518 Ocean St., Ste. B

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 426-3140

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Santa Cruz Truck Accident Attorney

Your Local Attorneys Serving Santa Cruz County and Beyond for Over 40 Years


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Things to Know if You’ve Been Injured in a Truck (Big Rig) Accident in Santa Cruz County

A 2019 report by the US Department of Transportation showed that accidents involving large trucks resulted in 4,119 deaths. The larger percentage were from car occupants and other passenger vehicles, representing 67%. Sixteen percent were truck occupants, and 15% were bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Whether an accident involves a semi-trailer or an 18-wheeler truck, victims of these accidents often suffer life-changing injuries. After an accident, you may never perform your usual work activities, and you may need continuous treatment for a lifetime. If the accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you could recover wage or income loss, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. However, note that truck accidents are more complex than the usual motor vehicle injury claims, so you will need an experienced truck accident attorney to get the best out of your case.

Recent Truck Accidents in Santa Cruz

There have been several cases of truck accidents reported in Santa Cruz. One major accident happened along highway 17 after the truck’s brakes gave out, leading to a collision with a Mercedes. The accident led to road closures in both directions in Santa Cruz Mountains. According to the County Fire Department, one driver died from the collision. Recently, a pedestrian was fatally struck by a semi-truck while walking his dog. The incident happened as the 61-year-old was crossing Water Street in downtown Santa Cruz. However, there was no sign of negligence or poor impairment from the truck driver. There were other reported cases of pedestrians struck by trucks. In Watsonville, a 42-year-old man was killed as he walked partially along Beach St. Also, a 47-year-old man was struck to death as he was walking along Highway 1 in December.

Common Types of Truck Accidents

The American Trucking Association revealed that about 11 billion tons of freight were transported across the country using trucks in 2019. With all these truck on the road daily, there are common types of truck accidents, including:
  • Rear-end and head-on collision
  • Roll-over accidents
  • Tire blowouts
  • Jackknife accidents
  • Blind spot accidents

All I can say is WOW! If I could give them 10 stars I would.

What are the Leading causes and Indications of Negligence in Truck Accidents?

Truck Driver Fatigue

Many truck drivers have to endure long trips coupled with unrealistic deadlines from trucking companies. With the long hours on the road, these drivers become exhausted and can’t remain fully alert. Notably, 2016 recorded up to 475,000 large truck accidents, with about 90% caused by human error. Due to the hazards associated with driving fatigue, FMCSA has a limit of hours of service that a driver should remain behind the wheel. However, these laws are often violated as drivers rush to meet delivery schedules. After an accident, a lawyer can evaluate the driver’s logbook against the following documents to determine possible violations with hours-of-service: Scale and toll tickets, load identification documents, and fuel receipts.

Negligent Hiring and Truck Maintenance

While the trucking company may not be the direct cause of an accident, they may be the contributing factor through the following:
  • Inadequately vetting drivers
  • Failure to maintain the trucks
  • Improper cargo loading
  • Failure to support new drivers, review their performance and do periodic drug tests

Equipment Failure

If there are defective parts on a truck, they can lead to an unexpected crash even when an experienced driver is behind the wheel. A truck accident lawyer will make the necessary investigation to know whether the manufacturer or trucking company is liable for the accident. Once you file a lawsuit after a truck accident, compensation is usually based on negligence. Some clear indications of negligence include:
  • Driving for long hours without taking a break
  • Failure to obey traffic rules
  • Lack of or inadequate truck driving experience
  • Failure to see other cars due to a large blind spot
  • Driving an oversized truck on narrow roads

Driving at High Speeds

Driving too fast for conditions leads to several truck accidents all over the USA. These accidents are usually difficult to investigate as truckers don’t admit they were speeding. Although driving too fast for conditions doesn’t always mean a truck driver was speeding, a personal injury lawyer can rely on the truck’s data recorder to investigate the case.

How do Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accidents?

Unlike other motor vehicle injury claims, truck accidents are somewhat complex. You will need the assistance of a truck accident lawyer to maneuver through the tedious process to help you get the proper compensation. There are various state laws regarding commercial trucks, such as the routes that trucks can legally use in Santa Cruz. Still, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has specific laws governing commercial trucking companies and their drivers. According to the circumstances surrounding your specific truck accident case, a truck accident lawyer is well-versed with the rules and regulations that can apply in each case. Truck accidents are also more severe than other car accidents because:

Trucks Are Larger Than Other Cars

Trucks can weigh thousands of pounds and can be up to 80 feet long. The trucks’ sheer size causes more damage during an accident regardless of their speed.

Hazardous Material Can Cause More Damages During an Accident

Trucks are used to ferry hazardous material such as caustic chemicals. If there is a collision with a truck carrying such materials, it can influence the severity of the crash and add more damages to your car. If the truck driver doesn’t have the appropriate license to operate a truck containing hazardous material, accident victims may be entitled to an additional settlement.

