Truck and bus accident cases pertain to collisions involving “big rigs” and other tractor-trailer combinations, passenger buses and other oversized vehicles. These collisions are frequently caused by driver fatigue, speed, inattention, operator intoxication and/or poor maintenance of the truck, bus or other large motor vehicle. California law provides remedies for those injured when they were driving another vehicle, injured while a passenger or struck while a pedestrian.
A truck accident lawyer who is familiar with both California and federal laws which regulate transportation and safe truck operation, as well as proper truck maintenance, can ensure that accident victims obtain the maximum compensation allowed. The amount of damages recoverable in truck and bus
accident cases depends on a variety of factors such as the extent of the injuries sustained, the fault of the parties, time lost from work and the amount of medical expenses incurred. To prove fault, it may be necessary for the truck accident lawyer to hire investigators and trucking accident experts to demonstrate how the collision occurred.
The law imposes a heavy obligation upon truck and bus drivers and the companies they drive for to use a heightened standard of care for the safety of passengers and bystanders. A driver and/or company must take certain precautions to ensure safe travel. When the applicable guidelines, regulations and/or standards are not adequately met, the law may entitle the injured person and/or his or her family to be compensated for:
- Payment of medical treatment and medical bills;
- Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses;
- Repair or replacement of damaged motor vehicle;
- Reimbursement for loss of earnings and profits;
- Fair compensation for pain, suffering and other harm caused by the injuries.
Truck Accidents and Collisions Case Study ( click for details )( click to close )
Driving in the opposite direction was a 26,000 pound tractor/trailer rig being operated by Dennis. Dennis was a cousin of the owner of the trucking company that owned the truck and the two trailers being pulled by Dennis – who not only worked for the trucking company but also lived in a small trailer which was kept at the trucking company’s yard. The people in charge at the trucking company were well aware of Dennis’ criminal record and the fact that he had repeatedly been in and out of jail and prison for a variety of offenses. In addition, the owners of the trucking company knew that Dennis had previously been a heroin addict, and that he was on a methadone maintenance program in an attempt to break the heroin habit. In fact, his employers knew that occasionally Dennis took a company truck to go get his dose of methadone.
While driving the company’s tractor and pulling 2 unloaded trailers, Dennis was traveling at approximately 55-60 mph according to a witness following behind the big rig. That same witness described how the truck/trailer combination would veer over the center dividing line and then return to its own lane – but that it failed to move back into its own lane on this occasion. The tractor/trailer combination mowed over Kathryn’s approaching car, the entire big-rig assuming the entirety of Kathryn’s lane of travel. Unable to take any evasive maneuvers to avoid the devastating collision, the tractor/trailer rig literally drove over and through the occupant seating area of Kathryn’s oncoming car. Her car was pancaked.
Photos taken by the investigating CHP officers showed a used syringe in the cab of the truck. Testing revealed that the truck driver was under the influence of heroin at the time of the horrific accident. Although it was known that the truck driver had an extensive criminal record, no drug screening was performed in the three (3) years after he was hired by his family members who ran the trucking company.
The resulting damages and injuries were enormous: Kathryn was left with a severe permanent brain injury, a fractured neck, broken ankle, perforated bowel and collapsed lung. Even more catastrophic was the instantaneous loss of 3 out of 5 members of her nuclear family – her 2 daughters and her husband.
The case was settled prior to trial upon payment of the trucking company’s limit of liability insurance coverage; in addition, the insurance company which provided the liability coverage had to pay on an expired policy of liability insurance coverage which while no longer in effect, had not properly been terminated by the insurance carrier.