Truck accidents can result in catastrophic injuries and even death. The large size and weight of commercial trucks means that when they are involved in a collision, the damage is often extensive. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Los Angeles, it is important that you contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide an overview of truck accident claims in Los Angeles and how an attorney can help.
Understanding Liability in Truck Accidents
Establishing liability or fault is a crucial component of any truck accident claim. Truck drivers and trucking companies are held to very high standards under state and federal regulations. There are many parties that can share in the liability when a truck crash occurs:
- The truck driver – Driver error, negligence or impairment is a major factor in many truck collisions. Drivers may speed, drive distracted or fatigued, or violate safety regulations.
- The trucking company – Trucking companies may be liable if they fail to properly train, supervise or maintain their vehicles. They also must adhere to regulations on driver qualifications, loading procedures, logbooks and more.
- Other drivers – Passenger car drivers can also cause truck crashes by unsafe maneuvers or driving recklessly around big rigs.
- Vehicle manufacturers – If there is a mechanical defect or failed part, the truck manufacturer may share liability.
- Government agencies – If poor road design or maintenance contributed to the crash, the state or local agency can be held accountable.
- Cargo loaders – Improper cargo loading and weight distribution can cause truck crashes. The parties responsible for loading may be liable.
A truck accident attorney will thoroughly investigate your crash to identify all potentially negligent parties and build the strongest possible claim. Sources of evidence can include the police report, driver and witness statements, truck maintenance records, logbooks, crash reconstruction reports, and more.
Common Causes of Truck Crashes in Los Angeles
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are a number of recurring causes behind truck crashes both nationally and in the Los Angeles area:
Speeding – Trucks going above the speed limit reduce the driver’s ability to stop safely and make it harder to steer the massive vehicle. Speeding dramatically increases the severity of a truck collision as well.
Distracted driving – Truckers face many potential distractions including cell phones, GPS, paperwork, eating, adjusting the radio and more. Distraction makes crashes much more likely.
Driving while fatigued – Fatigued truckers may fall asleep at the wheel or lose awareness and reaction time. Federal regulations limit driving hours for that reason.
Driving under the influence – Impaired driving is always dangerous, but even more destructive when done in an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer. Even prescription drugs can impair truckers’ abilities.
Unsafe lane changes – Trucks have very large blind spots so improper lane changes are a common factor in sideswipe and merge crashes.
Mechanical defects – Brake failure, tire blowouts and other equipment defects cause many truck crashes annually. Trucking companies are required to properly maintain vehicles.
Jackknife accidents – Long trailers can swing out and jackknife when braking hard or maneuvering. These accidents cause trucks to flip or slide out of control often crushing passenger vehicles.
Overturned trucks – Trucks can flip over from sharp turns taken at high speeds, steep terrain, uneven loads and other reasons. Rollovers frequently prove deadly.
An experienced Los Angeles truck accident lawyer will determine why your crash occurred and what parties should be held responsible. This helps in seeking full compensation through a settlement or jury verdict.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Due to their massive size and weight, collisions with commercial trucks often lead to severe, debilitating and even fatal injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – The impact to the head can cause concussions, contusions and brain bleeding leading to cognitive impairment.
- Spinal cord injuries – Forces from the crash can crush or transect the spine causing paralysis and loss of function.
- Broken bones – The immense energy transferred in a truck collision can cause fractures, compound breaks and crushed bones.
- Internal organ damage – Being jolted violently in the cab can lead to lacerated livers or kidneys, intestinal damage and other internal trauma.
- Amputations – Extremities caught under the truck or run over by tires may require amputation.
- Burn injuries – Friction or leaking fluids can cause disfiguring burns and scarring.
- Wrongful death – Severe truck crashes frequently end in fatalities. Surviving families deserve compensation for their loss.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – Many truck accident survivors are left with psychological trauma like PTSD after a devastating crash.
