punishment for the defendant. These damages are awarded by a judge or jury when the defendant's conduct has been deemed especially egregious or intentional.
How is Liability Determined in a Truck Collision Case
Determining liability can be an issue in California truck accident cases. Potentially liable parties can include the commercial truck driver, the trucking company they drive for, the truck's owner, the mechanics responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck, and even the truck's manufacturer (if a defective part caused the crash). An attorney can help you determine the appropriate party—or parties—to name as the defendant in your truck crash lawsuit.
What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?
An attorney can provide wise legal counsel and aggressive representation at each and every step of the personal injury litigation process. Here are just a few of the ways our Rancho Cucamonga truck accident attorney can help your case:
- Level the playing field between you and the trucking company's legal team
- Conduct a thorough investigation of the accident to determine liability
- Prove that the other party was at fault or negotiate a lower percentage of liability for you (which can affect how much compensation you receive)
- Gather essential evidence that can help you prove your claim
- Investigate all possible avenues for compensation, such as multiple insurance policies (trucking companies may take out separate policies on trucks and drivers, for example)
- Handle communications with the at-fault party's insurance company
- Negotiate a fair settlement
- Take your case all the way to trial if a fair settlement agreement can't be reached
What Else Can Our Rancho Cucamonga Truck Accident Attorney Do?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s discuss a few other tactics an experienced truck crash attorney might bring to the table.
Send Spoliation Letters
Truck accident cases involve certain types of evidence that other cases generally don't, such as hiring, training, employment, and driving records for the commercial driver, and inspection and maintenance records for the truck itself. However, the trucking company has these documents and your attorney will have to send a spoliation letter—also known as a preservation letter—to ensure they don't destroy them in an attempt to avoid liability.
Visit the Scene of the Accident
An accident site can provide a lot of important information about a crash, including its severity, the point of impact, the resting positions of vehicles and debris, and if weather or road conditions may have been contributing factors. The investigator for your attorney will take photos to document the scene and gather basic information about the time of the crash and whether it was reported to law enforcement.
Inspect the Involved Vehicles
The vehicles themselves can provide information about what happened. Inspections of the truck and the involved passenger vehicle not only assess the damage sustained during the crash, they can also identify unsafe conditions or faulty components that may have been a contributing factor. Additionally, in some cases, inspecting the vehicles after a truck accident can help investigators determine how fast they were traveling, how the drivers used their brakes, and other key details.
Talk With Witnesses
Statements from people who witnessed the truck crash can be crucial to the outcome of your truck accident personal injury case. The commercial driver, trucking company, or other party named as the defendant (or defendants) in your lawsuit may tell a version of events that's completely different than yours. Your attorney will talk to witnesses who were there that day to find those who can support your account of the accident, so that they can provide a statement or testify on your behalf.
Reconstruct the Crash
This next step is a big one and involves hiring an expert known as an accident reconstructionist. These experts use the information and evidence gleaned during other parts of the investigative process to reconstruct the truck crash for the purpose of finding out:
- Directions the truck and passenger vehicle were traveling before—and after—the crash
- Length of skid marks made before impact
- How far each vehicle moved after the collision
- Point of impact and impact angles
- Vehicle weights
- Speeds and positions of the truck and passenger vehicle during the entire sequence of the accident
An accident reconstructionist can have a huge impact on the outcome of your truck crash case. When choosing an attorney to represent you, make sure to hire someone with access to a network of qualified expert witnesses they can contact to help investigate your case and testify on your behalf.
How to Find the Best Truck Accident Lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga
Tracking down the best truck accident lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Below is a list of things that can help an attorney stand out:
- Experience. Not just experience as an injury attorney, but experience with actual truck accident cases. Not every injury lawyer speaks the same language, so to say. Some only have experience with slip and fall accidents or wrongful death cases, and that’s fine. But you don’t want someone with that kind of experience to handle your truck accident case. Make sure the attorneys you interview have real case experience with crashes that include semis or 18-wheelers. Ask about past cases similar to yours.
- Results and Reviews. Any attorney who has the experience you need should be able to provide case results and reviews from past clients. Understanding how the attorney interacts with clients is extremely important. If they have lots of positive reviews, that’s a major plus.
- Ask Friends and Family. We all have people in our lives that we can trust. If your loved one has a recommendation from past experience dealing with the attorney, why not set up a consultation. Speaking of …
- Ask Lots of Questions. Almost all injury attorneys will offer a free in-person or video consultation. The key word is free. Make sure you use that time to ask the attorney lots of questions. Not just about experience and past results – like we mentioned above – but about their background, possible help in the community, anything that will help you get a better understanding of who they are as a person and an attorney, and will lead you to a decision you feel comfortable with.
Follow these tips and you should be on the right path towards finding the best Rancho Cucamonga truck accident lawyer.
Schedule a Free Consult With Our Experienced Rancho Cucamonga Truck Crash Attorney
When it comes to crash cases that involve semis or 18-wheelers, you simply can't underestimate the value of a thorough investigation and hiring the right law firm. That's why, at the Inland Empire Law Group, our Rancho Cucamonga truck accident attorney conducts a deep dive into each and every case to ensure we have what we need to build and present a strong claim for damages.
Contact our personal injury office in Rancho Cucamonga today at (888) 694-3529 or (909) 481-0100 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your truck crash case with a member of our team. We look forward to assisting you.