Safe Ways to Navigate and Share the Roads with Large Trucks

truck accident attorney in los angeles

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Reporting Analysis System (FARS) revealed that in 2018, large truck accidents resulted in 4,136 fatalities. Of this number, 67 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles and only 16 percent were occupants of trucks. Pedestrians, meanwhile, made up 15 percent of the fatalities.

These numbers show that passengers of smaller vehicles are more vulnerable when sharing the road with large or semi-trailer trucks. The latter are 20 to 30 times heavier and go 20 to 40 percent farther than smaller vehicles when braking.

Truck drivers must, of course, observe safe and proper driving techniques when they are on the road. However, drivers of smaller passenger vehicles must also do their part to safely navigate the road when large trucks are around.

Haffner Law has been representing truck accident victims in Los Angeles for years, so we have gathered a few valuable pieces of advice on how to share the road with trucks.

  1. Stay out of trucks’ blind spots

Because of a truck’s height, width, and length, it has considerable blind spots on all of its sides. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) illustrated trucks’ blind spots, which includes 20 ft in front, a lane on the left side, two lanes on the right side, and 30 ft. behind.

When driving in front of a truck, your rearview mirror can help you determine if you’re in the truck’s blind spot or not. If you can see its windshield in your rearview mirror, the truck driver can see you. The best practice, though, is to keep your distance from a large truck.

  1. Do not cut in front of a truck

As mentioned earlier, a truck’s stopping distance is about 20 to 40 percent longer than smaller vehicles. What’s more, the front of a truck is a large blind spot. So, if you cut a truck off, it cannot hit the brakes fast enough to prevent colliding with your vehicle’s rear end. In fact, it may not be able to brake at all, because the driver cannot see directly in front of the truck’s bumper so they might not know you’re there.

  1. Always use your turn signals

If you want to switch to a lane where there’s a truck, you must always use your turn signals three seconds or more before merging. This gives the truck driver time to slow down to allow your vehicle to pass safely. Apart from turn signals, make sure to follow the rearview mirror technique stated above before merging.

  1. Be mindful of the gap when a truck turns right

Because of a truck’s length, it requires more room to turn. When making a right turn, it may swing wide into the left lane, freeing up the right one. Do not try to squeeze into this free space because it is only temporary while the truck is turning the corner. Once the front turns successfully, the rear part will close in on the free space. If you try squeezing into this gap, you may get stuck between the truck and the curb with nowhere else to turn.

If you followed these tips and observed safe driving practices but you were still involved in a collision with a large truck in Los Angeles, we can help. Haffner Law’s truck accident attorneys can assist you with filing claims so that you can be compensated for the damages resulting from the collision.

Contact 1-844-HAFFNER to speak to an attorney.

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Finding Fault: Who Is Liable if Your Car is Hit by a Delivery Truck?

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If your car was accidentally hit by a delivery truck, big rig, or similar commercial vehicle in Los Angeles, the driver isn’t automatically liable. This is true, even if the driver was clearly at fault and caused the accident.

In determining who is financially liable for any damage to your car or for injuries you sustained, certain requirements must be met.  Let’s discuss these prerequisites.

The Company that Owns the Truck

In many cases, the company can be held responsible for a vehicular accident. The legal term for holding the company responsible is “Respondeat Superior”— Latin for “let the superior answer”. The company that owns the truck can be held liable as long as the accident occurred during the scope of the employment of the driver and the act was not intentional.

The Employee or the Contractor

Another legal requisite you should know as the injured party is whether the driver that caused the accident was an employee or independent contractor of the company. This is important because erring independent contractors can extinguish much of the company’s liability.

State laws may differ in classifying the nature of employment, but generally, it is determined by how much control the employer has in how the driver’s work must be done. If the employer has control over the result of the work, but not how the driver arrives at the result, then the driver is likely an independent contractor.

Other important factors are if the truck driver used his own truck, paid for his own gas, assumed the cost of repairs and liability insurance coverage. If the company doesn’t pay his employee benefits or deduct taxes from his paycheck or have no say in how he must drive the truck or make deliveries, the driver is liable as an independent contractor. If the opposite were true and these expenses were shouldered by the company and taxes were withheld from his paycheck, then the company would be liable.

Acting Within the Scope of Employment

Establishing that the act that caused the accident was done within the scope of employment can be complicated. For an act to be considered as such, these facts and circumstances will be scrutinized:

  • Nature, time, and place of the driver’s behavior
  • Driver’s intent at the time of the accident
  • Type of work the driver was hired or paid to do
  • Incidental tasks expected of the driver to do within reason
  • Amount of freedom afforded the driver in doing their work
  • Amount of time consumed in the personal activity

The time, manner, and nature of the work performed by the driver will be deciding factors in the liability.  For instance, if the truck driver backed into your car while making a delivery, the employer would be liable for damages as the driver was acting “within the scope of employment.”