The enormous force involved in collisions with tractor trailers routinely causes life-altering injuries for victims. Some may require a lifetime of expensive medical treatment and rehabilitative therapies. With an expert trucking lawyer’s help, you can recover damages for all that you’ve suffered.
Proving Long-Term or Permanent Disabilities
Many truck accident injuries like spinal cord paralysis, traumatic brain injury, amputation or severe burns leave victims permanently disabled and in need of lifetime care. Measuring damages in these types of cases requires special expert evidence and documentation to prove the true extent and duration of disabilities. A seasoned Los Angeles truck accident lawyer has the resources to capture evidence of permanent injury and loss of quality of life such as:
- Life care planning reports – Life care planners can create an evaluation of disability-related costs like medical treatments, assistive devices, home or vehicle modifications, in-home care and more. These plans account for future expenses over the victim’s lifespan.
- Vocational assessments – If injuries preclude returning to work, vocational experts can analyze lost earning capacity and contributions the victim could have made.
- Neuropsychological testing – For traumatic brain injuries, extensive cognitive assessments pinpoint areas of permanent impairment.
- Psychiatric evaluations – Psychiatrists can provide medical confirmation of PTSD, depression or anxiety resulting from a disfiguring or disabling injury.
- Physical capacity exams – Specialized medical testing documents physical limitations and projects their permanence.
- Physician testimony – Treating doctors can provide expert opinions on the need for continuing therapies and prognosis for recovery.
With supportive medical evidence and expert reports, our experienced attorneys can demonstrate the true magnitude of the losses from catastrophic truck crash injuries. Full and fair compensation takes into account both the immediate costs and lifelong implications.
Steps to Take After a Los Angeles Truck Accident
In the chaotic aftermath of a truck collision, it can be difficult to think clearly or know how to respond. Here are some key steps our lawyers recommend immediately following this type of major accident:
- Get medical attention – Your health and safety should always be the first concern. Even if you don’t feel pain initially, see a doctor right away.
- Document the scene – If possible, take photos of property damage, skid marks, the position of vehicles, and overall accident conditions. This evidence can quickly disappear.
- Get contact and insurance information – Obtain names, phone numbers and insurance details for all drivers and witnesses on scene.
- Report the crash – Notify the police immediately so official records are created. Make sure the report reflects your recollection of how the collision occurred.
- Don’t admit fault – Do not make statements accepting blame or admitting guilt to anyone.
- Write down memories – Document your recollections of what happened while fresh in your mind. Include every detail you can remember.
- Seek counsel – Contact our seasoned Los Angeles truck accident attorneys. We can take immediate action to preserve evidence and protect your rights.
Taking these steps quickly helps build the strongest possible injury claim against the trucking companies and drivers responsible for the crash. Our attorneys have a proven process for effectively documenting these cases.
Why Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
After a catastrophic truck collision, the injuries, vehicle damage and lost income alone can overwhelm an individual. Add in complex California laws regulating trucking liability and it becomes near impossible to handle a major truck injury claim yourself. Our accomplished Los Angeles truck accident attorneys have the knowledge and resources to level the playing field against billion-dollar insurance carriers. We are committed to fighting aggressively on your behalf. Key benefits we provide include:
- Experience – Our attorneys focus solely on truck crash cases and handle them routinely. We know the laws, common defences and strategies for winning.
- Investigative resources – We have connections with accident reconstructionists, engineers, medical experts and other specialists who can investigate crash circumstances and prove damages.
- Legal Resources – Our firm has the money to hire top medical experts, obtain substantial records and take cases to trial if insurance companies won’t negotiate fairly.
- Objectivity – We provide the detached perspective clients need to make the best legal decisions during an emotional time.
- Negotiation skills – We’ve resolved thousands of trucking cases and can credibly negotiate high-dollar settlements with insurers. If they refuse to be reasonable, we’re not afraid to take your case to court.
- No fees unless we win – We work for no charge unless we secure compensation for you through a settlement or verdict.
