Improper Cargo Loading and Truck Accident Liability

Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyer In the realm of motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents are uniquely dangerous — particularly those that involve large trucks that may be loaded with cargo.  Trucks tend to be heavier than other vehicles, and as such, the impact forces in an accident are likely to be much more severe.  The aggregate force of impact can lead to serious (if not catastrophic) injuries or even death. Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons, but among the more common types of truck accidents are those that are caused by improper cargo loading.  Improper cargo loading involves cargo that is not adequately secured (and is therefore prone to sliding or tumbling in the back of the truck), or cargo that has been placed in such a way that it creates a structural imbalance. Let’s examine this issue more closely. Improper Cargo Loading Can Create a Substantial Rollover Accident Risk Improper cargo loading — whether the cargo has not been secured properly or has been placed in a manner that creates a fundamental weight imbalance — can lead to a rollover accident in many cases, particularly situations where the driver is taking a sharp turn. Drivers may be additionally liable for failing to take into account their cargo load.  For example, if a truck driver is carrying a full load of cargo, they should be careful to slow down when taking turns and shifting lanes so as not to create a rollover accident.  Drivers must be considerate of […]

Do I Have a Responsibility to Make Myself Obvious as a Motorcyclist?

Phoenix Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Motorcyclists have good reason to be paranoid while operating their vehicles on America’s roadways.  Motorcycle accidents — in Arizona and elsewhere — are often caused by car and truck drivers who fail to drive in a manner that accounts for the possibility of two-wheelers on the road, or who otherwise fail to “notice” the presence of a two-wheeler.  This can expose motorcyclists to an unreasonable risk of harm. Given the risks, it’s not surprising that many motorcyclists wonder whether they have an affirmative responsibility or duty to make themselves more (in the visual and auditory sense) obvious to others. Let’s explore some of the basics for a clearer understanding. Motorcyclists Must Exercise Reasonable Care — There is No Special Responsibility to Make Oneself Obvious Motorcyclists have no affirmative responsibility or duty to make themselves obvious.  In fact, it could be reasonably argued that attempts to make themselves more visible or otherwise obvious to other vehicles could expose the motorcyclist to additional risks of harm.  For example, many motorcyclists swerve within their lane to make themselves more visible to passing cars, but this activity can confuse other drivers — they may not be aware that you are intending to stay in your own lane. As a motorcyclist, your mind should be focused on exercising reasonable care given the circumstances.  If the actions necessitated by the circumstances involve making yourself obvious, then that would justify you doing so.  Otherwise, it’s not required to take additional or special actions […]

Negligent Hiring Claims and Commercial Vehicle Liability

Phoenix Accident Lawyer If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another, then you may be entitled to recover damages pursuant to Arizona law.  It’s worth noting, however, that the lawsuit may change depending on whether the defendant was operating a “commercial vehicle.” If the defendant-driver was operating the vehicle for a commercial purpose — in other words, if they were an employee acting within the course and scope of their employment — then you might have legitimate, actionable claims against their employer on the basis of vicarious liability and negligent hiring theories of liability.  Claims against an employer are valuable for a number of reasons, chief amongst them the fact that employers tend to have deeper pockets and more to lose by going through litigation (i.e., their commercial reputation), and as such, you’re likelier to secure full and adequate damage recovery in litigation against the employer. Let’s explore negligent hiring claims. Independent Employer Negligence and Negligent Hiring Negligent hiring claims are “independent” claims brought against the employer for their own contribution of negligence in a commercial vehicle accident — they are quite unlike vicarious liability claims, which impose liability on the employer for the negligence perpetrated by the employee. In Arizona, you can hold the employer liable for both negligent hiring and for claims falling under the vicarious liability umbrella. Thus, in order to succeed in establishing liability in a negligent hiring lawsuit, you’ll have to show that the defendant-employer actually acted in […]

