Being involved in a truck accident is different from being in one with a passenger car. The injuries sustained are severe. Moreover, the case is more complicated. Who is accountable for the accident? How can you file a personal injury claim against the defendant? The most effective method to ensure your rights are protected is to seek the assistance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer. The experienced attorneys at the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can not only advocate for your rights but also fight to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Truck Accidents Statistics

Because of the massive weight and size, accidents involving trucks are dangerous and terrifying. The trucking industry fuels the economy, and as consumer demand continues to grow, so does the demand for truck motorists and the number of trucks on roads. Truck drivers work under pressure and time constraints that leave them stressed, exhausted, and more vulnerable to catastrophic truck accidents. If you have sustained catastrophic injuries, you require legal representation.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2018 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics:

  • The number of vehicle miles traveled by huge buses and trucks in the U.S. has been rising since 2013. Trucks accounted for 9.1% of large miles traveled
  • In 2016, there were thirty-four thousand four hundred and thirty-nine traffic accidents in the United States, and approximately twelve percent of the accidents involved trucks.

Moreover, the FMCSA reported that there were about four hundred and fifteen thousand accidents involving truck accidents in 2015. While one percent of the accidents were fatal, twenty percent caused severe injuries. 

The number of fatal accidents involving commercial trucks increased by 42% in California in the last decade.

What are the Common Types of Truck Collisions?

If you've suffered catastrophic injuries in a truck collision, knowing the various types of crashes and how they occurred is essential throughout the legal process and in determining the liability. Discussed below are the most common categories of truck collisions in Los Angeles:

  • Rear-end accidents- When a truck fails to stop timely, a rear-end collision might take place. As a result, the truck strikes the car's rear with significant force.
  • Jackknife crash- This accident happens when a truck motorist slams their brakes and the axle locks, causing the trailer to skid and stop at a ninety-degree angle. When this occurs, the motorist will lose control of the vehicle.
  • Wide turns- When turning, a truck will make a wider turn compared to a standard passenger car. Nevertheless, that doesn't give the motorist the right to turn as wide as they please and cross other traffic lanes. The truck still has to remain in its lane while turning and exercise due care for other road users. Failure to act will cause an accident.
  • T-bone accident- Also referred to as a side-impact accident, a T-bone accident happens when a truck runs a red light and hits another vehicle's side.
  • Tire blowout- When a tire blows out, the truck driver might lose control of the truck. Usually, tire blowouts happen due to poor tire maintenance and when treads are worn out.
  • Lost load wrecks- When unbalanced or unsecured cargo falls from a truck, it can result in catastrophic injuries to drivers trying to avoid the cargo or occupants of the vehicle it hits.
  • Underride truck collision- An underride accident happens when a truck stops suddenly, and the motor vehicle that is following the truck too close rear-ends the trailer and gets stuck under the truck. It takes place because the trailer's height permits the car to slide underneath. The car's roof might be sheared off.

How Driver Fatigue Causes Catastrophic Truck Accident Injuries

Truck motorist fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck collisions. According to FMCSA's Large Truck Crash Causation Study, approximately thirteen percent of commercial truck motorists are fatigued during the accident. The study also discovered that driver fatigue could stem from long hours of work, mental or physical exertion that affects performance, inadequate sleep, and strenuous activities.

All these factors can happen too easily in drivers in combination or singly. Operating a truck while sleepy is a significant concern among motorists. In 2013 alone, drowsy driving caused seventy-two thousand accidents, forty-four thousand injuries, and eight hundred deaths. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes these figures are underestimated, and drowsy driving causes more than six thousand fatalities annually. 

Driver fatigue negatively affects several functions that a truck driver needs to perform effectively, like reaction time, judgment, coordination, and vision. The driver can forget to check their blind spot before changing lanes. Or the driver might veer into an oncoming car when they fall asleep, causing a head-on accident.

Sleep deprivation and driver fatigue symptoms are similar to symptoms observed in drunk motorists. 

Who is Accountable for Your Truck Accident Catastrophic Injuries?

Fault in a traffic accident is founded on negligence. A careless truck motorist is accountable to other motorists, pedestrians, and passengers for all injuries sustained due to the collision. Negligence could be established through a violation of traffic laws or driving without due care. Please note, in a truck crash, the trucking firm's negligence can also cause the crash.

