Trucks are heavy vehicles, and a collision involving these vehicles result in catastrophic accidents. A truck accident may be caused by factors within the car or other issues such as driver recklessness, poor roads, and other vehicles in the way. If you are injured in a truck accident in California, you are entitled to compensation for injuries. However, you will be required to identify the liable parties and file a personal injury claim against them. Getting benefits in a truck accident can be quite complicated due to the numerous factors that play a part in these collisions. Therefore, it is vital to navigate the compensation lawsuit with guidance from a personal injury attorney. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we work hard to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
Overview of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are not very common in California. However, when they do happen, they result in catastrophic injuries or even death. This is a result of their heavyweight and the huge loads they ferry. If you suffer significant injuries in a truck accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for the damages. Also, in the unfortunate situation where your loved one dies as a result of the accident injuries, you can file a wrongful death compensation claim against the parties liable for the accident
Even when you are partly responsible for the accident, you can still seek compensation. This is because California law operates on a comparative fault basis. There are a lot of legal processes involved in a compensation lawsuit since you need to know the cause of the accident and identify liable parties. Therefore, it would be wise to enlist the help of a competent attorney as soon as you get involved in a truck collision.
There are several factors both within the bus and outside that could contribute to a truck accident, including:
- Drunk driving. When a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, causing a traffic accident is a likelihood. This is because their conduct and judgment are impaired.
- Unfavorable weather conditions. When it is raining, or there is a storm, the visibility on the road could be inadequate. Poor vision can cause the truck driver or other drivers to lose control of the vehicle and hit obstacles on the way.
- Poorly maintained roads. When roads are neglected and not maintained properly, they could develop dents and potholes. Trucks are cumbersome vehicles that may quickly lose control after hitting a pothole. Also, where the lights on the roads are broken, it will not be easy for the driver to operate carefully.
- Distracted driving. A driver is distracted when their attention is not focused on the road. Distraction could either be physical or mental. Physical disturbance occurs when a driver bends to pick something and thus takes their eyes off the road. When a driver texts or operates a cellphone, their attention gets off the road. A distracted driver cannot make essential decisions on the way and can get into a crash.
- Defective vehicle parts. When a part of the vehicle malfunctions, it can result in a severe truck accident. Common part malfunctions that contribute to these accidents are defective brakes. Brakes are crucial parts of the vehicle, and they help stop the car during emergencies.
When this part has a defect, the vehicle will not be able to stop on time and could cause multiple vehicle accidents. Also, since the trucks travel long distances, the tires need to be replaced regularly. The tires keep the vehicle stable by creating friction with the road. When these parts are worn out, the vehicle may lose control. Part malfunctions may be as a result of poor quality or lack of maintenance and replacement.
Proving Liability in a Truck Accident
Accountability is a crucial aspect of a truck accident compensation claim. By knowing who the liable parties are and how they contributed to the accident, you will understand where to direct your injury claim. In California, liability for a crash is based on negligence which is proven by the following elements:
The Duty of Care
A duty of care is an obligation that each road user has to avoid causing injuries to other people or putting them in harm’s way. Truck drivers must ensure your safety by observing all traffic rules and checking the condition of the vehicle before driving. Other drivers are also required to keep distance with these vehicles and avoid reckless overtaking. In your compensation lawsuit, you are required to prove that the liable parties owed you a duty of care.
Determining that someone owed you a duty of care can be quite complicated. This is because California law does not spell out the expected actions. Therefore, the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney will be required to prove this element successfully.
Breach of Duty
It is not enough to show that an individual owed you a duty of care. Before you receive compensation for your injuries, you need to show that the defendant breached their duty towards you. A breach of duty occurs when a person acts in a way that puts you in danger of injuries. By driving recklessly, over speeding or distracted driving, it could be clear that another driver breached their duty of care. In most cases, breach of duty is not difficult to prove since the defendant’s actions will be discovered from a police report, witnesses, or photographs taken at the accident scene. Therefore, it is wise to collect as much reliable evidence from the scene as possible.
In a personal injury claim, it should be clear that by breaching the duty of care, the defendant’s actions caused your injuries. Sometimes the defendant may claim that even though they were negligent, they did not cause the accident and your injuries. However, it is crucial to understand that their actions do not have to be the only factor contributing to the accident. As long as their duty breach played a significant part in the accident, they will be held responsible for your injuries.