Hit and Run Accidents

Hit and run accidents are more common throughout the United States than you might think.  A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report indicated that an average of 682,000 hit and run crashes occur annually (based on data recorded since 2006).  If you’ve been injured in a hit and run accident, then you may have a right of action for damages, even if the other driver cannot be found.  If the driver can be found and depending on the circumstances, your case may be strengthened by the fact that the defendant fled the scene. Reasons Why a Defendant May Flee the Scene There are a number of reasons as to why a defendant may flee the scene of an accident, some of which are more “egregious” than others.  Consider the following: Lack of insurance coverage Underinsured Concern over potential liability Driving while intoxicated (and want to avoid being arrested and charged) Fear of reprisal Shock Unaware of collision If a defendant flees the scene, you are not entirely without options for litigating your injury claims.  You may be able to identify the defendant by gathering and evaluating surveillance footage, speaking to eyewitnesses or by monitoring the accident scene after the collision, as most drivers tend to stick to a pattern of travel if the collision occurred on a daily commute. Civil Liability for a Hit and Run Accident Hit and run accidents may not only expose the defendant to criminal liability, but may also expose them to potential civil liability, […]

Sudden Emergency Defense in Car Accident Lawsuits

Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer In Arizona, as in other states, the behavior of the defendant-driver in a car accident is not always unjustifiable.  Depending on the circumstances, the defendant-driver may have acted in a reasonable manner, even though their actions ultimately led to an accident (and subsequent injuries).  These situations tend to be rather uncommon, but they do happen — the sudden emergency doctrine covers one such scenario. By developing a more complete understanding of the defenses commonly used to avoid liability in a car accident lawsuit — such as the sudden emergency defense — you can be better prepared to undermine the defendant’s argument. Let’s take a closer look. What is the Sudden Emergency Defense, and How Does it Work? The sudden emergency doctrine — on which the defense is anchored — establishes that a defendant cannot be held liable for when they act reasonably (given the circumstances) in reaction to an emergency.  This can be a difficult concept to explain using general terms, so let’s explore a quick example to clarify. Suppose that you are injured in a car accident where the defendant-driver shifted into your lane suddenly and slammed into the side of your car, causing you to collide with the median and suffer serious harm.  As it turns out, however, the defendant-driver only acted in that manner in order to avoid a massive ditch that would have sent their car falling at least ten feet or so.  The defendant was acted out of necessity due to […]

Wrongful Death Actions Require Underlying Liability

Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney Wrongful death litigation can be emotionally overwhelming.  Family members must not only process the untimely and unexpected death of their loved one but must also pursue comprehensive litigation in order to secure damages that can compensate them for the losses they suffered as a result. Many first-time plaintiffs are not entirely familiar with wrongful death litigation and what it entails.  Wrongful death actions can be rather difficult to conceptualize compared to a standard personal injury action. Stated simply, wrongful death actions are brought by certain qualified family members for the damages they suffered due to the loss of their loved one.  For example, suppose that a father dies in a car accident that was caused by the fault of another.  The child of the deceased might have a legitimate wrongful death claim for the losses they sustained — including but not limited to their mental anguish, the financial support they will no longer receive from their father, and the love, companionship, and guidance of their father. If you’re interested in bringing a wrongful death action (against the party responsible for the death of your loved one), it’s important to understand some of the limitations typical of such disputes. Let’s take a brief look at one such limitation. Accident-Related Deaths Do Not Always Create an Actionable Wrongful Death Claim In Arizona, actionable wrongful death claims require an underlying wrongful act — either negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.  If there is no underlying wrongful act linked to the […]

Are You Entitled to Damages for Your Car Accident-Related Disabilities?

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident (due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party), then Arizona law may give you a right to secure compensation for your losses, including losses relating to any disability that results from the accident. Damages for disabilities sustained due to an accident can vary substantially depending on the activities of the plaintiff and the length of the disability at-issue.  For example, if you are a highly-active socialite and enjoy outdoor recreational activities, then your disabling condition may preclude you from not only working in your profession, but may also preclude you from engaging in the social and recreational activities that once defined your lifestyle.  These damages can be difficult to measure, but may be significant. Disability Benefits and Occupational Deficits There is quite a bit of variation when it comes to disability insurance plans.  In some plans, a disability is strictly defined as a condition that precludes the claimant from working in “any” occupation, whereas in other plans, a disability is more broadly defined as a condition that precludes the claimant from working in their “own” existing occupation. For example, suppose that you purchased disability insurance coverage that includes an “own occupation” definition of a disabling condition.  You are then involved in a car accident, where you suffer a back injury.  Your current career is as a physical laborer in a warehouse.  Due to the back injury, however, you are permanently rendered incapable of performing your current job […]

Can I Recover Damages if I Was Hit While Walking on a Roadway?

