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Truck Accidents

If you have been involved in a truck accident, you likely sustained serious injuries. Any time an 80,000-pound semi-truck collides with a passenger vehicle, which typically weighs around 3,000 pounds, there will probably be catastrophic injuries or even death. It can be extremely difficult to recover from a truck accident, both physically and emotionally. When you are left injured, unable to work, facing mountains of medical bills, and perhaps even unable to pay your normal monthly expenses, your life can seem overwhelming, and your future can look dim. If you find yourself in this situation, you need help—and fast.

Our Orange County injury lawyers have helped others in the same situation. We understand how you are feeling and what you are facing. When you have a top injury lawyer by your side, everything changes. You have an advocate who always has your back and who will take on the trucking company and its insurance company without hesitation, fighting for your rights and your future. We believe our highly skilled personal injury lawyers can help you get where you need to be, medically, emotionally, and financially. Below are some of the most common questions those involved in a truck accident will ask.

How Common Are Truck Accidents?

According to the NHTSA, large truck crashes account for at least 8 percent of all fatal crashes, and 3 percent of all injury crashes. While the percentages may not seem all that high when you put it into numbers, it becomes more real—in 2012, 3,921 people were killed in truck accidents, with another 104,000 injured. The number of truck accident fatalities increased by 4 percent from 2011 to 2012, and of these fatalities, 73 percent of the fatalities were the occupants of passenger vehicles, with only 18 percent being the occupants of a large truck, and 10 percent being non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists). This demonstrates that passenger vehicles are always at a higher risk of injury in these types of truck accidents.

Large trucks are more than three times more likely than other vehicles to be struck in the rear in two-vehicle crashes. Nearly 18 percent of all large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a least one prior speeding conviction, compared to 17 percent of passenger car drivers involved in fatal crashes.

What Makes Truck Accident Claims More Complex?

Determining liability is almost always more complex in a trucking accident than in an accident involving only passenger vehicles. Not only can it be difficult for a person involved in a truck accident to obtain the information necessary to prove liability, but there are also multiple parties that may be held liable for the accident. Perhaps the truck driver was responsible for the accident because he or she was driving while overly fatigued, was driving under the influence, was driving recklessly or carelessly, or was simply lacking experience.

If the truck driver was driving while fatigued, the trucking company may also be responsible for allowing the driver to exceed the number of hours allowed behind the wheel. The trucking company might also be responsible if it failed to ensure the driver was properly trained or failed to perform a thorough background check on the driver. Even if the truck driver was clearly exhibiting negligence which caused the accident, the trucking company could still share liability. If the reason for the truck accident was due to lack of maintenance of the truck, the company responsible for maintenance could bear some of the responsibility, or if poorly loaded cargo caused the accident, the loading company could be held liable.

Finally, if a truck defect was responsible for the accident, then the truck manufacturer or a manufacturer of the defective truck part could be held solely or partially responsible. Because of the many parties who can be held liable for your truck accident, it is imperative that you have a highly-skilled Orange County trucking attorney on your side. It takes an experienced Orange County truck accident attorney to ensure liability is correctly attributed, and that you receive an equitable settlement.

What are the Most Common Reasons for Truck Accidents?

While every truck accident has its own set of circumstances, there are certain factors that are more common than others in truck accidents. These factors include:

  • Distracted drivers;
  • Impaired drivers;
  • Careless or reckless drivers;
  • Lack of training for the truck driver;
  • Mechanical failure;
  • Aggressive driving behaviors;
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way;
  • Overloaded trucks;
  • Poorly loaded cargo;
  • Inclement weather, and
  • Brake or tire failure;

In particular, drowsy and overly fatigued truck drivers can lead to trucking accidents. Despite the fact that the number of hours a truck driver can drive continuously without a break dropped from twelve hours to eleven hours in 2011, many feel that the number should be even lower. After all, if you have ever driven for eleven hours at a stretch, you know just how exhausted you are. Truck drivers routinely drive eleven hours at a time, yet because a truck driver is not earning money when he or she is not behind the wheel, many truck drivers keep two sets of logbooks in order to get extra hours in. Trucking companies are almost always aware of this yet turn a blind eye because their own financial bottom line improves when drivers get loads delivered more quickly.

Careless, reckless, or aggressive driving on the part of the truck driver includes driving behavior that shows a disregard for other drivers. Reckless and aggressive driving behaviors can be especially dangerous when the driver is driving an 80,000-pound vehicle. Some of the most common types of reckless and aggressive driving include:

  • Excessive speed;
  • Failure to maintain lane;
  • Changing lanes erratically;
  • Cutting off other vehicles;
  • Tailgating;
  • Making obscene gestures to other drivers;
  • Hitting the brakes to “punish” a vehicle driving too closely behind, and
  • Blatantly attempting to run another vehicle off the road.

What Damages Can I Recover from My Truck Accident?

As with any auto accident, you are entitled to collect damages from the negligent party. Damages are any compensation you may be entitled to as a result of the accident and could include reimbursement for your current medical expenses, an estimation of future medical expenses, your current and future lost wages, pain and suffering, property damages, and, in some cases, punitive damages if the truck driver acted in a particularly egregious manner. Punitive damages are meant to both punish the defendant, as well as to deter similar behavior.

Why Do I Need a Truck Accident Attorney Following My Accident?

Your truck accident attorney from Russell & Lazarus APC will likely conduct their own investigation into your accident in order to advocate on your behalf and ensure you receive full compensation for your injuries and property damages. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney from our firm will send a legal notice to the trucking company demanding they preserve all evidence related to the crash.

It is imperative that you hire a truck accident attorney from Russell & Lazarus APC quickly, so they can make this request before evidence can be lost or destroyed. The evidence may include maintenance records which can clearly show that the truck’s brakes or tires were not properly maintained, the truck driver’s background check, driving history, and training, and the black box from the truck which can reveal a significant level of pre-crash behaviors on the part of the truck driver.

Of course, the trucking company will also likely have a company attorney on the crash scene in an attempt to minimize liability, making it all the more important that you have representation in your own corner. You do not want to be left with serious and life-altering injuries, astronomical medical expenses, lost wages, and a lifetime of pain and suffering ahead of you while the trucking company walks away without accepting liability. Contact an experienced Russell & Lazarus Orange County truck accident attorney who can handle the complex nature of trucking accidents.

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