Truck accidents occur every day in Phoenix, AZ. Due to trucks' large sizes and weights, many truck accident victims sustain severe injuries. Truck accidents usually cause catastrophic injuries and damages. The heavy loads carried by the trucks are, in fact, additional dangers. For instance, when the cargo falls on the road, it might lead to further accidents to other road users behind the truck. Other trucks carry chemical contents. The chemical may cause respiratory damage and poisoning or even start a fire.
If you or your close relative suffer injuries in a truck accident, you want to contact a lawyer. This is because cases involving truck accidents are complicated. You want to hire a top accident attorney to challenge the truck driver, trucking company, truck part manufacturer, among other possible parties for the accident. The attorney will examine your case and determine whether your claim is valid.
Our attorneys at Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm are well-versed with Arizona accident laws. We understand you are in pain and need current and future medical attention based on the nature of your injuries. We have helped countless people suffering injuries from truck accidents obtain fair compensation.
Vehicles That Qualify as Trucks in Arizona
Not every vehicle on Arizona roads qualify as a truck. Under the state's laws, a truck is any vehicle used for carrying items/property apart from the personal property of passengers or drivers. Certain vehicle features like weight determine if specific laws will apply in various cases. Generally, when we refer to a truck accident, it means an accident involving commercial motor vehicles like:
- Delivery trucks
- Big rigs
- Oil and gas trucks
- Box trucks
- Tow trucks
- Dump trucks
- Refrigerated trucks
Statistics of Truck Accidents in Arizona
According to FMCSA, the number of people injured in truck collisions annually across the nation has doubled. For instance, since 2009, from around 74,000 victims to 145,000 in 2016. This means accidents happen anytime on the Arizona highways, even when least expected.
Common Injuries Suffered in a Truck Accident
Since truck accidents tend to be catastrophic, victims sustained severe injuries. The injuries vary based on the truck's load and speed, among other factors. The following are the common injuries you suffer in the accident:
Back and Neck Injuries
One of the common injuries suffered in a truck accident is neck and back injuries.
When a commercial truck accident collides with a small vehicle, the accident's impact alone can attract deaths. The accident survivors might suffer tendon injuries, ligament injuries, and muscle strains. As the victim, you might also sustain soft tissue damage to the neck and back. These injuries might not appear immediately after the accident. So, it's good you seek medical attention immediately after the accident, even when you feel ok.
Due to the explosion and fire after the accident. You might also suffer friction burns when you scrape against the truck interior. It might become challenging to treat these burns since you may require surgery. You might indeed end up undergoing plastic surgery. These burns may also come with complications like infections. When filing your claim, don't forget to include any form of burns you suffer in the accident.
Another common type of injury in truck injuries is broken bones. A broken bone might sound like an injury that will heal naturally. But, not every fracture will heal without medical assistance. Note, several fractures might even require expensive surgeries before they heal. The injuries might even lead to you having screws, pins, and rods inserted to hold the bone in their position. Remember, all the fractures will risk infection, internal bleeding, permanent deformity, and nerve damage if left untreated.
One of the most severe injuries you might suffer in a truck accident is spinal cord injury. The injury occurs when your spinal cord is severely damaged. In many cases, the injury leads to total paralysis. Primarily, the spinal cord works as a communication channel between the brain and the general body parts. Thus, when the spine is completely damaged, it will cut off the communication between the brain and your whole body parts. Many injured victims will require assistance in eating, speaking, breathing, and even bathing.
Sharp metals, shattered glass, hard plastic interior, dash panel, and auto frames can result in lacerations. Many accident victims suffer for extended periods and are left disfiguring over their bodies. The most severe lacerations are facial lacerations since they are exposed and visible.
A commercial truck accident may lead to deaths, especially when it's a catastrophic accident. Unfortunately, when your loved one is killed in a truck accident, you and their family can seek compensation for wrongful death. Filing a claim for the wrongful death will help the survivors of the victim, relatives, children obtain funds for funeral costs, medical expenses, and even loss of financial support. However, these cases are complicated and require numerous court proceedings. When the stakes are high, the insurance companies also tend to fight harder.
What to Do After a Truck Accident in Arizona
If you or your loved one is involved in a truck accident in Arizona, the following steps are beneficial:
Contact the Authorities in Arizona
You want to contact the authorities immediately after the accident. The law officers will compile a report. The police report might be essential when you seek compensation for your injuries in the future. Report the truck accident, where and when it occurred, whether several people suffered injuries and the nature of the injuries. Don't assume someone else will contact the law officers about the truck accident.
Gather Evidence at the Accident Scene When Possible
Based on the nature of the accident, the step might not be possible. However, when you can, it's recommended to take images of the involved vehicles before they are moved out of the scene, photos of the accident scene, and other images of the nearby landmark. The evidence will be essential later as you seek compensation for the suffered injuries. The more you gather evidence, the higher your chances to win huge compensation amounts. It's also good you collect evidence from the eyewitnesses. Ask the witnesses to provide their names and contacts. Witnesses are essential in the future during your case settlement.