You Are Dealing with More than Just the Truck Driver

While handling an accident involving another passenger vehicle, you only deal with the other driver. However, in a truck accident, you will have to deal with more parties, making the process more complicated. Depending on what caused the accident, you may have to sue the transport company, the driver, truck manufacturer, or the maintenance provider. You will have to determine liability before proceeding with the case. For instance, if the truck driver acted responsibly on the road, they may not be held liable for the accident. In a nutshell, you will need the assistance of a personal injury attorney to make all the necessary investigations into the cause of the accident. The procedures of gathering evidence are much more cumbersome, and it requires an experienced attorney. .
Brad & Tyson Wiles are the Santa Cruz big truck accident attorneys you need with experience in the following types of trucking accidents:


Some of the common questions we get asked about cases

Personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing until you get paid. And if we lose your case, you owe nothing. 

The vast majority of cases here in Santa Cruz County never go to trial. Most resolve by settlement before the trial date arrives. A case is most likely to go to trial when the facts are in dispute or when there’s a contested legal issue.

The more carefully you build your case, the more likely it is that you and the other party can agree on the strength of your evidence and reach an appropriate settlement. 

That depends. All cases are different. The shortest cases we’ve settled in Santa Cruz resolved in only a few weeks and without any formal litigation. Others required filing a lawsuit and may take years to settle. Most of our cases here in Santa Cruz fall somewhere in the middle. The more complicated your case, the longer you can expect it to take. You have some control over the length of your case because it’s up to you to accept or reject settlement offers.

Collision reports in California are available through the California Highway Patrol website. You would have to complete a form and drop it off in person or mail it with the required fees.

Yes. Every state has “statutes of limitations” that set a time limit on filing a injury claim. In California, you have two years to file a lawsuit against a private individual or company, and only six months to file a claim against a government-owned vehicle or employee.

You may be far better off with a attorney, especially in serious cases. For one, insurance companies may offer higher compensation if you are represented by an attorney. That’s because they know that an attorney understands the true value of the case, and they don’t want to risk the time and expense of a lawsuit by making an offer that is too low. Additionally, often the fact that you are represented by an attorney will trigger laws that allow you to reduce your medical bills significantly.  Some medical providers may even be barred from seeking reimbursement from you. We addressed this further in our “Do You Need an Attorney?” article.

First, make sure you speak to a Santa Cruz attorney first before you agree to even speak to the insurance adjuster. It would be ideal if you could avoid making a recorded statement at all, but you may be required to under the Rules of Civil Procedure. If that is the case, be prepared and well-informed. The insurance adjustor will be looking for information to weaken the claimant’s case. Be truthful, but do not give any answers that you do not have clear recollection of and that you may not be able to recall later. Make sure you are 100% confident in all your answers. If there is a question you cannot answer, do not answer it. Avoid specificities concerning time, place, distance, speed, etc. 

The value of your claim includes your monetary damages like costs for medical treatment, lost wages, paying for help you need around the home or transportation to medical visits, physical therapy, and other related general expenses. Keep in mind that in some cases, these expenses can continue for a lifetime and this must be accounted for.

You total these losses and then multiply by 1-1.5 for moderate injuries and up to 5 for severe cases to cover pain and suffering. 

California follows what is called a pure comparative negligence rule. That means the maximum amount of compensation you can receive is proportionately reduced by the percentage of fault you share. For example, if the crash caused $40,000 in losses, but a jury determines you were 25% to blame, you would only be entitled to a maximum of $30,000.

What They're Saying About Us in Yelp

Catherine M., Whistler, Canada
Yelp Review, 01/18/2021
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I was seriously injured in an accident on Hwy 17. More valuable that the settlement was being able to sleep at night knowing these two were helping me and looking out for my best interest.
Noelle B., Santa Cruz
Yelp Review, 9/9/2015
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I was getting bullied by the insurance people. This father and son team not only made sure I wasn't bullied any more, but they also got me the PT I needed and more. My case was certainly not a money maker for these guys, but they still gave me their best.
Marlene S., Freedom CA
Yelp Review, 04/06/2014
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Brad and Tyson are amazing. They were able to make us feel comfortable and feel like we truly picked the right people for the job.”
Wendy B., Capitola, CA
Yelp Review, 03/21/2015
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After they presented my case, I was awarded the maximum amount that was allowed. I can now move forward, leaving the accident behind me. I am grateful that my friend recommended them, and I highly recommend them to you!
Royal C., Salinas, CA
Yelp Review, 07/31/2019
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All these five-star reviews for Brad and Tyson are spot on. Knowledgeable, easy to get hold of, friendly, pleasant, highly experienced, I could go on and on. They do what they say they are going to do.
Adam N., Chico, CA
Yelp Review, 02/13/2019
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All I can say is WOW! Respectful, caring, helpful, intelligent, If I could give them 10 stars I would. I highly recommend them!