Truck Accident Attorney
Any type of truck accident can cause serious or even fatal injuries. However, when a tractor-trailer or semi-truck is involved, the potential for catastrophic injuries is even greater. Under federal law, trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. Compared to the average weight of a passenger vehicle, which is only 4,000 pounds, it is easy to see how occupants of smaller vehicles can suffer significant harm when they are involved in a crash with a truck.
Truck accidents have many different causes, but they are usually the result of negligence. If you have been hurt, you can file a claim against the at-fault party to recover monetary compensation. Unfortunately, these claims are incredibly complex. They involve not only state law, but federal law, as well, and you will have to deal with large insurance companies who want to protect their profits. A Sherman Oaks truck accident attorney can help you through the process so you obtain the full damages you deserve.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Like car accidents, crashes involving trucks have a number of different causes. Truckers drive for a living and so, they spend long hours behind the wheel. As such, they are sometimes more likely to make mistakes. Truck drivers, and the companies that hire them, must comply with a complex set of state and federal laws. These laws govern every aspect of the trucking industry, from how long truckers can be on the road without taking a break, to the type of mud flaps a truck must have if it will cross state lines.
Most truckers and trucking companies comply with these laws, while others cut corners to boost their own profits. Unfortunately, these shortcuts also cause many accidents. The most common causes of truck accidents are as follows:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to obey traffic law
- Inexperienced truck drivers
- Poor judgment
Any of the above acts of negligence can cause serious, and even fatal, truck accidents. In some instances, the crash is linked directly to a violation of state or federal laws that govern trucks and other commercial vehicles. For example, federal law strictly limits the amount of time truckers can remain behind the wheel, based on what it is transporting and the type of truck. Once a truck driver has reached that time limit, they must stop and rest for a certain amount of time.
It is also not uncommon for trucking companies to give incentives to their drivers to violate the hours-of-service rule. For example, a company may financially compensate drivers for getting to their destination in a shorter amount of time, or they may set deadlines that can only be met if the driver remains on the road longer. In addition to the hours of service violation, truckers may also speed up delivering their cargo sooner.
Regardless of the cause of a truck accident, a Sherman Oaks truck accident attorney can evaluate your case and conduct an investigation to determine how a crash occurred. From there, a truck accident lawyer can build a compelling case that will allow you to obtain the maximum amount of compensation allowed under the law.
How to File a Truck Accident Claim
Like other personal injury claims, those involved in a truck accident are based on negligence. Any time a person fails to exercise a reasonable level of care that keeps others safe, they are considered negligent. Proving negligence involves establishing four elements of the case: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Proving the negligent party owed you a duty of care is fairly easy in any motor vehicle accident, as all drivers have a duty to drive in a safe and reasonable manner. Complying with posted speed limits and concentrating on the road are examples of meeting the duty of care while speeding and impaired driving are examples of breaching that duty.
The second element you must prove is that the at-fault party breached their duty of care. A breach of duty of care can happen in several ways. Following too closely, also known as tailgating, texting while driving, and fatigued driving are all examples of breaching a duty of care. When a negligent truck driver or trucking company violates the law, this is often enough to show that a breach of duty occurred.
Thirdly, you must then show a direct link between the breach of duty and the accident. Known as proximate cause, this is also known as “but for,” because you must show the crash would not have occurred “but for” the breach of duty of the negligent driver.
The last element you must show is that you suffered damages or losses. Truck accident claims are intended to restore you as wholly as possible to the same position you were in before the accident. If you did not suffer losses, there is no basis for a personal injury claim. Within your truck accident claim, you can claim losses such as lost wages, medical expenses, permanent scarring and disfigurement, and property damage.
Damages Available in Truck Accident Claims
If you are successful with your lawsuit, you may be able to recover three types of damages. These are as follows:
Economic damages are those that have a quantifiable value. Medical expenses, lost income, and property damage are a few types of economic damages.
Non-economic damages are not as easy to calculate because they do not have an actual dollar value. They include physical pain, mental anguish, depression, and reduced quality of life. A Sherman Oaks truck accident attorney will know how to quantify these damages.
Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for your losses but instead, punish the party that caused the accident for gross negligence or recklessness. These damages are rarely awarded, but an attorney can fight for them when appropriate.
Identifying the Defendant in Your Case
Truck accidents differ from car accidents because there could be more people you end up suing. Trucks are very complex, and everything needs to work right for them to reach their destination safely. Depending on the accident, you might bring a claim against any of the following:
- Truck drivers. A negligent trucker is liable for a collision, and you can sue them or make a claim on their insurance.
- Trucking companies. A trucking company is usually automatically liable when one of their employees injures someone while hauling. The trucking company might have independent liability in other cases, such as failing to perform careful background checks or refusing to suspend a trucker after a failed drug test.
- Loading companies. The company that loaded cargo into the trailer could have done so negligently. They might have overloaded the vehicle or loaded it unevenly, which contributes to imbalance.
- Truck manufacturers. A defect on the truck could have caused a collision. For example, the tread can separate on defective tires, rendering the vehicle immediately uncontrollable. You can sue the tire manufacturer if the tire is defective.
- Mechanics. Sometimes, a defect is caused by a negligent mechanic, who might have overlooked an obvious problem or done substandard repair work. The truck is dangerous as a result.
A critical reason to hire a truck accident lawyer is to rely on our experience to identify all defendants. We can provide a review of all available evidence on the crash, such as the police report and any statements the trucker made to the police officer. We might also call witnesses who observed the accident. They can help identify what happened in the critical lead-up to the crash. Remember that trucking companies often have armies of investigators, claims agents, and lawyers working on their cases. They have one goal—deny you fair compensation. Do not be surprised if they blame you for the accident. You need our experience to fight them off and bring a winning claim for compensation.
Limitations on Your Financial Recovery
In the ideal world, accident victims would receive full compensation for their injuries. No one should suffer financially because a negligent trucker slammed into their vehicle. Unfortunately, there are several factors that could reduce your ability to receive full compensation.
For example, you might have been comparatively negligent yourself. If you cut off a trucker or were distracted while trying to pass them, then your compensation will be reduced by your share of the fault. Someone who is 50% at fault will only receive 50% of their damages. If you are 80% at fault, you will only receive 20%. Comparative negligence can dramatically reduce the amount of money you take home. Another factor could be that you failed to bring your claim in a timely manner. The statute of limitations gives only a year to file a claim. That is not nearly enough time. But if you go over this deadline, you lose out on the ability to receive money.
Our Truck Accident Lawyer in Sherman Oaks Can Advise on Your Case
There are few types of crashes on the road that are as devastating as truck accidents. At Oaks Law Firm, our Sherman Oaks truck accident attorney can provide the legal advice you need and help you claim the full settlement you deserve. Call us now at 877.539.5366 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.
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Recovering the Damages You Deserve
If someone else is to blame for your injuries, you have the right to seek compensation for the full amount of damages you've suffered. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, as well as pain and suffering. You must bring forth your claim within one year of the accident date. Not filing your case within one year will bar you from recovery.