To recover compensation for your injuries in California, you have to prove the liable party was negligent. The facts of negligence include:

  • The motorist owed you a duty of care
  • The motorist broke the duty of care
  • The breach caused your injuries

The California duty of care demands the truck motorist to:

  • Use reasonable care when driving the truck.
  • Look for other cars, obstacles, and pedestrians.
  • Regulate the movement and speed of the motor vehicle.

Truck Motorist Fault

Truck drivers driving without using reasonable care or breaking traffic laws cause most traffic collisions. Perfect examples of driver negligence include:

  • Driving while drunk
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Improper lane changing
  • Failing to yield the right of way

Additionally, truck drivers are under pressure to meet delivery deadlines. Both federal and California laws limit the number of hours motorists can be driving. However, some motorists report fake service hours so that they can be on the road for long.

Trucking Firm

A trucking company can be negligent when it recklessly or intentionally breaks safety requirements or transportation regulations to maximize profit. The transportation regulations restrict route designations, weight, and size for trucks. However, trucking firms may deliberately surpass the limits and fake documents to conceal their violations.

When this happens, the firm should be accountable for your injuries. Examples of truck firm negligence include the following:

  • Overloading
  • Permitting trucks to carry unbalanced cargo
  • Poor truck maintenance
  • Negligent while training and hiring employees
  • Encouraging drivers to violate sleep and hour restrictions

Other liable parties include:

  • County or city government for hazardous road conditions
  • Truck manufacturer for defective truck parts

Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Even if You are Partially Accountable for the Accident?

You can recover compensation even if you share some degree of liability. Per comparative fault rule, your total compensation amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Assume the judge finds you 20% accountable for the truck accident, and your total damages are one hundred thousand dollars. Under comparative negligence law, you can recover eighty thousand dollars.

However, you might be partially negligent as an injured motorist even if you didn't cause the truck accident. It could be a defense to the defendant if you weren't wearing your seat belt.

Even if you think you are accountable for the accident, don't admit fault. You might not recover the compensation you deserve. You might also admit fault only to discover the defendant was driving on a suspended driver's license or driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Truck Accident Injuries

Injuries sustained in a truck accident depend on factors like vehicle category, vehicle's safety features, the region of the collision, speed of the cars involved, and the truck's weight.

Often the most catastrophic accident involves car damage where the occupants are trapped inside. It might require emergency crew assistance to rescue the injured passengers. The longer the injured occupants take to get medical care, the more severe their injuries can get. The victims are at an increased risk of sustaining severe burns or bleeding to death.

Common injuries include:

Internal Injuries

Human bodies cannot withstand a crash with a substance that weighs thousands of pounds and moves at more than 50 mph. Because of the impact, internal organs like lungs, liver, bowels, spleen, kidneys, and heart are likely to be injured.

Moreover, broken ribs can result in damaged internal organs.

Internal organ damages come with life-enduring medical issues that are expensive and cause pain to the victim.

Psychological Injuries

Sustaining severe truck accident injuries and loss of mobility can result in emotional trauma. For instance, once a routine like driving might become tarrying, affecting your ability to work, take care of yourself and loved ones, or perform simple tasks like grooming. The victim might also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.

Bearing that in mind, it takes time and treatment to recover from your psychological injuries.

Whiplash

Whiplash injury is an injury to your neck. It occurs when your head is thrust forward suddenly in the truck accident, and then suddenly snaps to a stop. Its symptoms can be mild or severe, including a limited range of neck motion, upper limb pain, numbness in your arms, upper body, or neck movements.

Fractured Bones

Any bone could be broken in a traffic accident. Typically, this happens when you are thrown during the impact or when you try to brace yourself against the vehicle's part before the accident.

Broken bones can result in impairment for several months hinging on the location. Usually, fractures happen to bones in the wrist, arms, legs, face, ribs, pelvis, and hands.

Burns

A commercial truck has a bigger fuel tank compared to a passenger car. In the event of an accident, the tank can explode or rupture, causing fire fueled by the massive amount of gasoline.

Severe burns result in scarring and mutilation, blistering, and pain.

