How a Truck Accident Lawsuit Works: A Guide to Recover Damages

Truck Accident Lawsuit

balance weight scale concept to indicate Newport Beach semi truck accident lawsuit

Commercial truck accidents are devastating, and victims often suffer serious injuries that impact their lives permanently. Filing a truck accident lawsuit against the at-fault party can aid in the recovery of overcoming the pain and suffering the traumatic event caused. However, these proceedings will require preparation and insight into the legal system.

Here is what to know about California truck accident cases, when to file a lawsuit, the benefits of filing a personal injury claim, and all potential parties who can be found liable in a truck accident case.


How Do Lawsuits With Trucking Companies Work in California?

Filing a personal injury lawsuit in a truck accident case provides victims the opportunity to recover damages. Similar to filing a personal injury lawsuit for car accidents, the at-fault party must be identified, and it must be proven why that party is liable for damages. 

However, these types of cases are more complicated because more than one party is often involved in trucking accidents. For example, in a truck accident case, liability can fall on the trucking companies, truck drivers, or other negligent parties. Additionally, due to the stature and weight of commercial trucks, like a semi-truck or tractor-trailers, the damages caused are often substantial.

If you were involved in a car accident with a truck driver, here is a general overview of how filing truck accident claims with the insurance company works.

  1. Establish legal standing – The plaintiff must indicate that he or she has been directly harmed and impacted by the trucking accident.
  2. Determine the venue – In California, the location where the lawsuit is filed will typically be the county where the truck accident occurred, where the trucking company is located, or where the party who is being sued resides. 
  3. File the complaint – This is a legal action that initiates the lawsuit. The complaint must include information about the accident with the truck driver or trucking company, sustained injuries, and the damages that are being requested.
  4. Serve the complaint – This is the legal process of notifying the other party that they are being sued. The defendant(s) will also be notified of the damages they are being sued for.
  5. Discovery – The discovery phase is when both parties (plaintiff and defendant) gather information and evidence to support their cases.
  6. Pre-trial – The involved parties may file pre-trial motions, which are requests to the court to make rulings on certain issues before the trial begins.
  7. Trial – If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial, where each party will present evidence that supports their truck accident claims. Then, the jury determines liability, if damages are owed, and how much the plaintiff should be awarded.
  8. Appeal – If either party is unhappy with the outcome of the trial, they may appeal the decision to a higher court.


What Do I Need to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Reviewing truck driver's electronic logbooks on a tablet for an Orange County semi truck accident

The plaintiff must prove that damages were suffered as a result of the truck accident and must then indicate that the sustained damages were a direct result of the crash. Then, a truck accident claim can be filed.

However, in order to win a case and recover fair truck accident settlements, evidence that clearly proves fault and losses must be provided. Vital evidence includes:

  • Police report from the accident scene
  • Photos and videos of the crash
  • Witness statements
  • Medical records
  • Receipts for medical expenses
  • Pay stubs indicating lost wages
  • Truck’s maintenance records
  • Truck driver’s driving record
  • Black box

A black box, or data recorder, logs a vehicle’s operational data, such as speed, acceleration, and braking pattern. The data recorder is extremely valuable because it records if the driver was operating the semi-truck recklessly. It can also confirm when the semi-truck was last stopped, indicating when the last rest break was taken.

Under FMCSA regulations, commercial truck drivers are required to take rest periods to avoid driver fatigue, which is a common cause of many truck and semi-truck accidents. If this rule is violated, the trucking companies and the drivers could be found liable.

When Should I File a Lawsuit?

After a semi-truck accident, it’s best to take legal action as soon as possible, beginning by consulting with a personal injury lawyer. An experienced truck accident lawyer can provide insight into the legal system and inform of the important dates to be aware of.

The state’s statute of limitations restricts how long someone has to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company; and in California, there is a two-year timeframe to file.

However, in some cases, the statute of limitations is much shorter. When a government agency or vehicle was involved in the crash, the time to file is reduced to just six months. If the deadline is missed, there will not be another opportunity to seek compensation from the insurance company.


What Are the Benefits of Filing a Lawsuit?

Invoice with stethoscope concept medical expense; document is mock-up

Filing a lawsuit offers many benefits to truck accident victims, including recovering damages related to the accident. The at-fault party will also be held accountable for their actions, preventing them from committing future semi-truck accidents. Additionally, plaintiffs and their families are provided with a sense of closure, allowing them to overcome the traumatic event. 

Recoverable Damages From Truck Accidents

When filing a lawsuit, a common concern is: How much is a truck accident lawsuit worth? This will vary in every case. Ultimately, the greater the loss, the potentially higher the case value will be. A truck accident victim can be compensated for:

  • Current medical bills
  • Future medical costs
  • Time missed from work
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Permanent disability
  • Property damage


Who Can Be Found Liable in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Truck Driver Walking and Checking A Truck Wheels and Tires. Inspection Maintenance and Safety for Truck Driving.

Truck accident cases are so complex because more than one party often contributes to these types of crashes. Therefore, multiple insurance companies may be involved, multiple parties may be found liable for damages, and multiple parties may push back on their involvement in causing the crash. Common examples include:

  • Truck driver: If the semi-truck driver failed the duty of care to drive in a safe manner (speeding or drinking and driving), that driver can be held liable for damages.
  • Trucking company: Employers can also be found at fault if they were negligent in hiring, training, or supervising their truck drivers. Failing to maintain their vehicles is another act of negligence.
  • Truck manufacturer: If a defect in the truck caused the accident, like brake issues or other mechanical failures, then the truck or vehicle parts manufacturer can be held liable.
  • Loading company: Cargo that was not loaded properly or overloaded can cause a rollover accident, and the company responsible for loading the cargo would be at fault.
  • Government agency: A local government entity that is responsible for maintaining road conditions, like The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), may also be found liable if they neglected to maintain safe roadways. 
  • Repair shop or mechanic: If the truck was recently serviced, the company who serviced the vehicle is responsible for quality checks, so if their work is faulty, they may share fault for the auto accident.

Truck accidents are devastating and have serious consequences for those involved. When it comes to filing a lawsuit to recover damages, it’s important to understand who can be held liable. Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer will help identify all potential parties who can be held liable for damages.


Why a Truck Accident Attorney Is Needed

After being injured by someone else’s negligence, truck accident victims have the legal right to seek compensation. While the process of filing a truck accident lawsuit will take time, the effort is worth the reward.

When working with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer, clients are equipped with the legal backing needed to recover damages from insurance companies. Additionally, the law firm will handle the stresses that are often associated with filing a lawsuit, such as negotiating with the other party and obtaining evidence. 

Most importantly, a Newport Beach truck accident lawyer who has worked on similar cases will significantly improve the odds of not just recovering compensation, but recovering maximum compensation for clients–which is three times as much as those who were unrepresented.


Assistance Filing Your Truck Accident Claim

Handshake with lawyers contract for truck accident case

If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident in Newport Beach, or in Southern California, filing a lawsuit is an option to recover damages. However, it is important to understand how truck accident lawsuits work in California and all potential parties who can be held liable. 

Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal system and get the compensation you deserve. At Beach Accident Attorneys, we can help. Schedule a free consultation with our Orange County offices to begin discussing your case today. 

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