Although truck drivers are the most careful drivers on the road, there are a few reckless drivers who drive under the influence and long hours without resting, thus posing a risk of accident to other drivers on the road. Considering the trucks' weight and size, you are likely to incur severe injuries than the truck driver in case of an accident when driving a passenger car, especially if the truck's freight was hazardous. What you do immediately after involvement in a truck accident will be crucial when pursuing compensation for any damage you incur due to the truck driver or trucking company's negligence.
Dealing with insurance companies and the at-fault party after involvement in a truck accident leading to damages can be a daunting task. To determine the truck accident causes and hold the party responsible for the truck accident accountable for your damages, you need an attorney like Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney to build your case for a civil lawsuit.
Truck Accident and Associated Injuries
Statistics show that most fatal road accidents that occur in the streets of Los Angeles involve commercial trucks. A typical truck weighs almost ten times more than a passenger car. Therefore, any truck accident can result in severe vehicle damage and catastrophic injuries.
The standard of care that truck drivers should observe on the road is slightly more strict than other passenger vehicle drivers, but there are still reports of truck accident cases almost every day in Los Angeles. Even if you are careful on the road, truck drivers with disregard for your safety might make you suffer catastrophic injuries in case of an accident. The type of injuries you will sustain will depend on factors like your vehicle speed at the time of the accident and the size of the truck, but the most common injuries you may sustain include:
Head and neck injuries
Internal organ injuries
Lacerations and scarring
Loss of body limbs
These injuries will cause you unnecessary expenses when you go to seek medical treatment. However, under California personal injury laws, even if you are partially at fault in the truck accident, you can receive compensation according to your negligence level/degree under comparative fault law. To file your claim promptly while it's still valid, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible when the pieces of evidence surrounding the accident are still fresh to build a case against the at-fault party for adequate compensation.
Steps to Take After Involvement in a Truck Accident Before Determining the Accident Cause
A trucking accident can be due to several reasons which we will discuss in this article. However, before determining the cause of the truck accident, there are some things that you should do immediately after the accident to increase your chances of achieving adequate compensation from the at-fault party. Here are things you should do immediately after involvement in a truck accident before determining the accident cause to preserve your rights for damages compensation:
Call the Police
Regardless of who is at fault and events leading to the truck accident, it is vital to remain at the scene and call the police if you can. If not, you can request another person nearby or a witness to call 911 for immediate assistance. The police will collect all essential pieces of evidence that you will need for your injury lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages arising from the truck accident, for example:
Names and insurance information of every driver involved in the truck accident
Every vehicle number numbers
A police report and their opinion on what might have led to the truck accident will be useful when you are filing a civil suit against the at-fault party for compensation of your damages.
Document the Accident Scene
Suppose the truck accident impact has not led to significant injuries that require immediate medical attention. In that case, you should consider documenting the accident scene yourself to act as evidence during a civil suit against the at-fault party. Make sure you take pictures and videos of the accident scene while you can. You can also consider talking to one or two eyewitnesses at the scene who will be willing to testify in court what he/she saw during the truck accident.
Notify Your Insurance Provider
Insurance providers try to use every tactic they can to reduce the amount of compensation they give you after involvement in an accident, including your failure to report an accident. It is vital to notify your insurance provider about your involvement in a truck accident, but do not disclose too much information about the accident to them without contacting a personal injury attorney.
Contact Personal Injury Attorney
Finally, filing a personal injury suit while you are in the hospital or under medication is stressful and daunting. You deserve this compensation for every damage and pain you experience due to another person's recklessness/negligence. Therefore, you must reach out to a reliable attorney like Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney for all legal assistance you need. We will handle all litigation procedures on your behalf to achieve adequate compensation that you deserve for your losses and damages.
Common Truck Accident Causes in California
The truck accident that left you with injuries and damages can result from many causes, some of which you might not comprehend immediately after the truck accident, for instance, a defective vehicle part. You can only pursue damages compensation after a trucking accident when you determine the cause of the accident, which could be a result of the following parties' negligence:
Truck Driver Negligence
A truck driver's negligence can put many innocent lives at risk of injuries and even death in case of an accident because a truck is typically way bigger than other passenger cars. The following negligent actions of a truck driver could be the cause of the truck accident that left you with injuries and damages:
i. Drunk Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol or other illegal drugs makes a truck driver mentally and physically incapable of driving a truck like a sober, cautious person. Suppose the accident scene’s police reports show that the truck driver was drunk driving during the accident. In that case, that will be enough evidence to make the truck driver accountable for your losses in a civil suit.
