Trucks are heavy vehicles and can cause a substantial impact when involved in an accident. Truck accidents are often severe, and they result in severe bodily injury or death. If you are injured in a truck accident, you can claim compensation by filing a personal injury claim. However, you have to prove liability in the accident by showing negligence from the person who caused the accident. There are many players involved in truck accidents ranging from the driver, trucking companies, as well as poor road conditions. Therefore, proving liability can be quite tricky. If you are filing a personal injury claim for truck accident injuries, you will require guidance from a competent attorney. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we serve clients from San Diego, CA, to ensure you get the maximum compensation for your case.
Overview of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents account for a substantial proportion of traffic accidents that take place daily in California. Due to the heavyweight and impact of these vehicles, truck accidents are more dangerous compared to other accidents. When a truck is ferrying hazardous substances, involvement in an accident predisposes other road users to more harm. There are federal rules that govern trucking industries, and all parties involved in this industry are expected to adhere to these rules. The main contributing factor to the truck accident is negligence from the stakeholders.
Truck accidents can involve a truck or semi-truck hitting a pedestrian, collision with other vehicles, or a single truck accident that gets to other cars. Truck accident injuries can be quite catastrophic. If you survive the accident, you are likely to suffer injuries that take a very long time to resolve. Some of the common damages resulting from truck accidents include:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
The spine is a very vital part of your body since it runs from the brain and through your limbs. A spinal cord injury can be devastating for you and your family. A spinal injury can occur when you suffer trauma to your back. The severity of the injuries will depend on the nature of the accident and which part, experienced the impact. The injury could either be complete, where you lose total sensation and motor functions. A spinal injury is likely to affect the movement of the body below the point of injury. When an injury occurs on the upper part of the spine, you could feel numbness and a tingling sensation on your upper body.
Spinal injury to the lower back area can cause a malfunction of the bladder and reproductive system. When the accident is severe, spinal injuries can result in death. If you suffer spinal cord injury as a result of negligence from another person, you may be entitled to compensation. However, it is crucial to seek legal representation when going through the legal process of filing a claim.
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Truck accidents will cause a substantial impact, especially if you are in a smaller vehicle. While you will be moved up and down the car, you are likely to suffer injuries to your head. Traumatic brain injuries can result from both closed impact and penetrating head injuries. A strong impact could cause fractures to the skull and cause tenderness, bruising, and bleeding. The severity of brain injuries will depend on the location of impact and object that hit you.
Some of the brain injury symptoms you need to watch out for after an accident include:
- Stiffness of the neck
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Severe headaches
Some of the injuries to the head and brain could go unnoticed immediately after an accident. This is because the symptoms will start to manifest later. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-changing since the brain controls most functions in the body. Also, such injuries are likely to cause loss of cognitive and motor functions. Severe damage may take quite some time to heal, and you will need to spend a lot of time in the hospital. Severe brain injuries from a truck accident can result in a complicated personal injury claim. However, the right attorney can help you fight to get the compensation you deserve from the liable party.
- Broken Bones
Truck crashes are powerful and can easily result in broken bones. Broken bones can be very painful and may require surgery to fix. There are different bones all over the body and the bones which break depend on where the impact occurred. The most common types of broken bones are:
- Facial and skull fractures - Damage to facial bones will not only cause physical pain. It can result in disfigurement and emotional trauma
- Limb fractures - Broken arms and legs are common in truck accidents. Severe injuries can affect your ability to move. Some penetrative injuries can damage your limbs and prompt an amputation
- Rib Fractures - An impact on your chest can result in broken ribs. When you suffer broken ribs, you may experience pain when you laugh, cough, or breathe. Also, broke ribs can cause internal injuries
- Internal Injuries
Forceful blunt trauma from truck crashes can cause bleeding of the internal organs like the kidney, bladder, and spleen. Internal injuries are not easily noticed and are challenging to treat. Therefore, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention so the internal injuries can be identified and treated.
To get compensation for injuries sustained in a truck accident, you have to identify the liable parties ad prove their negligence in the hearing.
Liable Parties in a Truck Accident
There are many players in a truck accident situation. When filing a personal injury claim or wrongful death for the truck accident, you need to understand where liability lies in the accident. Sometimes there is more than one liable party for the accident. Each party will be responsible for your injuries depending on their percentage of fault in the accident. Liable parties in a truck accident include:
California federal regulations have limits to the weight, truck size as well as the designation of routes for trucks and semi-trucks. Sometimes a trucking company can intentionally or negligently contribute to a truck accident. This is by failure to follow the regulations of safety. Sometimes these companies violate the rules to increase their profit margins or avoid costs that come with putting the right measures in place.