With an accomplished truck accident attorney on your side, you can feel confident you will receive the maximum recovery the law allows. We strive to relieve your stress, handle all details and allow you to focus on what matters most – your health and family.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Pursuing fair compensation requires filing a truck accident lawsuit before strict legal deadlines called statutes of limitations expire. In California, under CCP §335.1, injury victims have two years from the date of the truck crash to file a claim seeking damages. Minors typically have until age 18 to pursue a case.
Survivors of a fatal truck accident causing wrongful death have two years from the date of passing to file a lawsuit under CCP §335.1.
These limits can be as short as one year for government agencies or six months against a public entity like the Department of Transportation or DMV.
The sooner you retain our seasoned attorneys after a trucking collision, the more effectively we can preserve evidence, identify all liable parties, quantify damages and prepare a compelling claim before time runs out. We can provide specific guidance regarding the statutes affecting your case.
Elements Required in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Building a convincing injury lawsuit against a commercial trucker or trucking employer requires proving these basic legal elements:
- Negligence – The trucker or trucking company acted carelessly or recklessly by speeding, driving distracted or fatigued, falsifying logs, failing to properly maintain equipment or violating other safety mandates. Their negligence caused the crash.
- Severely damaged plaintiffs – As a direct result of the truck driver and motor carrier’s negligence, you or your loved ones suffered catastrophic injuries, disability, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.
- Causation – Clear causation must exist showing the defendants’ negligent actions directly led to the truck collision and your damages.
- Damages – Quantifiable economic and non-economic damages resulted, such as medical bills, lost income, diminished quality of life, loss of companionship in wrongful death and pain and suffering.
Our seasoned Los Angeles truck accident lawyers are highly skilled in gathering evidence to conclusively satisfy each of these requirements while overcoming common defence strategies. We are prepared to take cases to trial if that becomes necessary. The insurance carriers know we are willing to fight them aggressively in court rather than settle for less than you deserve.
Components of a Truck Accident Settlement
In serious injury truck crashes, multiple parties are often responsible for compensating victims including the truck driver, trucking company, parts manufacturers, cargo loaders, safety inspectors or involved third parties. Multiple insurance policies and extensive assets to pursue also typically exist.
Our veteran Los Angeles truck accident attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured clients. We customize each settlement demand to the specific losses and full scope of liability in your unique case. Although every crash is different, complete truck accident settlements often provide compensation for:
- Past and future medical treatment
- Lost income and reduced earning capacity
- Property damage like your destroyed vehicle
- Costs for household services you can no longer perform
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Adaptations like wheelchair ramps or modified vehicles
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
- Punitive damages meant to punish willful negligence
- Wrongful death benefits like funeral costs and loss of companionship
Our accomplished attorneys will quantify each element of loss to demand a truck accident settlement that covers the true extent of harm you have suffered. We fight relentlessly until you receive full, fair compensation.
How Trucking Companies Try to Avoid Liability
Make no mistake – trucking corporations and insurance carriers do not have your best interests in mind. These billion-dollar companies use cunning tactics and extensive legal resources to limit or deny legitimate injury claims. Experienced truck accident lawyers can counter their strategies:
- Blame the victim – Trucking insurers will scour your background for anything to use against you like alleging you were speeding, not wearing a seat belt or somehow at fault. We’ll defeat these arguments.
- Dispute injuries – Minimizing your injuries is a common defense approach. Our firm secures persuasive medical evidence and expert opinions to prove the severity.
- Delay settlement – Stalling and delaying cases applies pressure on financially distressed victims to accept unreasonably low sums just to pay bills. We’llAGGRESSIVELY PURSUE YOUR RIGHTFUL COMPENSATION.
- Discredit eyewitnesses – Attempts may be made to undermine credible witness statements that harm the trucking company’s case. We know how to overcome these efforts.
