Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyers
Los Angeles roads are congested, to begin with, and the high number of large trucks commuting to the nearby ports further contributes to the traffic frustrations. An increased presence of tractor-trailer and eighteen-wheeler trucks also means an increased risk for accidents. These trucks typically weigh 20 to 30 times more than a standard passenger vehicle, which means an accident with a smaller vehicle can result in far more serious injuries or fatalities.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a large truck, it’s important to speak with our experienced Los Angeles truck accidents lawyers.
Determining Liability for Large Truck Accidents in Los Angeles
Determining fault for your accident is the key to proving negligence and demanding compensation from the responsible parties. Many truck accidents involve some type of operator error. The truck driver may have been distracted or driving over the maximum number of hours allowed.
Perhaps they were under the influence of alcohol. In situations where inadequate maintenance contributed, or a vehicle defect was determined to be the cause, you may have a claim against additional parties. If the truck driver is an employee driving for a trucking company rather than operating independently, the trucking company will be a named party in your lawsuit.
Ensuring all potentially negligent parties are named in the lawsuit is vital. If you fail to name the tire manufacturer in a case involving a tire defect, your claim against them would be barred if you knew it existed before the statute ran out. Cases can be especially complex if it’s a multi-vehicle collision involving a large truck and multiple other passenger cars.
Your attorney will work to get all the pertinent information on the parties who should be named in a lawsuit.
Proving Negligence After a Truck Accident
Like most personal injury cases, truck accident claims rely on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is a failure to act with a reasonable level of care as another person would in the same situation. Proving negligence is sometimes the most challenging part of truck accident claims and to establish that another party acted carelessly, you must establish four elements of your case. The four elements of negligence are as follows:
- Duty of Care: The first element of negligence you must prove is that the negligent party owed you a duty of care. Duty of care is fairly easy to prove in motor vehicle accident cases because all drivers have a duty to act in a reasonable manner that keeps everyone safe. Trucking companies, inspection companies, and anyone else involved in putting a truck on the road also have a duty of care to ensure they act reasonably so no one becomes hurt.
- Breach of Duty: Establishing the breach of duty involves proving the act of negligence that caused the accident. Blood alcohol concentration tests can prove a truck driver was impaired, while cell phone records can prove the trucker was distracted at the time of the crash. These are just two types of evidence used to prove a breach of duty.
- Causation: Unfortunately, proving the act of negligence is not enough in personal injury claims. You must also show a direct link between the breach of duty and the accident.
- Damages: The damages awarded in a truck accident claim are intended to restore you as wholly as possible to the same physical and mental condition you were in before the crash. If you did not sustain damages or losses, there is nothing to compensate you for. As such, you must prove the full amount of damages you sustained.
Statistics on Commercial Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. 4,564 of those people died in accidents involving a large truck or bus. Overall, large trucks and buses were to blame for 12 percent of traffic fatalities across the country.
California ranks as one of the top ten states for fatal truck and bus crashes in recent years. Other statistics related to large truck fatalities include:
- Speed played a factor in 17 percent of truck crashes with a minimum of one large truck occupant death.
- Not wearing a seatbelt was a factor in 39 percent of large truck occupants who were killed in a crash.
- 61 percent of large truck fatalities happened in rural areas.
- 27 percent of fatalities in work zones also involved a large truck.
- Six percent of large truck fatalities were due to driver distraction, primarily due to cell phone usage (16 percent)
Injuries and Fatalities Related to Truck Accidents
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that 97 percent of vehicle occupants who were killed in two-vehicle crashes that involved a large truck and a passenger vehicle were in the passenger vehicle. Of 2,112 fatalities in 2016, 2,056 were passenger-vehicle occupants and 56 were occupants in the large truck. The majority of fatalities in a large truck crash occur on major roads, not freeways and interstates.
It might surprise you to learn the peak time for fatalities in large truck collisions is 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fatalities from large truck accidents can occur any day of the week, but weekends see the least number of deaths. This is the opposite of other types of vehicle collisions that don’t involve large trucks.
One statistic that has declined in fatalities from large truck crashes is the number of truck drivers who were drinking and driving. Of the fatalities reported in 2016, only three percent involved truck drivers with a BAC at or above 0.08. This is a stark contrast with fatalities reported in passenger vehicles.
In 2016, there were 4,916 fatalities, or 30 percent, that could be attributed to someone with a BAC of 0.08 or over versus a total of 16 in the same year for large trucks.
Causes of Truck Accidents in Los Angeles
Like car crashes, a truck accident can happen in multiple ways. Due to the fact that truck drivers are on the road for such long periods of time, and that they operate commercial vehicles for a living, truck drivers are more prone to make mistakes than the average driver. Truck drivers can cause accidents in a number of ways, including:
- Fatigued driving
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to comply with traffic laws
- Poor judgment
- Improper turns
Although truck drivers are often at fault for a crash, the companies they work for are often held liable, as well. Trucking companies can be held vicariously liable for any negligent action their employee engages in. However, trucking companies may also engage in other negligent actions that can contribute to the accident, including:
- Improper training of drivers
- Failure to conduct background checks on all drivers
- Failure to properly inspect and maintain their trucks
Although truck drivers and trucking companies are the most common defendants named in truck accident lawsuits, there are others as well. For example, a trucking company may fulfill its legal obligation to inspect and maintain its trucks, but it may hire a third party to take on these tasks. If that third party does not properly fulfill their legal duty to ensure the truck is safe and roadworthy, they can be held liable for their negligence. Or, if a third-party loading company improperly loaded the cargo, it may shift during transport. This can cause the driver to lose control of the truck, resulting in an accident. A Los Angeles truck accident lawyer can determine how your crash happened, so you know who to hold liable for paying compensation.
Getting Compensation for Your Injuries
Depending on the circumstances of your vehicle accident and your injuries, you may be entitled to reimbursement of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Loss of wages
- Future loss of earnings
- Repair or replacement of vehicle
- Physical therapy
- Rental car or alternative transportation costs
- Modifications made to your vehicle or home to accommodate your injuries
Non-economic damages are subjective and intangible and include items like:
- Loss of your career / permanent disability
- Emotional pain and anguish
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies you enjoyed before the accident
- Injuries tend to be far more severe in collisions involving big trucks, which can mean hefty medical bills and rehabilitation costs. Some people suffer life-changing permanent injuries from a large truck accident.
These include spinal cord accidents that result in paralysis or brain injury.
Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Cases in California
It is important to reach out to our experienced injury firm early on, as you are limited on the time you can bring a lawsuit against the negligent party or parties. In California, injured parties have two years from the date of injury to preserve the statute of limitations or file a lawsuit against the negligent parties. There may be some exceptions to the two-year rule, such as if your injury did not become apparent until a long time later.
In these very limited situations, you may have a year from the date of discovery.
Retaining a Los Angeles Truck Accident Attorney
It’s important to reach out to a Los Angeles truck accident attorney early on so your attorney has the opportunity to conduct their investigation and track down witnesses and take photos while events are still fresh. This can yield more witness statements and better evidence instead of waiting a year or just before the statute of limitations runs out.
If you or a loved one were in an injury collision involving a large truck, contact the skilled team at the El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers at (213) 985-1120 to schedule a consultation.
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