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

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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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What Happens When You File A Wrongful Death Claim?

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Losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence is devastating. However, a family member can file for a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the fatality. While it will not bring the loved one back, it can bring a sense of justice for the death and also help with financial matters that may arise from the loss.

When you’ve finally decided to file suit against the person or persons who may have caused your loved one’s demise, the most important thing to do is find a good attorney that can help you file the wrongful death complaint. They will assist you in preparing your case for the court.

What are the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit?

Laws regarding wrongful death vary slightly in different states. However, in California, there are three essential elements in a wrongful death complaint.

  • Death of a person – A plaintiff must establish that a person has died. If a person who was allegedly involved in a wrongful death is seriously injured but is still alive, then the plaintiff cannot file for wrongful death.
  • Negligence – The plaintiff must prove that it is because of the defendant’s negligence that someone died. There must be a betrayal of a certain level of care that is required from the defendant (i.e. a car driver falling asleep or a doctor dispensing the wrong medicine).
  • Plaintiff’s loss of relationship with decedent – This is usually considered by the courts to determine the amount of damages it will reward to the plaintiff if the defendant is proven guilty. The courts will review if the plaintiff was financially dependent on the deceased loved one.

How much is the amount of damages rewarded to the plaintiff?

Suppose the defendant is proven guilty of negligence, how much compensation will the plaintiff be able to claim? It is the court’s duty to decide how much the family will receive by considering various factors:

  • Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased
  • Salary background of the deceased, which will be determined by their educational background and work history.
  • Future salary of the person had they been alive, including future raises and bonuses they might have received.
  • Potential income of the person based on their life expectancy and overall health.
  • Non-monetary contributions to the family, such as helping in household chores and caring for children.
  • Hospital expenses prior to the death and the pain the deceased might have experienced during their final days.

The courts will also consider intangible losses for the family such as:

  • Loss of relationship
  • Loss of moral support
  • Loss of guidance
  • Loss of attention and many other emotional losses

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim?

Depending on the state’s law, there is a limited window of opportunity during which the plaintiff can file for a wrongful death complaint. In many states, the statute of limitations is usually two years or less.

If the plaintiff fails to file a complaint before the statute of limitations expires, they will forfeit the right to recover damages. This is why it is important to consult your legal counsel as early as possible to prepare your case. Although no amount of money can ever compensate for the value of a loved one’s life, the damages that will be awarded to the family can lighten the weight of their financial burden associated with the passing as well as help them in starting anew.

Where to seek legal assistance?

Haffner Law is a trusted law firm in California that is experienced with helping individuals file for various claims, including wrongful death and life insurance.

Get in touch with one of our lawyers today. Call 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637) or contact us for a free consultation.

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The Worsening Condition of California’s Roads and its Effect on Drivers

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Bad roads in California are proving to be more than just a driving hassle; it costs a significant amount of money.

The worse-for-wear roads in Los Angeles alone are costing drivers in the state $2,995 annually in operating expenses, according to the DC-based research firm TRIP. These expenditures include wasted time and fuel during congested hours, repairs from driving on rough roads, and possible bills related to traffic accidents. The TRIP research found that the city’s drivers collectively lose $61 billion because of these poorly-maintained roads.

A Recipe for Disaster

TRIP said that an overwhelming 87% of major roads and highways in the San Francisco-Oakland area are in mediocre or poor condition.  The same goes for 60% of the roads in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area.

What’s worse is that the state’s bridges, which carry thousands of cars over vast bodies of water every day, are among the oldest in the nation. About 56% of them are at least 50 years old. More than 77 of the bridges are considered to be structurally deficient, which means their surfaces and support are starting to deteriorate.

Zooming in on crash costs, TRIP said the average driver who goes through Los Angeles roads spend at least $299 every year because of traffic accidents. This figure takes into account the cost of hospitalization, legal representation, rehabilitation, property damage, and productivity losses.

Are State Efforts Enough?

California is working to improve its roads, but a Los Angeles Times report stated they might be doing it inefficiently. The news outlet noted that some officials aren’t convinced by California’s move to hike up the gas tax to repair or replace its bridges. They cited data from the Federal Highway Administration showing that the number of bridges in poor condition increased since the implementation of the tax hike.

They’re not wrong. The state has been putting many road projects on hold, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Its 2018 infrastructure report card showed that the state has a total maintenance backlog of $137 billion, with $57 billion coming from the deferred projects of California’s Department of Transportation.

Solving the Accountability Problem

When you or a loved one gets into a car accident involving a poorly-maintained or designed road, it’s often difficult to sue the agencies in charge of it and hold them accountable. State and federal governments have sovereign immunity that protects them from lawsuits. But if you can prove that the agency in charge knew about the road’s issues and didn’t act on them, you can sue that establishment. If you lost a loved one to such accidents, a wrongful death lawyer could help you gather evidence to prove and file your claim.

Roads are among California’s most valuable assets, as $2.8 trillion goods are moved through it, TRIP stated. Intensifying problems like congestion and road deterioration will likely worsen the state’s transportation network. It’s a vicious cycle, too, as more vehicles going through this network will only damage the roads further. As such, every driver and passenger should stay cautious each time they’re on the road.

