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No one thinks they will be in a commercial truck accident.

As parents, spouses and partners, we worry about other people.  Something you might ask is “What would become of our families in a worst-case scenario. What If I died in a truck accident?  Would my spouse or partner have the financial resources they would need to pay for necessities? Would my children have the money to afford a college education? A funeral? A wedding?” These worries keep us up at night. After all, you never know when tragedy can strike

The fortunate among us have the wherewithal to purchase life insurance. Sometimes it isn’t enough. Life Insurance benefits might not cover every expense our families may need in a future that does not have us in it. Or what about the scenario where you are injured to the point you can no longer work and provide for your family?  You become an expense and the life insurance does nothing.  We never like to think about those things but they happen.  For over 30 years I’ve been helping people in both of these situations.

Big Rig Truck Accidents: Unexpected, Deadly, and Expensive

Thousands of people die, and hundreds of thousands more suffer injuries, every year in California traffic accidents. Because of the large sized and heavy weights, commercial truck accidents can be the most damaging.  Truck crashes have some of the most deadly and devastating outcomes. In a collision between a large truck and a passenger vehicle, the smaller vehicle and its occupants are usually the ones to sustain the worst of the damage. The disparity in size and weight between a big rig and a sedan, for example, is so large that a crash can flatten, mangle, or tear the car in two.  The impact on motorcycles and bicycles is even worse.

Drivers and passengers in a regular car or SUV are lucky to escape with their lives. The sad truth of truck cases is that many do not. Those who do survive often face catastrophic, life-altering injuries. These injuries might even inflict permanent disabilities. The injury toll of a large truck crash frequently includes:

  • Spinal cord injuries. The sudden power of impact by a truck or big rig can twist or damage the spine to the point the spinal cord is crushed or pinched.  Injuries like this can leave victims permanently paralyzed and facing the massive challenge of adapting to an altered existence.
  • Traumatic brain injuries.  The harsh impact of a truck accident can injure the brain in ways that cause permanent cognitive, motor, and emotional impairments, or worse, plunge victims into a coma or state of semi-consciousness from which they might never emerge.
  • Crushed and traumatically amputated limbs that require multiple surgeries and prosthetics to treat, and still leave a victim facing a lifetime of chronic pain.
  • Neck and back injuries that never truly heal, and instead leave a person in a state of permanent, debilitating discomfort.
  • Burns that cause agonizing pain, disfiguring scars, and lasting emotional trauma.

There can be other damage and injuries after being in an accident with a truck or big rig. The East Bay is a major trucking area with shipping ports, refineries and factories all located here.

Truck accidents victims and their families suffer not just physical and emotional pain from these injuries and deaths, but also untold expense. Medical bills to treat catastrophic injuries from a truck accident can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These bills occur whether or not the accident victim survives the trauma of the crash. Accident victims who survive miss months of work at a minimum. Some never return to a job in their former capacity, or at all, robbing their families of important income.

commercial Truck accident

Every aspect of life becomes more difficult and expensive after an accident. Victims and grieving families need help with day-to-day tasks the injured truck accident victim used to handle, like childcare, transportation, keeping a home, and managing finances. Bankruptcy and financial ruin constitute a very real, and very sad, toll of a truck accident for many families who don’t have the money, insurance or know where to turn for help.

After a Truck Accident Get Help

As difficult as it is to focus on moving forward after a truck accident, it is important to do so.  There are resources out there for you, even if the truck is from out of state or even another country.  The assumption that the trucking companies insurance will just pay for everything is normally wrong.  Sometimes there is damage beyond what you initially think about after the accident.  The problems usually go much deeper.

If you were to sustain catastrophic or fatal injuries in a large truck crash in California, your family might have the option of obtaining compensation from a variety of sources:

  • Auto insurance. California requires all trucks in the state to carry insurance.  You should also have insurance on your car.
  • Health insurance. Health insurance is also mandatory in California.  If you have health insurance, it will likely cover some of the expenses for your medical care after a truck accident, subject to any co-payments, deductibles, and coverage limits. So, with any luck, your family will have some protection against bearing the full brunt of the massive healthcare-related costs of treating your injuries in a truck crash.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance. If you suffer devastating or fatal injuries in a California truck crash while working, then chances are you and/or your family will have the right to receive workers compensation. Workers’ comp in California may cover the costs of medical care and lost wages due to a disability because of a work-related injury, regardless of fault.
  • Supplemental (long-term disability) insurance. Some people carry or receive as a work benefit, a form of private insurance that covers additional costs of missing work because of a long-term disability. This is the type of insurance advertised on TV by AFLAC and its talking duck mascot.
  • Life insurance. Some people also carry private life insurance or receive life insurance coverage as a work benefit. This coverage typically pays a lump-sum benefit if the insured dies in a California truck accident.

