Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer

Sacramento truck accident lawyer

Trucking accidents are an often overlooked problem on American interstates and freeways. When it comes to collisions with big rigs, injuries are all too common, and fatal crashes with commercial trucks have grown to a serious epidemic. Collisions with these giants often cause more catastrophic injuries, death, and property damage than any other type of auto accident. Additionally, commercial trucking companies often have large insurance companies backing them, leaving an injured person at an unfair disadvantage without our experienced Sacramento truck accident lawyers.

If you are accident victims of a semi truck collision, our team of experienced truck accident attorneys in Sacramento, CA can help get you fair compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and more. Our law firm will help you begin your case after scheduling your initial consultation.

What Will a Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Federal and state regulation of the trucking industry is intricate and detailed, and there are often many parties responsible for the safe operation of a semi truck. The complexities of a semi-truck collisions require attorneys who are experienced in handling truck accident lawsuits in Northern California.

Truck Accident Attorneys Simplify the Process of Personal Injury Claims

Our truck accident lawyers have gone up against some of the largest and toughest trucking and insurance companies in the world.  We have knowledge of FMCSR’s, and experience in the special types of investigations required for trucking accident reconstruction.  We use engineers and expert witnesses specific to the trucking industry, and obtain records about the training, licensing and driving activities of semi truck drivers, including maintenance and repair schedules for the truck and other equipment that may have contributed to the accident.

Our proficiency handling truck accident cases includes:

  • Knowledge of specific federal and California laws and regulations pertaining to the commercial trucking industry.
  • Special types of investigation for truck accident reconstruction, using engineers and other expert witnesses specific to the trucking industry.
  • Expertise locating records about the training, licensing and driving activities of commercial truck drivers, as well as maintenance and repair schedules for the truck and other equipment that may have contributed to the accident.
  • Experience litigating against large insurance companies, whose attorneys are well versed at pushing plaintiffs into lower settlements than they should accept.

What Damages Are Recoverable in a Truck Accident?

Sacramento personal injury attorney Eric Ratinoff has recovered millions of dollars in damages for people injured from car accidents in Sacramento and trucking accidents. He has successfully litigated even the most challenging of commercial trucking cases, and his ability to effectively understand and convey his client’s story to a jury has resulted in exceptional recoveries.

Injured persons may be entitled to:

  • Payment for pain and suffering
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Property damage
  • Emotional distress

An experienced semi-truck accident and auto accident attorney not only understands the dangers caused by big-rig trucks, but he or she should have years of experience successfully litigating these complex injury cases. Accident attorneys with a good reputation will go a long way toward the success of your case, even before setting foot into a court room, simply because the lawyers who represent the other side will already know they’re up against a formidable opponent.

Who is Liable for a Sacramento Truck Accident?

When an accident is caused by a truck driver or by a problem with the truck, there are many parties that may be held responsible. Even when the truck driver, alone, carelessly caused the accident, his employer may be held responsible to pay damages to the injured.

  • Sometimes the employer is responsible because it was negligent in hiring or supervising a poorly trained or inexperienced driver, because it failed to check the driving record of the driver, or because it negligently entrusted a large and powerful truck to an unqualified driver.
  • Sometimes the owner of the trucking company is responsible because of failure to properly repair and maintain truck brakes and other equipment.
  • The manufacturer of defective trucks or truck parts can be held responsible, if those defects caused the accident.
  • Government entities can be responsible if they failed to maintain safe roadways, especially roads where large truck traffic is permitted.

Gathering Special Evidence in Semi-Truck Accidents

Many big rig trucks have “black boxes” that keep track of important information that can help lawyers and expert engineers reconstruct the accident to determine how it happened. Truck accident attorneys know how to demand that the black box data be preserved and produced for a law suit.

Experienced Sacramento truck accident lawyers know that the government keeps many records about the training, licensing, and driving activities of commercial truck drivers. These records can be the source of important evidence such as driver log books, tickets for speeding or other traffic law violations, or driver substance abuse.

Government records may also have information about maintenance and repair schedules for the truck involved in the accident, violations of truck safety equipment laws, and other safety violations by the trucking companies.

