Being a victim of a truck accident is a life-changing moment. You could lose a loved one or sustain serious and sometimes permanent injuries. Apart from these injuries or death, truck accidents are costly for most victims who have to deal with medical bills, sometimes without an income source.
Fortunately, the law allows victims to seek compensation from the at-fault party for the damages they suffered due to a truck accident. Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm helps these victims file their claims and handle their case’s legal aspects, such as negotiating with the insurance company, handling paperwork, and representing clients in court.
Truck Accident Overview
Truck accidents are destructive due to the nature and weight of large trucks and commercial vehicles. A loaded truck could weigh 25 times more than a standard car, magnifying its impact if an accident occurs. Such accidents are responsible for thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries in California.
The likelihood of your car being totaled or a pedestrian being killed or sustaining severe injuries after a truck accident is high. The law attempts to reduce the injuries and fatalities due to truck accidents by placing a higher duty of responsibility on a truck and commercial driver. However, these accidents are still common, and they are sometimes the result of human error or negligence. Some of the common causes of truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Unsecured load
- Poor road conditions
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving
- Truck failure (for instance, brake failure)
Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Each of these accidents has unique circumstances based on different variables in the accident. Different types of trucks pose a different level of danger to motorists and other road users. Some of these trucks include:
- Tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers which are designed for transporting heavy goods
- Delivery trucks
- Waste disposal trucks
- Tanker trucks
- Fire trucks and emergency vehicles
- Flatbed trucks (these present a risk to road users if the load is not secured or appropriately arranged on the truck)
- Farm trucks
- Passenger movers
The common types of truck accidents include:
A tire blowout accident occurs when the tire bursts or ruptures suddenly. Tire blowouts are common when the truck is at a higher speed. These accidents create a chain reaction whereby the driver of the truck could:
- Lose control of the vehicle
- Drift into other lanes
- Crash into other vehicles, people, or obstacles on the road
- Debris from the tire could cause injuries to other road users.
These accidents often occur due to poor maintenance and the failure to replace worn-out tires. In some cases, tire blowouts are a result of design and manufacturing defects.
Other common causes of tire blowouts include:
- Overinflation of tires due to heat
- Potholes on the road
- Overloading of the truck
- Tires of an inappropriate size to the truck
- Excessive braking
- Reckless driving behavior during risky weather conditions
A truck has a large cab and a trailer connected to form the whole. A jackknifing accident occurs when the cab folds into the trailer, usually because the trailer's back moves faster than the cab.
Jackknifing accidents are dangerous for nearby vehicles, which could be wedged underneath the trailer or crash against it. These accidents are one of the leading causes of multiple vehicle pileups. The common causes of jackknifing accidents include:
- Equipment malfunction
- Brake failure
- Negotiating steep curves or turns too fast
- Loose cargo
- Locked wheels
A rollover accident occurs when a truck rolls onto its side or top. The common causes of rollover accidents include:
- Driving at high speed on a curved roadway
- Defective brakes
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued drivers
- Sudden lane changes
- Unevenly distributed or poorly secured cargo (when the load shifts, it destabilizes the truck and increases the risk of a rollover)
Rollover truck accidents are catastrophic for truck drivers and other road users. The danger of these accidents rises if the truck was at high speed, on a busy roadway, or was transporting hazardous material.
An underride accident occurs when a passenger vehicle slides underneath a truck in a rear-end or side-impact collision. These accidents are usually fatal to the passenger vehicle occupants, with fatalities from such accidents accounting for up to 70% of the total fatalities from truck accidents.
The accident is a leading cause of catastrophic injuries such as traumatic head injuries, spinal injuries, decapitation, and death. These injuries are common due to the accident’s nature, whereby the underside of the truck shaves off or crumples the top of the passenger vehicle.
The use of underside guards has led to a significant decline in underside accidents. These guards work well if the truck owners inspect and replace them regularly.
The common causes of underside accidents include:
- Poor visibility at night, in certain weather conditions such as fog, and due to poor lighting
- Defective or poorly maintained brakes
- Poor underside guards
- Reckless driving
- Failure to observe traffic laws
- Truck driver braking too fast
- Improper turns
Other types of truck accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions occur when the leading driver stops suddenly, which forces the truck driver to brake. Even if the truck driver maintains a safe distance behind you, braking after a sudden stop will require another five or six seconds (about 600 meters) before the truck stops. In such a time, it is more likely that an accident will occur.
- Side impact collisions involving trucks are severe, especially when the truck T-bones another vehicle. The impact of the truck on the vehicle is enough to cause catastrophic injuries and death.
Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are one of the top causes of catastrophic injuries among accident victims. The severity of these injuries is higher amongst pedestrians and occupants of considerably smaller vehicles.
