Truck accidents are some of the common causes of catastrophic injuries on our roads. The size of a truck makes it possible to cause catastrophic injuries, and in worst cases, deaths are reported. In many cases, truck accidents cause permanent disabilities and life-altering health conditions that the victim will have to endure for the rest of their lives. Therefore, truck accidents have physical, emotional, and financial burdens that will affect the victim’s well-being. If you or your loved one were involved in a truck accident, you need an experienced and skilled attorney to help you claim compensation for your damages. An attorney can help you with dealing with insurance companies as well as establishing and proving fault in court. You can get in touch with our expert Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm to get help in pursuing compensation after your accident.
Causes of Truck Accidents
While there are many trucks on the roads, traffic congestion is only one factor that increases truck accidents in Los Angeles. Many factors contribute to the number and severity of truck accidents, including:
While there are federal regulations that restrict drivers to 11 hours of driving per day, drivers and the companies their employers often break these rules to enable timely delivery of their cargo. Drivers can also fail to get enough sleep each day and can suffer from sleep apnea, which makes them more tired when they get back on the road.
In other cases, truck drivers can engage in other activities, especially when they get bored while driving. They can start texting, surfing on the internet, or even using the navigation system. Within the blink of an eye, such a distraction can cause a fatal accident,
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of any substance such as alcohol, prescription, and illegal drugs can alter a driver’s reactions and decision making. Driver’s under control also drive unsafely, and they expose themselves and other motorists to accidents.
Large and heavy-duty trucks require specialized and sufficient training to operate safely. The reason is that they are more challenging to navigate and can result in significant injuries and property damages when handled by ill-equipped drivers.
Speeding Beyond the Prescribed Limit
In California, the speed limit for 18-wheeler trucks is 55 miles per hour. The reason is that with their large size and weight, it is more difficult to stop them while at higher speeds. The problem is that drivers have deadlines to beat, and many of them do not adhere to speed limits.
Semi-trucks have cargo limits that drivers need to adhere to. Trucks that have too much weight are susceptible to tire bursting, jackknife, or burn-out of brakes.
Drivers and their employers need to make money, and this cannot happen if the trucks are lying in the garage for repairs. As a result, many critical vehicle repairs are not done on time, and things such as worn-out brakes and tires might cause significant hazards on the road.
Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Most of us overlook the importance of hiring a personal injury lawyer when we are involved in accidents. However, there are many advantages why you should hire a lawyer, including the usual reason for navigating the complex personal injury laws. It is even very crucial to have legal representation when you sustain catastrophic injuries since you will want the best legal help to get maximum compensation. Below are some of the reasons why hiring a personal injury lawyer is crucial.
Truck accidents can be more complicated compared to other types of accidents. Personal injury lawyers with experience can help you in determining the liable parties. In many truck accidents, there is more than one responsible individual, and the lawyer helps you in identifying them. With trucks, the driver, the owner of the car, and the manufacturer can be responsible parties. Therefore, it is crucial to have an experienced personal injury attorney to help you in figuring out these parties.
The complicated nature of truck accidents requires a thorough examination of the available evidence. You need a qualified and experienced lawyer that will conduct a comprehensive independent investigation to guarantee your rights as well as proper compensation. For example, the lawyer performs a background check on the driver and their qualifications. They also do independent drug tests, review all insurance information, and assess the truck and your vehicle for any evidence.
Engaging in Negotiations
Note that liability can involve several parties, and your attorney must deal with negotiations on different levels to ensure that you acquire the compensation you deserve. It is not an easy task even for a lawyer to get compensation from one party. Therefore, it is essential to hire a qualified and experienced attorney to get compensation from several parties.
Navigating Trucking Laws and Regulations
Trucking laws can be very complicated because they are different from other automobile laws. Many laws control the entire process, and therefore, you require a lawyer with the capability to deal with truck accidents and associated repercussions. Such regulations range from the period that the truck driver is allowed to work, to the specialized and intensive training they should get before they hit the road. For you to get the best possible compensation, you need to hire a qualified lawyer with extensive knowledge of such laws.
Here are some of the crucial laws that apply to truck accidents:
- Section 17150 states that truck owners, including individuals and companies, are responsible for damages caused by anyone operating the truck.
- Section 17300 states that the owner of the vehicle is responsible for any road damage and necessary clean-up.
- Section 20001 stipulates the penalties that drivers face for failing to stop immediately after the accident.
- Section 34620 provides the required permits to engage in commercial trucking.
Structuring a Legal Strategy
Note that truck accident cases can go off-course if they are not correctly handled. In some cases, hiring a young overzealous attorney who is anxious to file charges against big companies can jeopardize chances of getting proper compensation. The lawyer must design the most suitable strategy to increase the chances of success. In some cases, the best approach is to settle things with insurance companies without filing charges in court. Hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer helps you in figuring out the best course of action after considering different scenarios.