For compensation claims, damages are any physical and emotional injuries suffered as a result of the truck accident. Also, the financial and property losses you incur from the incident can be classified as damages. When you are negotiating a settlement in a compensation lawsuit, you need to prove the losses you suffered from the truck collision. From this evidence, it can be determined the amount of compensation you deserve from the claim.
Proving damages requires a lot of evidence that gets collected at the accident scene and after you get treatment for your injuries. Therefore, competent legal guidance will go a long way for you.
Liable Parties in a Truck Collision
If you get involved in a truck accident, you will want to get compensation for your injuries. However, understanding the responsible parties is a crucial part of your lawsuit. You can file the claim against one or multiple parties, depending on the nature of the accident. The following are prevailing liable parties in trucking accidents:
The Truck Driver
Although a truck driver is not always liable for truck accidents, they are frequent defendants in truck collision compensation lawsuits. There are several ways in which the driver can contribute to an accident, including:
- Over speeding. Trucks are heavy vehicles that do not brake quickly. When driven over the legal speed limit, it is difficult to stop in case of an emergency. If the driver was over speeding, they could be held liable for your injuries.
- Failure to yield the right way. Drivers have a responsibility to follow all traffic rules while on the road. Also, they are required to stop and allow pedestrians to cross at the specified spots. Failure to follow these rules is likely to cause an accident and attract a personal injury lawsuit.
- Distracted driving. A driver is considered to be distracted if their mental and physical concentration is not focused on driving. Texting while driving or eating while on the wheel are some ways that cause distracted driving. This can cause the driver to hit objects or other vehicles on the road.
- Other Drivers. Sometimes truck accidents do not result from the truck. While on the road, other drivers also have a responsibility to follow the rules and avoid colliding with the trucks. Drivers of smaller vehicles should keep proper distance with the trucks since they take time to brake. A driver who suddenly stops in the middle of the road could be hit by a truck and result in a catastrophic truck accident. In this case, the driver will be a liable party to your injuries.
The officials at the trucking company have the responsibility to ensure that their vehicles are in proper condition before allowing them to operate. Also, they should ensure that the cars are not overloaded. When hiring drivers, trucking companies should employ individuals who have the experience to operate these vehicles. The trucking company can be held liable for your truck accident injuries if they resulted from inexperienced driving or overloading.
Owners and mechanics at a truck repair shop can be faced with an accident compensation claim if a malfunction of a part causes the accident. In most cases, the truck owners will produce documents and evidence to indicate that the defective part had been taken for repair, but the repair shop did not do a good job. In this case, the repair shop owners and personnel will be part of the defendants in your claim.
Truck Part Manufacturers
Part malfunctions are one of the common causes of truck accidents in California. Trucks ferry heavy loads; for this reason, a bad quality part will not sustain it for long. Some of the components that can cause an accident are the brakes and tires. If you can prove that one of these defective parts contributed to the truck accidents, manufacturers could be held liable for your injuries. Determining liability for a truck accident can be complicated. This is because of the numerous parties and entities that could be involved. Therefore, it is wise to have legal guidance.
Poor roads are one of the causes of accidents. When the roads are not maintained, the truck could get into a pothole and get into a crash with other vehicles. Also, fallen poles or debris on the streets can be a cause of the accident. In such a situation, the government entity or municipality responsible for maintaining the roads can be held accountable for your injuries. However, it is crucial to understand that filing a lawsuit against the government can be quite complicated.
Even though vehicles are required to let pedestrians pass, at some point, the pedestrian has to watch out for their safety. A truck accident can occur when the driver is trying to avoid hitting pedestrians or pets that are lurking on the road. This may cause a heavy truck to roll over, creating a multiple-vehicle accident and serious injuries. Since there can be several defendants in a truck accident, a pedestrian who was in the wrong place can be a liable party.
Trucking Accident Injuries
When a trucking accident occurs, pedestrians or occupants of smaller vehicles are likely to suffer more significant injuries. The severity of the casualties in a truck accident depends on the following factors:
- The speed at which the vehicles involved in the crash. Vehicles traveling at higher speeds could cause more catastrophic injuries due to the massive impact that they produce.
- Weight and capacity of cargo ferried by the truck
- Type of accident caused by the truck. When a truck collides with smaller vehicles, the vehicle could roll over. Rollover accidents are the most severe forms of crashes.
- Type of vehicle and safety features present.