Back Injury

Back injuries caused by a truck accident can lead to long-term impairment. They include:

  • Spinal cord injuries- Injury to the nerves, muscles, or bones in your spinal cord can cause permanent or temporary paralysis of a body part(s). Moreover, spinal cord injuries are not readily apparent after the truck accident and will require a diagnosis with an MRI. The injuries require specialized rehabilitation, time, and sometimes undergoing surgery to recover.
  • Strains- If the tendons and muscles which support your spine are twisted, torn, or pulled as a result of the accident's impact, a strain might occur. It can cause back pain and challenges while standing, sitting, or walking.
  • Herniated disc- The soft cushion material between vertebrae in your spine could be pushed out during the collision, making it to herniate or bulge. Consequently, this irritates your nerves in the affected site causing pain.

Head Injuries

When a truck hits your vehicle, you can be thrown in or out of the car. This puts you at risk of hitting numerous things in the motor vehicle like the windshield or dashboard. In most cases, the head takes the brunt of the accident's impact.

Common head injuries sustained in truck crashes include:

  • Traumatic brain injury- A TBI happens when your head receives a sudden, violent jolt or blow. It requires immediate medical attention and can result in permanent life-altering conditions. Its symptoms are blurred vision, loss of memory, headache, sound and light sensitivity, slurred speech, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Concussions- It takes place when your head suffers a blunt blow. Its symptoms include headache, blurred vision, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and confusion.

How Much Compensation Will You Recover for Your Truck Accident Injuries?

If you have sustained injuries following a truck accident, it's natural to wonder about the worth of your claim. This is particularly true if you have incurred significant medical expenses and lost wages.

Well, it is hard to give a specific average settlement amount. Every case is unique and varies with how the accident took place and the injuries sustained.

Generally speaking, a plaintiff can recover compensatory damages. Compensatory damages compensate the victim for losses incurred due to the accident. They can be both economic and non-economic.

Economic damages are damages that can be quantified with ease. They compensate for the financial expenses the plaintiff has already spent or will spend in the future. They include:

  • Medical bills- This includes therapy bills, hospital stay costs, ambulance costs, medical supplies costs, and prescription costs.
  • Lost income- These damages are the amount you would have made if the truck accident did not occur.
  • Lost earning capacity- Loss of earning capacity is the loss of your ability to earn money in the future. It is the amount you would have been sure to make if the injury did not take place.
  • Property loss

On the contrary, non-economic damages are hard to attach a dollar value to. They can be:

  • Loss of consortium- These damages are awarded to the plaintiff's spouse. They compensate for the loss of companionship, comfort, love, assistance, protection, ability to enjoy a sexual relationship, or the ability to have children.
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of life enjoyment

You can also recover exemplary damages or punitive damages if the defendant acted maliciously or caused your injury through intentional injury or recklessness. These damages are awarded to punish the defendant for their conduct as well as deter other motorists from engaging in reprehensible conduct.

What Can You Do If Your Spouse or Child Succumbed to Truck Accident Injuries?

You can file a claim per wrongful death law if your spouse or child dies following a truck accident. The wrongful death lawsuit allows you to recover the losses incurred.

Please note, in Los Angeles, only the following individuals can bring a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Children
  • Spouse
  • Grandchildren provided the deceased's children are dead
  • Domestic partner
  • Any person entitled to the deceased's property under intestate succession law

Statute of Limitations

After sustaining your catastrophic injury, you have two (2) years from the truck accident date to bring your personal injury claim. However, it is imperative to consult your attorney concerning your unique case circumstances.

Failure to bring your claim within the two-year timeframe can cause the loss of the entitlement to seek compensation.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Government Entity

While all truck accident cases call for urgency, claims against the government demand an immediate rush. Personal injury claims against a California government agency allow six (6) months to bring your claim.

There are numerous situations where you might find yourself filing a claim against a government agency. It can be hazardous road conditions or improper road signals that caused the accident or maybe a government-managed truck caused your accident. In either scenario, it's essential to engage a seasoned lawyer who will act fast.

Find a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Attorney Near Me

If you have suffered a catastrophic injury in a truck accident, the first step should be determining who is accountable. You have a right to seek compensation for the lost income, medical expenses, among other losses incurred. Contact the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at 424-231-2013 for the help that you require to recover financially and physically. We cannot guarantee a favorable case outcome, but we can do our best to seek the compensation you deserve.