Trucking Industry Regulations

Commercial trucking is regulated by many specific state and federal laws. These laws regulate everything from the number of hours a driver may drive without rest, to the way in which freight is loaded into the trailer, to the types of vehicle safety equipment required for various types of trucks. If a driver or a trucking company has caused an accident by violating these laws, they may be held responsible for the injuries that result.

Why Semi- Trucks are More Dangerous than Other Types of Motor Vehicles

  • It is more difficult for trucks to brake. Compared to cars, large trucks need much longer stopping distances to bring the vehicle to a full stop. Recent studies show that large trucks are more likely to cause rear-end collisions simply because the truck driver was not able to stop in time.
  • Another problem is caused by trucking companies failing to properly maintain and replace brakes. Over 53% of the trucks causing fatal accidents had at least one brake safety violation, according to a Michigan study. On wet and slippery roads, especially at high speeds, large trucks are much harder to stop than smaller motor vehicles.
  • Oversized or shifting truck loads create hazards. Oversized trailers or extra-wide loads are hazardous when they infringe on the lanes of other traffic. Shifting truck loads can cause dangerous unexpected swerving into other lanes or rollover accidents. Rollovers are one of the major causes of injury and wrongful death in trucking accidents.
  • Large trucks make wide turns. The need to make wide turns causes large trucks to move unexpectedly into the lanes of other traffic, sometimes surprising other drivers. Collisions can also happen when a driver tries to pass a truck on the right, not realizing that the truck is in the process of making a wide right-hand turn.
  • Jackknifing. Jackknifing occurs when a large truck comes to a sudden stop, the load shifts, and the trailer goes sideways toward the tractor. The trailer may flip and roll. Jackknifing can happen at speeds as low as five miles per hour.
  • Drowsy driving, distracted driving, or impairment. Was the driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol? A study by the Federal Highway Administration (Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study) showed that tired professional drivers get only a little more than half the sleep they need to remain alert while driving. While most people require 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep a day, the average truck driver gets only 4.8 hours of sleep.
  • Another study showed that of 168 truck drivers who died in crashes, 67% were found to have some sort of drug in their system, and one-third had alcohol or mind-altering drugs (such as marijuana) in their bloodstreams (studies by the National Transportation Safety Board and The National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Driver Inexperience/Training. Commercial truck drivers are required by law to have special licensing, training, and experience. Drivers lacking these special requirements are more likely to cause accidents as they struggle to maneuver large complex and difficult trucks through traffic.

Most Common Types of Truck Accidents in California

  • Head on collisions
  • Loss of control by semi-truck driver
  • Rear end collisions
  • Hand side – when the semi-truck is making a wide right turn
  • Jack-knifed trucks
  • Hit and run
  • Lane change collisions

Sacramento truck accident lawyer

Rise in Semi-Truck Accidents

Over the past fifteen years, the number of semi-truck crashes in the United States has increased by 10 percent. In 2002, accidents involving large trucks resulted in 4,897 deaths and 130,000 injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Departments of Transportation in each state require semi-truck drivers and trucking companies to know and follow safe truck driving procedures. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR’s) are an important factor in California truck accidents, as they govern all interstate trucking operations. These regulations help determine whether a commercial truck driver was negligent in putting others in harm’s way. Too often, big rig drivers involved in accidents are found to have violated federal or state safety regulations.

In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4.89% of drivers were taken out of service once inspected in 2012, for having too many violations. That’s 171,150 drivers with excessive safety violations. Additionally, 20.13% of commercial vehicle semi-trucks were taken out of service once inspected in 2012, for having too many violations – 2,145,733 trucks with excessive safety violations. The American Trucking Association estimates that only about 10% of all trucks on the road have some kind of active safety technology installed in their rigs.

The FMCSA also reports that on average in the United States, fatal truck collisions occur nearly 11 times a day, killing nearly 4,000 people each year. An additional 100,000 people are injured every year in truck crashes. In 2014, CNBC reported that the rate of trucking accidents is as bad as if a commuter jet crashed every single week of the year, killing everyone on board.

Due in large part to economic improvements, since 2009, fatal trucking accidents have dramatically risen from the previous decade’s 10% to over 18%. As more goods are being transported on American highways, there is more pressure placed on truckers to get the loads delivered on time.

