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Bakersfield Truck Accident Lawyers

Some days—especially on California’s busy freeways—it seems like big trucks are everywhere, dwarfing the sedans, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks that make up the rest of traffic. According to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the agency responsible for regulating commercial trucking—large trucks (straight trucks, tractor trailers, and buses) made up 5.2% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2020 but logged 10.9% of the nation’s miles for the year.

It’s wise to be extra cautious around big rigs. The maximum legal weight of a semi-truck cruising on the interstate at 70 miles per hour is 80,000 pounds—20 times heavier than a typical passenger car. Small wonder, then, that when a large truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the results are often devastating.

In this article, we’ll look at some truck accident statistics, factors that make truck accidents more complicated than passenger vehicle crashes, and discuss what you should do if you’re involved in a collision with a truck.

If you or a loved one were injured in a big rig crash, Chain | Cohn | Clark’s team of Bakersfield truck accident lawyers can help you get a fair insurance settlement or pursue a claim in court.

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Truck Accident Statistics

Since 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has compiled the most comprehensive data on traffic accidents in the U.S. Here are some compelling statistics from the most recent NHTSA data:

There were 4,842 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2020—that’s a little over 13 fatal crashes per day.

A big rig crash is far more likely to kill the occupants of other vehicles or nonoccupants (pedestrians, etc.) than it is to kill someone in the truck. Only 16.7% of 2020 truck-crash fatalities were truck occupants.

You’re more likely to be injured in a passenger vehicle crash than in a truck accident (30.3% versus 24.3%), but the odds of being killed in a collision with a semi-truck are 57% higher (1.1% versus 0.7%).

2020 NHTSA StatsAll Vehicle TypesLarge Trucks
Crash typeNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

How Is a Truck Accident Different From a Car Accident?

The size differential between a big rig and a passenger car is one obvious difference between truck accidents and car accidents. And crash fatality and injury statistics reflect the increased risk to the occupants of passenger vehicles in truck crashes.

But the differences between truck accidents and car accidents don’t stop there. At least four additional factors make determining fault and settling claims for a truck accident more complicated.

  1. FMCSA regulations: Commercial trucking in the U.S. is tightly regulated by the FMCSA; the rules are codified in Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). For example:
    1. Drivers must have the appropriate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and meet other qualifications, pass drug tests before being hired and randomly throughout the year, comply with strict limitations on their hours of service, and carry out vehicle inspections before driving each day.
    2. Employers must carry higher amounts of liability insurance than passenger car requirements, have a system in place for the repair and maintenance of their fleets of trucks, and comply with regulations for the transport of hazardous materials.
    3. Companies and drivers are also responsible for securing loads and ensuring that loads are distributed safely. Companies must also maintain detailed records and cooperate with FMCSA crash investigations.
  2. Parties involved: In a typical car accident, liability is limited to the drivers involved. But in a semitruck accident, there are almost always additional parties that may bear responsibility for some aspect of the crash, including the truck driver’s employer(s) and the warehouse employees who loaded the truck.
  3. Insurance companies: Of course, sorting out a collision between two passenger cars involves insurance claims. But there may be multiple insurance companies involved in an accident with a big rig—the truck driver’s insurer and the employer’s insurer.
  4. Higher stakes: A truck driver’s road record affects their livelihood. When a shipping company’s driver is in an accident, the company may take a hit to its reputation and is subject to investigation and sanctions from the FMCSA. Consequently, truck drivers, their employers, and the insurance companies that represent them aggressively defend themselves against liability in truck accidents.

What do these factors mean for you? No matter what type of truck accident you’ve been in, the case is sure to be complex. Retaining the services of a lawyer is important after any crash, but it’s even more important to secure the help of a knowledgeable truck accident attorney for a wreck involving a bus or tractor trailer.

Our Bakersfield truck accident law firm specializes in cases involving the commercial trucking industry. Anyone injured in a trucking accident—drivers, passengers, or pedestrians—can benefit from consulting a truck accident attorney. Although big rig wrecks are complicated, the truck accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark know all the angles to investigate in cases involving large trucks.

What Causes Truck Accidents?

It only takes a momentary lapse in attention to cause an accident. When you’re moving at highway speeds with a fully loaded tractor trailer, there’s even less time to react to shifting traffic.

Many of the factors that cause typical car accidents also play a role in truck accidents—but the size and weight of semitrucks and the extended periods of time that truck drivers spend on the road exacerbate many of these factors. For example:

  • Distracted driving: Despite a national ban on texting or using a handheld cell phone while driving a commercial vehicle, truck drivers are still sometimes distracted by phone use. In addition, anything that diverts a driver’s attention from safe driving—from adjusting the radio to eating a burger—can cause a collision.
  • Speeding: According to the FMCSA, speeding is by far the most common traffic violation for truck drivers. Truck drivers are under pressure to deliver goods on time. When deadlines are coupled with heavy traffic, road construction, and other factors, truck drivers often end up pushing past the posted speed limit.
  • Drowsy driving: Although the FMCSA has hours of service regulations in place to ensure that commercial drivers get adequate rest, truckers may still be fatigued toward the end of a long day on the road. When a truck driver dozes at the wheel, the consequences can be catastrophic.
  • Following too closely: As truck drivers push to reach their destinations, they sometimes tailgate the driver in front of them. If the lead driver must brake suddenly, the big rig driver may not have enough time to react—let alone stop—before plowing into the car ahead of them.

Other factors that may cause a truck accident include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Truck mechanical failure
  • Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks
  • Unsecured or improperly secured cargo

When present in a truck accident, these factors imply that the truck driver, their employer, or both bear some or all the blame for the accident. A semi-truck accident lawyer can help determine who’s at fault in a truck accident and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and property damage.

What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?

If you’re in an accident with a tractor trailer, the steps you should take afterward are similar to those you should follow after a car accident—but, like everything else with a truck accident, they’re a little more complicated.

No matter what type of crash it was—whether you were rear-ended or involved in a side-impact collision—here’s a checklist of do’s and don’ts after a truck accident:

  1. Call (or have someone else call) 911 to get first responders on the scene as soon as possible.
  2. If you or your passengers are injured, get medical treatment.
  3. If you can, offer assistance to the occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash.
  4. Move your vehicle out of traffic and to the side of the road, but don’t leave the scene of the accident.
  5. Make sure you and your passengers are evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible—even if you don’t think anyone was injured. This is important because (1) some serious injuries aren’t evident right away, and (2) it provides documentation for potential insurance claims or lawsuits.
  6. Get the truck driver’s license and insurance information. Ask for their employer’s name, address, and insurance information, too.
  7. Ask the police for a copy of the accident report.
  8. Ask any witnesses for their names and contact information.
  9. Document the scene of the accident using photos, video, and written notes. 
  10. File a report with your insurance company, but don’t admit fault.
  11. Hang on to all your medical records. In the weeks following the accident, take a few minutes each day to take notes on your physical and mental condition.
  12. Don’t accept an insurance settlement without consulting a qualified semitruck accident attorney.

Contact the Bakersfield truck accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark as soon as possible for help in negotiating an insurance settlement or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

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What does a truck accident attorney do?

What does a truck accident attorney do?

Chain | Cohn | Clark’s team of truck accident lawyers helps clients through all aspects of the claims process, including:

  • Making sure a lawsuit is filed within California’s two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
  • Thoroughly investigating the details of the accident, the truck driver’s history, and the shipping company’s records to build a case to support your claim for compensation.
  • Clearly establishing who was at fault in the accident.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation.
  • Proving your case in court, if necessary.

Insurance companies treat truck accident victims differently based on whether or not they’re represented by a truck accident lawyer. It’s common for insurance companies to lowball claimants who don’t have a lawyer, because most people don’t know the true value of their claims. A good truck accident attorney knows what your claim is worth and how to negotiate with the insurance companies so that you get a fair settlement.

How much does a truck accident attorney cost?

How much does a truck accident attorney cost?

The commercial truck accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark work on a contingency basis. That means you don’t pay anything up front; in fact, our commercial truck accident attorneys don’t receive anything unless you win a settlement or jury verdict. Then, the lawyer is paid a small percentage of your award—a percentage that’s clearly indicated when you agree to let us represent you. 

Even after the attorney’s fee is deducted, you’re likely to receive more compensation when you have legal representation, because your lawyer will negotiate a larger settlement than you’d get on your own.

How should I choose a truck accident lawyer?

How should I choose a truck accident lawyer?

First, choose a reputable semitruck accident law firm like Chain | Cohn | Clark with an established track record of negotiating substantial settlements and winning jury trials in truck accident cases.

Second, make sure you feel comfortable with the tractor trailer accident lawyer who you’ll be working with. There’s no cost or obligation to contact Chain | Cohn | Clark and talk to someone about your case.

What forms of compensation are available following a truck accident?

What forms of compensation are available following a truck accident?

There are three basic forms of compensation you can pursue if you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident.

  1. Economic damages are payment for expenses you incur as a result of a truck accident. They include reimbursement for things like medical bills and rehab costs, lost wages if your injuries keep you from working, and future wages if your injuries left you disabled. They also cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
  2. Noneconomic damages compensate you for things that aren’t tied to a specific dollar amount. They include awards for your pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium (that is, the loss of the enjoyment of a relationship).
  3. Punitive damages are awarded by juries in exceptional cases to punish defendants who were intentionally, maliciously, or recklessly negligent in causing an accident.

Experienced Bakersfield Truck Accident Attorneys

If you or a family member were injured in a big rig accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you may have serious injuries and major property damage. In addition, you may be missing work even as you’re watching the medical expenses pile up. It’s hard enough to handle the physical and mental fallout from a truck crash—adding the pressure of insurance negotiations to the mix can easily make it overwhelming.

The truck accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark are ready and willing to bear the burden of investigating your accident, building a case, negotiating with insurance companies, and proving your case in court. When a truck driver or their employer is at fault in an accident, they should be held accountable, and you should receive every penny of compensation you deserve.

The sooner you contact our Bakersfield truck accident law firm, the more we’ll be able to help. Whatever type of commercial vehicle was involved—a tanker truck, garbage truck, construction vehicle, city truck, or even farm equipment—we can provide the help you need.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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