A crucial part of keeping the economy running, enormous big rig trucks and other commercial vehicles are a common sight on the highways in and around Lake Elsinore every day. Though most motorists may not stop to consider it, at over 100,000 pounds these massive vehicles dwarf normal motor vehicles on the road and put everyone around them at risk when not operated with the utmost care and caution. Any collision between vehicles with such disparate sizes is reason for serious concern – catastrophic, life-changing injuries and fatalities unfortunately result all too frequently in these instances. The risk of severe injuries is only elevated because most big rig accidents occur on freeways, where elevated speed limits translate into more violent collisions with more force on impact. Unfortunately, not everyone in the trucking industry follows the rules and takes the proper precautions to mitigate these risks. If you were hurt in an accident with a large commercial truck like an 18-wheeler, contact an experienced Lake Elsinore Big Rig Truck Accident Attorney to learn if you may be entitled to compensation.
Though the risk of big rig truck accidents in a small, suburban town like Lake Elsinore may seem small, the danger is much greater than you may realize. A commuter town in Riverside County sitting by the busy 15 freeway, residents of Lake Elsinore spend copious amounts of time on the freeway going to and from work as well as running errands for their daily life. The town also has a heavy tourism industry thank to its picturesque lake and copious biking and hiking trails that draw non-residents to the outdoors. The large amount of time motorists spend on the freeway with big rigs only increases their risk of injury from a collision. Riverside County is the third-busiest commercial trucking county in California with over 2.1 million miles per day driven within the county around Lake Elsinore by large trucks like big rigs, which makes travel on roads in the area an accident waiting to happen.
How Do I Hold Someone Responsible for My Injuries? Big rig truck accident injury victims usually sue the alleged wrongdoer and argue their injuries were caused by the truck driver, trucking company, or manufacturer’s negligence. To prove negligence, victims must usually prove the defendant:
- Owed them a duty of care,
- Breached the duty by action or a failure to act, and
- Caused their harm as a result of the breach.
However, if you can prove the defendant harmed you while breaking any law or regulation designed to protect people – including traffic laws prohibiting speeding or texting and driving – they are presumed to have acted negligently. It’s important to do a thorough investigation after an accident to see if there is evidence of a violation; traffic cameras, eyewitness accounts, cell phone records, and even on-scene indicators like skid marks can all help determine whether a law was broken and negligence per se applies in your case.
Federal and state laws were put in place to regulate the behavior of big rig drivers and trucking companies and lower the risk they pose to others on the road. The federal government regulates maintenance, safety inspections, truck driver licensing, hazardous material transportation, maximum hours truckers may operate during a shift, and mandatory rest breaks for drivers. In California, truck drivers have an additional restriction – they must operate their vehicles under a speed limit set specifically for them that’s even lower than the normal speed limit for motor vehicles on the highways.
How Much Can I Recover? Damages are a point of focus in big rig truck accidents anywhere, and for good reason. The violent nature of these collisions and the enormous size difference between regular vehicles and large trucks means fatalities are common. Those fortunate enough to survive the ordeal often find themselves contending with astronomical medical bills, the need for a lifetime of care or treatment, or permanent disability. The federal government recognized that large damage awards might bankrupt trucking companies and render them unable to pay these awards, so it took steps to ensure negligent defendants will be financially capable of paying damages. Each commercial truck on the road must currently carry a minimum of $750,000 liability insurance coverage. That coverage amount rises to a staggering $5 million per vehicle for every truck that ever transports hazardous materials.
Damage Awards for Your Injuries After you prove your injuries resulted from someone’s negligence, the court may award you damages for your injuries. These compensatory damages are meant to make you whole for both concrete, quantifiable injuries as well as more abstract harms because of mental, emotional, and psychological trauma you endured. It’s not unusual to see an award of damages for injuries such as:
- Lost wages and lost future earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
- Funeral expenses or burial costs
In some cases, especially vile or reprehensible behavior by the defendant can lead to the court awarding the victim additional damages to punish the bad behavior and deter its repetition. Punitive damage awards can be large, but they are difficult to receive. There is a high burden of proof, and it’s entirely up to the court whether you receive punitive damages and in what amount. Navigating these tricky legal waters is best done with the help of an experienced Lake Elsinore Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyer.
Speak to an Attorney Today Nobody expects or deserves the physical, emotional, and financial trauma that often comes from involvement in big rig truck accidents. If you or a loved one were hurt in one of these terrifying collisions, contact the Lake Elsinore Big Rig Truck Accident Attorneys at Walton Law, APC right away to make sure you put your best foot forward in your claim for recovery. Our attorneys have years of experience providing skilled, vigorous representation for injury victims like you and delivering results; we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation on their behalf. Contact us 24/7 at (866)-338-7079 or by completing our online Contact Page to schedule your no risk, no obligation initial consultation. The evaluation is free, and you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our team of attorneys review the facts of your case and fight to get you the maximum possible recovery for your tragic, unnecessary injuries.