Injured In A Truck Accident? Our Firm Can Help
Due to their sheer size and the speed at which they travel, large commercial trucks (also known as big rigs, semi-trucks and 18-wheelers) can cause catastrophic harm when they are involved in auto accidents.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by negligence on the part of the truck driver, company, or manufacturer, you may be entitled to compensation to help with the cost of medical expenses, lost income, and other damages.
If securing legal counsel to protect your rights is necessary, our team of experienced truck injury lawyers are ready to fight on your behalf to recover the maximum compensation owed to you.
RECOVERED IN TRUCK ACCIDENT CASES
With more than 40 years of combined experience, our truck accident attorneys are focused on recovering the maximum compensation on your behalf, whether through settlement or at trial.
We understand the immeasurable suffering that can be brought on by accidents involving trucks of all varieties. That’s why we handle every aspect of your claim from start to finish so you can focus on getting the treatment you need.
Talk to a Los Angeles truck accident lawyer about your case or contact our firm to schedule a no-cost consultation.
In this article:
- What Should You Do After Being Involved in a Truck Accident?
- Truck Accident FAQ
- Who Is Responsible For Causing a Truck Accident?
- Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries Sustained in Truck Accidents
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents
- How are Truck Accidents Investigated?
- How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
- How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help Me With My Claim?
- Let Our Firm Fight for Your Rights and Your Future
What Should You Do After Being Involved in a Truck Accident?
The following is in no particular order:
Seek Medical Attention If Necessary
Assess yourself for injuries and seek medical attention if required. You may not feel as though you have suffered any harm, but some injuries can be difficult to detect. You may still be in shock which can make it difficult to tell if you are experiencing any pain. If in doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution and speak to a medical professional.
Gather As Much Information As You Can
If possible, get the contact information of everybody involved in the accident, especially names, current addresses and license plate numbers. Then, if you can, take photographs/videos of things that could be needed. Some suggestions of evidence to capture include:
- Any injuries sustained
- The extent of the damage to all vehicles involved in the collision
- Any issues with the roadway that are easily apparent
In addition, you may wish to take note of the following, especially if one or more of the drivers involved in the accident failed to stop or is refusing to cooperate:
- What you believe may have caused the incident
- The date and time the accident took place
- Where the accident took place. Be as specific as possible. Which road? Which part of that road? Which lane were you in?
- The weather conditions
- The names of any witnesses
Call The Police
California law mandates that the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident that results in either the injury or death of another person report the collision in writing to the police or CHP, if no law enforcement officer was present at the scene to make such a report at the time of the accident.
You, your insurance company, or your lawyer must also complete a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) with the DMV if there is more than $1000 in property damage, or if anyone was injured or killed.
Know Your Rights — Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
Unlike many other forms of personal injury lawsuit, truck accidents often involve numerous parties and navigating the litigation process can be incredibly challenging without the guidance of an experienced lawyer.
Trucking companies do not hesitate in dispatching their own experts to the scene of the accident, and their aim will be to absolve the company of any liability. It is strongly advised that you seek legal counsel as soon as you can so that you will have the best chance of securing a strong case in your favor.
An experienced attorney can help you understand a multitude of critical factors concerning your accident, such as traffic laws, medical treatment, and perhaps most crucially, fault. They can help you navigate the additional complexities of truck accident litigation, offering you support and guidance, and if necessary, legal representation.
Jump to this section for more information on how to find the best truck injury lawyer for your circumstances.
Truck Accidents Case Focus:
Castro v. Green Farms, Inc. (2018)
On the afternoon of August 21, 2015, 37-year-old Lisa Darlene Chavez was driving her 2015 Mazda Miata west on the 60 Freeway. As she applied the brakes to slow for traffic ahead, a commercial truck plowed into the back of her car. The impact destroyed Lisa’s car, forcing the rear bumper all the way into the passenger compartment. After hitting Lisa’s car, the truck proceeded to hit at least five other vehicles in its path before coming to a stop. While all the other drivers were able to walk away, Lisa lay lifeless in her vehicle.
Truck Accident FAQ
Q: How Much Is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
A: It depends on many factors, including how the accident occurred, why the accident occurred, the severity of your injuries, and your medical bills/lost earnings.
Q: Does Your Firm Specialize in Truck Law?
A: Although lawyers in the personal injury field cannot be certified as a “specialist”, we have handled many truck accident cases with significant success in the last 40 years.
