Negligence is the primary liability theory in truck accidents. Accidents involving trucks and other commercial vehicles are common on California roads. This is because of the large size of trucks, which are often loaded with goods. The passengers of smaller vehicles suffer the most when accidents involving standard vehicles and trucks happen. If you suffer injuries in a truck accident, you must prove some elements before the court for you to receive compensation from the defendant. You must provide sufficient evidence that either the truck driver or truck company, among other defendants, owed you a duty of care. You have a right under California law to seek compensation for your injuries after your involvement in a truck accident. You should work with an experienced personal injury attorney to receive your deserved compensation. Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm provides the best legal representation in truck accident lawsuits.
Elements in a Truck Accident
To receive compensation from the liable party after suffering injuries in a truck accident, you must prove some elements, including:
Damages in a Truck Accident
The passengers of regular vehicles die or suffer severe injuries when accidents involving standard cars and trucks happen. Standard vehicle occupants suffer extensive injuries because of the difference in weight and size between the trucks and passenger vehicles. You can only file a claim after a truck accident if you provide sufficient evidence that the injuries you suffered resulted from the accident. You may suffer physical injuries that could require you to receive a particular medication. The physical injuries you may suffer include the following.
Often, a truck carrying hazardous materials like fuel could explode, leading to fire when involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle. You could suffer disfigurement and permanent scarring if you sustain burns in a truck accident. If you are unable to escape immediately after the accident because of being trapped in the vehicle, your injuries could worsen. You may also sustain friction burns after scraping on the road or the vehicle's interior. More complications like infections could arise if the burns are not well treated. At times, doctors prescribe surgery on the victims because it is hard to treat burns.
You may suffer broken bones in different parts of your body after your involvement in a truck accident. You could also suffer broken bones due to the accident’s impact if you attempt to brace yourself against a vehicle part before the accident. You may suffer broken bones on the ribs, arms, wrist, pelvis, and legs. Often, broken bones are expensive to treat because they require surgery. You will have pins, rods, and screws inserted in your body to hold together your broken bones. You need immediate treatment after suffering broken bones in a truck accident since it could lead to internal bleeding.
At times, when you suffer a brain injury due to a truck accident, you may experience several life-altering consequences. Physiological damage, impairment of certain functions, emotional damage, and physical damage are some of the consequences you may experience. The other brain injury consequences you may experience include changes in senses, loss of vision, ringing in the ears, and loss of balance. Few victims suffer seizures from time to time.
Larger percentages of victims who suffer a brain injury due to truck accidents become slow speakers, slow thinkers, and often confused. A small percentage may experience behavioral and mood changes. Frequently, brain systems responsible for social-emotional lives are destroyed, and that alters the victim's personality. Therefore, brain injury leads to cognitive process problems. Additionally, other victims may be more uninhabited, have mood swings, withdraw from their previous social circles, and become more irritable.
Spinal Cord Paralysis
You may suffer partial or complete paralysis if your spinal cord suffers severe injuries in a truck accident. You may suffer permanent spinal cord paralysis if the accident causes severe injuries on specific parts of the spinal cord. For instance, if you crash on a fixed object during a truck accident, you may suffer detrimental spinal injuries.
Because of the truck's size, you may suffer extensive back injuries in a truck accident, even if a truck hits you at a low speed. The accident may cause spinal compression due to the impact. The spinal compression could also put pressure on the vertebrae leading to lower back pains and soreness.
Generally, your body muscles could suffer injuries in a truck accident. An average human being usually has more than 600 muscles on his or her body. The accident could cause large muscle tears, detrimental muscle damage, or simple sprains. However, recovery from muscle injuries differs from one person to another. A young person who suffers from muscle injuries in a truck accident could heal faster while an older person might take longer.
Seat Belt Injuries
The seat belt you wear can cause severe injury if you are a regular vehicle driver, and you are involved in a truck accident. You could sustain whiplash injury even if the seat belts are meant to cushion you.
Rib and Torso Injuries
You may suffer severe rib and torso injuries after your involvement in a truck accident. Vital body organs in every human being are cushioned by the ribcage, composed of 24 ribs. You may suffer a rib fracture if you sustain blunt force chest trauma. You may also have breathing problems if you suffer rib and torso injuries. Therefore, seek compensation if you sustain rib and torso injuries due to another person’s negligence in a truck accident.
