San Francisco Truck Accident Causes Injuries and Fire

accidentToday, Highway 101 in San Francisco was closed down for over six hours after a big rig overturned and caught fire. The fire engulfed the cab after the rig overturned. Three other cars were involved in the accident, causing personal injuries to the occupants. The truck’s driver and a driver of one of the cars involved in the collision were taken to a nearby hospital. There was substantial property damage also done by the fire, and by the truck colliding into the guardrail.

At this time the collision is still under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. Big-rig crashes such as this point out the need for adequate liability insurance. In this case, assuming the truck driver is found to be at fault for the collision there will need to be enough insurance to cover all of the property damage done to the roadway, and the other cars involved in the collision. There will also have to be sufficient liability coverage to compensate all of the other drivers who have personal injury claims.

California law requires higher minimum liability insurance limits for commercial truck drivers than for ordinary drivers. Non-commercial drivers are only required to carry minimum liability insurance limits of $15,000.00/$30,000.00. However, commercial truck drivers must carry minimum single limits of $750,000.00 per accident (California Vehicle Code section 3463.15).

Often times commercial truck drivers carry multiple layers of insurance. If you are injured in a trucking accident, it is extremely important to identify all possible insurance policies which might cover the collision. Unfortunately, as a truck accident lawyer, I have seen too many times where the trucker’s insurance carriers do not disclose these other layers of coverage.

I represented a man who was severely injured in a trucking accident where the insurance company lawyers concealed the available insurance company. The case, Dean v Spivey, involved an elderly gentleman,who had just retired. He and his wife were driving on Highway 880 near San Leandro when there was a multi-vehicle collision. In the sequence of the accident, his car was rear ended by a tractor-trailer. As a result, he sustained a large disc herniation in his neck which resulted in partial paraplegia. Initially, the insurance carrier for the trucking company stated that there was a one million dollar insurance policy on the truck. Suspecting however, that there might be other layers of coverage, I subpoenaed the trucking company’s insurance brokers records. It turned out that there was an additional $3,000,000.00 in coverage. As a result of this extra investigation, the case was settled for $3,250,000.00, well over the initial layer of coverage.

Truck accidents are often complex. The liability issues can be difficult, and insurance coverages and apportionment between parties make these challenging cases. Folks who are injured in trucking accidents often are severely injured due to the tremendous weights and forces involved in big rig collisions. Therefore, if you or a family member is seriously injured in a trucking accident, it is imperative that a skillful and experienced truck accident lawyer be contacted immediately after the accident to protect your rights.

Resources:

2 lanes of southbound 101 in San Francisco reopened after big-rig fire, Oakland Tribune, October 17, 2011

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