The losses associated with truck accidents are immense, and obtaining just compensation is very challenging without the legal guidance of an experienced LA truck accident lawyer.
It’s not difficult to understand why truck accidents are so dangerous. The fact is that a fully loaded semi can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, which is many, many times the size of the cars we drive. The bottom line is that if you’re involved in a truck accident, you stand very little chance of walking away injury free, while the truck driver, themself, is far more likely to do so. Truck accidents are some of the deadliest crashes on our roadways, and if a trucker’s negligence leaves you or someone you love injured, don’t delay seeking the skilled legal guidance of an experienced truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles.
Truck Accidents Are All Too Common
Accidents that involve massive 18-wheelers are more common than you may realize. Consider the following statistics shared by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
- In 2021 alone, 4,174 people lost their lives in truck accidents.
- This number is up 17 percent over the prior year and is up 50 percent over 2009.
- Of those killed, 68 percent were the occupants of other vehicles, and only 16 percent were the occupants of the trucks themselves.
- When pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are left out of the equation, 97 percent of those killed in two-vehicle accidents that involved a semi and a passenger vehicle in 2021 were passenger vehicle occupants.
- Truck accidents accounted for 11 percent of all fatal traffic accidents in 2021.
Truck accidents are as dangerous as they are common.
Truck Accidents: Common Causes
Truckers Require Longer Stopping Distances
Truck drivers require far more space on the road to come to a safe stop or to slow down in response to hazards on the road, and when the condition of the road is bad, this differential increases further. Truck drivers who fail to account for this risk factor in terms of the distance they maintain in relation to forward traffic make our roads more dangerous for everyone on them.
Truckers Experience Serious Blind Spots
Truck Drivers and Negligence
Truck drivers are professional drivers who must carry a commercial driver’s license and are held to more restrictive safety regulations. Ultimately, many truck accidents are caused by negligence on the part of the truck driver, and this negligence can take a range of dangerous forms, including:
- Speeding – The faster a trucker drives, the less control they have over their rig, and the more likely accidents become. As the trucker’s speed increases, the more likely it becomes that any accident that happens will prove fatal.
- Distraction – Distraction behind the wheel is always dangerous, and distraction behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer is more so.
- Exhaustion – Drowsy truckers are dangerous truckers. It’s the nature of the industry for truckers to encounter exhaustion behind the wheel, which is why the trucking industry must adhere to careful hours-of-service restrictions.
- Impairment – Because truck drivers are professional drivers, the law takes a very dim view of impairment on their part. While the legal limit for the rest of us is .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), truckers are held to the much more restrictive limit of .04 percent BAC.
- Aggression – Aggression on our roads is a growing concern, and when the driver doing the aggressing is manning a semi-truck, the risk rises exponentially.
The Trucking Company
The fact is that the trucking company itself can be either directly or indirectly responsible for the truck accident that leaves you injured. When a trucking company fails to uphold its responsibilities, truck accidents become far more likely:
- The trucking company is responsible for hiring experienced and qualified truck drivers.
- The trucking company is responsible for abiding by the hours-of-service laws that help keep drowsy truckers off our roads.
- The trucking company is responsible for keeping a well-maintained fleet of rigs, which includes hiring well-qualified mechanics and supplying them with quality tools and parts.
- The trucking company is responsible for implementing regular safety and maintenance checks and for ensuring that they are followed.
- The trucking company is responsible for not cutting safety corners and for following all related regulations at the state and federal levels.
The Insurance Company
If you’re injured by a truck driver’s negligence, your claim will likely go through the trucking company’s insurance provider. The most important point to make here is that the insurance company handling your claim is motivated to keep the trucking company’s record blemish free, which includes settling your claim for as little as it can possibly get away with – if it doesn’t deny it outright.
Some important points to keep in mind include the following:
- The trucking company and the insurance company have deep pockets, and they may spend more than your claim’s total value in their efforts to mitigate guilt on the part of the truck driver or trucking company.
- The insurance company is both practiced and skilled at obtaining statements from accident victims that actually harm their own claims.
- The insurance company is almost certainly not above engaging in some pretty sketchy practices to keep your settlement low.
- The insurance rep who calls you may act like they’re on your side and are ready to help, but they actually want you to spill your guts, and it’s not unusual for rattled accident victims to say things that can be twisted into claim-damaging meanings.
In other words, the insurance company is not your friend, and the less you say to them, the better off you and your claim will be. Simply referring the insurance rep handling your claim to a seasoned truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles is one of the most important steps you can take in your efforts to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
Protecting Your Claim
See a Doctor
First things first – seek the medical attention that you need. The impact of a truck accident is immense, and even if you don’t think you were seriously injured, failure to get checked out by a medical professional can lead to disastrous health results. Very serious injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), internal injuries, and more, can be slow to present with easily identifiable symptoms, which makes erring on the side of caution always in your best interest. By demonstrating that you take your injuries seriously from the start, you also let the insurance company know that it should do the same.
Discuss Your Claim with a Trusted Truck Accident Lawyer
Take Your Doctor’s Instructions Seriously
Don’t Accept a Settlement until You’ve Discussed the Matter with Your Lawyer
Know Other Common Insurance Tactics
In addition to offering an early settlement that doesn’t come anywhere near covering your physical, financial, and emotional damages, the insurance company may have other tricks up its sleeve:
- The insurance company may attempt to shut your claim down before it even begins – hoping that you will give up.
- The insurance company may deny the truck driver or the trucking company’s negligence in the matter.
- The insurance company may call the extent of your losses into question.
- The insurance company may drag out the claims process or complicate it to the extent that you’re ready to walk away.
You’re feeling overwhelmed, and any one of these maneuvers on the part of the insurance company can be disheartening. The good news is that your truck accident attorney is well-equipped to take on the insurance company and to advocate skillfully for a settlement that covers your losses fairly.
How a Practiced Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
The single most important step you can take in your efforts to obtain just compensation is working closely with a savvy truck accident lawyer from the get-go. These claims are complex, and having skilled legal counsel on your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of yours. You’ll look to your formidable attorney to ably handle all the following primary tasks:
- Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf – so you won’t need to
- Building your strongest claim, which includes gathering all the relevant evidence – such as eyewitness accounts, photos and videos from dash cams and bystanders, physical evidence gathered at the scene, the police report, your personal account of the accident, your related medical records and doctor’s statements, and more
- Securing the testimony of professionals with relevant expertise
- Having accident recreation models created, which can help verify your version of events
- Skillfully negotiating with the insurance company for a settlement that supports your fullest recovery
- Being well prepared to take your case to trial – in the event the insurance company refuses to strike a just settlement
Additionally, your attorney will help to ensure that you remain well-informed throughout the claims process – leaving you better positioned to make the right decisions for you.