In California’s roadways, accidents involving large commercial vehicles and trucks are a common problem. Truck accidents cause severe injuries than accidents involving regular vehicles. Trucks are large and are often loaded. When an accident involving a truck and a standard vehicle occurs, the standard vehicle occupants suffer the most. If you suffer injuries in a truck accident in California, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries. To get the compensation you deserve, you should work with a competent personal injury attorney. The Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney provides the best legal representation in truck accident cases.
Elements in a Truck Accident Case
There are three main elements in truck accident cases. You have to prove these elements when seeking compensation to prove that another party is responsible for your damages. The elements in a truck accident case are:
Below is a detailed explanation of the elements:
Liability in a Truck Accident
Every truck accident is unique and involves different issues. However, in any truck accident, you have to prove another party’s liability to get compensation. You have to prove that the defendant acted recklessly or breached their duty of care. When a truck accident occurs, the case is often more complicated than an accident involving regular vehicles.
In a truck accident, multiple parties could be liable for the accident, and it is not easy for the victim to identify the party at fault. It requires a thorough investigation to identify the liable parties in a truck accident. You need the help of an attorney who will look into all contributing factors and identify the responsible parties. A truck accident could have more than one liable party. If several parties are liable, every party will compensate you depending on their degree of fault.
When a truck accident occurs, many people are quick to blame the truck driver. However, it is essential to note that a truck driver may not be the only party responsible for the accident. Even if a truck accident may occur due to driver error, most of the time, an accident occurs due to a truck company’s negligence. Some of the parties that could be liable in a truck accident are:
The truck driver
The trucking company
Parties responsible for repairing and maintaining the truck
Parties responsible for loading the truck
Truck component manufactures
The company that leases the truck to the truck carrier
When a Truck Driver is Liable
A truck driver is liable if a truck accident occurs due to their negligence. For instance, a truck driver may make an error while behind the wheel and cause an accident. A driver could also be liable for engaging in distracted driving. The common forms of distracted driving include texting while driving, talking on the phone, or eating while driving. A truck driver could engage in distracted driving by operating the truck’s radio while driving. External factors that could distract a truck driver include sceneries and other road users.
The majority of truck accidents occur due to driver fatigue. Driver fatigue often makes truck drivers fall asleep while behind the wheel, leading to accidents. Truck drivers should adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s guidelines on hours of service. FMCSA sets out the maximum hours that a driver should operate a truck in a single shift. Many truck drivers fail to adhere to the FMCSA guidelines since they aim at making more money. If a truck accident occurs due to a truck driver’s violation of the FMCSA guidelines, the truck driver could be liable for the accident. An attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine if the truck driver violated any of the legal requirements.
A truck driver could also be liable if the accident occurred due to intoxicated driving. It is illegal for a truck driver to operate a vehicle while their BAC exceeds 0.04%. California DUI laws are stricter on commercial vehicle drivers, and they have in place strict DUI laws for them. The standard DUI laws state that a driver should not drive with a BAC of 0.08% or more. However, a truck driver is liable as long as their BAC was 0.04% or more at the time of the accident.
When the Trucking Company is Liable
The trucking company that employs the truck driver could also be to blame for the truck accident. The FMCSA heavily regulates trucking companies. This regulatory authority imposes rules and guidelines for trucking companies:
Truck companies have to ensure that they only hire qualified truck drivers. Truck companies have to conduct a thorough background check while hiring a truck driver. If it’s evident that the truck company engaged in negligent driver hiring, the company could be liable for the accident.
The truck company also has to provide continuous training to truck drivers. The truck company has to ensure that the driver is adhering to the FMCSA drug and alcohol rules.
Truck companies have to ensure that they set reasonable work hours for truck drivers. Overstretching the truck drivers and setting long work hours for them could lead to accidents.
The trucking company has to ensure proper repair and maintenance of trucks. Therefore, the truck company could be liable if an accident occurs due to a poorly maintained truck.
When a truck accident occurs, most truck companies are often quick to distance themselves from the truck drivers. For instance, a truck company may claim that the driver is an independent contractor. The truck company may also claim that it had leased the truck from a third party. You need to have a competent attorney who will be able to review the connection between the truck driver and the trucking company.
Parties Responsible for Repairing and Maintaining the Truck
Some trucking carries contract other companies to repair and maintain their fleets. If a truck accident occurs due to a maintenance issue, yet the truck had undergone routine maintenance, the truck company could be liable for the accident. The company responsible for inspecting the truck could also be liable for failing to inspect the truck properly and causing an accident.