The common injuries from truck accidents include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are among the leading causes of disabilities and fatalities in America. Mild traumatic brain injury presents symptoms such as:
- Brief loss of consciousness (a few seconds or minutes)
- Confusion or disorientation
- Speech problems
- Sleep problems such as insomnia or hypersomnia
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Altered sense of smell
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory and concentration problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood changes
The symptoms of moderate to severe TBI include:
- Loss of consciousness that lasts up to several hours
- Worsening or persistent headache
- Repeated vomiting and nausea
- Dilated pupils
- Drainage of clear fluids from the nose or ears
- Difficulty waking from sleep
- Numbness in the fingers and toes
- Coordination problems
- Deep confusion
- Unusual behavior such as aggressiveness
- Slurred speech
Traumatic brain injuries could lead to physical, intellectual, communication, behavioral, emotional, and sensory problems in survivors. Some of these complications include:
- Brain death
- A buildup of fluids in the brain
- Damage of blood vessels
- Problems with learning, attention, memory, reasoning, and judgment
- Poor problem-solving, organization, decision-making, and planning skills
- Trouble communicating, writing, or understanding communication
- Behavioral problems including engaging in risky behavior and outbursts
- Depression, anxiety, mood swings, and insomnia
People with severe traumatic brain injuries are at a higher risk of developing degenerative brain diseases, including:
Trucks produce great impact when they hit pedestrians or crash into other vehicles. This kind of impact could cause rollover accidents, crumpling of the cars, or ejection of passengers from the car leading to bone fractures.
The most common parts affected by bone fractures include limbs, ribs, hips, pelvis, the skull, and the back. The severity of fractures will determine the type and duration of treatment and complications that could develop. For example, rib fractures are likely to puncture the lungs, leading to collapsed lungs.
Most fractures cause immobility to the affected area, and you might have to miss work for several days, weeks, or months depending on the presence of other injuries and their severity.
Amputations refer to traumatic or surgical removal of limbs or extremities. Traumatic amputations happen during the accident, usually resulting in partial or complete detachment of the affected body part.
Most of the time, the detached limb becomes severed and cannot be reattached to its original positions. Traumatic amputations can result in complications such as blood loss, shock, and infection. Symptoms of traumatic amputation include:
- Minor to severe bleeding depending on the location and severity of the injury
- Pain crushed tissues
Surgical amputations happen in a hospital setting after injuries such as those sustained in truck accidents. Surgical amputation is usually necessary if you develop a serious infection that does not respond to medication.
The amputation procedure involves the removal of all damaged tissue and crushed bones. The doctor also smoothens uneven bones, seals blood vessels, nerves, and blood flow. The final step involves cutting and shaping the muscles to allow the attachment of an artificial limb to the stump.
Recovering from amputations depends on factors like the type of anesthesia used and your health.
You will be medicated if you experience phantom pain. Physical therapy is an essential part of recovering from an amputation for improving your muscle strength and control.
Counselling also forms a critical part of treatment, enabling patients’ to deal with grief over their loss and readjust to a new body image.
Severe burns are a common injury to victims of truck accidents that transport hazardous materials. These burns occur due to the chemicals or the explosion of flammable materials.
Severe burns require extensive and specialized treatment to promote recovery and manage other conditions such as low blood pressure and shock. Some of the procedures you might need include:
- Breathing assistance
- Nutritional support (including a feeding tube)
- Treatment to ease blood flow around your wounds
- Skin grafts
- Reconstructive surgery
Liability in Truck Accidents
In the aftermath of a truck accident, you have to determine where liability for the accident lies should you want to seek compensation for your injuries. Liability in truck accidents can be complicated to determine and could fall on different entities. Here are some of the parties who could be liable in a truck accident:
Truck drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists and pedestrians, which they uphold by obeying all traffic rules. Truck drivers breach the duty of care by:
- Driving when tired
- Intoxicated driving (a truck driver in California is legally drunk when he or she has a BAC of at least .04%)
- Distracted driving
- Inadequate training to work as a truck driver
- Inattention due to stress, fatigue, distractions, or medical conditions
- Risky driving behavior in hazardous weather conditions
- Reckless driving
- Following too closely
- Failure to check cargo for safe loading
Most truck drivers are employees of a trucking company. Therefore, their negligence could be placed on their employers.
Some companies use trucks owned by other people or entities. These entities are responsible for maintaining their trucks to meet state and federal regulations.
Truck owners could be liable for truck accidents if they fail to maintain their trucks and keep maintenance and inspection records for each truck they own.
The law in California recognizes that employees act under the direction of and for their employers' benefit. Therefore, employers are vicariously responsible for the profits and losses arising from the employees’ negative or positive behavior during their employment.
The law asserts that truck drivers operate under the direction of their employers. The employers are also responsible for hiring and training their truck drivers to ensure they have the skills and expertise to operate the vehicle the employer assigns them.