This list is just part of the resources we look at when we are trying to help the victim of an accident or their family.

Financial support from Insurance represents only one of the potential avenues for assistance.  While your family might have good insurance for financial support after a tragic truck crash leaves, it may not be enough if you or a family member are catastrophically or fatally injured. You and your family may also have the right to pursue legal remedies against anyone whose poor decisions or careless actions caused the truck crash that did you harm.

Here is how.

Beyond Basic Insurance Coverage

Many California drivers have the mistaken impression that the state’s insurance laws mean that they will be taken care of by the insurance and the insurance will pay.  If you or someone in your family sustain truly serious injuries in a truck crash, you have the right to take legal action against the individuals and entities who caused your accident and injuries—injuries like the ones listed above that leave you permanently disabled, disfigured, or dead.

Who Has Liability?

Who might have liability to you and your family for causing your catastrophic or fatal truck accident injuries? More people than you think might be responsible for a commercial truck accident. Our 30 plus years of experience as truck accident injury lawyers have taught us to explore whether any of the following “usual suspects” may have liability for a crash, for example:

  • Truck drivers, if their careless or reckless actions behind the wheel caused the collision that left you badly injured.
  • Trucking companies that employ truck drivers or operate the truck involved in the crash, especially if their actions ignored warning signals that the driver or the equipment were not fit for the road.
  • Shippers who load cargo into large trucks without taking care to secure it, running the risk that the cargo could shift in transit and cause the truck driver to lose control.
  • Mechanics who fail to maintain trucks in proper working order.
  • Manufacturers of trucks and truck parts, if they sell defective products that lead to mechanical failure and a crash.
  • Medical professionals who prescribe prescription medications to truck drivers without warning about potentially dangerous side effects that could cause the trucker to lose focus or control behind the wheel.
  • Government agencies tasked with designing, building, and maintaining safe roads for truckers and the general public to use, if they fail in their mission and cause an accident.

These are examples, only. Every truck accident has its own unique facts and circumstances. The facts and circumstances dictate who might have legal liability in a commercial truck accident. The most reliable way to figure out who might have legal liability to you and your family after a truck crash is to work with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer.

How Much Money Can You Get in a Truck Accident Case?

It is true that no two truck crash cases are exactly alike, so it is impossible to say for certain how much money you or your family might expect to recover. Our firm has recovered over $250,000,000 for its clients.  Recently we has an accident case where we recovered over $4 Million.  Typically the victims of a catastrophic truck accident caused by someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions have the legal right to pursue compensation for:

  • Medical bills and other expenses related to treatment of truck accident injuries, whether or not the victim survives them.
  • Lost past and future wages the accident victim cannot earn because of truck accident injuries or death.
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering inflicted by the injury or death.
  • Loss of companionship, emotional support, and other relationships because of the injuries or death.
  • Property damage.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.   
  • In rare cases, punitive damages to punish the parties who caused your injuries or death.

As you can imagine, from case to case the amount of money required to compensate for each of these categories can vary widely. No one can guarantee in advance that all (or any) of these categories will apply in any particular truck accident. However, these represent the most typical categories of money damages available for truck accident victims and their families, and in some cases they can amount to very large sums.

The most important thing for you and your family to understand about taking legal action after a truck accident is that it takes an experienced truck accident injury attorney. Experienced attorneys help give you the best chance possible of recovering maximum compensation. Lawyers who represent clients in truck accident cases know the critical importance of getting to work right away, and of investigating the facts in detail to identify all individuals and entities who may have legal liability to the victim and the victim’s family.

Why Is Getting a Lawyer Important after a commercial truck accident? 

Because as a practical matter, the amount of money your family might receive if you get badly hurt in a truck accident can depend, in part, on how many parties have liability for your injuries, and what financial resources those parties have available to pay damages with. The more individuals and companies an attorney can find who might owe you and your family monetary damages, the better the chance of getting paid.  This is because the more insurance policies and assets they can find and connect to the accident, the more they are potentially available to tap.

You may not realize all of the financial, and medical burdens that you have until later if you don’t get experienced help right away.  Believe it or not, this is part of what attorney’s do.

Get an Experienced East Bay Area Truck Accident Lawyer

Nick Mastrangelo, Truck Accident Attorney

So, if you lose sleep at night worrying about what might happen to your family if you get catastrophically or fatally injured in a truck accident, here is what we suggest you do:

  • Research your insurance coverages and prepare a list that your family can consult in an emergency.
  • Locate an experienced California truck accident injury attorney who your family can call if you sustain serious injuries.

With that little bit of advance planning, you can rest easier knowing that if you get hurt in a truck accident, your family will know what to do first, and where to turn for the help they need.

Just make sure they know to call Nick.

Nick Mastrangelo