Common Causes of Trucking Accidents that Result in Wrongful Death

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As one of the country’s largest trucking ports, Long Beach in California is no stranger to truck-related accidents. Although city authorities have made changes to reduce the number of road accidents, these incidents still occur due to the trucking industry’s lax procedures.

Unfortunately, trucking accidents are one of the common causes of wrongful death.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is any fatality caused by negligence or an intentional act (e.g., battery). A wrongful death claim is a civil action that can be filed against the individual or organization liable for the fatality. It can be brought to court by the deceased’s spouse, children, or other close family members.

If you think your loved one’s passing in a truck accident could have been prevented, you might be looking at a wrongful death lawsuit. Learn the triggers of a trucking accident to know who to sue for the death of your family member. And when you discover the reasons, it will be helpful to have a wrongful death lawyer guide you through filing a claim.

Top 5 Reasons Trucking Accidents Happen

Fatigue

Overworked drivers are prone to falling asleep behind the wheel. With demand for shorter delivery times, they find themselves under pressure to drive longer distances with few to no breaks during the journey.

Substance Abuse

Alcohol and illegal drug use are typical in most truck drivers. Driving under the influence of these substances dull their senses and impair their coordination. According to a recent study, drivers take these substances to cope with the loneliness and stress of their occupation.

Speeding and Overtaking

Drivers sometimes have unrealistic delivery deadlines, forcing them to make bad judgement calls on the road. They resort to speeding and overtaking, putting themselves and other motorists in danger.

Distracted Driving

Boredom causes truck drivers to use their phones to communicate with family and friends or find music or podcasts to entertain them. Looking at their phones takes their attention away from the road, increasing the chances of getting into a collision.

Poor Maintenance

The law states that trucks need to be in optimal condition to operate. But some truck owners delay maintenance because of the cost and downtime. They wait until the last minute to have their trucks inspected and repaired so they could increase deliveries. But this puts the vehicles at risk of malfunctioning while traveling at high speed on freeways.

Who is Liable in Trucking Accidents?

Once you’ve determined that your family member’s death was due to negligence, you need to identify who is liable. In truck-related accidents, the fault can fall on four parties:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Owner of the truck
  • Cargo loaders or manufacturer

Determining the responsible party requires investigation. If you want to proceed with the wrongful death claim, you should consider hiring an attorney specializing in wrongful death cases. They know where and what to investigate to tighten your case and raise your chances of getting the right compensation.

Haffner Law can help you and your family move forward and find justice. We provide legal assistance and representation for wrongful death victims’ next of kin. Call 1-844-HAFFNER (4233637) to book an appointment with one of our attorneys today.

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Wrongful Death Due to Truck Accidents: Liability and Claims

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Collisions with commercial trucks can be fatal to motorists and passengers in private vehicles. Sedans and SUVs are often no match against the heft and speed of delivery and cargo trucks, especially 16- and 18-wheelers. As such, the risk of fatalities is high in car crashes involving trucks.

When you or someone you know becomes involved in a fatal truck crash, you should know your rights. Learn the damages you can claim and the possible defendant in your lawsuit, so you can quickly move forward to building your case with your truck accident attorney.

Passenger Vehicles Have the Highest Fatalities in Large Truck Accidents

A recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that passenger vehicle drivers and passengers had the highest number of deaths in large truck accidents from 1975 to 2018.

Between 2000 and 2018, 66% to 75% of the total annual recorded deaths were occupants of passenger vehicles; 14% to 17% were truck driver occupants, and 9% to 16% were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The report also states that in 2018, passenger vehicle occupants constituted 96% of the deaths in two-vehicle crashes involving large trucks and passenger vehicles.

The data proves the immense vulnerability of passenger vehicles in truck collisions. It is one reason truck drivers and employers are held to a high standard of driving ethics and best practices. Truckers are subject to strict government regulations on blood alcohol levels, and employers must comply with the OSHA’s requirements and specifications for vehicle maintenance. If they neglect their responsibilities, they are liable for the oversight that results in a road accident.

Wrongful Death Claims: How Much Can You Claim and Who is Liable?