Employers must also test their drivers after an accident to determine whether alcohol was a contributing factor. When the employer is held liable for a truck accident, they are better positioned to compensate the victim, unlike the driver.
Apart from being responsible for the actions of the driver, the employer could be liable for a truck accident for:
- Placing profit before safety
- Forcing employees to overwork to meet unrealistic deadlines and expectations
- Failing to hire or train qualified truck drivers
Manufacturers of trucks and truck parts and equipment must design, manufacture, and distribute reliable and safe products. Manufacturing defective products make them liable for accidents and losses that arise partially or wholly from a product defect.
Some of the common defects in trucks include defective tires, brakes, airbags, steering systems, locks, hydraulics, load straps, and coupling systems.
When a defective part or system caused the accident, your attorney will determine the extent to which the defect contributed to the accident with the involvement of relevant experts.
The cargo a truck carries greatly affects the stability and safety of that vehicle on the road. The cargo company must arrange, load, and secure the cargo firmly to ensure that it does not compromise the truck's stability during transportation.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has regulations that govern the loading of different and commonly transported cargo in various trucks. It provides direction on securing such cargo to ensure that it is safe for the driver, other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Tips for Winning a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Winning your truck accident case is a prerequisite to recovering the damages that arose from that accident. Preparing and presenting your claim is not usually as easy as pointing fingers at the responsible party and letting fate fix everything. You must actively participate in your case, gathering evidence, and negotiating your claim with the insurance company or handling the lawsuit in court.
Winning the case does not rely on getting a settlement from the case. It revolves around recovering a fair compensation covering all your damages. Such a settlement varies depending on the circumstances of every case. Your attorney, the insurance company, or the court will arrive at such a settlement by calculating the medical costs, lost wages, lost income potential, and pain and suffering damages from the case.
The insurance company tends to go for the lower end of fair compensation, often offering a low-value offer to cover your injuries. On the other hand, your attorney will work for a significant and fair compensation that comfortably covers all your damages.
Patience and good negotiation skills are some important skills to possess during a truck accident lawsuit. Being too quick to settle is one of the most common downfalls, as the victims later learn that the settlement they got hardly covers their costs, yet they forfeited their right to file a lawsuit.
Some tips for winning your truck accident lawsuit include:
- Get medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you feel like you were not injured. Accidents tend to shake us to our core, and at such moments, we hardly notice the pain we feel or the injuries we might have sustained until days or weeks later when our bodies relax, and the symptoms become apparent. Delaying treatment until the injury shows up is the fastest way to lose a personal injury case. The insurance company or the defendant will point out that you did not suffer serious injuries since you did not seek medical care sooner. The best approach with post-accident medical treatment is to have a doctor evaluate you even if you do not present physical symptoms of injury. The doctor will examine you and notify you of the signs and symptoms you could develop in the coming days or weeks.
- Collect evidence from the scene, testimony from witnesses, records from the hospital, auto repair shop, and the police report for the accident. Keep your evidence organized and have copies for your attorney.
- Hire an experienced personal injury attorney who works with truck accident victims. Working with an attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make if you intend to recover a fair settlement from the negligent party. Experienced attorneys understand the common issues in truck accidents, commonly violated laws, as well as the process of presenting and defending your claim in court or negotiating with insurance companies. Ask for referrals from your friends, relatives, or other attorneys you have worked within the past.
- File your claim at the right time. Timing is everything in a personal injury lawsuit. The first timing has to be within the Statute of Limitations, usually two years after the accident. If you file after the Statute of Limitations, you will have lost your right to seek compensation for your injuries. After filing the case, you typically begin negotiations with the insurance company. The settlement should not be negotiated too soon before your injuries are stable enough to predict their trajectory accurately. Knowing when to settle also makes a difference in the settlement you receive. Settling too soon is sure to get you inadequate compensation, while stubbornly refusing to settle could lead to negative consequences. Work with your attorney to help you determine the most appropriate timing for your truck accident lawsuit.
- Keep off social media when you are working on your case. Most people think of social media as a place to share your innermost thoughts, especially when you are struggling through a significant life event such as a truck accident. You could find a supportive online community, but laying your life bare on social media could do more harm to your case. The insurance company and the defendant will be on the lookout to identify inconsistencies and evidence they can use against you. Take a social media break and advise your family members to avoid posting details that could compromise the case.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
Truck accidents cause serious injuries and damage when they occur. These injuries are costly and leave their victims with permanent conditions as a result. After an accident, working with a truck accident attorney allows you to focus on recovery as the attorney handles the legal affairs.
Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm works with victims of truck accidents in California, helping them deal with the insurance companies and the at-fault party to recover the damages you suffered.
We work on contingency with our clients; you pay us when and if we win. Contact us at 888-511-3139 for a free consultation.
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