California Truck Accident Laws – How Long do I have to file a Lawsuite for my Injuries
If you or a member of your family were injured in a truck accident, it is perfectly normal to have many questions about your right to take legal action – including questions about the total length of time that you have to pursue your injury claim. Do not hesitate to contact the experts at our law firm immediately for all the information that you need.
Our lawyers here at Downtown L.A. Law Group are ready to guide you every step of the way and help you win. Of course, our experts are also ready to ensure that you file your injury claim on time!
Common Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are among the most devastating types of accidents. Because trucks are so large and heavy, truck accidents can tend to be much more severe than other types of vehicular accidents. Truck accidents can lead to a number of injuries, including the following:
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries (including whiplash)
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures (including complex fractures)
- Severed limbs
- Crushing injuries
- Pelvic injuries
- Hip injuries
- Knee injuries
- Nerve damage
- Ligament damage
- Muscle damage
One of the most dangerous results of truck accidents includes passenger compartment intrusion (PCI). This occurs when the energy of the crash surpasses the strength of the vehicle’s frame, so the victim essentially takes the entire force of the impact (this is common in truck vs. auto accidents). In an accident that results in PCI, injuries are almost always fatal.
Regardless of the injuries that you or a member of your family suffered in a truck accident, it is important that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. You might have grounds to sue and recover monetary compensation.
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Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Injury Lawsuits
All personal injury claims, including truck accident claims, are subject to a statute of limitations. What is a statute of limitations? A Statute of Limitations refers to the law that limits the amount of time within which a victim involved in an accident, or more specifically, a truck accident, may bring about legal proceedings. It determines the time that victims and their families have to sue. In the state of California, an individual has TWO YEARS in which to file a lawsuit for their damages resulting in a truck accident.
If you don’t file your truck accident claim on time, you could lose your right to sue. Although failure to file a claim within the statutory period could result in barring your claim, there are certain exceptions. Although the statutory period begins to run on the date of the accident, exceptions will be made in situations where the injured party was mentally incompetent or incapable of filing a claim. Furthermore, the statutory period is extended for minors under the age of 18. The minor has until their eighteenth birthday, plus the statutory period of 2 years to file the suit. Lastly, the statutory period may be extended where an injury is unknown, but is later discovered.
Unfortunately, many people lose their right to sue because they simply do not know that their accident claim is subject to a strict timeline. To ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the total length of time that you have to file your truck accident claim, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at our law firm immediately.
Driving a large truck, semi-truck or other commercial motor vehicle requires a specialized knowledge beyond a normal vehicle. It is no surprise than that California and Federal Laws require truck drivers to carry special licensing. This special license is referred to as a CDL, or a Commercial Drivers License. A commercial vehicle is defined as vehicles that:
- Have gross vehicle weight rating (commonly known as GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
- Are combination vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more.
- Tows another motor vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more.
- Tow more than one vehicle or a trailer bus.
- Has three or more axles (excludes three axle vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or less gross).
- Is intended, used, or sustained to hold more than 10 passengers counting the driver (hire or profit) or is used by any nonprofit organization or assembly.
- Necessitates hazardous material placards or is carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73.*
- Transports hazardous wastes (Health and Safety Code §§25115 and 25117).
**Note: Drivers carrying Hazardous Material require a HazMat endorsement in addition to a CDL The attorney’s at Downtown LA Law understand all the specific truck driver laws, including nuances that separate truck accident and car accidents, and use them to better equip ourselves in your defense. For example, oftentimes, truck drivers illegally drive vehicles without have the proper licensing, which can be used against their employer for negligent hiring. Call one of our Truck Accident Lawyers Today.
Financial Responsibility / Insurance Requirements
The Department of Motor Vehicles requires special insurance guidelines for truck drivers. Proof of insurance must be exhibited prior to even taking a CDL exam. All truck drivers must adhere to the following minimum regulations:
- $300,000 combined single limit when the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating less than 10,000 lbs.
- $750,000 combined single limit when the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating more than 10,001 lbs.
- For the transportation of petroleum products: $500,000 for injury or death (1 person), $1,000,000 for injury or death (2 or more persons), $200,000 for property damage or $1,200,000 combined single limit.
- For the transportation of oil, hazardous materials or waste: Combined single limit of $1,000,000
- For the transportation of hazardous substances, compressed or liquefied compressed gas, portable tanks, or hopper-type vehicles with capacities exceeding 3,500 gallons, Division 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3 explosives, poison gas, radioactive materials: Combined single limit of $5,000,000
- The federal government requires trucks commuting in interstate commerce (across state lines) to carry $750,000 of bodily and property coverage.
It is important to note that although there are strict insurance requirements for commercial vehicles, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get an insurance payout easily after your truck accident.
Although insurance companies are supposed to cover incidents, they will do everything possible to avoid paying even if accident claims are perfectly valid. This is because insurance companies lose every time that they payout on a claim; therefore, they will often resort to trickery in attempts to avoid payouts. Insurance companies can unjustly deny claims, fail to provide important information, intentionally delay claims, etc. This is all with the purpose of not paying their clients what they are owed. Unfortunately, most claimants do not know their rights when it comes to dealing with insurance companies – they do not know that they can appeal insurance decisions, and they do not know that they could sue insurance companies for exercising bad faith.
For more information about your right to sue the insurance company directly for bad faith, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at our firm as soon as possible.
WHO’S AT FAULT In California, only the negligent party is responsible for the injuries incurred during a truck accident. A person acts negligently when that individual fails to act in a manner expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances. According to California Tort Law,, negligence requires the demonstration of:
- A party was careless, and that carelessness was the direct and proximate cause of the car crash
- The car crash caused some sort of physical or property damage
- The careless party is responsible for the damages
Unlike most accidents, Truck accidents require a special experience since several other variables are involved, such as an employer, or the drivers skill. At Downtown LA Law, our Truck Accident attorneys will investigate all issues to establish fault, including:
- The negligent hiring of the company employing the driver. We will look at the driver’s record, experience, skill, and expectations.
- Negligence of the driver (i.e. drugs, alcohol, insufficient sleep / drowsiness)
- Negligence of the company, such as was the truck loaded unsuitably or not in accordance with the laws.
- Manufacturing defect of the Truck due to the negligence of the Truck Manufacturer, brake manufacturer, tire manufacturer etc.
- Third party fault such as a truck leasing company
At Downtown LA Law, our Truck Accident Attorneys use every means possible to establish fault including police reports, eyewitness testimony, expert witnesses, photos, role playing and computer technology. California Follows Pure Comparative Negligence In many car accidents, fault is not black and white. In other words, there are several situations where more than one party is at fault. The question then arises as to what should be done. In the past, even if a party is 1% at fault, they would be barred from any recovery, even though they barely contributed to the accident. California now adopts a pure comparative negligence model. Under this theory, the injured party in a car accident will still recover damages in an accident, even if that party carries partial blame. Once the portion of fault is determined, that party is entitled to recover in proportion to the other party’s fault. At Downtown LA Law, our car accident law firm does not recover unless there is a recovery for our clients. We work on a contingency basis, and make sure to maximize your recover.