- Question medical experts – Insurance defense lawyers often try to rattle physicians in depositions or insinuate treatments weren’t needed. Our attorneys prepare doctors to face these tactics.
With an elite truck accident law firm in your corner, you can rest assured our lawyers will strongly defend your rights at every turn and overcome any defense roadblocks. We have the courtroom strength to face down even the most aggressive insurers.
How Truck Accident Settlement Amounts Are Calculated
Many factors ultimately impact the potential value and settlement amount in a truck injury case. Our experienced Los Angeles truck accident attorneys carefully evaluate:
- The severity of injuries and prognosis – More catastrophic harm warrants higher settlements. Cases of wrongful death or permanent disability also command top compensation.
- Level of available insurance coverage – Trucking policies often provide millions of dollars per incident, allowing robust settlements covering all damages.
- State laws capping damages – Some states limit allowable compensation for pain/suffering or punitive awards. California sets no caps, allowing fuller recovery.
- Shared or disputed liability – Multiple liable parties enhances potential settlements, while attribution arguments can reduce individual payments.
- Strength of evidence – Compelling evidence of negligence and extensive damages supports larger settlement values. Weak evidence could decrease leverage in negotiating.
- Willingness to go to trial – Being fully prepared for court signals we won’t compromise and insurers must pay fairly or risk trial.
- Defendants’ assets – Companies or executives with extensive assets at risk have greater motivation to settle.
There is no one formula for precisely projecting settlement amounts. But our attorneys’ judgment and history of delivering outstanding truck accident results provides dependable guidance on potential case value. We fight relentlessly until you receive every dollar warranted.
How Long Do Truck Accident Claims Take to Resolve?
The timeline for resolving a truck crash case and collecting compensation depends on factors like:
- Severity of injuries – Catastrophic harm typically takes longer to fully assess and document for settlement negotiations. Minor injuries may resolve faster.
- Need for litigation – If a lawsuit is filed, the court process extends cases to 12-24 months typically. Settlement without suing may take only months.
- Discovery and evidence – Complicated cases involving extensive evidence and expert testimony require more time to prepare thoroughly. More straightforward cases can resolve quicker.
- Multiple defendants – Having multiple truckers, trucking companies or insurers involved tends to add time negotiating with each. Single defendant cases are more streamlined.
- Caseloads and backlog – During times of heightened caseloads, insurers may delay negotiations and extend matters. When caseloads are lighter, cases resolve more rapidly.
- Defendants’ cooperation – Intransigent defendants who dispute all allegations and evidence will prolong the process, while cooperative negotiators help cases resolve efficiently.
On average, our attorneys resolve most truck injury cases within 12-24 months. However, we customize our legal strategy to the unique circumstances of your crash. We fight for swift justice while ensuring you receive every dollar deserved.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accident Claims
How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit?
California law requires truck accident claims to be filed in civil court within 2 years of the crash date under the statute of limitations. Minors normally have until age 18. It’s critical to retain legal counsel promptly so your rights are protected before time expires.
What if the truck driver seems to have no assets?
Even if a trucker seems judgment-proof, the trucking company that hired and supervised the driver will share liability. Major trucking firms have multimillion dollar insurance policies and extensive assets available for serious injury compensation. Our lawyers know how to pursue trucking companies.
Who pays my damages if the trucker who hit me was an independent contractor?
You can pursue compensation from both the independent big-rig operator as well as the larger trucking outfit that they were hauling cargo for. The trucking company can share liability for negligently hiring or maintaining unsafe equipment. Our attorneys pursue all responsible parties.
Can I receive two settlements, one from the truck driver and one from the trucking company?
Yes, if both the commercial truck driver and trucking employer are deemed negligent and liable for your damages, you have the right to seek a separate injury settlement from both parties and their insurers. Our lawyers will identify all avenues of recovery.
How are wrongful death damages calculated in a fatal truck crash?
California allows surviving loved ones to claim both economic and non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits