Trucking collisions remain at an all-time high in California. In 2020, the National Safety Council reported that California was second in the nation in deaths resulting from trucking accidents. If you were injured in a collision with a commercial truck, an experienced truck accident lawyer in San Francisco may be able to recover compensation on your behalf.
At Arias Sanguinetti, we understand the dangers that large trucks pose to other drivers on the road. We have helped countless clients recover the money they deserve from truck drivers and trucking companies. Contact us today to get started on your case through a free consultation with one of our experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyers.
Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies Are Held to a Higher Standard of Safety
Weight discrepancy is the main reason that trucking collisions typically result in more destructive impact than passenger-car collisions. Trucks usually weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars and are also much taller than passenger cars, so often, these smaller vehicles will under-ride trucks in accidents.
Trucks possess a tremendous mass that, when combined with speed, results in extreme force, which can cause severe or fatal injuries. Hiring an attorney familiar with trucking regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is essential to ensuring your case is properly evaluated and pursued.
The FMCSA enforces a set of minimum safety standards for all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles that transport property or passengers in interstate commerce. Focusing on commercial vehicles carrying property, governed by 49 C.F.R. § 395.3, it is critical to be aware of the following requirements pertaining to a truck driver’s hours of service:
- 10-hour off-duty requirement
- 14-hour on-duty limit
- 11-hour driving limit
- 30-minute break
- 60/70-hour limit
10-Hour Off-Duty Requirement
Truck drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off duty between work sessions.
14-Hour On-Duty Limit
Truck drivers must not work more than 14 consecutive hours in a single session following a period of 10 consecutive hours off duty. Meaning, a driver on duty has a 14-hour window to drive until they must go off duty.
11-Hour Driving Limit
Truck drivers must not drive more than 11 total hours during the 14-hour on-duty time period.
Truck drivers are required to take an uninterrupted break of at least 30 consecutive minutes following eight hours of driving. This 30 minute break can include on duty or off duty activities, as long as the driver is not operating the vehicle.
The specifics of this limit depend on whether the driver is employed by a company that operates commercial vehicles every day of the week. A driver who works for this type of trucking company must cease driving after being on duty for 70 hours over a period of eight consecutive days.
Other drivers must cease driving after being on duty for 60 hours over a period of eight consecutive days. In either case, a driver may restart the seven/eight-day period following an off duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours.
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Evidence Your Attorney Will Collect in Support of Your Case
Violations of the hours of service must be established through evidence. Such evidence can include:
- The truck itself.
- Photos from the scene of the crash and from any post-crash inspections.
- Footage from the truck’s dashcam, rear camera, side cameras, and any other cameras with which the truck may be equipped.
- Data from any cell phones, devices, and cloud-based systems in the truck at the time of the crash.
- Records of any drug or alcohol tests completed by the driver within 24 hours of the crash.
- Receipts, including meals, expenses, and fuel.
- Service contracts for the cargo being transported.
- The bill of lading for cargo shipment, which can include shipping receipts, billing, etc.
- Documents reflecting the truck driver’s communication with the fleet and home base, including dispatch information.
- The log of the truck driver’s hours and duty status.
The truck driver and motor vehicle carrier will usually have most or all of the above evidence in their possession, as they are required to maintain these records to confirm their compliance with the FMCSA regulations.
However, as time goes on, this evidence may get overwritten, lost, or destroyed. Hiring an attorney early on in your case will help ensure this evidence is obtained before it is gone. Strong evidence is the cornerstone of achieving favorable case results.
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Many Truck Accident Cases Settle Out of Court
If you are pursuing compensation after a truck accident, you should know that some of these cases never go to trial. Settling out of court is occasionally in the best interest of all parties involved after a crash. Coming to terms on a settlement deal means you can recover money far quicker than through a trial and avoid the unpredictable nature of a jury.
For the liable party, settling has the added benefit of paying reduced legal fees. In addition, settling provides a means of avoiding any unwanted media coverage that may accompany a trial. Since it is always possible that your case will go to trial, the attorneys at Arias Sanguinetti prepare as if every case will be tried.
There is always the possibility that you will be unable to come to an agreement on a settlement deal with the at-fault party. Furthermore, being fully prepared for court will give you more leverage during negotiations to secure a better deal. Our law firm is ready and willing to take any and all cases to trial to ensure you recover the money you need and deserve.
Make Sure to File Your Truck Accident Lawsuit Before Time Runs Out
In California, the personal injury statute of limitations grants accident victims two years to file a lawsuit for injury-related damages and three years for property damage. If you miss this filing deadline, you will likely be out of options for recovering compensation.
However, even if the standard deadline has passed, you should still contact an experienced truck accident attorney serving San Francisco. Exceptions may apply to your case that allow you to file beyond the usual cutoff date.
At the same time, an exception could put further limitations on the amount of time you have to take legal action. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after a crash is the best way to ensure you don’t miss your chance to file because of an unexpected deadline. Our team of truck accident lawyers can ensure that all paperwork gets filed on time.
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Get Help from an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney in San Francisco Today
If you have suffered injuries as a result of a trucking collision, please contact our experienced Bay Area personal injury attorneys at Arias, Sanguinetti, Wang & Team, LLP. We serve the Bay Area and will help you navigate the standards of the trucking industry and get you the justice you deserve.
Our experienced team of truck accident lawyers has over 300 years of combined experience. Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule your free case review with a member of our team.