Exchange Your Information with the Involved Drivers
After contacting the authorities in Arizona, politely contact the involved drivers. The conversation should aim at obtaining the following details:
- The involved driver's full names
- The insurance information
- The other drivers truck company employer
- The state where the involved driver is registered to drive the truck
Also, if the other driver attempts to obtain your information, don't fail to do so. However, do not attempt to discuss the accident with the involved drivers. If the involved driver is reluctant to provide their information, wait for the police to arrive, and they will handle the issues immediately.
Seek Medical Help
It's a bad idea to delay medical attention. Even when you think the injuries are minor, TBI and whiplash are not easily detected. Also, failure to seek medical help immediately after the accident might be used against you by the responsible party when seeking compensation. Let your medical provider record all the necessary medical records. Don't throw away the x-rays provided by your doctors. Keep the medical report safe since it will be critical during the case settlement.
Discuss the Next Move With Your Personal Injury Attorney
Before deciding on what to do next, you must find whether you have solid grounds for a successful claim and discover whether it is worth it. Remember, the truck accident claim might be worth millions since the injuries you sustained are catastrophic. However, to obtain the deserved compensation amount, you require the legal help of a competent Arizona accident attorney. So look for an attorney with a good record in fighting for compensation to truck accident victims.
Do Not Say Anything Until You Speak With Your Attorney
In many truck accident cases, the offer provided by the truck companies is low. The fact is that truck accident companies employ a team of legal experts with a common goal of protecting the company from paying large compensation amounts. The truck accident company does anything to skip the liability. So, this is the main reason why you want to consult your attorney before you do anything.
Don't answer when the other parties ask you for more details about the accident; keep calm. Also, when the police ask questions where you don't understand, speak with your attorney first before saying anything. Remember what you say might hinder you from obtaining fair compensation in the future.
Who is Held Responsible When a Truck Accident Occurs
Truck accidents are always terrifying. Due to commercial trucks' huge size and weight, the vehicles result in extensive damage when they collide with other vehicles. Holding the party responsible for the accident is easy in accidents involving vehicles like cars since the driver owns the car and has it insured. However, truck accident cases are more complicated. Identifying the liable party is complex. The reason is a truck may have multiple parties responsible for the accident, as discussed below.
The Truck Driver
In determining liability in truck accidents, many drivers are held liable. Like other vehicles, humans operate trucks and are subject to making errors. Although the truck drivers are well trained and have a valid driver's license, it doesn't mean they will not make mistakes. According to recent research, truck drivers are the most common cause of truck accidents.
Drivers' negligence is the leading cause of many truck accidents. Remember, the driver might cause an accident because of an outside factor. For instance, many truck companies pressure their drivers to meet unrealistic quotas. The pressure makes the driver speed or drive while fatigued. Under this case, the court will hold the truck driver responsible for the accident and compensate for the injuries and damages suffered.
How Loading Company is Held Accountable for Truck Accidents
Arizona's industry regulations govern everything, including loading cargo properly; failure to follow the rules might attract truck accidents. The loading company must load the cargo well and ensure the vehicle is not overloaded. An overloaded cargo is more likely to have a truck accident. Under Arizona laws, the loading company will be responsible for the truck accident when:
- The cargo was loose, unsecured, or exposed.
- The loading company did not maintain adequate records.
- The alleged truck was overloaded.
- Unskilled or trained person loaded the vehicle.
- The cargo fell from the vehicle onto the highway and caused the accident.
Under the state's laws, the list is not comprehensive. So, if the cargo was improperly loaded or unloaded, anyone, including the shipment owner or cargo loader, or the transporter, will be held accountable for the damages and injuries suffered. Thus, the loading company will compensate the victims of the accident.
When the Truck Company is Responsible for the Accident
Although the truck company representatives cannot be present in all the trucks, the truck company is still responsible for the truck drivers, the truck, and the damages suffered in the accident. When the truck company policies, negligence, or expectation lead to the accident, the company will become responsible.
However, involving the truck company in the accident might be challenging. That's why it's recommended you seek legal advice from a competent Arizona accident attorney. The truck company might become responsible for the accident in various ways, including so, the court will require the truck company to compensate the accident victims fairly.
The Truck Company is Held Responsible for Their Truck Drivers
The truck company should employ well-trained and qualified truck drivers. Also, they must conduct background checks, conduct alcohol and drug testing regularly, and offer training to their drivers. Also, the drivers must be well supervised to ensure they follow the regulations and state laws.