The trucking industry has struggled to keep up with increased demand for goods, and trucking companies find it difficult to retain drivers they already have. With long hours, low pay and extended time away from family, the turnover for large trucking carriers is extremely high. All of these elements lead to large numbers of overworked and extremely tired big-rig drivers.

In CNBC’s recent coverage of this problem – they stated that in any other industry, thousands of deaths a year would generate a national outcry. However, wrongful death caused by tractor-trailer accidents are scattered in small numbers across the country, so they don’t often get covered by national news outlets. Most Americans do not even realize how big of of a problem trucking injuries and fatalities have become.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will a personal injury attorney cost?

Our attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you will not pay any legal costs or fees until there is a settlement or a winning verdict at trial. We advance all upfront costs.  After your settlement or verdict, your attorney will receive a percentage fee of the total case recovery, in addition to case costs. If there is no settlement or winning verdict, you won’t be charged any legal fees or costs. 

Some people are hesitant to hire an attorney because of the fees they will eventually have to pay, if and when a settlement is reached. However, hiring an experienced attorney can actually increase the amount of financial compensation you receive for the accident. Generally, even after the attorney’s fee and costs are paid, you will have more money in your pocket than you would if you attempted to represent yourself. We are committed to getting you the maximum just verdict or settlement that we can.

Who pays the medical bills I’ve accumulated from my injury?

Ultimately, the party responsible for causing your injury will have to reimburse you for all medical bills incurred from your accident.  However, this only happens when you resolve your case.  Through the process of your case, one of the most important things you can do – both for your personal recovery and the outcome of your case – is to get the right medical treatment and to see the proper medical experts.  One of the things we do for our clients, when appropriate, is to provide access to the best care possible to help you recover from your injuries.  We can help arrange medical treatment for you with expert medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, spine surgeons, neurologists, etc.  During the course of your treatment, several options exist to pay for your medical bills, including:

  • If you were in an auto accident, your auto insurance policy can cover some or all of your expenses. This is commonly known as “Med Pay.” This is optional coverage that can pay your medical expenses up to the limit of the policy, which is usually up to $5,000. Your auto insurance rates will not increase if you use this coverage.  
  • If you have health insurance, you can use this to pay for your medical services. 
  • If you have no insurance or other way to pay for medical treatment, some health care providers will allow you to receive treatment subject to a medical lien against your case. 

Your medical treatment is critically important to the ultimate outcome of your physical recovery and your case. We will help you navigate through this difficult process, discuss all the options with you, and help you determine what is in your best interest given the facts and circumstances of your situation.

Will I have to pay my health insurance company back for bills they paid?

Some insurance policies contain a provision called “subrogation,” which means that you are not entitled to receive double payment for your bills. A recovery made from your case will generally include payment for all medical bills incurred as a result of your injury, including those already paid by your health insurance. Since the at-fault party is responsible for all of your damages, your insurance company may have the right to be reimbursed for any payments it made.  However, we can help you significantly reduce the amount of money you must repay for your medical bills when you receive financial compensation from the negligent party. It is important to note that this area of the law is complicated and often changing, so it’s important to have an attorney with experience in this area to best protect your interests.

Consult With Our Sacramento Truck Accident Attorneys

Most states have laws that dictate the timeframe you have to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries from an accident with a commercial truck. Attorney Eric Ratinoff has over 20 years of experience in representing people who have been injured by semi-trucks. He teaches trial techniques to lawyers from all over the country, and his team of lawyers know all the complexities involved in suing trucking companies whose negligence caused serious injuries or wrongful death to innocent motorists.  Ratinoff’s extensive experience includes both victories in jury trials and settlement negotiations – an important aspect when seeking a qualified truck accident attorney – a lawyer who has won multiple jury trials is always well equipped to enter settlement negotiations.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a semi-truck accident, you don’t have to face the trucking and insurance companies alone, our Sacramento truck accident lawyers can help defend your case. Upon accepting your potential case, we will conduct a thorough investigation and deal directly and firmly with the trucking and insurance companies on your behalf. Learn about your legal options. Fill out the form to the right or call our law firm locally at (916) 970-9100 for a free case evaluation.