Nobody expects to get in an accident when they climb into their vehicle in Murrieta – let alone an accident with a semi-truck or 18-wheeler weighing over 100,000 pounds. Accidents with other cars alone can result in severe injuries, but a collision with a truck can easily crush the smaller vehicle and inflict catastrophic, life-altering, and even fatal injuries. This is especially true considering most truck accidents occur on freeways and at higher speeds. Survivors commonly also face long, painful, expensive recovery processes and lifelong disabilities or limitations. If you were injured in a trucking accident, it is wise to contact a Murrieta trucking accident attorney in order to understand your options, uphold your legal rights, and recover just compensation.
Truck Accident Statistics in Murrieta
Truck accidents in Murrieta are more common than most people believe. Over 5.6 million commercial trucks are registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Those trucks drive more than 24.8 billion miles yearly within the state, and most of those miles are in and around the Murrieta area.
Riverside County records the third most commercial trucking miles of any California county with over 2.1 million average daily miles each year on its highways. This means that I-5, I-15, I-215, State Route 79, and State Route 71 are all areas with an elevated risk of trucking accident injuries and fatalities – multiple fatalities are recorded in Murrieta from trucking accidents each year. Despite California law mandating truck drivers observe a lower speed limit than other motorists, accidents can and do occur.
Must Truck Drivers Observe Special Regulations?
In addition to mandating that truck drivers operate trucks at a lower speed limit than is posted on California’s freeways, both the federal and state government created regulations governing trucking company and driver behavior. These regulations cover:
- Licensing drivers;
- Truck inspections;
- Impaired truck drivers;
- Hazardous material transport and vehicle standards; and
- Limits on driver hours of service and mandatory breaks.
These laws are designed to curb drowsy and impaired driving, ensure dangerous materials are transported as safely as possible, and ensure trucks operating in and around Murrieta are safe and roadworthy.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
Even though copious regulations exist and govern many facets of truck driver behavior and trucking company operations, the laws designed to keep motorists safe are not always followed. Many factors besides simple driver error can result in accidents, such as:
- Reckless driving;
- Distracted driving;
- Improperly maintained vehicles;
- Improperly loaded cargo;
- Negligent highway design;
- Fatigued drivers due to excessive hours;
- Driving under the influence;
- Negligent hiring by trucking companies;
- Unsafe vehicles and defective vehicle parts.
Because there are so many potential causes of truck accidents and resulting injuries, it is important you speak with a knowledgeable trucking accident attorney in Murrieta to determine the best strategy for proceeding with your claim.
How Do I Win My Truck Accident Case?
Victims of trucking accidents in Murrieta can pursue different avenues to try and recover damages. Trucking accidents are under the umbrella of personal injury claims, and the most used argument for recovery in personal injury law is negligence. To succeed in a truck accident injury case, you must prove the trucking company or truck driver owed the victim a legal duty of care, they violated that duty through an act or omission that an ordinarily prudent person wouldn’t do in that situation, the breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries, and the victim was harmed.
Negligence Per Se
Another way to prove a driver or company was negligent is to demonstrate they broke a safety law or other rule. California employs a legal doctrine called negligence per se, meaning that by itself demonstrating a law is broken is sufficient to establish negligence. For example, if a truck driver is involved in a wreck and it can be shown they were speeding at the time of the accident, it is presumed they acted negligently because they were violating the speed limit. If the defendant cannot raise a valid defense, they are legally responsible and liable for the victim’s damages.
What Damages Can I Expect to Recover?
Many victims wonder about the value of their case and what they can recover. If you can prove a defendant’s negligence, you may receive an award of damages. Victims can recover damages to compensate them for their injuries as well as punish a defendant’s bad behavior.
Trucking cases are unusual in that the federal has mandatory minimum liability insurance coverage standards of $750,000 for all commercial trucks and $5 million for each commercial truck that ever carries hazardous materials. The federal government understands truck accidents are catastrophic events that incur massive amounts of damages, so they took steps to ensure potential defendants will most likely be able to pay large damage awards.
Compensatory damages are to make a victim whole for their truck accident injuries. They may receive an award for quantifiable, substantiated economic damages such as:
- Medical Treatment Expenses;
- Lost Wages; and
Noneconomic damages may also be given to victims for injuries lacking a quantifiable dollar amount. There is no price tag on psychological suffering or emotional trauma, but courts and juries do award damages for:
- Pain and Suffering;
- Loss of Consortium; and
If a victim is able to recover compensatory damages, they may also be eligible for punitive damages if they show the defendant’s behavior was conducted with oppression, fraud, or malice. There is complete discretion on the part of the judge or jury as to the amount of an award, if any, that should be given to the victim. There is no statutory limit as to how much may be awarded.
Contact a Murrieta Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in a truck accident, you should contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Walton Law today. Time is not on your side, so you must move quickly to preserve your legal rights and your claim. We have years of experience representing clients like you and helping them recover for their injuries. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page to schedule a no-obligation initial case review today. The consultation is free – you owe nothing unless we win your case. Our knowledgeable attorneys will analyze your unique situation and help you determine the best strategy to obtain just compensation for you and your loved ones.