What You Need to Know About Deadly Truck Crashes

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One in every ten vehicles involved in a fatal crash is a large truck. In fact, according to data gathered by the National Safety Council, in 2019, 5,005 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes around the country. That is a 43% increase from 2010.

That statistic is alarming since the people injured or killed in these crashes are likely not the drivers or passengers of trucks. And, compared to other types of vehicle crashes, there are more factors to consider when taking legal action against truck operators or trucking companies.

It can be difficult to pinpoint if and where negligence occurred in accidents involving trucks, mainly because there are several possibilities.

The Truck Driver

Truck drivers are the first and most obvious potential cause of injury-causing crashes on the road. Many of the recorded crashes involve drivers who were negligent or who had dangerous driving behavior.

In 2020, a catastrophic crash involving a FedEx truck and a bus killed five people on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Investigations are still underway. However, recent information brought forth in the lawsuit point to the driver’s use of noise-canceling headphones that impaired his ability to hear early collision warnings as the cause of the incident.

Distractions are not uncommon causes in this type of scenario. According to this video by Inside Edition, distractions are one of the top three reasons for truck driver-caused collisions.

Other reasons pointed out in the video are speeding and following too closely. These actions are especially problematic because the sheer weight and size of trucks make it considerably difficult for their drivers to react or stop in time to avoid crashes.

The following are other common reasons for driver-caused crashes:

  • Inadequate training — Drivers may not have had the right training or license to operate their vehicles.
  • Drowsy driving — Drivers may be going over the federal regulations limit on driving hours, which causes fatigue.
  • Impaired driving — Drivers who are impaired by alcohol or a drug may not correctly operate their vehicle.

That said, even if the truck driver was proven to be at fault in a crash, the trucking company that employs them may also be held liable.

The Trucking Company

If a trucking company involved in a crash was proven to have prioritized profit over safety, they can be held legally accountable as well. In fact, three of the common reasons mentioned in the previous section can be directly caused by the companies.

Inadequate driver training can be traced back to the trucking company. Drivers need to be equipped with the right knowledge and specialized skills to drive the vehicle before they are trusted with it on the roads.

Speeding and drowsy driving can also be a result of unrealistic schedules set by the trucking company. Some drivers purposefully drive faster or through bouts of drowsiness in order to follow the company’s timelines.

According to CNBC, the average verdict size in a trucking collision lawsuit of more than $1 million has increased by almost 1,000 percent from 2010 to 2018. This means juries are now awarding an average of $22.3 million, compared to $2.3 million back in 2010.

However, drivers and trucking companies are not the only ones who can be accountable.

Other Parties

Other parties such as the loading company, the vehicle manufacturer, or even the government can be held liable as well.

The loading company may have overloaded the truck or may not have secured the cargo properly, causing a crash. Faulty components or a defective truck can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Poorly maintained roads can also cause accidents.

The Final Word

Injury-causing or deadly crashes involving trucks are increasingly common. Often, in these cases, the injured parties are those not in the trucks. In cases like these, understanding the several possible causes of the crash is critical. Seeking the help of a lawyer with experience in truck crash cases is key to seeking legal remedies.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a similar incident, give us a call at 1-844-HAFFNER or 213-514-5681 so we can discuss your options.

 

Liability in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Truck Accidents

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Large truck accidents are a common occurrence in California due to its network of highways (some of which are known as the most dangerous roads in the U.S.). According to the latest data published by the NHTSA, seven percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks or commercial trucks in the country happened in California in 2018. This was equivalent to 339 accidents involving 4,986 vehicles.

Truck accidents can happen to even the best and most careful of drivers. Regardless of the circumstances, whether the accident is due to unforeseen circumstances or the result of negligence, someone will be liable for the resulting injuries and death.

If you get injured or someone you know died of a car accident involving large trucks, you’re entitled to seek compensation and damages from the party at fault.

Determining Liability in a Fault State

California is a fault state. The person responsible for a car accident has liability and must, therefore, provide compensation and damages to the injured party. This means that if a driver admits to looking at their phone while driving which led to a collision, their insurance will have to pay for the other motorist’s medical bills and car repair. `

Who Has Liability in Truck Accidents?