When the trucking company’s failure to follow the rules contributes to the accident, the company can be held liable for the accident and your injuries. When you file a lawsuit against the trucking company, you need to prove negligence from the defendant. The following are some forms of neglect from the trucking company that can cause the accident:
- Allowing overweight vehicles to operate - California’s overweight vehicle law aims at maintaining highways in good condition and preventing accidents. An overweight truck is that which exceeds the legal weight it is supposed to carry. If you can prove that an overloaded truck contributed to the accident, you can recover compensation from the trucking company
- Loading unbalanced cargo on the trucks - Unstable loading on the vehicles will cause an imbalance in the way the truck moves and can create a variety of accidents. If the accident resulted from imbalanced cargo, the trucking company would be held liable for your injuries
- Poorly maintained vehicles - Trucking companies are responsible for keeping their cars in the right conditions. Poorly maintained vehicles are one of the main contributing factors to trucking accidents. With the help of an attorney, you can show that the vehicle was not in the right state to operate
- They hire untrained drivers - As much as an unskilled driver will take fault for a truck accident, a trucking company may also be held liable for hiring the driver
- Failing to encourage the right sleep hours for drivers - A fatigued driver will not be able to focus on the road. If the company does not allow drivers the right sleep hours, they can also be held liable for the accident
Most truck accidents result from negligence from the drivers. Negligence, in this case, occurs due to a violation of traffic rules. Some of the acts of negligence include:
- Over speeding - There are specific speed limits one should adhere to at different parts of the road. Trucks are heavy vehicles, and exceeding speed limits will increase the risk of serious accidents
- Distracted driving - Distracted driving is a failure to focus attention on the road while driving. A driver can be distracted if they are texting behind the wheel, eating while driving, or any other activity that takes away focus from the road
- Drunk driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs will make the driver’s judgment weak. If you can prove that the truck driver was under the control of alcohol at the time of the accident, they will be held liable for your injuries
- Improper change of lanes - Swaying from one lane to another carelessly is likely to contribute to a truck accident. If this results in an accident, the driver will be liable for your injuries
Also, truck drivers may be under pressure to get to their destinations. This can also contribute to negligent driving. California regulations on trucking operations state a specific amount of time that drivers need to spend on the road in twenty-four hours. Sometimes the driver violates the rest period for their reasons, while other times, it is pressure from the company. Either way, the driver will be a liable party for the accident. After an accident, the truck driver may try to pin the fault on you. It is, therefore, essential to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.
Truck Part Manufacturers
Commercial semi-trucks and trailers are the largest vehicles you will encounter on the road. Drivers and trucking companies are responsible for ensuring the safe operations and condition of the vehicle. However, when the truck has defected from the manufacturer, it may cause an accident regardless of how carefully it is drive. A part malfunction that is likely to contribute to an accident are:
- Defective tires - The federal-state law has regulations on the quality and conditions of truck and trailer tires. This is because the trucks are heavy, and the tires can quickly wear off, creating immense danger. A deviation to this can result in the bursting of the tires and severe accidents. If you are injured in an accident resulting from tire malfunction, truck manufacturers may be a liable party in the truck accident
- Malfunctioning brakes - When truck brakes fail, the vehicle will continue moving until it hits something. Semi-trucks will break much harder as compared to other vehicles, and a malfunction can easily cause an accident and severe injuries
- Malfunctioning steering - When the steering loses its power, the driver loses control of the vehicle and may end up hitting other cars on the road. In this case, the fault may be on both the manufacturers who made a defective part and truck owners who did not check their functionality before sending it on the road
Authorities’ responsible for Road Maintenance
As many truck accidents are majorly caused by negligence from the drivers and trucking companies, some accidents result from poor roads. Trucks are quite heavy vehicles, and when driving on poor road conditions, they can lose control and plunge into other vehicles. In California, roads are maintained by the city government. When you get injured in an accident that resulted from poor roads, you can file a personal injury claim against the relevant authorities.