If you have sustained serious injuries in a pedestrian accident while you were walking on a roadway, then you might be somewhat confused as to your rights — after all, it may not be clear whether you were actually entitled to walk on the roadway (under Arizona law) at the time of the collision. Arizona regulates pedestrian roadway use quite stringently.  Let’s take a look at the basics. Sidewalk Use is Highly Controlled Section 28-796 of the Arizona Revised Statutes governs pedestrian use of roadways in situations where sidewalks may or may not be present.  More specifically, Arizona statutory law prohibits pedestrian use of roadways when there are sidewalks on (or adjacent to) the roadway at-issue. Where no sidewalk has been provided, pedestrians are allowed to walk along the roadway, but this accessibility is limited.  Pedestrians may only walk: On the left side of the roadway, or On the shoulder of the roadway, facing traffic that may be approaching from the opposite direction. Further, you may not stand in a roadway — even briefly — to solicit a ride.  For example, it is illegal to step onto the road to call a taxicab.  You must stay on the sidewalk (assuming that a sidewalk has been provided). Arizona Comparative Negligence In the event that you did, in fact, violate the various statutory regulations concerning sidewalk use and pedestrian roadway use, then Arizona law may not necessarily preclude you from suing and recovering damages for your injuries — though your recovery will […]

Common Negligent Acts Giving Rise to a Truck Accident

Truck accidents are not only quite common, but they tend to give rise to more severe injuries than other types of auto accidents, in major part because the impact force caused by a truck tends to be much higher on average.  As such, it’s critically important that truck drivers are considerate of unique the risks involved in operating their vehicles, and that they drive appropriately so as to minimize those risks to the best degree possible. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident scenario, then you may have a right of action against the truck driver — and potentially even their employer — for damages under Arizona law.  In Arizona, and elsewhere, truck accidents (whether involving a commercial truck or a personal vehicle) may be caused by a range of negligence-related factors. Consider the following. Improper Cargo Loading Improper cargo loading is perhaps one of the most common causes of truck accidents, as it can lead to rollover risks.  Truck drivers — along with cargo loaders, supervisors, etc. — must make reasonable efforts to ensure that cargo has been loaded appropriately so as to avoid a heightened rollover risk.  This applies to non-commercial contexts, too.  For example, if the defendant has rented a U-Haul truck, and decides to load all their heavy furniture to one side of the truck, then that could lead to a rollover accident. Failure to Properly Maintain Vehicle Trucks must be adequately maintained to prevent mechanical issues that could lead to an accident on […]

The Legality of Lane Splitting in Arizona

In Arizona, and elsewhere, motorcyclists sometimes attempt to split lanes in an effort to cut through traffic and avoid the gridlock.  This is perfectly natural, of course — many motorcyclists see lane splitting as a maneuver that is meant to take advantage of the unique dimensions of a two-wheeled vehicle.  Motorcyclists (like most others on the road) tend to also see themselves as exemplary operators and may therefore find any restriction on lane splitting to be questionable. In reality, however, lane splitting can expose both motorcyclists and others to a significant risk of injury.  It should come as no surprise that Arizona and most other states have regulated lane splitting in an effort to minimize the occurrence of motorcycle accidents (and the injury claims that may result from such behaviors).  As per section 28-903 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, the state imposes a complete ban on motorcycle lane splitting. How does this effect damage recovery in a motorcycle accident?  Let’s take a look. Recovering Damages in a Lane Splitting Accident Given that lane splitting is banned in Arizona by statute, if you are involved in an accident while you are splitting a lane (i.e., riding between two lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles), then you will be found negligent per se. Importantly, however, the fact that you are negligent for violating the lane splitting prohibition is not — in and of itself — enough to prevent you from successfully recovering damages in an accident.  Arizona implements the […]

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