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Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC
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Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?

People who are seriously injured in trucking accidents and the families of people who are killed might think that they don't need to get help from personal injury attorneys because of the obviously serious nature of their accidents. However, failing to get help from a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in handling trucking accident cases can make it much less likely that you will prevail in your claim. Trucking accidents have unique features that make getting experienced legal help crucial. Here are some reasons why it is best to get help from a truck accident lawyer if you have suffered an injury or have lost a loved one in a collision with a large truck.

There may be Multiple Parties That are Potentially Liable

As we have previously explained, trucking accidents may involve multiple parties that are potentially liable. In addition to the truck driver, the company for which the driver was working at the time of the collision may be liable under a legal theory called respondeat superior. This is a Latin term that translates as "let the master answer for the servant" and is used in California to assign liability for accidents to employers when their employees negligently cause injuries to others while they are acting in the course and scope of their employment.

The drivers and their trucking carriers are not the only potentially liable parties in truck collisions, however. Other parties that might be liable to pay damages in a truck accident case include the following:

  • Third parties who negligently repaired the trucks
  • Owner of trucks that are leased to the trucking company
  • Manufacturers of trucks or components that are defective when the defects caused the accidents
  • Third parties that loaded the cargo improperly or that improperly secured the loads
  • Trailer manufacturers or owners
  • Government entities

An experienced personal injury attorney will review what happened and investigate a trucking collision case thoroughly so that he or she can determine all of the parties that should be named as defendants. It is important to name all of the potentially liable parties in a lawsuit. If you fail to name one defendant and a jury determines that the party that wasn't listed in your lawsuit was 30 percent at fault, you will not be able to recover 30 percent of your losses.

Truck Accident Injuries May be Severe

Because of the differences in size and weight of large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, the injuries that people might suffer are often more severe than the injuries that people might suffer from other types of collisions. As we have noted previously, some of the common types of injuries that people suffer in truck accidents include the following:

  • Traumatic brain and head injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Multiple fractures
  • Burns
  • Internal bleeding
  • Serious lacerations
  • Whiplash
  • Death

In many cases, truck accident victims may suffer multiple types of injuries and are likelier to die than the victims of other motor vehicle collisions.

Trucking Companies Litigate Claims Aggressively

Trucking companies and insurance companies litigate injury and wrongful death claims aggressively. Because of the catastrophic nature of these types of collisions, the injuries and damages may be extensive. The policy limits on trucking carrier liability policies are substantial and may exceed $1 million. Because of the potential to have to pay hundreds of thousands out in injury or death claims, the trucking carriers and their insurance companies often mount aggressive defense cases to the claims that are filed. It is important to have a legal representative who understands the types of defenses that these companies might raise so that he or she can anticipate them and build a strong case that proves the liability of the driver, carrier, and other defendants clearly.

Laws and Regulations That Govern the Trucking Industry are Complex

The trucking industry is heavily regulated under both federal and state laws. Understanding these laws is important for you when you are trying to prove liability in a trucking accident claim. For example, truck drivers are only allowed to drive and work a certain number of hours per day and a certain total number of hours each week. There are also regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about inspections and maintenance requirements. A lawyer who regularly accepts trucking collision cases might be able to identify violations of the law by the defendants that can strengthen your case.

The Negotiations Process Can be Complicated

As previously mentioned, there might be numerous defendants in a truck collision case, and the policy limits for the various liability insurance coverages may be high. Each defendant may have teams of defense attorneys who are paid to minimize or avoid the losses that their companies might incur in injury and wrongful death claims. Trying to negotiate with all of the different defense lawyers can be daunting. A personal injury attorney who handles trucking collision cases may be skilled in negotiations and knowledgeable about the various laws and regulations that apply. The attorney may be able to use his or her combination of litigation skills, legal knowledge, and experience to deftly handle all of the negotiations on your behalf so that you might secure the maximum amount of compensation.

Experienced Attorneys Might Understand How to Preserve and Gather Evidence

After a collision that involves a large truck, there are many different types of important evidence that could be lost due to the passage of time or because of interference by the companies. For example, trucks now must have electronic logging devices that log the hours that the trucks are operating on the roads. Trucks also have black boxes that work in a similar way to the black boxes in airplanes. These devices record information about what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. In some collisions, this information is transmitted directly to the trucking carriers where it might be altered or destroyed. When you get help from an experienced personal injury lawyer, he or she can file a motion with the court asking that the evidence is preserved. The court may then issue an order directing that the evidence is preserved so that it can be reviewed by your attorney for your case.

Understanding Comparative Fault Laws and How They Might Apply

In California personal injury cases, comparative negligence rules apply. Under these laws, each party is responsible for the percentage of fault that is allocated to them. For example, if you are determined to be 40 percent at fault and receive a gross verdict of $1 million, you will recover a net award of $600,000 for your losses. When there are multiple parties, each party will be responsible for paying the amount that is attributed to them. Determining the percentage of fault that each party has can be difficult. Insurance companies often try to argue that the injured victims have a greater percentage of fault in an effort to reduce the amounts that they might ultimately have to pay. Getting help from an attorney who understands the comparative negligence rules in California might make it likelier that you will recover the compensation amount to which you should be entitled.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Being involved in a collision with a large truck can be life-changing. You might be left with a permanent disability, mounting expenses, and a reduced ability to earn an income or to enjoy your life. When you get help from an attorney in Los Angeles who is experienced in truck accident cases, you can concentrate on your recovery and rehabilitation while your lawyer fights for you. To learn more about your potential claim, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat today.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
★★★★★
Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
★★★★★
Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
★★★★★
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
★★★★★
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.