Some of the injuries you are likely to suffer from a truck accident include:
Head and Brain Injuries
Head injuries are a common occurrence in a head collision accident with trucks. Most injuries to this part of the body are caused by concussions and blunt impact to the head. Injuries to the head can range from bruises on the skull or broken bones to severe brain damage. The brain is a vital organ that controls numerous functions. When you suffer a severe injury to your head, your life could take a turn for the worse.
Brain injury can be a result of trauma to the head or a sharp object penetrating your skull. It is not easy to detect brain damage since it occurs gradually. Therefore, it would be wise to look out for the following signs of a possible injury to your brain:
- Severe headaches
- Poor vision
When you get involved in a truck accident, it is wise to seek immediate medical attention. This will help in early detection and treatment of brain injury.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spine is a part of your body that controls motion and other vital functions. Injury to your spine is catastrophic and is likely to cause death. Spinal cord injury can be partial or complete depending on the type of accident and severity of the impact. Truck accidents are often severe, and damage to the spine is typical.
When the damage is severe, you are likely to lose motion function below the point of injury. Also, sexual function and bladder functions get significantly impacted by a spine injury. Spinal cord injury will not only affect your daily life but can take a toll on your finances. You may spend a long time nursing the injuries and fail to heal completely. Fortunately, you can get compensation for this type of damage by filing a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the truck accident.
Truck accidents could cause broken bones. The high impact from these large vehicles can even cause breakage of the femur, which is one of the most robust bones in your body. Broken bones take a long time to heal and can cause you to spend a long time in hospital. Also, some extent of damage to the bones of the limbs can cause a medical amputation. This will make it difficult for you to return to your healthy life.
Trucks ferry all kinds of goods. When a vehicle ferrying explosive and flammable substances gets into a collision, a fire is a likely outcome. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and burns could be fatal. Depending on the severity of the burning surface, you will suffer significant pain, which could be permanent. Other than the pain caused, burns could result in disfigurement and affect your self-esteem.
A physical wound is not required for you to suffer from internal injuries. Internal injuries could result from blunt damage, which causes the rupture of internal organs. Also, if a sharp object penetrates through your skin, it can lead to an injury to your internal organs, internal bleeding is catastrophic. For a better chance at detecting and treating these injuries, ensure you get immediate medical attention.
Compensation Benefits in a Truck Accident Claim
Getting involved in a truck accident is devastating because of the severe injuries that result from accidents. With the help of a competent personal injury attorney, the following benefits for your injuries:
When you get involved in a truck accident, you may spend a considerable fortune to treat the catastrophic injuries that result from this kind of accident. The liable parties do not accept fault right away, and you may need to cover your medical bills. This can be done using your medical insurance coverage or on a lien basis. If you are successful in your claim, you will receive compensation for the medical bills you incurred. However, evidence of the injuries treatment and bills should be produced before you receive payment.
Most injuries that result from a truck accident do not allow you to return to work right away. Lost wages are the amount you lose for failure to work as you nurse your injuries. By producing a lost wages letter from your employer, you can prove the amount you lost. If you do not have permanent employment or rely on self-employment, your past pay stubs and tax returns could show that you lost a significant amount.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity is the loss of your ability to make money in the future as a result of your injuries. A permanent injury is not required for you to receive compensation for lost future earnings. As long as your wounds haven’t resolved at the time of your hearing, you are entitled to compensation. Factors that are considered when determining the amount you will receive for future lost earnings include:
- The severity of your injuries
- Your age and number of years you have left before retirement
- The nature of your working contract
- The amount you earn hourly
If your loved one succumbs to death as a result of truck accident injuries, you can file a wrongful death claim against the liable parties. This will allow you to receive compensation for wrongful death. Wrongful death benefits will help cover the burial and funeral expenses of your loved one.
Involvement in a truck accident can be quite devastating. This is because of the severe injuries that arise from these crashes. Most truck accidents are a result of negligence that is exhibited by different parties. Fortunately, should you suffer significant injuries from a collision involving a truck, you have an opportunity to get compensated. By filing a personal injury claim, you can get benefits for medical bills incurred from the injuries, lost wages as well as lost future earning capacity. When submitting a compensation lawsuit, it would be wise to enlist top-notch legal representation from the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. If you are in San Diego, CA, you will need us by your side. Call us today at 619-478-4059 to discuss more details of your claim.