Have a Professional Wrongful Death Attorney on Your Side

American roads, especially ones in California, are dangerous to drive on. Accidents involving faulty road maintenance and distracted drivers are a harsh reality that residents have to face. If you lost a loved one because of these issues, Haffner Law could help you find justice. We are experienced in handling wrongful death lawsuits and other personal injury cases. Our team of lawyers will guide you through the process of filing a claim and provide you with adequate representation in court.

Contact us at 213-514-5681 or 844-HAFFNER today to schedule your free case review.

Things to Know Before Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

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Losing a loved one is one is heartbreaking. The pain is even worse when the death is very sudden and is caused by a person’s negligence. Going through depression, frustration, and anger after a loved one’s death are parts of coping with the loss. But if you know and believe that someone’s reckless actions caused this, you have to act right away and consider filing for a wrongful death claim.

While no amount of money can ever fully compensate such a loss, there is a little relief in knowing that the other party was proven accountable for your loved one’s death. Moreover, the compensation will help you financially in moving forward with your life after such a tragic loss.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, here’s what you need to know before you file for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who can file for a wrongful death lawsuit?

The surviving family members of a person who passed away because of an accident, intentional homicide, medical malpractice, or another person’s negligence can file a wrongful death lawsuit. While it can be difficult to think about money when you’ve just lost a loved one, filing a wrongful death lawsuit to seek monetary assistance is normal and in many cases is the just course of action to take.

After an unexpected loss, surviving family members are left with a huge amount of financial responsibilities including funeral and medical costs, which is why it’s understandable to file for a wrongful death claim.

How to file for a wrongful death lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuits require a legally supportable reason for the claim. In order to be successful in this, surviving family members need to be able to prove the death was caused due to someone’s recklessness and that the deceased person’s family members were gravely affected emotionally and financially.

Apart from the evidence you can present such as an autopsy report to support your claim, you will need assistance from a lawyer to process the lawsuit. A reputable lawyer in Long Beach who specializes in wrongful death claims can further investigate your claims, and give you an estimated amount of compensation you can get.

What are the factors that can affect the amount of your monetary compensation?

A lot of aspects can affect the amount of recovery you can get but two key factors are the circumstances of the death and the age and health of the deceased. Relevant factors also include the victim’s lost income and if the deceased left a spouse and children that he was financially supporting.

Additionally, medical bills prior to the death of the victim and burial and funeral expenses can also be deciding factors of the settlement.

Haffner Law handles all kinds of cases and can help you process your wrongful death claim and assist you in getting a favorable compensation. Our team will make sure to represent your interests vigorously in order for you to get the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact Haffner Law at 213-514-5681 to speak to a lawyer.

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Are Wrongful Death and Survival Action Claims the Same?

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The late singer-songwriter, Prince, died in baffling circumstances in his estate a few years ago. His staff found him on the floor near an elevator, still warm but lifeless. His official cause of death was opioid overdose. Prince’s family filed a case against the artist’s hospital and doctor, claiming that the medical professionals failed to diagnose and treat the victim’s complications, which led to his fatal overdose.

Their case is an example of a wrongful death lawsuit, which you and many people are probably familiar with. There’s another less-known lawsuit that’s similar. It’s called “survival action.” This blog will establish the difference between the two.

A Primer on Wrongful Death

When an unexpected death happens due to the negligence or intent of another person, it may leave the surviving family of the deceased financially vulnerable. The family often has to pay for the wake and funeral costs, and if the deceased was the sole breadwinner, the surviving spouse or partner is left to support their child or other dependents.

Survivors of the deceased can file for a wrongful death claim to get compensation if they suspect that their loved one died from a medical malpractice, car accident, or intentional homicide.

In some instances, the victim’s family may file a wrongful death claim for cases that also qualify for murder or homicide. The wrongful death claim filed by the family of Ronald L. Goldman against former football player and actor O.J. Simpson is a notable example. Goldman was stabbed to death, together with Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, in her Los Angeles home.

The Goldman family filed a civil case, which sought for damages. They won, and the accused was ordered to pay over $33.5 million. Meanwhile, the State of California filed a criminal case, the infamous murder lawsuit of which Simpson was acquitted. The state lost this suit, but had Simpson been found guilty of murder, this case would have resulted in his arrest.

Wrongful Death and Survival Action

The primary difference between these two is the type of damages sought. A wrongful death claim focuses on the compensation given to the deceased’s family and beneficiaries for their loss and the financial problems they incurred due to their loved one’s demise.

A survival action claim focuses on the damages associated with the deceased’s income and estate based on what they could have acquired had they lived. This includes lost earnings, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased had to go through after injury until the death.

Who Can Make the Claim?

The State of California allows the following to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The deceased person’s spouse and children
  • People who were dependent on the deceased for money, such as their parents or even stepchildren
  • People entitled to the deceased’s property according to a will or court decision

Meanwhile, the representative of the deceased’s estate (such as the spouse or children) may file the survival action suit.

Be mindful of the differences between these two suits. When in doubt, ask your lawyer for advice. Make sure you’re getting the right information before filing your claim, to get the just compensation you and your loved ones deserve.

Have a Capable Lawyer on Your Side

The family of wrongful death victims ought to have an experienced wrongful death attorney in Los Angeles on their side to get fair compensation. Our trial attorneys at Haffner Law will help you understand your options and make the right decision. Our practice areas include personal injury, business litigation, bad faith insurance, and class action lawsuits.

Call us now to speak with one of our attorneys.

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