Committed to Recovering Damages for Persons Injured in Phoenix Truck Accidents as Well as Surrounding Arizona Areas Including Kingman, Bullhead City, and Mohave County
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Phoenix due to the fault of another, Arizona law may entitle you to compensation for your various injuries. Truck accidents — particularly those involving employers and third-party defendants — can be rather challenging to litigate.To improve your prospects, it’s important that you work with an experienced Phoenix truck accident lawyer who has a proven track record. Call 602-535-1900 today to set up a free initial consultation with one of the skilled injury attorneys at Hirsch & Lyon.
Arizona Truck Accident Statistics
In the state of Arizona, and throughout the United States, truck accidents are not only among the most common personal injury incidents (giving rise to a lawsuit), but are also among the most dangerous. Victims involved in a truck accident may sustain serious injuries, such as paralysis, brain damage, decapitation, and other trauma, or even death. Truck accident statistics reveal the inherent dangers of truck accident. In a 2015 study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were approximately 3,598 fatal crashes and 83,000 injury-causing crashes linked to large commercial vehicles in the United States. Those involved in truck collisions may be eligible for compensation, and an experienced Phoenix truck accident attorney at our firm can help victims recover their maximum due damages.
Why Are Truck Accidents More Serious Than Other Types of Accidents?
When a large truck collides with a passenger-sized car, the outcome can be disastrous. The sheer size of these commercial vehicles alone contributes to the extensive damage that truck accidents can result in. Truck accident victims often suffer serious injuries that can shatter their lives and the lives of the people they love the most. The Phoenix truck accident lawyers at Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law P.L.L.C. know far too well just how life-changing a trucking accident can be. Our lawyers have decades of collective experience assisting people who have suffered devastating injuries because of a trucking accident.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
One of the most common trucking accidents that we see in our legal practice occurs when a truck driver makes an unsafe lane change and collides with a car either passing on the left or right. Serious accidents also often happen when a truck is making a right turn from the left lane. Although the truck is supposed to remain in the right lane keeping the trailer as close as possible to curb and only swinging out into the left lane long enough to complete the turn, truck drivers often make right turns all the way from the left lane. When a truck driver swerves the trailer into the left lane to make a right turn, a car or bicycle with the space to pass on right is likely to be struck when the truck attempts to complete the right-hand turn.
Other types of truck accident claims that come across our desk involve cars that are rear-ended by semitrailers and other large trucks, as well as truck drivers who turn left in front of passenger vehicles, resulting in a serious collision.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Phoenix: The Role of Negligence in Commercial Vehicle Crashes
Large trucks and buses are uniquely dangerous in the accident context, thanks to a number of different factors: a) trucks tend to be heavier than other vehicles, so the impact force is more substantial and can cause more damage to others; b) trucks require a longer distance than smaller vehicles to come to a complete stop, and this difference is further compounded in poor weather conditions; and c) trucks may be improperly loaded, thus leading to a serious rollover risk.
Negligent actions that may lead to a truck accident – and subsequent personal injury – includes, but is not necessarily limited, to:
- Failure to drive cautiously given the circumstances of the road
- Failure to adapt driving to poor weather conditions
- Excessive speeding, particularly when turning
- Failure to properly maintain truck (brakes, engine, etc.)
- Failure to load cargo in a safe configuration so as to minimize rollover risk
- Driver under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Driving while fatigued
- Violations of federal and state regulation pertaining to truck driver scheduling and maintenance requirements
- Failure to adhere to road signals
- And more
Negligence in the truck accident context can be quite varied, depending on the particular circumstances of the case. Because there are so many factors involved in a truck accident case – and because trucking companies will likely fight the claim – it is imperative that victims seek legal counsel with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Phoenix who can protect their rights.
Truck Accidents Caused by Unsafe Lane Changes
Unsafe lane changes occur when a driver either drifts into the adjoining lane or pulls in front of a car traveling in that lane. A sideswipe is dangerous under any circumstance, but when a semi hits a smaller vehicle, the occupants face the prospect of a very serious accident. When the smaller vehicle is a bicycle or a motorcycle, the rider does not stand a chance against the large truck. Our lawyers are skilled at discovering the truth of what happened and proving liability.
After an accident, our Phoenix truck accident attorneys launch an immediate investigation into the crash. At the crash site, we investigate debris field, gouge marks, skid marks and any other evidence that might be relevant to the accident. We also review the truck’s event data recorder, which records data about the moments immediately before and following impact, such as braking, steering, speed and angle of the truck. Our high level of diligence and attention to detail is why we are effective at recovering the maximum possible settlement or verdict award.
