In case you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, consulting an attorney may be the only way to for you to receive compensation for all the expenses that you incurred. In most cases, collecting damages from the negligent party is complex. However, our experienced truck accident personal injury attorneys can help you get compensated and ensure that you receive a fair amount.
The first step involves filing a case against the company that owns the truck, and not the driver who was driving it. This process will require the assistance of an experienced attorney in handling truck accident claims against big corporate defendants. At the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, our attorneys have handled several personal injury cases and made claims against insurance companies and big trucking corporations. They are familiar with the Los Angeles Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations that can affect your claim.
An Overview of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are among some of the riskiest things that can ever happen on the road. By definition, a truck can either be an 18-wheeler or a pickup truck. In most cases, these big rig trucks are heavier than regular small vehicles that transport families. Some of them weigh over 80,000 pounds which are 25 times more than a regular 3000 pound family car. Due to the basic physics laws and the big disparity in size, an accident with a big rig can be very overwhelming. Because of the large size, acceleration, visibility, braking, and turning of these trucks are limited.
Unique Dangers of Big Rig Truck Accidents
Many big and small businesses in Los Angeles use heavy and light pickup trucks or SUVs, and the impact of a heavy truck on a small vehicle or person walking on the sidewalk or street can have dreadful repercussions. Although statistics indicate that big rig drivers are more careful while driving compared to other drivers, a survey that was conducted by the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) indicated that accidents involving heavy trucks accounted for over 4500 fatalities and more than 100,000 injuries in the year 2006. However, most of these accidents aren’t always the fault of truck drivers. Sometimes they are caused by the negligence of other drivers or unforeseen road hazards. Additionally, truck accidents can become worse depending on the load the truck is carrying. For instance, a truck accident involving a big rig carrying flammable or other hazardous materials (such as industrial waste or gasoline) can result in serious secondary injuries from the dangerous cargo.
How we can Help you prove Your Case
Similar to other personal injury cases involving auto accidents, the primary legal concept of liability in a truck accident is negligence by the other party. Therefore, if you have been injured in a truck accident, you should prove that:
- The defendant didn’t exercise reasonable care or breached the duty of providing reasonable care during the accident.
- The defendant who can be the trucking company or the driver owed you (the plaintiff) the obligation to exercise a degree of care to avoid any injuries. (Keep in mind that all drivers using the road are obligated to provide reasonable care to passengers, fellow drivers, and pedestrians).
- The defendant failed to give reasonable care, and this led to injuries.
For you to be able to receive compensation for any injuries that you may have sustained during the truck accident, you should identify as many defendants as possible, for instance, contractors, trucking companies, insurance companies, and employers can be obligated to compensate you. In case our attorneys establish an employment association between shipping or trucking company and the truck driver, then the company can also be liable for the negligence of the driver. In such a case, our attorney will also prove that the company provided some level of control over the driver, and produce enough proof that the accident happened when the driver was working.
In a situation where the driver is an independent contractor for a bigger company, then this can pose a problem. This is because the primary issue will depend on the amount of supervision that is conducted by the company. The potential liability of employers, trucking companies, and contractors are key factors when it comes to assessing compensation through the insurance cover. Rarely, the shipper or manufacturer of the hazardous materials that were being delivered by the truck can be held liable for the injuries sustained or worsened by the cargo. This relates to the shipper’s or manufacturers duty to communicate to the trucking company or truck driver of the dangerous materials they are transporting.
In a case where you are involved in a truck accident, and the truck driver is to blame, then you are entitled to damages through monetary compensation for financial, emotional, and physical losses that resulted from the accident.
Some Special Cases that are Considered in Truck Accident Cases
Big rig trucks are very difficult to turn, and in most cases, they make use of two lanes to be able to make a right turn. Although this isn’t always a case of negligence, some courts hold big rigs in this manner. This is because turning while inside the lane or even occupying two lanes is enough to put the truck driver at fault.
Very big trucks like the eighteen-wheelers can easily swerve when exposed to certain conditions such as sudden turning or braking. In such a case, the truck driver may not be held liable for the accident in case the jackknifing resulted when the truck driver tried to avoid a stalled truck, an abrupt turn, to avoid a motorist, or due to the unforeseen slipperiness of the road.
Common Causes of Big Rig Truck Accidents
Delivery trucks and big rigs are a potential risk to smaller vehicles and the passengers. Truck drivers should be aware of the dangers that are presented by their unwieldy and large vehicles, and the other drivers and road users should also take extra caution in the presence of such vehicles. Some slight driving mistakes like not signaling before overtaking can result in a deadly accident, especially when an eighteen-wheeler at high speed is involved.