Unfortunately, several truck companies don't meet the above requirements. Many trucking companies prioritize profits over safety; thus, engaging in accidents. Other truck companies don't even conduct background checks; this ends up hiring unqualified drivers with a record of substance abuse. Also, failure to offer the proper training and supervision may place the truck company in trouble.
Truck companies must also abide by federal and state regulations. The company should not pressure the drivers to violate the FMCSA work hours law. The law governs the number of hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle and then rest. Therefore when the truck company disobeys the federal laws by encouraging their drivers to work longer hours, they're endangering the lives of other road users. The truck company will become responsible for the accident.
The Truck Company Should Ensure their Truck are Safe
In America, federal laws govern the maintenance of trucks. Their maintenance is that trucks are large vehicles that may cause catastrophic accidents without good maintenance. Good maintenance helps prevent issues like worn tires and defective parts, which lead to accidents. Thus, when a proper repair isn't completed, the system and equipment on the vehicle could fail and lead to an accident.
Many truck companies hire maintenance crews to be in charge of replacing parts and repairing others. Thus the truck company mUst ensure the trucks are safe and well maintained. When the truck company leases its trucks, the truck owner will be accountable for maintenance and repair. Failure to observe proper care will lead the truck company to become responsible for the accidents.
When the Truck Manufacturers are Held Responsible for the Accidents
Like in other vehicle accidents, truck manufacturers are liable in a truck accident. This is because one small manufacturer defect in a commercial vehicle may result in a catastrophic accident. If you or your loved one is involved in a truck accident resulting from a defective part, the manufacturing company is held responsible.
Most defective truck parts include failed power steering, faulty brakes, tire defects, ineffective locks, which may cause the cargo to tumble out of the truck, etc. It is the responsibility of the truck manufacturers to communicate these defaults and issue recalls and the trucking companies. The trucking companies then pay attention to the recalls and remove defective parts. When the manufacturer fails to address the defective truck parts, they may be held accountable for the accidents resulting from the faulty parts.
Laws Governing Truck Accidents in Arizona
The state and federal laws govern truck accidents in Arizona. The federal laws control the truck industries and outline the standards and rules that drivers and truck companies must follow. The regulations are outlined in Title 49 of the federal regulations. Also, the state has its laws which the drivers and truck companies must follow. The rules intend to keep the road users safe. The laws are discussed as follows:
- Arizona Revised Statutes 28-709. The law prohibits truck drivers from driving above 65 miles/hour.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 28-1095. The law sets maximum sizes/lengths for the trucks. For instance, the size of a semitrailer must not exceed 57 feet.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 28-958.01. The law requires all trucks to have rear splash guards. The guards help in minimizing the debris.
Damages in a Truck Accident in Arizona
The damages awarded in Arizona are both non-economic and economic damages. The economic injuries involve monetary losses, which result in the truck accident. Alternatively, non-economic damages include losses that don't have a monetary value.
The state also awards punitive damages in some instances. The court uses these DC images as a way of punishing the defendant. However, the court inflicts the damages in cases where the defendant's behavior is particularly egregious or willful. For example, the court may award punitive damages when impaired driving caused a truck accident.
Under the state's laws, employees and public entities are immune from punitive damages. So, neither a public employee nor a public entity acting within their employment area may be held accountable for punitive damages. For instance, when you are collided by a dump vehicle operated and owned by the Phoenix Works Department, the court won't award you punitive damages.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Several factors may cause truck accidents. They include:
Over speeding is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle accidents. Many truck drivers are constantly under pressure to deliver freight in time. To meet the deadline, they tend to speed up. Excessive speed then results in truck accidents.
Driving too fast is a common reason for truck accidents. In addition, due to reckless driving, the drivers may not heed the warning of slick roads from rain, oil spills, or snow.
Alcohol or Substance Abuse
Truck drivers may turn to alcohol. Again, due to the long hours alone, they may use illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. After using the drugs, they may result in severe road accidents.
Sometimes the vehicle may fail and result in an accident. For example, when the brakes are faulty or when the tires are defective, the vehicle may easily result in an accident. Again, the truck may fail due to the trucking company's lack of inspection and faulty maintenance.
Sometimes trucks carry unbalanced loads. For example, a shift while making a turn may result in a truck carrying an unbalanced load tipping over then crashing. This results in truck accidents.
Exhaustion and Fatigue
Truck drivers are always on the road for extended hours. They even spend sleepless nights trying to please their employers. Due to fatigue, they usually result in truck accidents.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Truck accidents cases may be lengthy, confusing, and complex affairs. The case may revolve around the challenging facts about regulations of specific parts, sleep schedules, insurance contracts, and weights. Navigating these cases might be difficult. So, it would help if you had a better understanding of the whole process involved after a truck accident.
Contacting an experienced attorney is highly preferable for your case. At Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we are here for you. We will handle your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. So contact us right away at 602-641-9589 and speak with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys.