California is home to somewhere around 75,000 farms and ranches. That leaves a lot of wide-open spaces for livestock to roam, but sometimes those cattle, sheep, pigs or other domesticated animals need to take a road trip. That’s where livestock haulers come in.
These big rigs equipped with livestock tractor-trailers carry animals across California. It’s a necessary part of the supply chain, but those giant semi-trucks create quite an imposing traffic obstacle for other motorists.
Big rig drivers with a cargo of live animals can easily become careless and lose control of a heavy tractor-trailer to cause a multi-vehicle, multi-victim collision. Once these frightening incidents occur, it’s important that injured livestock truck accident victims know how to seek recovery support from truck drivers and the farms and ranches they work for.
Livestock Truck Accident Dangers in California
Cattle transport tractor-trailers are also known as bullhaulers or bullracks. Take one look at a semi-truck pulling a livestock rack and it’s easy to see why an accident involving one of these vehicles can be so devastating. The weight and shape of these big rigs often result in much more harm to drivers and passengers in collisions.
It’s more than just the size of a livestock hauler though. The truck drivers behind the wheel are often the real issue.
Truck drivers, like all motorists, are often tempted to glance at a cell phone. A distracted driver might not realize their trailer has veered into the next lane or, even more frightening, into an oncoming lane. Distracted big rig drivers also miss spotting stopped traffic or a red light ahead and might leave themselves too little distance to come to a full stop before ramming into cars in front of them.
Truck drivers are also at risk of fatigue and drowsiness while on short or long runs. Trucknews.com reports that well over half of all livestock hauling accidents happen between midnight and 9 a.m. when drowsy driving is a bigger risk. They also found that cows were involved in well over half of all big rig livestock truck accidents. Pigs were the second most likely animal on an accident scene figuring into 27% of incidents.
Livestock big rigs are also at more risk to turn over due to their constantly shifting live payloads. If your vehicle is beside an overturning truck or fast approaching an overturned truck, life-threatening injuries are possible. Victims can easily become entrapped by the wreckage of a California livestock truck accident and be waiting for rescue before medical care can be administered.
What to Do After a Livestock Big Rig Accident in California
After a collision caused by a livestock truck driver, it’s important to begin collecting evidence for use in the insurance battle ahead. The fault may be clear, but insurance providers for truck drivers and ranching companies will still battle to limit the settlement total you receive for an injury.
In the moments after a truck accident, if you are physically strong enough, try to gather this evidence on the scene:
- See to your safety and the safety of others first. Dial 911. Have paramedics check out every injury. Give the responding officers a full report on what happened. Tell them if you saw a livestock hauler driver behaving carelessly or recklessly before the crash.
- Don’t approach livestock. Escaped animals may be roaming around the scene. Stay away from them so you don’t receive further injuries.
- Take pictures or video of the scene. Capture damage to vehicles and the livestock truck. Get pictures of visible injuries and damaged clothing. Take pictures of any logos or signage that shows who the driver works for.
- Talk to witnesses. Ask them what they saw. Find out how your personal injury attorney can reach them later.
- Exchange information with the truck driver. Take photos of a driver’s license, insurance card, and employee number if possible.
- Go into your doctor’s office to get checked out. Follow the recommendations of your doctor and save all medical receipts.
Who Can I Sue After a Livestock Truck Accident?
Farm and ranch truck accidents often play out differently than normal vehicle collisions. Your injuries could be serious and recovery expensive. Fortunately, there may be more than one at-fault party that must provide financial support for your medical bills and lost income while missing work.
Truck drivers can be independent contractors or they may work for themselves. They’ll have commercial trucking insurance that will be called upon to help with your bills as you heal.
Truck drivers may also work for a local farm or ranch or a national company or corporation. These businesses will have liability insurance for the accidents their employees cause. Their coverage may have higher policy limits to provide more benefits to victims. However, larger companies will also have lawyers ready to try to limit the compensation you receive. It’s important to protect yourself by having your own California Truck Accident Lawyer protecting your interests.
The manufacturer of the semi-truck or the tractor-trailer could also be involved in your injury claim. If a design flaw or a parts malfunction caused the big rig accident, they could owe you financial support.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Earn After a Livestock Big Rig Truck Accident?
Victims of a livestock truck accident will be working with their California personal injury lawyer to file a claim for damages as soon as they are ready. This claim features a full list of the hardships the victim has endured. Any damage not on this list won’t earn compensation.
A California truck accident attorney will have some details to add to this list that you may not have considered. Everything on this list has the chance to earn you more money for your recovery and for rebuilding your life.
The amount of your settlement check after a livestock truck accident will be determined by these factors and more:
- Your current hospital bills now and any expected in the future.
- All estimated costs for care associated with a long-term injury or permanent disability.
- The physical pain and emotional distress you suffer through recovery.
- Your lost wages while missing valuable hours at work as you heal.
- Travel costs associated with your care. These costs can be considerable when you are on crutches or in a wheelchair and unable to drive.
- Wrongful death benefits. Families who lose a loved one in a truck accident seek support for funeral costs and the income the deceased can no longer provide.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Insurance Claim in California?
After an accident involving a livestock hauler, victims have up to two years to file a claim for damages. That’s 24 months after the date of the accident.
It may seem like a long time, but with the help of your California Big Rig Accident Lawyer, you should file as soon as possible. In fact, calling a personal injury attorney in the days after a truck accident can provide a distinct advantage for your case.
The sooner your attorney can begin investigating your case, the easier it will be to track down fresh evidence and keep track of witnesses to secure testimony. Waiting longer to alert an attorney about your accident makes it harder to secure these details and other proof you’ll need to fight insurance adjusters and corporate lawyers for support.
Contact a California Livestock Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyer
After an accident involving a livestock truck, victims and their families may have to deal with multiple insurance companies just to get what’s fair to help with the costs of recovery. This creates more opportunities for victims to be taken advantage of by insurance agents and company lawyers. Victims shouldn’t face this challenge alone.
Contact an experienced California Truck Accident Lawyer such as Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian believes clients should work directly with their lawyers and get honest advice and the personalized attention to detail their case deserves.