Accidents Caused by Other Drivers
Drivers of primary cars or passenger vehicles are sometimes to blame for truck accidents or accidents involving big rigs. One of the most common acts that are committed by these drivers that can result in a collision is ignoring the capabilities or performance of a truck, for instance, visibility, acceleration, and braking. Some of the common acts that car drivers commit in the presence of big rigs and that can result in fatal accidents include:
- Changing lanes without signaling and in front of a big rig or commercial truck
- Driving in no-zone driving lanes, for instance, beside or behind a commercial truck that has limited or even zero visibility
- Driving a passenger car between large commercial trucks
- Passing when there isn’t enough headway
- Miscalculating the truck drivers’ speed and making an abrupt left turn in the vicinity of the big rig truck.
- Speeding up or failing to slow down when a truck is changing lanes
- Failing to get the problematic vehicle off the highway completely or leaving the car in a travel lane
Drivers should get a copy of the FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) safety road tips which are available both for truck drivers and other road users.
Accidents Caused by Truck Drivers
Commercial or big rig truck drivers are in most cases, patient and skilled drivers. However, other than the dangerous weight and size of the trucks being used for shipping and transportation, some characteristics of this business can lead to traffic accidents including:
- Insufficient training in driving and handling these big vehicles, defensive driving, and safety concerns
- Unrealistic driving schedules and expectations by some truck companies that encourage drivers to over speed despite the safety risks that are involved.
What you Should Expect in a Truck Accident Settlement
Personal injury cases are most of the time filed in a civil court when seeking for legal judgment for losses incurred. However, both parties can decide to resolve their dispute outside the court at any time through an informal settlement. Settling outside the court helps in saving time and money.
A legal settlement can be reached after both parties agree outside the court. Settlements can be reached using ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) methods, for instance, mediation, arbitration, or negotiation. Mediation and Negotiation are some of the non-binding methods that are used to reach an agreement. Arbitration, on the other hand, is a binding process that is used to replace trial in a court of law. However, in most cases, claims for damages due to truck accidents are resolved through the ADR method. ADR can also take place even when the disagreement is being litigated in court.
Advantages of Settling
Settling through ADR is better because it is a cheaper and faster process than resolving the dispute through a court of law. The ADR is also less adversarial compared to litigation because the parties involved can confidently present their situations without admitting to fault. In situations where parties are less defensive, they can rationally and calmly discuss the contentious issues and reach an amicable agreement. Parties using the ADR method in truck accident cases can speak frankly about the occurrences of the accident and discuss on who might be liable for the accident. Both parties also receive an opinion by a neutral third party
Types of Truck Accidents Settlements
There are two main types of truck accident settlements, and they include structured and lump-sum. A structured settlement is issued in regular payments over an agreed period while a lump-sum settlement is given all at once. You should keep in mind that settlements are taxed depending on their classification. Therefore, the type of settlement you choose will affect the amount you’ll receive.
Do You Need an Attorney After a Truck Accident
It doesn’t matter whether you were the truck driver, a bicyclist, the driver of another vehicle, or a pedestrian, if you sustain injuries after a truck accident then you’re entitled to receive compensation. The Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can help you bring a legal claim against the parties involved regardless of whether you were partially at fault. It is in your best interests to contact one of our experienced attorneys because accident liability is often very complicated and we can help you get the best possible results.
Suing the Other Parties When You Are Partially at Fault
You can still sue the other party to receive compensation for the injuries you sustained during the truck accident even if you are partially at fault. All our attorneys are well versed in the negligence theories applicable in Los Angeles CA.
How to Determine who the Responsible Parties Are
In most cases, those who are involved in truck accidents rarely know who the liable parties are. However, it’s important that you know all the parties involved and that can be held liable for your injuries. Some of the obvious parties that may be responsible include the drivers of the other vehicles that were involved in the accident. Other parties may include:
- Insurance firms
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Trucking companies
- Government entities
When you or a loved one is involved in a big rig accident, you may have some legal options. Call our law firm office at 424-231-2013 and schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified personal injury truck accident attorneys. You will receive the assistance you need to get compensated for your property and financial losses. Your truck accident attorney will also assist you in locating the liable defendants and help you get the maximum amount for your injuries. Our attorneys will give your case the attention it deserves and will try to solve the case outside the court so that you can receive compensation as soon as possible; however, if we have to, we will proceed with trial in a court of law.