If you have sustained an injury in an accident with a truck or if you have lost a loved one because of a truck accident, contact a reputable Escondido truck accident lawyer today.
Growing up in California, Marino & Tye LLP truck accident lawyers have witnessed with amazement how Escondido has grown from a laid back town to the most exciting city in the US. Of course, the traffic volumes, which include large courier vehicles such as eighteen-wheelers, rigs, diesel, and semi-trucks have also dramatically increased along with that – they travel our roadways every day. Concrete trucks and other heavy load commercial vehicles travel our overcrowded expressways, interstates, and highways by the dozen. Adding traffic cones for construction areas, you have a recipe for disaster.
When a Diesel crashes into an ordinary vehicle, the outcomes are often life-altering injuries and or death. Victims who do survive may need occupational therapy and may experience significant memory loss, require nursing home care, become non-ambulatory, and miss the opportunity to enjoy life once more.
Accidents involving big rigs can cause catastrophic damage due to the large size of the trucks. As licensed professionals, truckers should always drive defensively and safely—yet in many cases, many do not. A plethora of reasons triggers these road accidents – they may be overworked to meet deadlines causing fatigue, speed, or not properly maintaining their trucks. Indeed, such behaviors can cause accidents between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. If a driver falls asleep at the wheel or truck malfunctions while you’re nearby, you will have up to 80,000 pounds coming straight at you.
Commercial vehicles, which include eighteen-wheelers, diesel, construction trucks, and essentially, all big rigs are required to maintain a minimum of one million dollar policy of insurance. Many Escondido truck accident lawyers will exhaust an eighteen-wheeler one million dollar policy without a comprehensive understanding of how these policies of insurance for eighteen-wheeler or commercial vehicles unfold. The truth is, a million dollars may initially sound like a lot of money; but, considering the costs of two months at University Medical Center, emergency surgeries, as well as in-home nursing care for the remainder of an injured party’s life, that amount could not be enough. A million dollars might get you through two years of medical care, thereby leaving your family with outstanding medical bills in the future.
Most eighteen-wheelers will offer the one million dollar policy in hopes that an attorney or law firm will accept the same as exhausting all coverages. However, this may be FALSE. A lot of commercial carriers will have an excess policy exceeding one million dollars. To make temptation worse, many firms are not skilled enough in forcing the eighteen-wheeler companies procedurally to reveal their excess policy and in determining when they have a duty to.
Choosing a Truck Accident Lawyer in Escondido
Truck accidents, like most other automobile accidents, fall under the practice area of personal injury. If you have been involved in a truck accident, you should call an Escondido lawyer as soon as possible. Choose one who has experience in negotiating with trucking insurance companies and litigating truck accident cases in court to assist you with your injury claim. Some accidents may involve long-term or permanent injuries. Depending on the circumstances of an accident, a court may award injured individuals significant damages to cover the cost of their injuries. An experienced Escondido truck accident lawyer knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to secure compensation for long-term injuries or injuries that may need multiple surgeries. If settlement proves unviable, your attorney should not hesitate to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
Given the gravity of the responsibility of a lawyer to your truck injury case, it is, therefore, crucial to choose the most qualified one available in the area. To realize that goal, you should ask how many cases he or she has settled and how many have gone to trial. You may also want to ask about the specific dollar amount of past settlements or damages awards that the attorney has secured in similar cases.
Why Truck Accidents Happen
Truck accidents occur for an array of reasons. In some cases, the cause is purely accidental, such as when a mechanical part that appears fully functional breaks. For example, if an engine sensor malfunctions and causes a truck to stall in the middle of the road, the driver may lose control of the truck’s hydraulics and be unable to stop in time to avoid an accident.
In other cases, a truck driver is entirely at fault for an accident. For instance, when driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or just driving beyond the prescribed limits.
Working with a highly qualified truck accident attorney provides a just resolution for your case.
Hours of Service
The damage that big rigs can cause when they are involved in a road accident can be quite devastating that the federal law limits the number of hours that drivers are allowed to drive each day. Furthermore, there are also restrictions on how long a driver may stay on the clock.
Here are the specifics of the federal regulations:
- Truckers may only drive for 11 consecutive hours
- They must rest for 10 hours before they are permitted to hit the road again
- If a driver has been on duty for 14 hours, regardless of the time spent driving, he or she must take 10 hours off
- A driver must rest for at least 30 minutes for every eight hours of driving
- If a driver has driven 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days, he or she must take 34 hours off duty
- For those who are using the sleeper berth provision, they must have 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus 2 consecutive hours off duty
The above list of regulations underscores the importance of having preventative measures versus truck accidents. However, drivers can fudge logbooks to show “off-time” when they are driving. To remedy this thing, officials can impose fine for both the driver and the company should there be falsifications in their logbooks. They both may face additional damages as well if the driver gets into an accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) obligates trucking companies to have a systematic inspection, repair, and maintenance of their trucks. The said institution also requires that truck parts and accessories are in safe and proper condition – at all times. It can be a bit of a challenge to determine whether some truck parts are functioning properly, even with regular inspections. Electrical components are some of the most common faulty parts. In some cases, mechanical parts may look fine when the driver leaves the yard, yet fail in an hour or two driving down the road.
Failed parts can make a driver to cause an accident. Because truck accidents are usually catastrophic, trucking companies should do their best to repair worn parts before the driver leaves for any trip, however long. That is despite the fact that it is not possible to catch every small problem that a truck may experience.