Distracted driving happens when a person drives a vehicle while doing other things that distract his/her ability to focus on the road like a cautious person, for example, texting or kissing while on the wheel. With the help of an accident reconstruction expert, a personal injury attorney can determine if the truck driver was distracted during the occurrence of the accident by checking his/her phone activity during the time of the accident. The truck driver should be accountable for your losses if it is evident that he/she was texting while on the wheel during the accident.
It is unlawful for truck drivers to drive without resting. Before beginning a journey, a truck should rest adequately for maximum productivity and alertness on the road to prevent foreseeable accidents. However, some drivers who feel like they are behind in their schedule may try to drive for longer hours to cover up time wasted, which puts them at risk of accidents due to fatigue and lack of sleep. California vehicle code 21702VC makes it a misdemeanor offense for truck drivers to drive without rest for many consecutive hours within a day because fatigue affects a driver's alertness and productivity.
Trucking companies usually work on strict schedules and timelines to stay competitive in this market full of trucking companies. However, sometimes they develop unrealistic schedules and high expectations that force and encourage truck drivers to disobey speeding limits designated for particular places. When an overspeeding truck loses control on the roadway, it can lead to unwanted and unnecessary damages if it collides with other vehicles. If you incur an injury after an accident with an over speeding truck, you should hold the driver accountable for all the losses you incur due to the accident.
Trucking Company Negligence
Every trucking company has a responsibility to keep their trucks safe and roadworthy through thorough and regular maintenance. Failure to service and maintain trucks is risky because you don't know when a mechanical problem may emerge while the truck is in motion, for example, faulty brakes and worn out lights. In that kind of scenario, it can become very overwhelming for the truck driver to control the truck, thus causing unnecessary accidents.
Also, carrying excessive cargo limits for certain types of trucks can pose a risk of unnecessary hazards on the road. Semi-trucks have a particular cargo limit that every trucking company should obey to avoid any chance of unnecessary accidents on the roadway.
Overloading can exert excessive weights on tires, making them blow out, and, in that case, an accident would be unavoidable. If you incur an injury under those kinds of circumstances, you should pursue your damages compensation from the trucking company because excessive cargo loading is unlawful.
Other Causes of Truck Accidents
Apart from the driver and trucking company's negligence, a truck accident can also occur because of other reasons such as:
Truck Defective Part
If the trucking company bought the truck with a defective part, under product liability laws. In that case, the truck manufacturer should be liable for any damages and injuries resulting from the truck defective/faulty part.
Improper Truck Driver Training
Large trucks and semi-trucks require special training before hitting the road with a freight because any driving error with these trucks can cause a fatal accident. Therefore, trucking companies must use strict criteria when recruiting their truck drivers to ensure they are competent. Under respondeat superior legal doctrine, the employer should be accountable for their employee's mistakes or wrongful acts. Therefore, if you incur injury or losses because of an untrained truck driver, you can seek your damages compensation from his/her employer.
Because a truck driver's experience and skill become better with time, trucking companies usually prefer the aged truck drivers, making them retain their drivers after retirement. Other trucking companies prefer to hire retired drivers from different companies for their cargo and trucks' safety. However, this is a risky move because aged truck drivers lack good stamina and alertness to drive a truck like a young, energetic, and attentive person.
Poor Weather and Road Conditions
Truck drivers should learn to adjust when there are poor weather conditions like snow or mist to avoid any foreseeable accident. Poor road conditions like potholes or ice will also force the truck driver to drive slowly and cautiously because a truck can easily slip out of the road. In case you suffer damages after a truck accident due to poor road conditions, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the state within the appropriate time limitation for doing so to ensure the suit is valid.
When you sustain injuries or incur damages after involvement in a truck accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine the accident cause because truck accidents are usually unique in contrast to other accidents. A personal injury will help you calculate the total amount of damages you deserve and help you build viable pieces of evidence you need to hold the at-fault party responsible for your damages.
You must file your compensation claim promptly after determining the accident cause to ensure it's still valid. Typically, you have six months to file a personal injury suit against the state and two years against other parties like a truck driver and trucking company.