Q: How Long Has Your Firm Been Practicing Law?
A: Our firm has been in business for over 40 years handling almost exclusively Plaintiff’s personal injury cases.
Q: What Happens If We Don’t Win?
A: No recovery means no fee.
Who Is Responsible For Causing a Truck Accident?
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If you were involved in a truck accident, one of the most difficult questions to answer can be who is at fault. Unlike most other motor vehicle collisions, numerous parties can bear responsibility for causing the accident.
These parties include the truck driver, the trucking company, the company/companies that hired the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, the carriers/shippers, the companies that maintained the truck, or even the entity responsible for the highway on which the accident occurred.
The truck driver is often the most obvious candidate. This is because truck drivers have deadlines to meet, sometimes work in difficult conditions, can become fatigued due to many days on the road, at times do not adhere to the interstate 11-hour driving limit, or become distracted due to cell phone or other electronic device use. Additionally, some truck drivers will not admit the accident is his or her fault because he or she knows that an at fault accident may prevent him or her from getting a job driving a truck again.
A trucking company is responsible for the actions of the driver even if the trucking company labels the driver an “independent contractor.” This is because under Federal Law (FMSCA 49 U.S.C. § 14101 et seq and FMCSR 49 C.F.R. § 390.5) a driver is the “employee” of the trucking company, regardless of whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor.
Some trucking companies place a significant amount of pressure on their drivers. This, at times, forces drivers to go beyond the interstate 11-hour driving limit. Some companies have even been known to dispatch their drivers for up to 20 hours a day. A trucking company may also be negligent under some circumstances for improperly hiring, training, or employing an unfit driver.
A trucking company may also be responsible for failing to properly maintain its trucks, failing to drug or alcohol test its truck driver after an accident, or failing to implement the proper inspection protocols mandated by Federal law.
Proving matters of this nature can be difficult and should be done with the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer. If you believe the trucking company may be at fault in causing the accident, you should seek the assistance of a qualified truck accident attorney today.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) work together to set regulatory standards that truck or component manufacturers must meet. Truck or component manufacturers must conduct the necessary tests to ensure that the vehicles they are manufacturing are up to standard. If a truck crash is caused as a result of a defective component or product, then these companies may also be responsible for the crash, even if the manufacturer met the standards.
Carriers & Shippers
A company that ships and/or packages the cargo being carried by a truck along with the carrier of the cargo may also be responsible for the accident. This can include shifting cargo which caused the truck driver to lose control, cargo which caused the truck driver to get seriously injured or killed, or cargo which fell off the truck and caused a collision.
If an accident occurs or someone is hurt as a result of cargo, then the carrier or shipper may be responsible. Contact a qualified attorney who has faced these issues before.
The roadway where the accident occurred may have also played a role in causing or contributing to the accident. If that is the case, then the entity who is responsible for the roadway, including its design, warnings, and maintenance, may also be held accountable for the accident. Such a case includes Ekbatani v. State of California, where we recovered $35M for our client who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident due to a dangerous roadway.
If you were partially responsible for causing the accident, you may still be entitled to damages. Under the rules of comparative negligence, multiple parties can be at fault, including you. Regardless of who is ultimately at fault, you should consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer who can advise you on the legal options available to you. Whether it was the truck driver, the trucking company, or another party, if you are to recover damages most of the time you will need to show their negligence. This means demonstrating:
- The responsible party owed you the duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care;
- That they failed to exercise that duty of care; and
- That this failure to exercise reasonable care was what caused or contributed to your injuries
Demonstrating the negligence of another party often entails a complex and time-consuming process. You should contact an experienced truck accident attorney who can answer any questions you may have about your legal rights.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries Sustained in Truck Accidents
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Truck accidents can be some of the most devastating due to the extreme forces which are involved. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in crashes.
The catastrophic injuries which frequently occur as a result of being involved in a truck accident can have a profound impact on the injured person’s life. This can include considerations such as paying for extensive and expensive medical care, loss in household productivity, lost earning capacity, and significant emotional losses.
Here are some of the most severe types of injuries a person may suffer as a result of being in a truck accident:
Traumatic Head/Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury is any injury that causes disruption to the normal functioning of the brain. The symptoms of traumatic brain injury can vary from mild to catastrophically life-altering, and many people who have suffered severe brain injury require costly lifelong rehabilitation.