“I Did Not See You” is Not a Defense
The most common responses to lane drift are, “I didn’t see her,” and, “She came out of nowhere.” These are not valid excuses for making an unlawful lane change. The driver has a duty to remain in his lane and to look before crossing into the adjacent lane. The driver also has a duty to know where his blind spots are and to ascertain that nobody is obstructed from view.
Often, lane drift is caused by the driver’s inattention, including looking for a street sign, rubbernecking another accident, texting or daydreaming. Commercial drivers are prohibited from texting or talking on a phone while operating a truck, but they often ignore this federal regulation. We subpoena phone records if we suspect the driver was distracted by texting at the time.
Fatigue Log Book Irregularities and Issues
Being a commercial truck driver is a stressful job – it requires long hours behind the wheel, lots of tedious (and sometimes difficult) driving, and an ability to complete ambitious delivery schedules on a daily basis. Because truckers are often paid by the mile and trucking companies want deliveries to be completed as quickly as possible, there are built-in incentives for truckers and their employers to violate the Hours of Service regulations (HOS) imposed by the US Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, crashes can happen as a result. Anyone involved in a truck crash due to a driver’s fatigue, negligence on either the trucker or trucking company’s part, or any other trucking violation has the right to speak with a truck accident attorney in Phoenix.
Federal law requires HOS compliance to be recorded in a log book but both truckers and trucking companies routinely falsify the records and “fudge” the numbers for various reasons. Drivers work overtime to make extra money and make up “lost” miles caused by long wait times at loading docks or delays from weather and highway traffic. Or a driver just wants to get home for the weekend and exceeds the hour limits to make that happen. Trucking companies often impose demanding (and unrealistic) delivery schedules on their drivers or may offer drivers bonuses for making extra stops. Regardless of the reasons, falsifying log books in a federal crime and the trucking companies can be held liable for any injuries caused by fatigue-related accidents.
Hours of Service (HOS) Laws Regarding Truck Driver Hours
The HOS limit a trucker’s working time in various ways:
- Not more than 11 hours of total driving time per day.
- Not more than 8 consecutive hours of driving (driving can resume after a break of at least 30 minutes).
- A maximum workday of 14 hours (including the 11 permitted hours of driving and all breaks)
- Drivers cannot begin another 11-hour driving day or 14-hour workday without first taking 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- Not more than 70 working hours in a consecutive 7-day period.
- Drivers cannot start another 7-day work week without first taking at least 34 consecutive off-duty hours.
The Dangers of Fatigue
Simply put, more driver fatigue causes more accidents. Sleep deprivation slows reaction time and impairs a driver’s ability to drive and operate their truck’s controls. Nearly 500,000 accidents involving large trucks happen on US highways annually resulting in over 5,000 fatalities and 140,000 injuries. Studies have shown that fatigue and overwork play a major role in many of these accidents.
Arizona Has a Statute of Limitations: Don’t Wait to Pursue Your Truck Accident Claim
If you do not file your lawsuit in a timely manner, you may not be eligible to sue and recover damages in a court of law. Because Arizona’s statute of limitations sets a two-year max for filing a personal injury case, it is critical that you seek the counsel of an experienced Phoenix truck accident lawyer soon after your injury so that your claims can be fully assessed and your lawsuit filed before the statutory deadline.
Once you have consulted with a personal injury attorney and your case is taken on, your legal representative will investigate the facts (sometimes in conjunction with a professional investigator) and determine potential indications of negligence.
Vicarious Liability in Arizona
In Arizona, as in many other states, employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, so long as the negligent employee committed the acts at-issue within the course and scope of their employment. Vicarious liability can be a bit confusing, so let’s take a look at how it works in the truck accident context.
For example, suppose that you are injured in a truck accident by a commercial trailer truck. The driver negligent at the time of the accident (fatigued, speeding, and disobeying road rules), and as a consequence of this negligence, you were injured. Not only can you hold the truck driver liable for your damages, but Arizona law would also entitle you to sue and recover damages from the employer. You will have to show, however, that the truck driver was acting within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident (i.e., by delivering goods in accordance with their job duties).
Vicarious liability is particularly useful in situations where the truck driver defendant does not have the insurance coverage or funds necessary to pay out your total damages. If you have racked up over $1M in total damages, for instance, you may find it easier to get your payout from the employer than from the employee truck driver.
