Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions In Truck Accident Cases Resulting In Wrongful Death Or Personal Injury
1. Is my case any different if I am injured or a family member is killed by a truck as opposed to any other vehicle driver?
Yes. Although the same laws of negligence will apply, there are special Vehicle Code sections which apply only to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies and there are special licensing and training requirements of truck drivers which generally make truck accidents harder to defend and easier to win for plaintiffs.
2. Who can sue in a truck accident injury or death case?
Anyone who is injured or has had a loved one killed in a truck accident can sue as long as some other person or entity is at fault for the accident. This includes adults and children (who can sue through guardians or parents) and even truck drivers if another person or entity was at fault for the accident.
3. Who can be sued in a truck accident case?
Any person or entity that was at fault for causing the accident can be sued. This includes the truck driver and the trucking company as well as any other driver, person or entity who in anyway contributed to the accident such as the manufacturer of one the vehicles involved in the accident, the manufacturer of a tire that contributed to the accident or the owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the accident.
4. Can I still sue even if I was partially at fault for causing my own injuries in the accident?
California is a comparative fault state. A person can sue for serious personal injury even if they are partially at fault. As long as they can prove that one or more other parties are also at fault. However, the amount of a plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by the amount of their fault. Therefore, if someone is awarded $5 million in a serious personal injury case, but are found to be 50% at fault, the recovery will be reduced to $2.5 million.
5. Is investigation important in a truck accident case?
Yes. It is critical. If the truck was commercially owned, in most situations large trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately after the accident. This puts you, unless you are an injured truck driver, at a vast disadvantage. It is important that you retain an attorney who immediately investigates the case to attempt to pin down liability on any potential at-fault defendants.
6. Are expert witnesses necessary to prove fault in a truck accident case?
Usually. Unless there is no question but that one party was completely at fault, a plaintiff in any serious injury or death case involving a truck should usually retain an expert. Further, that expert should have special expertise in the design, manufacture and operation of trucks and the rules of the trucking industry.
7. What damages can I recover or the survivors of a loved one recover in a truck accident injury or death case?
Under California law a seriously injured plaintiff is entitled to recover all of his or her past and future medical expenses; past and future loss of income/earning capacity; past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress and in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is particularly bad, punitive damages the exemplary damages which are awarded to punish the defendant.
If a person dies in a truck accident, the survivors can recover monetary damages for their economic losses and emotional distress damages for loss of society, love and comfort.
8. How soon must I bring an injury or death case based on a truck accident?
Generally speaking, a truck accident victim has two years from the date of the accident to bring a lawsuit. If the case is against a public entity, a claim must be filed within six months whether the plaintiff is a minor or adult. In the case of minors, generally, a case can be brought on behalf of a minor up until their 19th birthday. There are exceptions to all of these rules. Someone should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible if they are suffering a severe or serious personal injury stemming from a truck accident or if a loved one has died.
9. Will my truck accident injury or death case settle out of court?
Probably. It is highly likely that your case will settle. Over 90% of truck accident cases settle at some point before trial.
10. Do I need an attorney to litigate my truck accident case?
Yes. Unless you have a very minor injury, which is rare in truck accident cases, you will need to retain an attorney to establish liability against any potential defendants and help maximize your damage recovery.
Most legal questions require complex answers. The answers provided here may not be complete or fully accurate but attempt to provide consumers with abbreviated answers. For more detailed answers to these questions, a consumer should check out other articles in this section of this website, research other legal articles and texts on the subject matter or consult with an attorney.