Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
There are a number of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that may be relevant to your case. Here are just a few of these regulations that are intended to provide guidance for truck drivers across the county:
- All truck drivers are required to meet the necessary qualifications and requirements set by the California Department of Transportation.
- Truck drivers must implement a scheduled vehicle maintenance plan to prevent sudden breakdowns.
- Drivers who intend to operate large trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds must obtain a special Commercial Driver's License (CDL).
- Before and after every trip, truck drivers are required to carry out a comprehensive vehicle inspection.
- Commercial motor vehicle drivers, including truck drivers, are required to strictly adhere to their federal hours of service limitations.
Statute of Limitations
Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, "an action to recover damages for injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another shall be commenced within two years from the date of the accident or injury.”
Essentially, this means you will have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. Also, within three years, an action for injuring goods or chattels, including an action for the specific recovery of personal property, shall be commended (California Code of Civil Procedure section 338 (c)).
Assessing Liability After a Truck Accident
Based on the surrounding circumstances that caused the truck accident, there may be a few different people that can be held liable for damages. These various parties include:
- Trucker Drivers - If the accident occurred while the driver was speeding, committing a traffic infraction, driving fatigued, driving distracted, or was driving with improper training, the truck driver may be held liable for the accident.
- Trucking Companies - If the trucking company recruited an inexperienced or unqualified driver, or chose to set unrealistic expectations or insufficient safety inspection procedures — the trucking company itself may be held liable.
- Truck Manufacturers - If the accident was caused by a faulty part, malfunctioning brake, or mechanical failure, the parts manufacturer or truck manufacturer may be held liable.
- Cargo Loaders - The individuals who loaded the cargo may be held liable if they failed to thoroughly inspect, secure, or balance the cargo or load, thereby resulting in an accident.
- Maintenance Personnel - If the traffic crash occurred due to negligent actions from maintenance personnel, they could be held liable as well. This includes a failure to perform certain designated tasks, including scheduled maintenance, safety checks, or inspection of the brakes, engine, fluids, and electronic systems.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
California is considered an at-fault state. This means that, under California's at-fault system, the driver who caused the traffic accident (known as the at-fault party) will be responsible for paying for any injuries and property damages suffered by the accident victim(s).
If You're The Victim
If you're the victim of a truck accident in California, you can proceed by:
- Filing an injury claim with your own insurance carrier.
- Filing a third-party claim directly with the insurance company of the at-fault party.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in civil court.
If You're Representing an Incapacitated Loved One
If you're representing a loved one who was left incapacitated, recovering damages on the victim's behalf requires you to first established conservatorship. Once you have been confirmed as the legal guardian or conservator of the injured victim, you can proceed with filing a personal injury claim on the victim’s behalf.
If You're Representing a Deceased Loved One
If your loved one was killed in a negligent truck accident, the surviving family members of the deceased person, including the spouse, domestic partner, children, or grandchildren, have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California civil courts.
Work With a Knowledgeable
Personal Injury Attorney
Being involved in a truck accident can be extremely challenging physically, emotionally, and financially. With severe injuries, hospitalization, and potentially missed time from work, such an incident can turn your life upside down in an instant. Luckily, you don't have to face these challenges on your own. You deserve to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney on your side who can fight aggressively to protect your rights, represent your best interests, and help you pursue fair compensation for your injuries.
At Paul D. Fitzgerald, Attorney At Law, I have devoted my entire career to handling personal injury cases and protecting the rights of truck accident victims and their loved ones. As your attorney, I can:
- Work to hold the responsible parties accountable for the injuries and damages you have suffered
- Review every last detail of your case and carry out an in-depth, private investigation
- Gather all relevant information, necessary evidence, and required documentation
- Seek to prove fault and establish liability
- Determine the full magnitude of your injuries, other accident-related losses, and estimate case-value
- Handle all communications with the insurance company and work to negotiate a fair settlement
- If necessary, file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf
My firm proudly represents clients in Glendale, Burbank, Los Angeles, and the San Gabriel Valley, California. Call or reach out to my office today to get the help you need.