Many people who suffer a traumatic brain injury experience a constellation of symptoms. This can include functional deficits that impair the ability to do activities of daily living, cognitive (thought-related) deficits such as confusion and memory problems, or motor deficits, such as paralysis and movement problems.
These symptoms can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to live and work independently.
Amputation can be one of the most traumatic outcomes of a truck accident, radically altering an individual’s independence, mobility, and wellbeing.
Grief is very common in response to the loss of a body part. While those who undergo surgical removal of a body part following a period of illness may have some time to adjust to the prospect of amputation, those involved in a catastrophic accident do not have that same time to come to terms with the dramatic change to their body.
Amputation poses a number of unique challenges that dramatically alter a person’s life and livelihood. Adjusting to life following amputation is a long and arduous process, a process that can quickly become extremely costly.
Spinal Cord Injury, Including Paralysis
Spinal cord injuries impair the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. Depending on where this damage occurs, this can have a severe impact on movement, sensations like touch and pain, and/or the regulation of one’s body’s physiological processes.
While the emotional devastation of a spinal cord injury cannot be understated, the financial impact of a spinal cord injury is often equally enormous. In addition to sustaining a devastating lost earning capacity, an individual with a spinal cord injury may be rendered entirely dependent on caregivers.
Depending on their severity, broken bones can be catastrophic and in some cases, life-threatening. Large bones like the femur are tough to break, and so mostly occur in high intensity accidents like truck accidents. A broken femur is incredibly painful and has a significant impact on an individual’s everyday life. Healing a broken femur almost always requires surgery.
Serious broken bones require lengthy healing periods which often require numerous surgeries and physical therapy to ensure the fracture properly heals, all of which is very expensive.
Common Causes Of Truck Accidents
There are many reasons a truck accident may occur. Some of the most common include:
Improper maintenance – faulty components or poorly-conducted inspections can lead to unsuitable vehicles out on the roads. Failure to properly maintain a heavy vehicle can lead to catastrophic outcomes.
Driver negligence/distracted driving – this can include the driver using a cell phone, being drowsy and causing him or her to lose focus, or being unaware of his or her surroundings resulting in a dangerous maneuver.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI/DWI) – another common common cause of driver-related accidents is driving while under the influence of prescription drugs.
Reckless/dangerous company practices – this can include placing undue pressure on drivers resulting in inaccurate driver logs or causing a driver to drive recklessly or traveling too fast. It can also include inappropriate hiring practices that allow underqualified and potentially unsuitable drivers out onto the road.
Insufficient training – heavy commercial vehicles require specialized training before a driver is allowed to drive a commercial truck, Improper training can lead to accidents through inexperience or negligence.
Improperly loaded or overloaded trucks – commercial companies must ensure that freight is properly secured and balanced, and that trucks are not overloaded. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in lost cargo creating a hazard in the road or in the truck becoming more susceptible to tipping.
Defective road design – issues with a roadway, such as line-of-sight problems, structural irregularities or improper maintenance, can lead to a truck accident in the same way as any other vehicle. However, the sheer size and weight of these commercial vehicles can greatly exacerbate the seriousness of these kinds of accidents, especially when there are many other vehicles involved.
How Are Truck Accident Cases Investigated?
Truck accident cases are unique since significant electronic data and physical evidence can be available after a crash. This includes vehicle debris, tire marks, and data stored in on board recording devices.
Thus, if the information is still available, the first steps of investigating a truck accident include hiring the correct experts to visit the scene and document the physical evidence, inspect and preserve the vehicles, and download any electronically stored information.
The next steps include speaking to any witnesses and obtaining the necessary documents, including:
- The Traffic Collision Report
- 9-1-1 audio
- Truck driver logs
- Truck maintenance records
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
Under California’s Statute of Limitations (Civ. Proc. §335.1), you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, which includes injuries incurred as a result of being involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle.
You are strongly advised to move much quicker than this time limit however. Truck companies will not wait two years. They will move fast, and they will move aggressively. They will do everything in their power to build a case that proves they were not responsible for the accident.
If you are considering filing a truck accident lawsuit, you should consult with an experienced truck accident attorney who can advise you on how to proceed.
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help Me With My Claim?
Truck accidents involve a complex litigation process where numerous parties are often involved. Navigating these proceedings can be difficult without the guidance of an experienced legal professional, and some aspects of the case may prove impossible to demonstrate without an attorney advocating on your behalf.
