Trucks play a considerable role in the economy, transporting billions of dollars worth of cargo and goods. Unfortunately, accidents occur and are more frequent than you might know. According to the United States Department of Transportation, approximately one hundred thousand people sustain truck-related injuries annually. Often, the collisions are due to preventable negligence. If you have been injured in an accident, you are entitled to compensation. Sadly, insurance companies and trucking companies don't step up to do what is right. The Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can help. We have many years of experience and getting our clients fair compensation.
How Common Are Truck Accidents?
Almost every person who uses a vehicle might be involved in a traffic collision at some point in his/her life. Luckily, most accidents are rear-end collisions, sideswipe accidents, and fender benders and do not cause fatality or severe injuries.
However, things change when you are involved in a truck collision.
The odds are a truck crash will cause catastrophic injuries. It is because a truck is twenty times heavier than a passenger vehicle; hence the impact with the truck will have huge effects on you.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were three hundred and sixty-one truck accident-related fatalities in 2017. Out of these eighty-seven crashes involved trucks only while two hundred and thirty-three accidents involved other cars.
What are the Different Categories of Truck Collisions?
A truck accident can occur at any time, due to different circumstances, and every accident is unique. However, some kinds of truck collisions are more prevalent. They include:
When a truck has a tire blowout, it can cause the truck to roll over, jackknife, or veer off to another lane. More often than not, tire blowouts result from wear and tear on the tires, manufacturing defects, and maintenance deficiencies.
It is hazardous to other vehicles because a car could crash with the truck should it swerve out of the lane or be hit by flying debris.
The most effective method to protect yourself from being involved in this type of collision is keeping space between the truck and your car.
Just like the name sounds, a rollover accident happens when the truck rolls due to:
- Sudden maneuvers
- Slippery or hazardous roads
- Improper load loading
- Motorist's error
- Improper maintenance
Unsecured Load Collisions
The trucking industry has numerous federal cargo load regulations. The cargo should be secure and immobile. Also, its restraints should be appropriate for the type and weight of the cargo transported.
A loose load could lead the following collisions:
- Rollover accident occurs when unsecured cargo moves during a turn. It can affect the truck's center of gravity or equilibrium and result in the truck overturning.
- Jackknife accident that happens when a heavy cargo prevents the motorist from braking effectively. The vehicle could swing around and face the opposite direction.
- Cargo spills can be hazardous regardless of whether the cargo is dangerous or not. Also, debris and obstacles that make the driver swerve around are dangerous.
Hazmat Truck Accident
A hazmat truck carries dangerous material like motor oil, explosives, pesticides, lithium batteries, dry ice, radioactive material, infectious biological substances, and activated charcoal.
The risk of a hazmat truck collision hinges on the kind of cargo. While some materials are flammable, and there is a risk of fire explosion, others are airborne, making it difficult to breathe.
You could be injured in a hazmat accident even when you are not on the road.
This type of accident happens when a motor vehicle collides with a truck by sliding under the trailer. It can be along the side or from the rear. The height difference between the trailer and your car means that your car could slide under the truck, crushing the car's front and top and leaving you injured.
Although most trucks have underride guards, the guards aren't robust enough to withstand the impact.
Jackknife Truck Accident
A jackknife accident happens when the trailer of an 18-wheeler or huge rig and the cab fold at the joint. When something causes the trailer's back to move forward faster than the cab or swing forward, it causes an angle, and the truck faces two directions.
As a result, the motorist loses control, and it is dangerous for nearby vehicles because they can wedge underneath or collide with the truck.
Common causes of jackknife truck accidents include:
- Loose cargo
- Improper maneuvering
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Brake failure
- Locked wheels
- Defective equipment
Determining Liability in Your Truck Collision
Numerous parties could be accountable in your truck collision, and what makes the case complicated is determining the liable person and to what degree. The responsible party in your crash depends mainly on which of the categories below there are in:
Truck drivers should ensure their vehicle is safe by conducting constant inspections and maintenance.
If maintenance issues like defective brakes, power steering challenges, and other mechanical challenges cause your accident, the driver ought to have known and repaired the truck.
Product Liability Claim
Product liability is part of the legal claim called strict liability. A product liability claim is brought when a defective part injures you.
Although the trucking firm should maintain the truck, there can be issues with how the truck is manufactured or designed.
Common product liability lawsuits in truck collisions include:
- Faulty trailer hitch
- Steering challenges
- Load straps
- Coupling systems
- Brake failure
- Cargo Load Challenges
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration controls the safety of interstate commercial driving. It involves restrictions on load hauling methods, the weight, and kinds of material. If the load is not balanced or secured appropriately or too heavy for the truck, it can make the vehicle dangerous. It can also affect the motorist's ability to stop the vehicle in time or increase the rollover risk.
If the shipper failed to load cargo according to the FMCSA regulations and you're injured in a hazmat truck accident, you should press charges against the hauler of cargo and the trucking company.
Can the Truck Company be Held Accountable for their Employee's Negligence?
The principle which holds a trucking company liable for a worker's negligence is called "respondeat superior." It is a Latin term that means "allow the superior to make a response."
The company is accountable for the employee's negligence if the negligence was not intentional and committed within the scope and course of the worker's job description.
Sometimes, the respondeat superior imputes the truck motorist's responsibility to their boss as if they were negligent.
What Happens If the Truck Motorist Who Injured the Victim Was a Contractor?
You should present evidence that the truck motorist was a worker of the firm. It is because employers, in most cases, can't be held responsible for the driver's negligence if the motorist was an independent contractor.
If the driver was:
- driving a trailer that they own, insure, or maintain, and
- the trucking firm doesn't hold back taxes from the motorist's income,
- then the truck driver is an independent contractor, and the truck driver should compensate for your injuries.
Defining Scope and Course of Employment
While it's easy to determine whether the truck motorist is a trucking firm employee, determining the driver's course and employment scope is challenging.
In the truck-related personal injury claims, the court will put the following into account:
- The location, nature, and time of the motorist negligent conduct
- Degree of independence the truck driver has when performing their duties
If the driver intentionally crashes into your car, for instance, in a road rage instance, the trucking company cannot be held accountable for the conduct.
However, if the trucker collides with another car while delivering goods, the trucking firm could be accountable for the victim's injuries. It is because the motorist was behaving within the scope and course of their job.
What is Comparative Negligence?
California follows a pure comparative negligence rule when determining liability in personal injury cases. Every individual who is found to be accountable for the accident is allocated a percentage of the fault.
Assume, the truck driver runs a red light while you make an improper turn. The court determines that the truck driver is eighty percent responsible while you are twenty percent accountable. If your total compensation amount is one hundred thousand dollars, your damages will be reduced by twenty percent to eighty thousand dollars.
If you have been hurt in a truck collision, you can receive compensation through a personal injury claim. However, to have a claim, you should establish the driver was negligent. All motorists in California must exercise a reasonable amount of care to avoid hurting other road users. That means drivers should comply with all traffic laws, operate their motor vehicles responsibly and safely, and be cautious of hazardous road conditions.
Any valid truck crash claim requires proving the elements below:
- The truck driver owed you a duty of care.
- The driver breached the duty of care.
- The breach caused your collision.
- The accident resulted in your injuries, among other losses.
Presenting evidence that the liable party was negligent is more complicated than you might realize. That is where a seasoned personal injury lawyer comes in. The legal expert will collect evidence, interview witnesses, and conduct investigations.
Protect Your Constitutional Rights: What to Do After the Truck Accident
A truck crash could be fatal. Also, the process of filing a claim could differ from a passenger car accident. The steps below will guide you on what steps to take after the accident.
First, you need to assess your condition and that of those involved in your accident. Although the steps below are a vital aspect of the legal claim, you should not jeopardize your safety.
Call Law Enforcers
More often than not, it is 911. If you are on the road, the 911 answering agent will route the call to the emergency responders or the local police. Tell the dispatcher the number of people involved in your truck collision so that they can send enough ambulances.
Even if your accident is minor, obtain a police report. The report is an effective method to have the accident documentation, and law enforcers will maintain records of the involved cars.
Seek Medical Care
Even when you think you are not hurt, seek medical attention. It is because you could have sustained injuries that do not manifest symptoms immediately. If you seek medical assistance later, it can be difficult establishing that the injury is associated with the crash. Moreover, you might have sustained an injury such as internal bleeding that can be difficult to tell, but your physician can diagnose.
Even when an emergency physician examines you at the accident scene, ensure you get a full evaluation.
Document as Much Proof at the Accident Scene as Possible
Documenting evidence is something a victim should do if they are not injured, and it's safe to leave their car.
Be sure to document contact information of all witnesses, photographs, those involved in your accident, weather conditions, and road conditions.
Capture images if you think the road was slippery or the weather conditions could have interfered with the motorist's visibility. While a forensic expert could testify about previous weather conditions, an image can speak a thousand words.
Also, documentation involves gathering details from the truck driver. Ensure you collect the following:
- The truck driver's name, email address, home address, and phone number
- The driver's policy number and insurer
- The motorist's license number
- The vehicle license plate number among other identifying details
- The name, address and other contact details for the motorist's employer and truck company
Note Down the Witnesses' Contact Information
A witness is a person who observed or saw the accident. It can be a bystander, a person in any of the involved cars, or someone in a motor vehicle that was not involved.
Chances are a bystander who stopped to assist will leave after it looks like the emergency team has everything under control. After the witness leaves the accident scene, it can be challenging to track them, and they might have essential information about your accident to share.
Should you approach the witness, request their contact details. Their name, email address, and phone number is all you require to stay in touch. You should give your personal injury attorney this information.
Have Your Car Appraised
Although your motor vehicle might seem to have minor damage, sometimes the damage might be internal and invisible to you. Nevertheless, you shouldn't go to your local body shop and have the vehicle repaired.
It is because the repair estimate should be a component of the insurance claim. Every insurance provider has requirements that should be submitted before compensating losses. While some insurers need you to take images of your car's sides, others need you to take the vehicle to an approved body shop.
If you are a travel assistance member who provides towing or roadside help is included in the insurance, have the car taken to the body shop. However, let the body shop know not to perform any repair work until you are cleared with the insurer.
Be Cautious What You Say Following the Accident
You might be annoyed that the trailer motorist caused your crash, but being hostile to the driver will not get you anywhere. It is wise to remain calm after the accident. That way, you will measure your say and avoid saying things that can negatively affect your case.
Do Not Admit Accountability
If you think you are responsible for your truck accident, keep it to yourself. Do not lie, but do not discuss the accident details. Instead, save the conversation for the attorney. Although you could be partly accountable, other factors can reduce the responsibility, and it is your attorney's responsibility to identify the factors.
Do Not Post on Social Media
Often a truck crash is more catastrophic than a collision between passenger vehicles, and if the accident involved road closure, fatality, or cleanup, it might be newsworthy. That means you can see articles and images of the accident, but it is wise to avoid commenting.
Similarly, do not post anything that shows your emotional or physical condition to your social media platforms. A post like, "The accident occurred today. Although I'm banged up, I will be okay," could hurt the case.
What you post online might be used in depositions or court. Even when you pull the post down, a screenshot could exist, or a person could testify what they saw. It is best to avoid posting on social media while you have an ongoing case.
Hire a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney
Contacting an accident counsel immediately after the accident could be essential to the legal case. The lawyer can help in numerous ways, including:
- The attorney will offer advice on your legal rights. They will assist you in understanding what to say and not to say.
- They will go through all paperwork and advise you what to sign.
- They will investigate your truck accident. It involves gathering evidence, photos, witness statements, and accident reports to build the proof you require to win the claim.
- They will also advise you not to immediately accept a financial settlement from the liable party or their insurer. Usually, the initial offer is too low.
How Long Do You Have to File Your Truck Accident Claim?
Statute of limitations is the law that sets forth the duration you can bring your personal injury claim.
You have two years from the date of your collision to bring your truck accident claim. However, there are exceptions.
The first exemption applies when you are a minor. In this case, the timeframe doesn't start running until you are eighteen years of age. Then you have two (2) years to bring your claim after turning eighteen.
The second exemption happens when you fail to discover the accident-related injuries after your collision. Some injuries might take days or even weeks before signs and symptoms manifest. In this case, you have two (2) years from the date of the injury's discovery to bring a lawsuit. However, it might be challenging proving that your injury originated from the truck accident rather than from a consequent occurrence. Your seasoned lawyer should analyze the claim and determine the duration you have to bring the claim.
If the truck accident resulted in the death of a loved one, you have two (2) years from the demise's date to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Often, it is a different date from the accident date.
If the crash damaged your motor vehicle but didn't cause any injury, you have three (3) years from your collision's date to bring a property damage claim.
Compensation for Your Future Losses
After your accident, the total value of the losses might not be apparent. Most truck accidents cause injuries with long-lasting consequences and need ongoing medical attention for years. You might wonder if it's possible to bring a lawsuit within 2 years if you are not aware of how much your injury will ultimately cost you. Luckily, California personal injury laws allow you to seek compensation for both the losses already incurred and losses to be incurred in the future.
If you suffered a permanent disability or lasting and severe injuries, it's essential to engage a lawyer who knows to estimate and establish future losses correctly. It involves using complicated calculations based on the factors below:
- The seriousness and nature of the injuries
- Your life expectancy and earning capacity
- Your benefits and income before the accident
- Your health condition and age before the truck accident
- The amount of medical attention your physician think you will require alongside costs adjusted for estimated inflation with time
- Whether your injuries will stop you from returning to work
These calculations require the assistance of medical, occupational, and economic experts. Any lawyer should have the necessary resources to calculate so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Find Los Angeles Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
Trucks cause severe injuries. Due to the weight and size of the trailer, your passenger car is likely to be mangled or crushed during the accident. The action can leave you with physical injuries and emotional and financial burdens that could take time to overcome. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney are ready to assist you. After contacting us at 424-237-3600, we can work to protect your rights. Meanwhile, you could pay attention to your healing and health. Allow us to put our resources, experience, and skills together and get you the compensation you deserve.