Employers may also be separately liable for their own negligence. For example, imagine that you are injured by a truck driver who was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Further investigation reveals that the driver had a history of alcoholism and drunk driving incidents on their driving record. The employer could therefore be held independently liable for negligently hiring the driver and failing to properly supervise the driver, given the history of alcoholism and drunk driving.
Trucking Companies Have Specialized Insurance Companies. You Need a Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyer On Your Side to Fight Back
Although truck drivers are sometimes completely at fault for a collision, winning a truck accident case can be an uphill battle. Trucking companies typically work with their own specialized insurance companies that have superior experience in defending truck accident cases. This means that you are likely to have a serious fight on your hands, even in the most straightforward cases of obvious fault. An accident victim who is not represented by an experienced Phoenix truck accident lawyer is no match for the expertise of these powerful insurance companies.
The trucker’s insurance company may contact you for a statement. You have the right under Arizona law to simply refuse. We recommend that you do not speak to the insurance adjuster until you have consulted with an attorney. Remember, whatever you say can be used against you.
Another common tactic insurance companies use is to seek quick settlement for less than what you are entitled to. Once you sign a release, you forfeit your rights to additional compensation. Therefore, you should discuss your claim with an experienced attorney before signing any paperwork. Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law offers a free case evaluation so you can learn whether the offer is fair or if your case may be worth more.
We Will Launch a Rapid and Thorough Investigation
When a truck accident victim hires our firm, our legal team will take quick action to investigate the crash. A thorough and rapid investigation is critical to the success of your case. Our truck accident lawyers in Phoenix, AZ will locate and review all the evidence to determine the cause or causes of the accident. Our investigation will examine many different factors, including possibilities of an overloaded truck, mechanical defects, driver noncompliance with federal break and sleep standards, and impaired or distracted driving at the time of the accident.
Consult With a Qualified Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Hirsch & Lyon’s attorneys have over six decades of combined experience obtaining successful results for our injury clients, with the track record to prove it — over the years, we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. Unlike many other Phoenix truck accident law firms, we are available 24/7 for our clients. If you have any questions or concerns about your case, feel free to call in and speak with one of our staff members. Additionally, we offer our services at a discounted rate. As such, if you litigate a case with us, you are not only benefiting from best-in-class legal advocacy, but the discounted rate means that you take home a larger amount from the total damages award.
To schedule a free consultation with a Phoenix truck accident lawyer at Hirsch & Lyon, call 602-535-1900 today. We look forward to speaking with you.
Phoenix Truck Accident FAQs
Q: I was speeding at the time of the accident. Can I still recover damages?
A: Yes. First, even if you were speeding, the fact that you were speeding did not necessarily contribute to your injuries. Only if your negligence contributed to your injuries will it affect your ability to recover. Second, Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state. What this means is that you are entitled to recover damages even if you are mostly at-fault for your injuries. For example, if you are deemed 60% at-fault for your injuries, you will still be able to recover 40% of your total damages.
Q: Do punitive damages apply to my case?
A: It depends on the circumstances. Punitive damages are rather uncommon in civil injury lawsuits. Generally speaking, the court will only award punitive damages in cases where the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious or malicious in nature, as punitive damages are not intended to compensate the injured, but are intended to “punish” the defendant and discourage others from the same type of conduct. For example, if you are involved in a truck accident with a driver whose employer was violating federal commercial trucking regulations and requiring that their drivers work extended hours (thus leading to dangerous fatigue levels), then a court may find such behavior egregious enough to justify an award of punitive damages.
Q: What damages can I claim?
A: In a truck accident lawsuit, you can claim a variety of damages for losses that include, but are not necessarily limited, to:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Wage loss (past and future)
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
- And more
Q: My insurer has offered to settle — what should I do?
A: In most cases, you should avoid settling with an insurer unless you have consulted with a qualified team of Phoenix truck accident lawyers first. Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing their liabilities. Without the aid of a Phoenix truck accident attorney, the insurance company will manipulate the situation to their advantage and coax you into a premature settlement that does not take into account their actual liabilities.
Q: Do I need a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix to handle my truck accident case?
A: Yes, you do. Why? Because large trucking companies tend to have a team of lawyers who stand ready and willing to defend themselves against having to make a huge payout to you, the injured party. Truck accidents are often some of the most serious accidents that can occur, given the sheer size of the truck itself. And the injuries stemming from most truck accidents are often quite serious, if not deadly. That said, we will work hard to prove any negligence on the driver’s and/or truck owner’s part, as well as participate in the investigation process by reviewing the police and accident reports, interviewing any witnesses to the accident, reviewing the driver’s credentials, investigating the scene and determining whether the trucker obeyed all applicable traffic laws.