Things get a bit trickier when an accident involves commercial trucks. Since it now involves an employee and employer, victims may have several parties to sue:

  • The truck driver
  • The retailer or company that hired the truck driver
  • The independent contractor (if the company hired a third-party trucking company)
  • The truck manufacturer (for incidents due to manufacturing defects)

Truck drivers are often liable for traffic accidents because they occur as a result of driver negligence or oversight. For example, a driver may be feeling sleepy or distracted by something on the side of the road, and that moment of distraction caused them to swerve slightly into the oncoming lane.

Employers may be held accountable if they are responsible for the driver’s exhaustive schedule, for example, or if they neglected the poor condition of their trucks. If any of these reasons contributed to the accident, employers may share liability in the accident.

Third-party contractors like workshops and crews that help load the truck may also be liable if their oversight caused the accident (e.g., they didn’t fasten the safety nets and tethers securely enough).

Victims Must Prove the Fault of the Truck Driver or Trucking Company

What’s important for personal injury and wrongful death victims is to prove that the other party is at fault; that the accident was a direct result of their negligence. The burden of proof could be difficult in some cases, which is why it’s important to hire experienced truck accident attorneys. Even if you have no plans of filing a lawsuit and are only interested in filing an insurance claim, you’ll need a personal injury attorney’s experience and knowledge of collecting police evidence and proving the fault of the responsible party.

Claim the compensation and damages you deserve as a personal injury victim or the surviving family of a wrongful death victim in a truck accident. Get in touch with Haffner Law so we can make this happen.

Request a FREE consultation today.

Filing Truck Accident Claims with Independent Contractors

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Victims in truck accidents understandably go to trucking companies or employers right away for compensation for their medical bills and damages to their car or property. In some cases, however, the truck driver involved in the accident is an independent contractor. California has over 70,000 owner-operator truckers, making up a huge chunk of the estimated 350,000 independent contractors from all over the country.

If you or someone you know has gotten into a truck accident, get in touch with our truck accident attorneys in LA. Given the high chance that the driver involved might be an independent operator, you’ll want to have a lawyer who knows how to handle the difference between insurance claims against a truck company and claims against independent contractors.

Establish Liability

It’s important to find out if the truck driver is working as an employee of a truck company, retailer, manufacturer, production facility, etc. Next is to establish that the accident happened within the driver’s scope of work (i.e., while they were on the clock, while they were en-route to a delivery or return trip). These are grounds for filing a claim against the employer or truck company that employs the truck driver at fault.

If, however, the company hired the truck driver as an independent contractor, they can pass all liability over to the truck driver. This can make personal injury claims complicated for victims: truck drivers have much less insurance coverage and financial capability than big companies.

If you think there is a possibility of holding the affiliated company or a third party partly liable for the accident (i.e., if the truck driver purchased brand-new tires that turned out to be defective), you’ll need an experienced truck accident attorney to build your case.

Underinsured Motorist Insurance Claim

Owner-operators of commercial vehicles choose to be independent contractors because they can get higher pay and enjoy more flexibility with their services. The compromise is that they will also carry all the responsibilities that the trucking companies do:

  • Truck maintenance
  • Regular engine and performance checks
  • Licensing
  • Insurance coverage

Understanding the risks, many long-haul independent contractors perform their due diligence before going on the road. But in case an accident happens and the truck driver-operator has little to no insurance, victims can still file for claims in two ways:

  1. File a claim against the truck driver responsible for the accident
  2. File an uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage claim against the victims’ insurance policies.

Both claims can proceed simultaneously. If you’re wondering why you need to file a claim from your own insurance policy, it’s because you might need immediate compensation for emergency medical care, hospitalization, and lost wages, to name a few.

Can your insurance company raise your premiums? It is a legitimate worry for motorists around the country, but not in California. Thanks to the state’s Proposition 103, insurance companies are prohibited from raising the premiums or canceling the policy of a client who files a UM/UIM claim from their insurance policy.

A Watchful Eye on All Fronts

Getting involved in a truck accident with an independent contractor can indeed be complicated. You could be battling to claim damages against the truck driver and their insurance carrier, and you could have a similar conflict with your insurer if you need to file a UM/UIM claim.

Our LA-based, truck driver attorneys at Haffner Law can give you valuable legal advice for all of these scenarios. We’ve spent many years upholding the rights of victims in truck accidents in California. You can count on our legal expertise and experience in these matters.

Have our fierce truck driver attorneys to negotiate with insurance companies and fight for the compensation you deserve. Talk to Haffner Law today.

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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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