Having an experienced truck accident lawyer helps because it enhances productivity. Such lawyers do not mess things up when they collect evidence and know the appropriate course of action as soon as possible. Certain cases require the fast collection of evidence before it is terminated. A skilled and experienced attorney will know what to do to access such evidence. They also file charges as soon as possible so that the liable parties do not succeed in countering the evidence.
Help Getting the Compensation you Deserve
Hiring a skilled truck accident lawyer is essential because he/she helps you understand the types of compensation that you qualify for. Some of these might include property damage, pain, and suffering, as well as current and future medical costs. A reasonable attorney will know which to pursue because it is not appropriate to randomly seek all types of available compensation. When you hire a qualified lawyer, he or she estimates such compensations, and they know how to get them, whether via negotiations or a court case. Note that a truck accident is catastrophic, and they are challenging to recover from. You require appropriate compensation for pain and suffering, among other damages.
Common Catastrophic Injuries of Truck Accidents
The following are some of the common catastrophic injuries that would result in a truck accident.
Neck and Back injuries
A person’s neck and back include fragile bones and ligaments that can be easily injured from the impact. Whiplash is a type of injury that occurs when your head and neck snap forward while the torso remains intact. While you might not experience them immediately, you will experience pain and symptoms hours after the accident.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A truck accident can cause temporary, long-term, or even permanent harm to your spinal cord. Such injuries can affect the entire central nervous system causing permanent paralysis. Injury of the whole spinal cord can paralyze all the four limbs and some parts of the trunk
Victims of truck accidents can lose the capacity to move and feel sensations. Specific body organs might be unable to perform their functions such as the bowels, bladder, and sexual organs. Quadriplegia survivors might lose their respiratory and swallowing abilities and need help in performing such activities.
Considering truck accidents are catastrophic, they can result in severe traumatic brain injuries. These cause different health problems, which cost the victim and their families their time and finances. A common impact of a traumatic brain injury is an elongated period of unconsciousness. A coma caused by a brain injury can go for months and requires intensive care. Even when victims recover from a coma, severe brain injury can cause irreversible physical, cognitive, and behavioral impairments.
In many cases, truck accidents cause fires and explosions that can lead to third-degree and fourth-degree burns. These are catastrophic injuries because they tear down all skin layers and can even affect the nervous system, muscle, and bones. Note that survivors of burns experience painful and prolonged recovery. This might involve a lifetime of burn care as well as reconstructive surgeries. As the victim, you may be forced to be admitted to a burn center to avoid dangerous infections. Some cases might need you to go through skin grafts, as well as other painful surgeries.
Some truck accidents are so catastrophic that they can completely crush the victim’s limb bones that physicians cannot repair. Such cases require doctors to perform surgery to remove the limb. In other circumstances, victims suffer irreplaceable burns that surgeons cannot mend. Regardless of the reason, the loss of a limb can completely interrupt a person’s life and cause major physical and psychological harm. When you get an amputation, some of your abilities are limited, and you might be forced to stop working. While some people choose to use prosthetics, they can be costly, painful, and hard to use. Even with the help of prosthesis, a victim barely recovers all capabilities.
Many truck accident victims succumb to catastrophic injuries. In 2016, there were 322 truck-related deaths in California alone. A large percentage of people who succumbed to these accidents were motorists in small passenger vehicles. While some victims die at the scene, others might incur costly medical care before they surrender to their injuries.
Investigation and Evidence in Truck Accidents
Assessment of truck accidents is not easy, and thorough investigation is required to identify all the liable parties. Engaging a qualified lawyer is critical to determine whether the driver or the owner company violated safety regulations. Such investigations might require expert assessors at the scene to retrieve any possible evidence before it is distorted. Some of the collected evidence includes:
Accounts from witnesses present at the crime scene are critical to combine the evidence and make a case. Witnesses can testify whether the driver of the truck was in the wrong by confessing whether he was driving recklessly, failed to apply brakes, or whether something unusual occurred.
Most trucks have installed cameras that face the road, the driver, or both. An attorney can use the footage to help determine whether there was any negligence or misconduct on the driver’s side. The footage can also provide details about the occurrence of any unusual activity.
Electronic Control Modules
These are black boxes that record information about the speed of the truck and depict whether the driver applied the brakes. They also provide information regarding any incident just before the accident. These are used by experts to reconstruct the evidence.
Electronic Logging Devices
Drivers are required to keep track of their driving hours using electronic logging gadgets. Assessing these devices assists in depicting whether the driver surpassed the allowed service hours limits, hence risking fatigue.