Regardless of whether a court finds that a trucker or truck company acted negligently in maintaining their trucks, you may still be eligible to collect damages if it can be proven that a part broke unexpectedly. If investigators can show that the malfunctioning part that caused your accident had been malfunctioning for some time and that the trucking company should have already replaced it, a court will likely award you even more compensation.
Each truck must have a maintenance logbook that details all maintenance works that have been done, when they were done, and the specific types of maintenance completed, such as repairs to a truck’s hydraulics, tires, or brakes. The logbook must show:
- A maintenance and inspection schedule
- The vehicle identification number, whether the VIN or a company ID number for the truck
- A record of inspections, maintenance completed, and repairs that have been done on the vehicle, including the date and type of inspection, maintenance check, or repair
Types of Inspections
Trucks undergo different types of inspections, including roadside inspections and driver vehicle inspections. Below are some of the most common of them all:
- Roadside inspections. If a driver does a roadside inspection, he or she must provide the employer with the inspection report. The truck company then has 15 days to correct all violations, sign the report, and mail it to the address indicated on the report. The carrier must keep a copy of the report for a year from the date of the inspection.
- Annual inspections. Commercial vehicles, including trailers, must undergo inspection at least once a year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations has a list of items that must be inspected. The motor carrier must keep a copy of the inspection report for at least 14 months from the report date. A motor carrier may perform the inspection itself.
- Driver vehicle inspections. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also obligates truckers to conduct a daily, post-trip inspection report at the end of each driving day. The report should note any deficiencies or defects that they have noticed. If the issue affects the safety of the vehicle, they must repair it right away. Otherwise, the motor carrier must give a certification that the issue does not pose a safety hazard and thus doesn’t need to be rectified immediately. Copies of driver vehicle inspections must be kept for at least 3 months.
Truckers usually work for logistics companies; thus, they often speed to ensure the rapid delivery of their cargo. Because federal regulations restrict the number of hours they are permitted to drive in a day, they may miss delivery deadlines should they need extra time to load or unload their trucks. Traffic jams and accidents can also increase the overall delivery time. Truckers often speed to try and make up for that lost time.
Another reason for speeding is that truck drivers are usually paid by the mile, not by the time in the truck. Thus, a driver is losing money by sitting in traffic, waiting for a traffic jam to clear up. A trucker may speed to make up the time lost idling in traffic and to maximize his or her compensation.
However, most truck drivers now use electronic logging devices. These systems record the number of miles driven, the speed of the truck, the amount of time spent on the road, among other pertinent information. With electronic logging devices, it is difficult for truckers to fudge their logbooks.
It is imperative to underscore the fact that federal regulations only require interstate drivers to use electronic logging devices. Many states do not require logging devices for local and or intrastate drivers. However, California has adopted the FMCSA’s ELD mandate.
Additional Common Commercial Trucking Accident Factors
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash, failure to yield)
- Prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drug use
- Roadway problems
- Required stop before a crash (disregarding traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Inadequate surveillance (failing to pay attention, texting or cell phone use, blind spots)
- Traveling too fast for conditions (speed, traffic, snow, rain, aggressive driving, tail-gaiting)
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway (reduced speed zones or construction zones)
Settlement versus Trial
When you hire one of the experienced truck accident attorneys at Marino & Tye LLP, we first try to negotiate for a favorable settlement with all of the involved insurance companies. If we cannot secure a fair and reasonable settlement, the next step we take is to file a personal injury lawsuit and take your case to court. Insurance companies, in general, want to avoid litigation costs and the potential large verdict.
If Trial is the Way to Go
If you do end up filing a lawsuit and taking your injury claim to court to secure compensation for your truck accident injuries – or the death of a loved one – you may have to testify as to the events of the accident. Your attorneys at Marino & Tye LPP will help you prepare for your testimony.
Whether the remedy is a settlement or going to trial, you will need to participate in discovery, which means you need to provide the other parties with copies of your medical bills, the police report, and other pertinent documents related to the accident. We will help you gather these documents. If we need expert witnesses to testify about your injuries, the death of a loved one, or even to refute a police report, we will hire the appropriate expert witnesses—such as accident scene reconstructors and medical doctors —to help us present your case as accurately as possible.
Because of our diligence in preparing personal injury cases, insurance companies almost always prefer a fair settlement versus undergoing a litigation process.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
A lot of individuals try to settle with insurance companies without the assistance of an attorney. However, hiring an attorney to handle these negotiations will help maximize the amount of compensation that you get. Note that insurance companies—even your own—are focused on their bottom lines, which means they want to pay the least amount of compensation possible to close a claim.
When it comes to complex truck accident cases, multiple insurance companies are usually involved, and they may each hire their lawyer for legal representations. Other parties potentially involved in the case may include:
- You and your attorney
- The dispatch company’s insurance company and its attorney(s)
- The driver’s insurance company and its attorney(s)
- Your insurance company and its attorney(s)
- The truck owner’s insurance company and its attorney(s)
- The attorney(s) and insurance companies of other drivers involved in the accident
- The truck company’s insurance company and its attorney(s)
Despite dealing with multiple institutions, individuals, and their representatives, you must send copies of all pertinent documents to each of them when you are negotiating a settlement or litigating a court case.
Hire a reputable Escondido truck accident attorney from Marino & Tye.
Contact us today 1-760-741-7643 for inquiries.