Even when drivers are careful, accidents still occur. Experiencing an accident may not always be avoidable. Accidents that involve a semi-truck or tractor-trailer can leave victims with even more severe injuries and financial damages due to the size and weight of the commercial vehicle. As the victim, you may encounter costly medical bills, time away from work, and haggling with insurance companies. This leaves you wondering whether the commercial vehicle can be held responsible for the damages suffered.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
Under California law, liability for car accidents, including commercial vehicles like trucks, is determined by the responsible party. Anyone can file a personal injury lawsuit, but for it to be successful, there has to be evidence showing that the commercial vehicle was negligent in causing the accident.
There are two ways to determine fault: (1) common law negligence and (2) by a statute. The first, common law negligence, requires a showing that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care in operating their commercial vehicle. Police reports, witness statements, and other investigatory tools are used to prove the driver’s negligence.
The second way, proving fault through statute, is easier to prove. California lawmakers have already found certain conduct negligent, like speeding or running through a red light. It’s outlined in the California Vehicle Code. If a commercial vehicle was involved in such behavior, then it is likely that they were at fault.
However, since California is also a “comparative fault” jurisdiction, the damages any victim can recover will be evaluated based on the percentage the person contributed to the accident. That means that even if the driver caused the accident, they might still have a personal injury claim.
Suppose you were involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle. In that case, you should contact an attorney before speaking to a trucking company’s insurance company or accepting a settlement offer. While most cases won’t make it to trial, it doesn’t alleviate the injured party’s burden to investigate their case. To get the maximum settlement offer, insurance companies need to see the strength of the victim’s case.
To determine the extent of damages, first, you need to assess the damages. In California, personal injury victims involved in accidents with commercial vehicles may recover medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and others.
In accidents involving commercial vehicles where injuries are extensive, it is essential to document medical expenses. Gathering medical bills from hospitals, specialists, ambulance fees, and physical therapy or potential procedures will assist in determining the extent of injuries. Depending on the severity of the injuries, it may take time to gather all medical expenses and to monitor other injuries that arise.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
An injured party has two years to file a claim in civil court for a personal injury claim. Negotiating with a commercial vehicle’s insurance company doesn’t require that a lawsuit be filed with the court. However, it is crucial because if the insurance company delays negotiations, the victim may forgo its right to have a court review the case. Contact our attorneys at 415-946-8900 or at Dan Rose Law to schedule a free consultation about your specific case.