Let’s assume that in another case, the driver is off-duty but hits another car. This time, the company is exempted from liability because the driver was not acting “within the scope of employment.”

A good truck accident lawyer should be well-versed in ascertaining if the accident occurred within the scope of the driver’s employment.

Other Defendants and Conditions

In some cases, the employer and the truck driver won’t be the only ones that can be held liable for damages to your property or injuries to you. If in the course of the investigation, any parts of the truck, such as the brakes or tires, were found to be of poor quality (not just by wear and tear), then the parts manufacturers can be held liable as well. Other conditions, such as overloading the truck or forcing the driver to work beyond the legal working hours for truck drivers in LA, will mean more liabilities and imply a greater chance of you reaching a settlement.

To conclude, should your car be accidentally hit by a truck, the principle of Respondeat Superior usually applies. The company that owns the truck, and not its driver, will have to answer for any damage to your car and injuries you sustain. However, if the driver was an independent contractor and not an employee, the driver is at fault.

If you figure in such an accident, establishing liability and getting a settlement shouldn’t be done only by you, your insurance company, and the insurer of the other party. You deserve full compensation for any damage, injuries, and loss of income. Getting the expert help of a law firm is your best course of action.

Contact Haffner Law at 1-844-HAFFNER today for a free consultation.

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The Four Major Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer Los Angeles

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most devastating injuries a person can suffer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”

While the brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid, which protects it from direct contact with the skull, a sudden, violent action can cause the brain to collide with the skull. This may result in the bruising of the brain, tearing of nerve fibers, and even bleeding. Because a person’s brain is a delicate thing and vulnerable to severe injuries, even the bumps which aren’t all that strong can lead to TBI.

Suffering from TBI has many long-term consequences, from minor ones like headaches and dizziness to more serious illnesses like impaired brain function and memory problems. Unfortunately, brain injuries are quite common. According to the CDC, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults. Every year, about 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI.

Different circumstances can lead to TBI. The most common ones are as follows:

  1. Slips and Falls

An icy sidewalk, the bathroom, a highly polished floor—slip-and-fall accidents can happen almost anywhere. These accidents happen suddenly, so a lot of people do not have the time to regain or find their balance and they end up hitting their head on a hard surface. The impact may result in all manner of head injury, like skull fracture, internal bleeding, or TBI.

  1. Vehicular Accidents

Vehicular accidents are the most common causes of TBI. Drivers and passengers may get TBI from striking their heads on the vehicle’s interiors or from suffering whiplash, which can cause the brain to collide with the skull.

  1. Playing Sports

Football and hockey are some of the most popular games in the U.S. However, they are also some of the most common causes of TBI. Despite protective gear, athletes knock their heads against each other or on the ground when playing these sports. The first few times may cause mild concussions, but continuous head injuries, especially when neglected, can result in severe damage down the road. Many athletes in these sports end up with a diagnosis of chronic brain trauma or suffer from degenerative diseases after they retire.

  1. Acts of Violence

Gunshot and knife wounds, repeated blows to the head, and being violently shaken by another person are acts of violence that may result in TBI. The first example is a type of open head injury that can penetrate the skull and injure the brain. The latter two, meanwhile, may cause the brain to rock back and forth within the skull, creating lacerations, bruises, and other damage.

Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injury

The symptoms of TBI do not often manifest physically. Some people even ignore the symptoms, such as dizziness and headaches, thinking they will pass. This makes TBI a tricky and dangerous illness, so it is essential to seek medical attention.

If you have been diagnosed with TBI from an incident that was due to someone else’s negligence, you can claim compensation for what will likely be a long and expensive medical treatment course. An experienced brain injury attorney from Haffner Law can help you get the compensation you need in Los Angeles. Contact Haffner Law at 1-844-HAFFNER today for a free consultation.

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Dangerous Load: Examining the Spike in U.S. Truck Accident Deaths

truck accident attorney in los angeles

Trucking continues to be the most popular job in the country, particularly in states like California and Texas. In 2016, the number of truck drivers in the country reached 3.5 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s understandable, as about 71% of products moved in America involves trucking. And according to the American Trucking Associations, the industry needs almost a million more drivers to keep up with rising demand.

Although this job seems one of the more promising careers that wouldn’t disappear any time soon, it is also one of the most dangerous in the United States.