If you are a surviving family member of a wrongful death victim in a truck crash, you may file a claim against the truck driver or the trucking company.

California’s pure comparative negligence law states that someone involved in a car accident can claim compensation up to the extent of their fault in the incident. For instance, if the jury rules that the truck driver is entirely at fault in a wrongful death accident, you can claim 100% of the compensation awarded by the court. If the jury awards the victim $500,000 in compensation but finds the truck driver only 80% at fault, you will receive only 80% of the amount, or $400,000.

What are the damages you can file? California allows the spouse or domestic partner, children, grandchildren, and other qualified dependents to claim compensation for the following:

  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Medical costs
  • Loss of financial support (if the deceased provided for them )
  • Compensation for grief, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of parental guidance, and others

There’s also the matter of who will pay the compensation. If the truck driver is an independent contractor, your claims will be filed against his insurance. But if the driver is employed and the company was found to have contributed to the accident due to oversight, the claims will be filed against the company’s insurance.

The pure comparative negligence rule also allows you to file claims on other motorists who are also at fault in the accident.

Our Experienced Truck Accident and Wrongful Death Attorneys at Haffner Law

Filing claims for wrongful death in a truck accident takes a lot of work. You’ll benefit from a truck accident lawyer with plenty of experience in wrongful death claims.

Our attorneys at Haffner Law have decades of experience in handling both wrongful death and truck accident claims. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Talk to our lawyers in Los Angeles today. Call 1-844-HAFFNER or 213-514-5681 to schedule a consultation.

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Wide Turn Trucking Accidents: Damages, Liabilities, and Your Rights

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Trucking accidents go beyond runaway trucks, highway pile-ups, and high-speed collisions. Although these are common accidents due to speeding, some can occur at slower speeds and on side streets or smaller roadways.

Our trucking accident attorneys in Los Angeles often find these “close-quarters” accidents may still cause serious injuries despite the lower speeds. One of the most common types of such accidents is wide-turn trucking incidents.

What are Wide-Turn Truck Accidents?

The large turning radii and size of a tractor-trailer must approach turns more cautiously compared to smaller passenger cars. This is especially true when making a right turn. When trucks need to make a tight turn to the right, they have to move over another lane to leave enough space for the right turn. As they make their turn, they may have to veer to the left, which often meets oncoming traffic. A good turn ends with the truck entering into the right-hand space.

When trucks open the space on the right, pedestrians or car drivers may enter the free area, which ends up with the truck closing in on them. Smaller cars could be wedged between the curb and truck, causing them to run into poles, get crushed, or squeezed into another vehicle.

Scrutiny is necessary to determine the liable party when it comes to wide-turn trucking accidents. In most instances, the truck driver may have been negligent by making a quick turn.

The Driver’s Negligence

A truck driver can be negligent in numerous ways when making a wide right turn, causing injury to pedestrians or drivers. This often occurs when the truck driver disregards their responsibility to take proper precautions when making a turn.

Some examples of errors a driver can make when making a turn:

  • Swinging out too far to the left
  • Turning from the wrong lane
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol
  • Failing to signal before making a turn
  • Not waiting for the traffic to clear before turning

Another issue concerning wide right turns is making a right turn when the light is still red. Red-light turn laws differ from one state to another. Drivers must be aware of their state’s red-light turn law, as well as signs prohibiting their turn. They should also follow right-of-way rules when proceeding to turn on red light stops.

Recovering Damage

Similar to other commercial vehicle accidents, a wide turn truck accident causes losses and damage to the crash’s victim. Due to the complex nature of such incidents, legal action is necessary to compensate the victims for their losses. Damage in a trucking accident can cover:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses (hospital bills and medications costs)
  • Property damage
  • Lost earning capacity

Pursuing legal action is necessary for helping victims recover, as well as launch an investigation into the trucking company’s safety practices and policies. In numerous instances, this can prevent future accidents.

We Fight for Fair Settlements

Haffnew Law will fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you need to recover from a trucking related accident. We study the details of your case, allowing you to maximize the value of your claim.

Call us at 213-514-5681 and receive a free consultation about your legal options.

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Safe Ways to Navigate and Share the Roads with Large Trucks

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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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