Steps to Take After Determining the Truck Accident Cause
After determining the truck accident cause, you will want to pursue your damages compensation from the at-fault party that led to the truck accident's occurrence that left you with injuries and losses. There are two possible ways you can pursue your damages compensation that will require you to retain an injury attorney for guidance to ensure adequate compensation. Here are ways you can seek damages compensation after a truck accident in California:
To avoid time wastage and uncertainty of lawsuit, you should consider seeking compensation through settlement in which most defendants will be more than willing to cooperate because suits are risky. The defendant will be ready to settle a compensation claim outside the court because no one wants to leave the court at the trial's expense. If you choose to receive your damages compensation through a settlement, you will have to waive your rights for a lawsuit.
After calculating the right amount of compensation you deserve for your damages, your attorney will send a demand letter to the defendant quoting the amount of money you demand as compensation and necessary evidence to prove your damages. The defendant must act in "good faith" in the offer he/she chooses to give as a settlement award for your damages. If you think the settlement award the defendant is offering is little in comparison to your losses and damages, you should consider another alternative, which is a civil lawsuit.
Like in most personal injury cases, the civil court judge will consider the theory of negligence when determining the truck accident fault before making the judgment whether you deserve compensation or not. For that reason, your injury attorney must demonstrate to the judge above a reasonable doubt that the defendant was responsible for the truck accident's occurrence by showing every element of negligence evident in the situation. Here are elements of negligence that prevail in a truck accident personal injury lawsuit:
Duty of Care
The relationship between the truck driver and other drivers or pedestrians on the road creates a legal duty of care responsibility, which everyone should observe to avoid foreseeable accidents. Duty of care is the legal responsibility that every driver has to ensure other road users are safe.
Duty of Care Breach
Suppose it is evident that there is a duty of care between the plaintiff and the defendant's relationship on the road. In that case, the judge will proceed to determine which party breached their duty of care against the other during the event of the truck accident. Therefore, your injury attorney must be ready with adequate evidence to show the judge how the defendant breached his/her legal duty of care towards you. A defendant can breach his/her duty of care through the following ways:
Unsafe left turn
Suppose a standard, reasonable driver would have found the existence of a duty of care in that similar situation. In that case, it means the defendant was negligent in observing his/her duty of care towards you. Therefore, he/she should be accountable for your damages and injuries resulting from the truck accident that he/she was at fault.
After your injury attorney demonstrates to the judge that the defendant breached his/her duty of care towards you, for example, through traffic violation, it doesn't end there. The attorney must show the judge how the defendant's negligent actions lead to your injuries because the defendant can breach his/her duty of care, and not necessarily cause an accident.
For instance, it wouldn't be unfair to make a driver who was texting and driving liable for unrelated damages and injuries that happened across the streets just because he was negligent at that particular time. Therefore, your injuries must be directly due to the truck driver or trucking company’s negligence/reckless acts to convince the judge that you deserve compensation for your damages.
Finally, this fourth element of negligence is similarly crucial when proving liability in a personal injury case. Damages are the losses that you incurred or you will incur in the future as a result of the truck accident. Your attorney must demonstrate to the jury this element well to receive adequate compensation for your injuries and property loss, for instance, damage to your car. There are two types of damages you can receive if the jury lures the defendant liable for your injuries and losses in the trucking accident, that is:
The liable defendant must pay you economic/monetary damages for all the losses you have incurred, or you will incur in future out pocket as a result of the truck accident. Thus, it is advisable to keep your post-medical journal and vehicle maintenance records after a truck accident to prove to the jury how much the defendant should compensate you in monetary terms. You can receive economic damages for losses such as:
Lost earning capacity
Non- Economic Damages
The judge will also consider the losses you might incur due to the trucking accident that is not compensable in monetary terms and are known as non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are subjective to losses such as:
Loss of enjoyment in life
Physical impairment, for example, loss of a body limb
Pain and suffering
As we said earlier, even if you are partially at fault for the accident, you should be able to receive partial compensation for your damages and losses as per your degree of negligence towards the event of the truck accident. Negotiating California's injury laws without a personal injury attorney can be a daunting process because the standard of proof should be above a reasonable doubt during trial. It takes someone who understands personal injury laws well to demonstrate to the judge above a reasonable doubt that you deserve adequate compensation for your damages resulting from the trucking accident.
The most important step you can take following a truck accident that has left you with injuries and damages is to contact a personal injury attorney. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we understand what you might be experiencing after a truck accident and want to give you an easy time for recovery. At the same time, we pursue your compensation from the at-fault party. Contact us at 424-237-3600 to schedule a consultation with our attorneys to establish the truck accident cause early for proper legal representation to achieve an adequate compensation award.