Company records are also crucial sources of evidence. Companies are required to have updated records about the recruitment and supervision of truck drivers. For example, the company might have failed to conduct the required drug and alcohol assessments before hitting the road. Such a case can amount to negligent supervision.
Note that proving damages that occur from catastrophic injuries can be complicated. The reason is that they can include vast treatment costs as well as financial support for the future. Therefore, thorough analysis and testimony of both medical and economic professionals are needed. Getting appropriate settlements or ruling on a catastrophic injury case requires a customized legal strategy in every situation.
Considering that truck companies and their insurance incur high costs, they hire professional investigators and lawyers who go to the crime scene almost immediately. Understand that regardless of how friendly the insurance agent is and the amount of money they offer, they are not always looking out for your best interests. Therefore, you should engage a personal injury attorney who will help you avoid making statements that might jeopardize the case.
Possible Compensatory Damages
Experienced and skilled attorneys pursue compensation for the past, current, and future damages allowed by the law. Some of these include:
Loss of Companionship
A truck accident can cause impairment to someone’s health that he or she cannot enjoy his or her partner’s companionship. Such an accident can also cause the loss of someone’s partner and hence the loss of consortium.
Lost Wages and Earning Potential
A truck accident can cause severe injuries that can prevent a person from working either temporarily or permanently. If you are a victim of a truck accident and are unable to resume work, you should be compensated for the value of the lost wages. This should include loss of earning capacity as well as benefits such as retirement benefits and bonuses.
If the truck accident led to the destruction of any property such as your car, house, or other personal items, the party at-fault should compensate you.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are non-economic damages that result from the anguish suffered by the plaintiff. A personal injury attorney helps you pursue these damages. Truck accidents are catastrophic and cause physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress. A qualified and skilled attorney is vital to guide you these types of losses and evaluates them to give you an estimate of how much the case is worth.
These include costs that the victim and his or her family incur. Truck accidents are catastrophic, and these damages can total to even hundreds of thousands. A personal injury attorney helps you seek future medical expenses caused by the severe injuries that require long-term care.
In case the victim succumbs to the injuries of a truck accident, the defendant should compensate the family for all the damages associated with the funeral.
What To Do After A Truck Accident
We understand that catastrophic accidents lead victims with fewer options and overwhelming confusion regarding what they should do. However, if possible, there are steps that are crucial after your accident.
Contact the Police
It is appropriate to contact the police after the occurrence of a truck accident. Considering that many of such accidents are catastrophic, the police investigation will be crucial to function as the official accident report that details exactly what happened. Insurance companies rely on such statements to assess the compensation to provide to the victims.
Do not Move your Vehicle
If possible, leave your car where it is after the accident and wait for the police. However, this is only applicable if it does not block the traffic. If you are inclined to move the vehicle for safety reasons, then take photographs of the accident scene because they will act as evidence of what happened just in case the truck driver or another individual claims that you were responsible for the crash.
Access Information from the Truck Driver
It is crucial to access the following details of the driver who was responsible for the crash:
- Driver’s name
- Home address
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Name of trucking company driver works for, if applicable
- Trucking company address
- Company’s phone number
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney
After the accident, contact your injury lawyer immediately. The truck company’s insurance agents and lawyers might try to engage you to make some statements. However, refrain from talking to them in the absence of an attorney because they might be attempting to get an account that might reduce your possible compensation.
See a Doctor
A truck accident can be fatal, and even though you might feel okay, see a doctor immediately. The reason is that some internal injuries show their symptoms later on. A medical assessment will ensure whether you need further treatment or not. Serious injuries such as whiplash and traumatic brain injury might take several days before they reveal themselves.
Witnesses present at the scene of the accident can provide crucial accounts of what happened. They enable us to find out who was responsible for the accident because they narrate any anomaly that occurred just before the accident. They also identify any faults, such as failure to follow traffic regulations and failure to apply brakes, among others. Take their full name, address, and phone number.
Statute of Limitations
California Code of Civil Rights Procedure section 335.1 provides the statute of limitations for personal injuries. After a truck accident, you have a maximum of two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. These limits are crucial since you might miss out on the opportunity to file a claim after the provided time. We at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm understand that you are likely to be confused and overwhelmed with emotions after a catastrophic accident. That is why our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are always available to be in touch with you 24/4, handle all the legal issues regarding your situation, and give you time to recover from your injuries.
Find a Catastrophic Injury Attorney Near Me
Even though monetary awards may not be enough to cover catastrophic injuries and damages, we are here to try and help you get the maximum possible settlement from your lawsuit. Get in touch with us at 310-935-0089 today so that we can start evaluating your legal options.