Various departments share different maintenance responsibilities, and it can be challenging to figure out which agency is responsible for the accident. After filing the claim, you have to prove how their negligence resulted in the accident. This is by showing a problem on the road that would have been fixed but was left unattended. Filing a claim against the government can be complicated since not all of their actions equal negligence. Also, the statute of limitations for suing the government is lower as compared to lawsuits against the liable parties. If you are filing a compensation claim against the authorities for a truck accident, it is crucial to seek guidance from a personal injury attorney.
Drivers of Small Vehicles and Passenger Cars
Sometimes a truck accident may not be the fault of a truck driver, trucking company, or poor road conditions. Negligence from small vehicle drivers and cyclists can cause a truck accident. Negligence from other operators can occur in the following ways:
- Failing to maintain a proper dust ace with the truck. Driving too close to a truck can make it difficult for the truck driver to notice the small car. An accident resulting from this scenario will make the driver of the small vehicle a liable party in the truck accident.
- When a driver tries to overtake a truck in a blind spot, a blind spot is a dangerous place where vehicles should not hover. When truck accidents occur as a small vehicle tries to overtake the trailer, the driver of the small vehicle could be held responsible for the crash.
- Drunk driving - When a driver operates a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, they will put other road users in danger. When a truck accident involves a drunk driver, the intoxicated driver may be a liable party to the accident
- Distracted driving - A driver who operates a vehicle and uses their cell phone while trying to overtake the trailer can be held responsible for your injuries.
Several reasons can cause a truck accident. California works on comparative negligence for personal injury claims. If different reasons cause a truck accident, there can be multiple liable parties in the lawsuit. Liability in such an accident will be determined based on the percentage of fault for each party. Also, even when you contributed to the accident, you can file a personal injury claim and get compensation for the other party’s negligence.
Sometimes the liable parties in the accident can try to trick you into accepting fault for the accident. As soon as the accident takes place, you need to call the police. Also, you should get information from the truck driver and any other role player in the accident. If you sustained some injuries, it is crucial to seek medical attention and notify your medical insurer. Reports from your treatment will be essential evidence in the lawsuit and can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Ensure you consult a competent personal injury attorney to guide you and help you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Proving Liability in a Truck Accident
After a truck accident, you have two years to file a personal injury claim against the liable party or parties. By submitting a lawsuit, you are claiming compensation for your injuries. However, you may have a longer or shorter statute of limitations depending on the party responsible for the accident. Sometimes a truck accident will be caused by poor roads, and the fault will fall on the government. In this case, you have six months to file a claim against the state of California.
Several parties can be held liable for a truck accident. If you are not certain of the person responsible for the accident, the lawsuit will name potential defendants who may have played a role in the accident. Liability in a truck accident will be determined through negligence. You need to prove the following elements of negligence to prove that the defendant is liable for the truck accident:
- Duty of Care
In California, each person is obliged to prevent any foreseeable harm to other individuals. In this case, the truck driver needs to ensure that they don’t cause harm to other road users. It should be clear that the driver owed you a duty of care to show that they are liable for the accident. Whether the defendant owed you a duty of care is something that will be determined by the court.
Some of the factors they put into consideration when determining the duty of care include:
- The foreseeability of harm to you
- The degree of certainty that you suffered substantial injuries
- Lame that is attached to the defendant’s conduct
- The extent of the burden on the defendant
- Breach of Duty
After you have proven that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you should show how they breached their duty towards you. Some rules govern the trucking industry, and all stakeholders are required to follow them. Manufacturers of trucking parts are expected to produce quality products. The trucking company must maintain the vehicle in good condition that is safe on the road. Truck drivers have to follow all traffic rules and avoid accidents.
Reckless driving, poorly maintained vehicles and faulty truck parts are some of the pieces of evidence you can use to show a breach of duty. You will require guidance from a personal injury attorney to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care effectively.
A breach of duty is not enough to conclude that someone is responsible for your injuries. The defendant’s actions must be a contributing factor to the accident and the injuries you suffered. With proper legal representation, you can show the relationship between the defendants breaching their duty of care and the injuries you suffered.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
When an accident occurs, the victims are likely to sustain severe injuries or even death. Most truck accidents result from negligence or failure to follow federal laws governing the trucking industry. If you are injured in a negligent truck accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. Also, if your loved one dies in a truck accident, you can file for compensation in wrongful death. With the help of an attorney from San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, you can prove liability and get payment for your injuries. If you are in San Diego, CA, you will need us by your side. Call us today at 619-478-4059 and allow us to guide you through the lawsuit.