Maneuvering a large commercial truck on neighborhood roads or in a densely populated downtown area is difficult. It is often necessary for truckers to occupy adjacent lanes of traffic when making wide turns. When these turns aren’t executed properly, the truck might swing into oncoming traffic, tip over, or pin another vehicle against a curb.
When turning right, for example, the truck may have to swing into the left lane to avoid obstacles. Although commercial drivers undergo training to make these turns safely, they sometimes forget to use their turn signals or check their blind spots. When this happens, other drivers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists can suffer devastating injuries.
If you were hit by a truck that was making a wide turn, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about these cases:
1. How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of injury. If your loved one died in a truck accident, the statute of limitations for the wrongful death lawsuit would be two years from the date of death. The deadline for filing a property damage lawsuit, however, would be three years from the date the damage occurred.
Under some circumstances, the statute of limitations is postponed, or “tolled.” The best way to find out the deadline that applies to your particular case is to speak with an attorney.
Even if you have several years to file the lawsuit, it is important that you consult with a lawyer right away so the investigation can begin while essential evidence is still available. At some point, surveillance and dashcam footage might be overwritten, and the trucking company is not required to maintain its black box data indefinitely. The sooner your lawyer can start compiling evidence, the stronger your case will likely be.
2. Can I Bring a Claim Against the Truck Driver’s Employer?
Maybe. In order to hold the motor carrier vicariously liable for the truck driver’s negligence, you must be able to prove the following:
- The truck driver’s negligence was a proximate cause of the accident;
- The trucker was an employee rather than an independent contractor;
- The trucker was acting within the course and scope of their employment when the crash occurred; and
- You suffered an injury or loss due to the accident.
3. What If the Opposing Party Refuses to Pay a Fair Settlement?
Because truck accidents tend to result in significant damages, the defense will have plenty of incentive to dispute your claim. Common defenses used in these cases include:
- The plaintiff is seeking compensation for a preexisting injury or illness;
- The plaintiff has not taken reasonable steps to mitigate their damages;
- The plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the accident;
- Another defendant is at least partially liable for the plaintiff’s damages; or
- The damages calculations are too high.
If the opposing party refuses to settle, the next step would be to file a lawsuit and enter litigation. The best attorneys will do everything in their power to reach a fair settlement without entering litigation because it would extend the proceedings and come with added costs, but if the defendant refuses to cooperate, filing a lawsuit might be the best option.
Your case would then proceed to discovery, during which your legal team and the attorney of the defense would assess each side’s claims and defenses, share documents, and submit requests for evidence. Various expert and percipient witnesses might be deposed. You and the other driver(s) involved may also be asked to provide deposition testimony. The defense will also want you to be examined by their doctor.
Often a settlement is reached during or after discovery; otherwise, your case might proceed to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation or arbitration. If the case is not resolved through ADR, the next step would be going to trial.
Although most truck accident cases do not end up in trial, there’s always a chance that yours will. As such, it is important that the attorney you hire has a track record of success in litigation. This not only will give you confidence if your case proceeds to litigation, but it might also make the opposing party more inclined to settle.
4. What Are Some Common Injuries Suffered in Wide-Turn Truck Accidents?
These collisions can cause serious injuries to almost any part of the body. Even at slow speeds, a large truck can cause severe damage due to its immense size and weight. Common injuries sustained in these accidents include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury: A TBI can result from either a significant blow to the head or a violent jolt of the neck. Either can happen if a truck veers into an adjacent lane to make a wide turn at an inopportune time, causing an oncoming vehicle to brake suddenly or to collide with the truck.
- Spinal Cord Damage: When a pedestrian, motorcycle rider, or bicyclist is hit by a truck, there’s a good chance they will suffer a catastrophic injury such as spinal cord damage. Spinal injuries can range dramatically in symptoms and long-term impact depending on the location and severity of the injury.
- Broken Bones: Fractured and broken bones can happen in almost any kind of auto accident, especially when large vehicles are involved.
- Serious Lacerations: Flying debris inside the vehicle can cause lacerations. Motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists are especially vulnerable to lacerations in auto accidents since they do not have the protection of an enclosed passenger vehicle.
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