The organs that could be damaged after your involvement in a truck accident include the bladder, kidney, pancreas, spleen, and liver. This could lead to internal bleeding, which is hard to detect to treat, and often victims die. Internal injuries are more difficult to spot than external injuries, and most victims die because they discover the injury late.
Liability in a Truck Accident
Truck accidents involve different issues, and they are unique. When you file a claim against a responsible party in any truck accident, you must gather sufficient evidence. You must present adequate evidence before the court that the liable party breached his or her duty of care, or he or she acted recklessly. Compared to accidents involving regular vehicles, truck accidents are often more complicated when they happen.
At times, it could be hard for you to identify the responsible party in a truck accident if multiple parties are involved. In such instances, for you to determine the responsible party, a thorough investigation is required. You should contact a personal injury attorney who could help you investigate the contributing factors and identify the party at fault. There could be several parties responsible for the truck accident, and you could receive compensation from them depending on every party's degree of liability.
The truck driver often faces the blame when a truck accident happens. Typically, the truck driver may not always be the only liable party when the accident occurs. Even if the accident happens due to their error, these accidents also occur because of the truck company's negligence. Parties that could be liable in a truck accident case are:
- Truck loading individuals
- The company leasing the truck to the carrier
- The mechanic
- The truck company
- The passenger vehicle driver
- The truck driver
- Truck manufacturing company
Truck Loading Individuals
You could file a claim against a cargo company if you suffer injuries in a truck accident due to the cargo's improper loading. If the load is not adequately secured on the truck and later causes an accident, the cargo company could be liable. In California, most truck accidents happen due to improper placement of cargos on trucks. Improper loading of loads could make them fall and crash other cars causing severe damages. Improper cargo loading could also make the driver lose control and cause an accident.
The Company Leasing the Truck to the Carrier
The carrier could be a truck company that hires trucks from another company. If a truck accident happens due to poor maintenance or defects, the leaser may be at fault for the accident. At times, it is a challenge to identify the liable party in a truck accident. It is essential that you contact a personal injury attorney after your involvement in a truck accident and not try to prove the liable party in the accident on your own.
An attorney may help you gather sufficient evidence, investigate the accident, and identify the responsible party. You may receive compensation through multiple claims if several parties are liable for the accident. Identifying all the liable parties will help you maximize the potential compensation.
At times, the liable parties could collaborate with the insurers and their attorneys to offer you fast settlements and close the lawsuit. Even if the responsible parties seem generous, you should not accept quick payments. You should allow your attorney to properly investigate the case and guide you on the best legal steps to take.
A truck accident may occur due to the poor maintenance and repair of the truck. Some mechanics in California sign contracts with trucking companies to maintain and repair their trucks. If the truck accident happens, the mechanic responsible for the truck maintenance and repair could be liable for poor service delivery. The truck inspecting company could also be liable for its failure to provide proper truck inspection leading to the accident.
If the accident occurs due to an obvious mechanical issue that a mechanic should have identified, the mechanic might be liable. However, if the mechanical issue was complex and challenging to identify, the mechanic may escape liability.
The Truck Company
In California, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has set strict rules for the trucking companies. The truck accident could happen due to the recklessness of the truck company. The truck company's negligence manifests while recruiting and hiring truck drivers. If the company employs incompetent drivers, it could be liable if the truck accident happens. The company is negligent as long as a relationship between the truck company and the driver exists.
Sometimes, the truck company coerces the drivers to operate trucks beyond the ideal operational hour limit in 24 hours to increase their profit margins. This action makes the truck drivers too tired due to the lack of enough rest that causes accidents.
If the driver works independently as a contractor, the truck company may not be responsible for the accident. You should find out if the driver is an employee of the truck company or an independent contractor whenever you are involved in a truck accident. This is because, in such a situation, accident liability is different and depends on the working relationship. Often, independent contractors do not act under the instructions of the truck company. Therefore, independent contractors are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
A truck company controls the truck driver's actions during transportation if the driver is a truck company worker. You should provide sufficient evidence that the truck company had control over the truck in such a case. You also need to prove that the driver was on duty during the accident to receive your deserved compensation for the damages and injuries.
The Passenger Vehicle Driver
No one would like to take liability after a truck accident, knowing that there could be substantial punitive damages. In such a case, you may need a personal injury attorney to intervene and prove your innocence. In California, passenger vehicle drivers cause more truck accidents than truck drivers. The truck drivers in California are known for being attentive while on the road since FMCSA demands them to adhere to the set rules and guidelines.