Trucking Dangers

Over 4,889 fatal crashes in the United States in 2017 involved large trucks and buses, according to the latest data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The agency pointed out in their fact sheet about truck fatalities that this figure is a 9% increase from the previous year. It’s also a 42% jump from 2009’s 3,432 truck and bus crash-related deaths. Injuries related to truck and bus crashes saw an increase of about 4% from 2016 to 2017.

According to data gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most of these deaths are passenger vehicle occupants. But truck drivers are also at great risk. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that there were more than 918 driver fatalities in 2016, which was significantly higher than any of the other entries. Farmers came in second at 260 fatalities and grounds maintenance workers third at 217.

What makes this profession risky?

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are often paid by the miles they travel to deliver a load. The BLS states that companies usually have a rate of $0.28 to 0.40 per mile.  As such, truckers need to cover large distances to make ends meet.

Drivers are also given strict delivery times. This may cause them to get only a few hours of sleep or none at all just to meet the demand.

Poor food options from bus stops may not give them the nutrients they need as well, to sustain them through the night. And there’s also the physically demanding task of loading and unloading goods to their trailers.

These all contribute to truck driver fatigue, which may cause a driver to respond slower to objects on the road, make poor driving decisions, or worse, fall asleep on the wheel, according to the National Academies Press.

While over one in 25 people in the U.S. experience drowsy driving, it’s significantly more dangerous when a truck driver dozes off while on the road. A 40-ton eighteen-wheeler pushing 65 to 70 miles per hour on a Los Angeles freeway can cause significant damage to a 1.39-ton car and the people inside it in the event of a collision.

If you’ve been injured by a drowsy truck driver, it’s important to have a truck accident lawyer on speed dial to ensure that you get medical and financial compensation as soon as possible.

Trucking contributes so much to the American economy. But it can’t be ignored that truck accidents are significant problems in the country, too. The FMCSA recently released a checklist for drivers to follow to avoid fatigue. Furthermore, researchers around the world are also doing studies to learn what constitutes driver fatigue, its causes and effects,  and how it can be avoided. You can never be too safe on the road.

Have an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer on Your Side

If you get into a truck accident in Los Angeles and its neighboring cities, Haffner Law’s team of litigators will help you get compensation for the damages you incurred. We’ll help you file a personal injury claim and provide aggressive representation in court. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that your case yields a favorable outcome.

Contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER and 213-514-5681 today for a free case review from one of our experienced attorneys.

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Personal Injury: What to Do After a Fatal Truck Accident?

Truck Accident Lawyer Los Angeles

Accidents can happen anytime, either because of mechanical failures or driver’s behavior. The latest data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows passenger vehicle occupants comprise the most deaths in large truck crashes. People traveling in smaller vehicles are more vulnerable, it says.

Just last April, a crash near the Crown Valley Road exit involving an overturned propane truck injured at least five people, including a mother and a child. A camper and a sedan were also part of the accident where four of the five patients were reported to be in critical condition.

Being involved in a fatal accident is a traumatic experience. Not only will you suffer from physical injuries that can affect your way of life, but also from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What should you do to get due compensation for the experience?

File a Truck Accident Claim

If the accident occurred because of the negligent truck driver, you may file a truck accident claim. You may receive compensation for the damage caused in the accident. A truck accident attorney can help you process your lawsuit based on the laws in Los Angeles.

Right after the accident, seek medical attention to determine if you have sustained any injuries. Make sure to properly and accurately document the incident. Take note of the details of the vehicles as well as the information of the drivers involved and file a report with the police.

Additionally, you can also gather information from witnesses. They can give you unbiased accounts of what they have witnessed. Take photos of the accident scene in different angles, too. These photographs can help to establish liability with an at-fault truck driver.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Getting the other driver’s insurance information, together with the name of the company where the truck driver works, makes the process of recovering damages faster. It’s usually present in the police report, but it’s better to get it yourself, too.

Insurers tend to call accident victims to access their medical records and other pieces of evidence. They might also offer you a settlement, especially when the liability lies with them. In cases like this, remember not to accept their offer or talk to them. You might inadvertently make a statement that could implicate you as the one at fault for the crash.

When the insurance company comes to you, tell them to speak with your attorney instead. Your attorney knows how to negotiate with them to receive the settlement you deserve.

Seek Legal Assistance from an Experienced Lawyer

Filling a truck accident claim is a complicated process as it involves different factors. The possibility of having multiple individuals affected by the truck accident, for instance, can prolong the process. Work with an attorney who has years of experience in handling truck accident claims. You’ve suffered from your accident already. You shouldn’t suffer again when you seek compensation.

Haffner Law helps you get favorable compensation. We will negotiate with the insurance company and establish your case on your behalf. Our team will make the process as smooth as possible to reduce the stress you’re under. We will provide aggressive representation to recover the full compensation you need.

Contact us to learn more.

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