Parties Responsible for Loading the Truck
In some instances, cargo companies responsible for loading the trucks could be to blame for the accident. The cargo companies could be to blame if they fail to secure the cargo properly. Some truck accidents occur due to improperly loaded or improperly secured cargos. Failing to place or secure cargo properly in a truck could make the cargo fall off the truck and hit other vehicles, causing severe damages. A truck driver could lose control of the truck due to an improperly placed cargo and cause an accident.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident due to an improperly placed cargo, you could hold the cargo company responsible for your damages.
When Truck Manufacturers are Liable
In some instances, the truck company could be responsible for an accident. If an accident occurs due to defective vehicle parts, the truck manufacturer could be liable for the accident. A truck accident could occur due to a wide range of mechanical failures. Some of the mechanical failures that could lead to a truck accident are:
Worn out or blown out tires
Defective or broken vehicle lights
Improper or poor trailer attachment
Truck manufacturers have to ensure that they only release safe trucks into the market. A truck manufacturer could be liable for releasing unsafe trucks into the market. However, the truck manufacturers are not responsible for an accident due to the truck company’s failure to repair or maintain the truck. It should be evident that the defect existed at the time of release into the market. It should also be evident that the truck manufacturer did not warn the consumers about the defect.
The Company that Leases the Truck to the Carrier
The truck company, also known as the carrier, could have leased the truck from another company. If the truck was defective and poorly maintained, the leaser could be responsible for the accident.
One of the most challenging aspects of a truck accident is to figure out who is responsible for the truck accident. If you cannot provide evidence regarding who is to blame for a truck accident, a car accident attorney will come in handy to assist you. An attorney will conduct a thorough investigation and collect all the necessary evidence to show the party responsible for the accident. If several parties are responsible for the accident, you may be able to maximize your compensation by seeking payment through multiple claims against different parties.
Defendants will work with their legal team and insurers to close the case and offer fast settlements. You should never accept the first settlements even if they appear generous. Instead, you should have an attorney investigate your case and give you the best legal counsel.
Damages Sustained in a Truck Accident
When accidents involving trucks and regular vehicles happen, regular vehicles’ occupants suffer detrimental injuries or death. The extensive injuries occur because of the difference in size and weight between passenger vehicles and trucks. For you to be able to seek compensation after a truck accident, you have to prove that you suffered damages because of the accident. You may sustain physical injuries that require you to undergo intensive treatment.
Physical Injuries in a Truck Accident
Truck accident injuries are often catastrophic. If you are lucky to survive the accident, the accident may leave you with horrific injuries that will take a long time to treat. After surviving a truck accident, you may experience a decreased quality of life afterward. Some of the common injuries that you may suffer in a truck accident are:
Neck and Back Injuries
When a truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the impact is significant. The victims of the accident may suffer tendon injuries, muscle strains, and ligament injuries. Victims may also suffer injuries in the soft tissues of the neck and the back. You may experience minor neck pain to more advanced injuries like dislocated discs in your spine. The neck plays a significant role in the functionality of the body. Therefore, neck injuries could hinder you from resuming your daily activities.
The typical back injuries victims may sustain after a truck accident are:
Spinal cord injuries
Due to the impact of a truck accident, victims could break bones in different parts of their bodies. A victim is likely to suffer broken bones if they try to brace themselves against a vehicle part before the accident, only to be thrown out after an impact. A truck accident victims could suffer broken bones on the legs, wrists, pelvis, face, ribs, and arms.
Some broken bones require expensive surgeries to treat. You may even need to have rods, screws, and pins inserted in your body to hold the fractured bones together. Fractures have a risk of causing internal bleeding and therefore call for immediate treatment.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A TBI or a traumatic brain injury occurs when the head experiences a jolt or a violent blow. Traumatic brain injuries call for immediate treatment, and their impacts could change your life forever. At times, traumatic brain injury symptoms may not manifest immediately but only show up much later. TBI may range from mild to severe. Some of the common side effects of traumatic brain injuries are:
Loss of consciousness
Ongoing or persistent headaches
Confusion causing anger or anxiety
Memory loss or inability to form new memories
Trucks carry more fuel because they have larger fuel tanks than passenger vehicles. When a truck accident occurs, a truck is more likely to explode, leading to fires. Burns sustained in a truck accident could lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement. The injuries may be worse if victims are trapped in the vehicle and are unable to escape immediately.
Victims may also suffer friction burns after scraping on the vehicle’s interior or the pavement. It can be challenging to treat burns, and most victims end up undergoing surgery. If not well treated, burns could lead to further complications like infections.
Victims of a truck accident may also suffer internal injuries depending on the impact of the accident. Internal injuries occur when the vital organs in the body suffer damages. Unlike external injuries that are easy to spot, most victims might not know that they have suffered internal injuries until it’s too late. Compared to other types of injuries, internal injuries are challenging to treat.
Other common injuries that victims of a truck accident may sustain are:
Rib and torso injuries
Seat belt injuries
Causation in a Truck Accident
In a truck accident, causation refers to the factors that are the main reasons behind the accident. To be able to claim benefits in a truck accident, you must be able to prove that the accident occurred due to another party’s negligence. You must also be able to prove that you suffered injuries because of the defendant’s negligence.
You have to draw a clear line or establish causation between the defendant’s actions and your injuries. When establishing causation, the court will determine how a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances. If the defendant did not act the way a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances, the driver might be to blame for your actions.
For causation to apply, it should be evident that if the defendant had acted the way they did, you would not have sustained injuries. You need to show that your injuries were avoidable and only occurred because of the defendant’s negligence. The defendant and their insurance company may attempt to deny you compensation by claiming that the injuries did not happen due to the defendant’s negligence. For instance, the insurance company may claim that you had pre-existing injuries before the accident. You will need the assistance of a competent attorney to prove causation.
Damages Available in Truck Accident
Under California’s injury law, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries as long as you can prove a truck accident’s elements. The compensation available in a truck accident includes:
Medical Bills Incurred
Serious injuries suffered in a truck accident may lead to significant medical bills. The negligent party is responsible for the medical bills incurred in seeking treatment for your injuries. You should keep all your medical records intact to ensure that you can prove the damages. You should note down every medical cost, including the initial costs incurred in hiring an ambulance to take you to the hospital.
When calculating medical costs, you should not just consider current medical costs. You should also consider the future medical expenses that you are likely to incur. For instance, you may require to undergo physical therapy to restore your body functionality after an accident. You should also include the cost of medical equipment like crutches, wheelchairs, and assistive devices that will help you with your injuries.
Depending on the extent of the injuries suffered, you may require private nursing care. For instance, if you suffer traumatic brain injuries, you may need a private medical expert to assist you even when you go back home. When considering the medical costs, you should consider all the expenses related to your injury.
Compensation for Lost Income
You are entitled to compensation for lost income after a truck accident. After suffering injuries in an accident, you will need to stay home until you recover. This means that you will not be able to go to work or participate in other economic activities. Until you recover from the injuries fully, you will not be able to return to a physically involving job.
Your attorney will assist you in seeking compensation for lost income. You would have earned this income if you had not stayed away from work because of the injuries. While determining the compensation for lost wages, the court will consider your hourly rate of pay and the total hours you spend away from work.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Some injuries sustained in a car accident may prevent you from returning to work altogether. For instance, you may not be able to resume work after an amputation or after suffering paralysis. In this case, you can seek compensation for the loss of your earning potential or capacity.
The court will consider several factors when calculating your compensation for loss of earning capacity:
How long the injury will last
Your past earnings
Your life expectancy
The chances of your career advancement before the accident
Your performance at your previous job
The terms of your employment contract
Pain and Suffering
You should also seek compensation for the pain and suffering you experience after a truck accident. In addition to causing physical injuries, an accident could cause you embarrassment and inferiority complex because of the damages. After an accident, you may no longer be able to participate in the activities you love. Most people tend to experience depression after an accident. You should talk with your attorney regarding the pain and suffering you have suffered from the accident.
You are entitled to compensation for property damage, including your vehicle’s damage in the truck accident. You can file a personal injury lawsuit and claim compensation for the damage of your vehicle. You could also seek compensation for other properties like phones and tablets in the car at the time of the accident.
In some instances, the court may award punitive damages after an accident. Punitive damages are not compensatory, unlike other damages in a truck accident. The court imposes punitive damages to punish the defendant for being extremely negligent. Punitive damages aim at discouraging the defendant from engaging in similar conduct in the future. For instance, if a truck driver causes an accident due to drunk driving, the court may award the victim punitive damages to deter drunk driving.
Find a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney Near Me
Have you suffered injuries in a truck accident, and you are wondering about the next step? The Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve. We have helped many victims of truck accidents to recover damages. Contact us at 424-237-3600 and speak to one of our attorneys.