Passenger vehicle drivers often violate traffic regulations like speeding making them liable to truck accidents. For you to receive compensation in this case, you may need to prove to the jury that the passenger vehicle driver did the following:
- He or she violated a regulation or an ordinance which should prevent such accidents.
- He or she violated the statute or law, causing a truck accident that led to your injuries.
The Truck Driver
The truck driver's negligence while driving, especially the failure to abide by traffic laws, might cause a truck accident. A driver should always use the right indicators and warn other road users before changing lanes. Failure to do this could render the driver liable for the accident in case it happens.
Some ignorant drivers could also drive while intoxicated. Drugs and alcohol impair the truck driver's judgment and reaction time while driving, causing accidents. Talking and texting on the phone while driving is also a reckless behavior that could make the truck driver cause an accident.
If you feel that the driver did not exercise ample care, which caused the truck accident, you may seek compensation under California's negligence laws. You have to prove beyond doubt that the driver was at fault if you seek the help of a reliable attorney. You may receive your deserved compensation when your injury attorney files a claim against the reckless truck driver.
Truck Manufacturing Company
A defect in the truck or its parts is a factor that could cause a truck accident. Your injury attorney can help you determine if the truck manufacturer's fault caused the accident. The attorney may determine the manufacturer's liability by pulling out documents like maintenance logs and product recalls. If the faulty brake system caused the truck accident, the attorney might collect sufficient evidence to prove that the truck manufacturer is responsible for the accident.
The truck manufacturer should ensure that only safe trucks are sold. The manufacturer could also be responsible for the truck accident if the trucks are not properly maintained and repaired. If you suffer injuries due to a defective truck, your attorney could gather enough evidence to prove that the defect existed when the truck was released into the market. The attorney could also show that the truck manufacturer failed to warn you about the defect for you to be compensated.
Causation is the third element in a truck accident case, and it refers to the factors that contribute to the accident. For you to be awarded compensation after your involvement in a truck accident, you must provide sufficient evidence that you suffered injuries in the accident due to another party's negligence.
You must determine causation and draw a clear line between your injuries and the defendant's actions. When determining causation, the jury will establish how a sober person would have acted under the same circumstances. The truck driver might be responsible for your injuries if he or she failed to act in the manner a reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstance.
Causation could only be apparent if there is proof that were it not for the defendant, you would not have suffered injuries. You must prove that your injuries occurred due to the defendant's negligence, and the injuries were avoidable.
However, most times, when a truck accident happens, the insurance company and the defendant might try to deny you compensation by alleging that you did not suffer injuries due to the defendant's negligence. They could allege that before the truck accident, you had already pre-existing injuries. In such a situation, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to prove causation.
Damages You Can Recover in a Truck Accident
Under California law, apart from proving liability in a truck accident, you also have to prove your damages. California uses the term damages to categorize all costs you incur after suffering injuries in a truck accident. These damages are categorized as follows:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health illness
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
- Emotional distress and any other non-economic loss that you may suffer as a result of a truck accident
If the reckless or negligence of another party caused your injuries in a truck accident, you might file a claim for the loss of capacity to enjoy life. In California, loss of enjoyment in life refers to the inability to live a normal life. Disfigurement, emotional distress, pain, and suffering are among the damages for loss of enjoyment in life.
If you lose your loved one in a truck accident in California, you may file a wrongful death claim against the truck driver, the truck company, or other responsible parties. You would have to provide proof as follows:
- You suffered monetary damages as a result of your loved one's death.
- That the victim died
- That you are a personal representative, son, or daughter of the deceased
- Your loved one died as a result of negligence or wrongful act.
Unlike non-economic damages, economic damages are easy to express in monetary terms. Some of the economic damages that you can recover in a truck accident are:
- Out of pocket expenses like medical insurance copays
- Lost earning capacity
- Medical costs
- Re-education or re-training to find a job you can do in case you become disabled.
- Lost wages
- Lost opportunities or any other expenses you incur as a result of a truck accident.
If you lose your ability to go back to work after suffering injuries in a truck accident, you may file a claim for loss of earning capacity. Under the California worker's compensation act, you should receive compensation for loss of earning capacity if you have at least a 15% loss of earning capacity after suffering injuries in a truck accident. The loss of earning capacity claim payment can be either as a lump sum or as monthly payments.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you suffer injuries in a truck accident in California, you must prove several elements before receiving compensation. You need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney because it could be hard for you to go alone. Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm can evaluate your case and assist you in filing a claim. Contact us at 888-511-3139 and speak to one of our attorneys today.
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