Large commercial trucks cross the roadways of Palo Alto and the surrounding Silicon Valley area every day. However, these large commercial trucks can cause significant injuries in the event they collide with passenger vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we specialize in injury and death claims throughout the Silicon Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, Los Gatos, and Santa Clara. Our attorneys are here to help if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a truck driver or trucking company. Our Palo Alto truck accident attorneys will investigate your claim and work to secure full compensation for your losses.
Choose Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for Your Palo Alto Truck Accident Case
After sustaining an injury in a truck accident in Palo Alto, turn to the trusted team at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger to help you secure full compensation for your losses.
- Our lawyers have more than six decades of experience handling complicated personal injury law cases.
- We have a track record of success and have sustained more multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts than any other firm in the Bay Area.
- We take Palo Alto truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that our clients will not pay any legal fees until after we obtain the compensation they are entitled to.
Why Do You Need an Attorney for a Truck Accident Claim?
Truck accident claims are notoriously complicated, particularly when dealing with well-funded trucking companies and their insurance carriers. A truck accident injury victim is going to need assistance from a skilled Palo Alto personal injury lawyer to help:
- Obtain all evidence needed to prove liability in the case, including any photo or video surveillance, “black box” data from the truck, accident reports, trucking company, and employee records, etc.
- Enlist the assistance of accident reconstruction experts if necessary to show what happened in the crash.
- Work with trusted medical professionals to evaluate the client and calculate the total expected expenses.
- Negotiate with every party involved to obtain full compensation or prepare the case for trial if necessary.
What Do I Do Immediately Following a Truck Accident?
If you or somebody you love has been injured or sustained property damage in a Palo Alto truck accident, there are various steps you can take immediately following the incident to help recover maximum compensation for your losses.
- Call 911. You need to call 911 immediately following any truck accident in California. The police need to know what happened so they can come to the scene and fill out an accident report. Additionally, calling 911 ensures that the fire department and EMS personnel are also notified about the incident.
- Seek medical care. You need to assess every party around you for injuries after a Palo Alto truck accident. Even if you do not feel much pain immediately following a crash, you need to seek medical care as soon as possible. The signs and symptoms of some truck accident injuries do not appear until hours or even days after an accident occurs. These hidden injuries can lead to devastating long-term consequences. Seek medical care so a doctor can conduct a complete evaluation. Not only does this ensure your well-being, but it also establishes a link between the crash and your injuries.
- Gather evidence. You need to gather as much evidence as possible after a truck crash in Palo Alto. If you have your cell phone on you, use it to take photographs of everything you see, including vehicle damage, injuries, skid marks, debris, traffic and weather conditions, the name of the truck, and more. Additionally, if there were any eyewitnesses who saw what happened, get their names and contact information as quickly as possible so they can be contacted by insurance carriers and your personal injury attorney.
- Report to your insurance carrier. You have a limited amount of time to file these claims with your insurance carrier. In general, you must file any accident report within a day or two after the crash occurs. Failing to do so could result in your claim facing a delay or even a denial. You do not have to go into much detail when you make your report, but the insurance carrier does need to know that the incident occurred.
- Contact an attorney. You need to let a Palo Alto truck accident attorney get involved as soon as possible. An attorney can use their resources to immediately begin gathering the evidence necessary to prove viability.
What Are The Different Types Of Truck Accidents?
There are various types of accidents that can occur involving large trucks. This includes:
- Jackknife crash. This type of collision often occurs when a truck applies the brakes too hard or hits slick spots on the roadway. This causes the front of the truck and the trailer to go at different speeds, which can lead to the trailer skidding outwards, forming a 90-degree angle to the cab.
- Rollover crash. If a truck loses control at high speeds, or if a truck is operating in heavy winds, the impact can cause the truck to roll over altogether.
- Tire blowout. Tires on larger trucks are more susceptible to blowouts at higher speeds, and a tire blowout can lead to the truck losing control. Additionally, tire fragments can cause significant damage to other vehicles.
- Wide turn crash. Trucks regularly make wide turns, also referred to as swing turns. This can result in the truck entering other lanes and into other vehicles in the vicinity.
- Blindspot crash. Trucks have very large blind spots along each side of the vehicle, and this can lead to drivers slamming into unsuspecting vehicles.
- Underride collision. Larger commercial trucks typically sit much higher off the roadway than traditional passenger vehicles. Anytime a smaller vehicle slams into a larger truck, this can lead to the smaller vehicle riding underneath the truck, which often results in the shearing off of the top of the smaller vehicle.
- Override collision. Similar to an underride collision, an override collision occurs when a larger truck slams into a smaller car and rides over the top of the smaller vehicle.
Most Common Palo Alto Truck Accident Injuries
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fully loaded semi-trucks can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, the size and weight discrepancy between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle means that severe injuries often occur in these crashes. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our Palo Alto truck accident lawyers regularly help clients who have sustained the following:
- Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
- Other severe neck or back injury
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Open head wounds
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
- Severe lacerations or puncture wounds
- Crush injuries or amputations
Common Causes of Palo Alto Truck Accidents
Accidents involving large commercial trucks often occur due to a driving error. In many cases, the truck driver is to blame. It is not uncommon for us to discover the truck crash was caused by the driver:
- Operating the truck while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Operating the truck while distracted by their phone or another device
- Operating outside of the federal hours of service requirements
- Failing to follow traffic laws
In other cases, we find that the trucking company is at fault for the crash. This can include the company or operator:
- Failing to ensure the truck is inspected and maintained regularly
- Encouraging a driver to carry more cargo than is allowed
- Encouraging a driver to operate longer hours than allowed
- Failing to properly train new or inexperienced drivers
- Failing to conduct background checks on drivers
Other Possible Liable Parties
There may be other parties who could be held liable in the aftermath of a truck accident. Aside from the truck driver and trucking company, there are often other parties involved in the overall operation of a successful supply chain. These are the parties could be liable if their negligent actions directly contributed to an accident.
- Truck manufacturer. If a large commercial truck is found to have been defective or unsafe on the roadway, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer responsible for the accident through a product liability claim.
- Part manufacturer. In some cases, a single defective part on a large commercial truck can lead to a devastating accident. Again, this could lead to a successful product liability claim if it can be shown that the defective part contributed to the accident.
- Third-party loading company. It is not uncommon for a company other than the truck carrier to load these vehicles. If a third-party loading company improperly loads a commercial truck, and this contributes to an accident, they should be pursued for compensation.
- Maintenance companies. Large commercial trucks have to be regularly inspected and maintained, and it is crucial for a qualified maintenance company or technician to handle these issues.
- Construction companies or municipalities. In some cases, commercial trucking accidents are caused by faulty roadway construction or unsafe road conditions. Liability for these situations could fall to construction companies or municipalities responsible for the roadway.
Partial Liability for a Truck Accident in Palo Alto
Partial liability could play a role in a truck accident claim in Palo Alto. Insurance carriers and at-fault parties will often try to shift some or all of the blame for the accident onto the crash victim. They do this in an effort to limit how much money they have to pay out in a settlement. However, California operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that individuals can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for their injuries.
However, if a person is partially responsible for causing their own injuries, they will receive reduced compensation based on their percentage of fault. For example, if a truck accident victim sustains $100,000 worth of medical bills and lost income, but a jury determines that they were 40% responsible for their injuries, they would receive $60,000 instead of the full $100,000 to account for their percentage of fault.
Will Your Truck Accident Claim in Palo Alto go to Trial?
Individuals often ask whether or not their truck accident claim will go to trial in Palo Alto. The reality is that there is no way to know this when a case first begins. The vast majority of commercial truck accident claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. When a settlement occurs, this means that the case will not have to go into the civil court system. However, if an insurance carrier or trucking company refuses to offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the liable parties.
Even after a civil personal injury lawsuit is filed against a truck company or driver in Palo Alto, this does not necessarily mean the crash victim will have to go to trial. There are many phases of the civil lawsuit process that come before the case ever gets in front of a jury. This includes the discovery process, where information will be exchanged by the plaintiff and the defendant. While this process is ongoing, it is not uncommon for negotiations to continue between both sides in an effort to resolve the claim before a trial becomes necessary. Only if the two parties cannot agree will the case go to trial, but this may not happen for years after the case is initially started.
We strongly encourage you to communicate with your truck accident lawyer who can explain this entire process to you. You need to have an attorney who can handle every aspect of your claim, including out-of-court negotiations as well as the trial process if your case reaches that point. You need an attorney who is fully prepared to take your case to trial if necessary.
Types of Compensation Available
There may be various types of compensation available to truck accident victims in Palo Alto. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our team works diligently to recover total compensation for our clients’ losses, including both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the types of compensation that most people think about after a severe truck accident occurs, including the following:
- Emergency medical bills
- Hospital stay calls
- Prescription medication
- Medical devices
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage losses
The economic damages can be calculated by gathering all of the bills and receipts that an injury victim receives after the truck crash occurs. However, properly calculating non-economic damages is more challenging.
Non-economic damages refer to the types of compensation that are more incalculable. They are relatively incalculable because there may not be bills or receipts that can directly show the total costs of a person’s:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional or psychological distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium for a spouse
There are various methods an attorney can use to properly quantify non-economic damages in order to pursue maximum compensation on behalf of their client.
In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to truck accident victims. Also called exemplary damages, these are reserved for instances where the conduct of the at-fault party was grossly negligent or intentional. Punitive damages are designed as punishment and to send a signal to other parties that the type of behavior demonstrated in the case is not acceptable.
How Much is Your Palo Alto Truck Accident Claim Worth?