For instance, most commercial trucks are fitted with electronic logging devices (sometimes referred to as black boxes), which can provide crucial information about what was occurring within the truck prior to, during and after an accident. An ELD can reveal details such as:
- Sharp braking
- Changes in speed
- Handling during turning
- How fast the vehicle was moving during the accident
- How braking was applied during the accident
- Time of accident
- Points of impact
- Whether airbags were deployed
- Whether the occupant was wearing a seatbelt
- How long the vehicle had been driving for (and by extension, whether the driver had exceeded their allowable hours)
Having this information can be crucial to effectively determining the facts of an accident. However, trucking companies may not voluntarily make this information available unless legally compelled to. In some cases, the information has even been altered or destroyed.
Our experienced lawyers can conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your accident. This includes:
- Gathering evidence, such as witness testimonies, police reports and medical documents
- Obtaining documentation from the trucking company, such as maintenance reports and ELD data, to determine any negligence on their part
- Working with accident reconstructionists, engineers, medical professionals, forensic economists and other qualified experts
- Reconstructing the accident through our signature use of virtual and physical 3D models
- Representing you in communications with insurance providers and trucking companies to advocate for your entitled settlement sum
- Presenting your case at trial if necessary
Mardirossian Akaragian LLP has over 40 years of legal experience and the abundant resource to take on the complexities of a truck accident case. Trucking companies generally have the resources to fight these cases to the end. You should not have to face that without a team of your own with the resources to rival these companies.
Let Our Firm Fight for Your Rights and Your Future
We offer a sound, team-oriented approach when handling personal injury cases involving truck accidents. Not only can our attorneys aggressively advocate for you in settlement or trial, but they can also guide you through the entire process with compassion and empathy. We understand the difficult situation you are in and it’s our goal to help you recover the fair compensation you are owed.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, our Los Angeles truck accident attorneys are focused on recovering the maximum compensation on your behalf, whether through settlement or at trial. We understand that truck injuries can cause immeasurable damage. We handle every aspect of your claim from start to finish so you can focus on getting the treatment you need.
Our firm offers exceptional talent, abundant resources, tireless dedication, and years of experience to give you the best chance of success in obtaining maximum compensation. Led by our award-winning attorneys, Garo Mardirossian and Armen Akaragian, we are prepared to provide you with aggressive representation and personalized legal guidance you need.
Talk to a Los Angeles truck accident attorney about your case or contact our firm to schedule a no-cost consultation.
Contact Mardirossian Akaragian LLP Today
Admitted to practice in 2006, Armen has arbitrated, tried, and settled several cases which have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.
Sources cited in this article:
- CHAPTER 1. Accidents and Accident Reports [20000 – 20018] – California Legislative Information
- Vehicle Collisions – State of California Department of Motor Vehicles
- Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) – State of California Department of Motor Vehicles
- Determining Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident – HG
- Trucking Accident Driver & Carrier Liability – Truck Accident Attorney Network
- Summary of Hours of Service Regulations – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- 49 U.S. Code § 14101 – Providing transportation and service – Cornell Law School
- ‘This used to be a great job’: US truckers driven down by long hours and low pay – The Guardian
- Rigged. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing. – US Today
- Code of Federal Regulations – govinfo
- The Complete Guide to FMCSA, NHTSA & Other Regulations for Truck Manufacturers – MPC
- Convey-All Corp. v. Pacific, 120 Cal.App.3d 116,119 (1981) – Leagle
- What is Comparative Negligence? – FindLaw
- Elements of a Negligence Case – FindLaw
- Large Trucks – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
- Traumatic Brain Injury – American Association of Neurological Surgeons
- Practical coping strategies to help amputees and their families – Limbs4Life
- Spinal Cord Injury – American Association of Neurological Surgeons
- Acute Spinal Cord Injury – Hopkins Medicine
- Spinal cord injury – World Health Organization
- Femur Fracture – Orthopedic Medical Center
- Broken Femur – Healthline
- 24 Disturbing Truck Accident Statistics (2022 Edition) – PolicyAdvice
- Truck Accident Statistics in the U.S. – CDL Knowledge
- Trucking Accident Driver & Carrier Liability – Truck Accident Attorney Network
- Statute of Limitations – Judicial Council of California
- CHAPTER 3. The Time of Commencing Actions Other Than for the Recovery of Real Property [335 – 349.4] – California Legislative Information
- Electronic logging device – Wikipedia
- Commercial Truck Black Boxes May Provide Evidence for Your Accident Claim – HG