There is no set amount of money paid to Palo Alto truck accident victims. Rather, the total compensation paid in these situations will vary depending on the facts of the particular case. Some of the main influences on total settlement or verdict amounts include the following:
- The severity of the injuries
- How quickly a person is able to recover
- Whether or not an individual can work while recovering
- The documentable level of pain and suffering
- Total property damage expenses
- Insurance limitations of the at-fault party
- Total assets of the at-fault party
We encourage you to work with a trusted Palo Alto truck accident lawyer who can fully examine the facts of the situation, enlist assistance from economic and financial experts, and handle all negotiations to recover maximum compensation on your behalf.
Truck Accident Data
Accidents involving large commercial trucks are not uncommon. Data available from the National Safety Council indicate that there were more than 5,000 total large commercial trucks involved in fatal accidents during the latest reporting year across the country. The data shows that commercial trucks make up only 4% of all registered vehicles, but 10% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Additionally, the NSC shows that around 118,000 large commercial trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury during the same reporting year.
Both the number of fatalities and injuries caused by large commercial trucks has increased over the last decade, and it is unlikely that these numbers will decrease anytime soon. As a society, our reliance on large commercial trucks has increased and continues to do so. As we increase our reliance on online shopping, this has only added to the total number of commercial trucks on the roadway.
Why Shouldn’t I Accept The Insurance Company Settlement Offer?
It is not uncommon for truck accident insurers to offer very low settlements fairly soon after an accident occurs. This is particularly true if liability for the incident seemingly falls to the truck driver or trucking company. You need to understand that the initial settlement offer is going to be much lower than the compensation you should actually receive for the incident. Insurance carriers lowball an initial settlement offer in the hopes that you will take the bait and run with the money.
The reality is that you will likely be able to work with your attorney to negotiate a much higher settlement amount moving forward. Do not accept the first offer.
How Long Do I Have To File a Truck Accident Claim in Palo Alto?
Truck accident victims in Palo Alto have a limited amount of time to file these claims in court. The California personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date an accident occurs. If a truck crash victim fails to file a lawsuit within this two-year timeframe, they will likely lose the ability to recover the compensation they need.
Additionally, please understand that insurance carriers have very strict reporting deadlines in these cases. If you fail to report it crash to your insurance carrier within a day or two, the claim could be delayed or denied.
How Do I File A Truck Accident Claim?
If you have been involved in a truck accident, we strongly advise you to contact an attorney immediately so they can help you when it comes to filing your insurance claim as well as any necessary personal injury civil lawsuits.
In theory, a truck accident claim will be filed just like any other vehicle accident insurance claim. You will report the incident to your insurance carrier and give them their information about the truck driver, the truck company, and the truck company’s insurance carrier. However, please understand that these cases are not just like any other vehicle accident. The truck company and the truck driver could have multiple insurance policies, and they will very likely have legal teams ready to defend them.
The important thing is that you file your claim on time and make sure you have an attorney handling every aspect of the case on your behalf.
How Does A Lawyer Collect Evidence For My Case?
There are various ways that a truck accident attorney in Palo Alto will collect evidence for your case. If an attorney is contacted quickly, they can even get to the accident site to gather the evidence before the scene is cleared. However, an attorney may have to rely on the evidence gathered at the scene before they get there. This includes photographs taken at the scene as well as the police report.
Importantly, an attorney will send a letter of spoliation to every party involved notifying them that there may be a civil claim related to the case and that they are not to destroy any evidence that could play a role in the outcome of the case.
Using their resources, a truck accident lawyer will gather any surveillance footage from nearby cameras, contact any eyewitnesses, and obtain subpoenas for a truck’s “black box.” Additionally, an attorney can work to obtain safety records related to the truck driver and the truck company to look for any concerns, such as past safety for driving violations.
How Is Fault Determined In Palo Alto Truck Accident Cases?
Evidence is the key when it comes to determining fault for a truck accident in Palo Alto. As we mentioned above, an attorney will work diligently to gather all of the evidence necessary to prove liability. However, evidence alone may not be enough to definitively prove what happened in the case. In some situations, it may be necessary to work with accident reconstruction experts.
An accident reconstruction expert can use the evidence gathered as well as their own analysis of the crash scene and vehicles involved. They will use complex algorithms and mathematics to create 3D renderings to show insurance carriers and personal injury juries what happened.
In some cases, there may be more than one party at fault for a truck accident claim. This can further complicate the process of recovering compensation. However, California operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that a person who is partially responsible for causing a crash can still recover compensation for their losses, even if they are up to 99% at fault. In a pure comparative negligence system, the total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault for the incident.
Contact Our Palo Alto Truck Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident called by a truck driver or trucking company in Palo Alto, contact the team at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for help with your case today. We pledge to conduct a complete investigation into the case so we can obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. When you need a Palo Alto truck accident lawyer, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling (415) 981-7210.