Truck Accident Lawyers in Mesa
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Commercial truck accidents are among the most catastrophic collisions that can occur in Mesa. When people are seriously injured or lose their loved ones in accidents caused by large trucks, our Mesa truck accident lawyers work hard to thoroughly investigate what occurred, gather evidence, and partner with accident reconstruction experts to build strong cases of liability for our clients. Our approach helps us to secure fair compensation for our clients to ensure they are compensated for all of their losses.
The Lamber Goodnow injury team has extensive resources, legal skills, and dedication and is prepared to fully invest in a crash investigation when necessary. We do not charge any fees to our clients until and unless we recover compensation for them, allowing you to concentrate on recovering while we address all aspects of your case.
Common Causes of Large Truck Crashes
Most collisions caused by large trucks could be avoided if the drivers and trucking companies exercise appropriate precautions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completed the Large Truck Crash Causation Study by reviewing data from more than 120,000 collisions involving large trucks. The agency found that 87% of the crashes were caused by the driver’s negligence.
Some of the types of driver negligence the FMCSA identified included the following:
- Driver distraction
- Inattentive driving
- Inadequate surveillance
- Following too closely
- Misjudging the speed of other vehicles
- Poor directional control
- Medical issues
- Drowsy driving
- Impaired driving
- Unfamiliarity with the roads
- Illegal maneuvers
Other factors identified by the FMCSA included maintenance problems and environmental factors, including inclement weather conditions.
The FMCSA is tasked with promulgating regulations and laws and enforcing them for the transportation industry in the U.S. and has created many regulations that are meant to increase the safety of commercial trucks and other vehicles traveling on the nation’s highways. Many of these regulations are found in 49 CFR Part 383.
Some of the regulatory requirements for truck drivers found in Part 383 include the following:
- Truck drivers can drive for no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour work day and must then take 10 consecutive hours off before they can resume driving or working.
- Drivers can’t drive after working for 60 hours during a week for seven consecutive days or 70 hours of work in eight consecutive days. The seven- or eight-day cycle can only restart after the drivers have taken 34 plus hours off from work.
- Truck drivers can only carry one license issued by their state of residence called a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The CDL license can only be issued after the drivers have taken and passed skills and knowledge tests. Hazardous materials (Hazmat) drivers must pass additional tests for their licenses and their Hazmat endorsements.
- Drivers are required to undergo physical exams biannually to continue driving commercially.
- Truck drivers are prohibited from driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or higher. They also can’t carry alcohol in their cabs while driving unless they are transporting alcohol as cargo.
- Drivers must log their time spent behind the wheel by using electronic logging devices (ELDs) installed in their vehicles.
- Truck drivers must comply with specific rules for how cargo should be secured.
- Trucks must have important information displayed on their exteriors, including their Hazmat markings, USDOT numbers, and other information.
There are also many other regulations and rules that drivers and trucking carriers must follow, including safety rules, unfit carrier regulations, the required skills and when drivers should be disqualified, and others.
Arizona Truck Accident Statistics
In its Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2020 report, the Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT) reported that 10,713 large truck collisions occurred in 2020 in the state. Out of these collisions, 105 were fatal and 2,423 were injury accidents. Because of the potential severity of large truck crashes, Arizona has state laws and regulations governing commercial trucks that operate within the state.
Truck drivers and trucking carriers must comply with both the federal and state trucking laws when operating in Arizona. There are numerous state laws for drivers and trucks that are meant to keep people on the roads safe. Some of these laws include rules about how much time drivers can drive, maximum load weights, maximum truck sizes, commercial licensing, quality control, and more.
Arizona Trucking Laws
Some of the important Arizona trucking laws include the following:
• ARS § 28-709 – Maximum speed limits for large trucks
Truck drivers can’t drive the following types of commercial vehicles at speeds greater than 65 mph unless a higher maximum speed has been designated by the AZDOT or a lower maximum speed limit has been posted:
- Motor vehicles/combinations with gross weights of greater than 26,000 pounds, excluding vehicles designed to carry 16 or more occupants
- Vehicles pulling pole trailers weighing 6,000 + pounds
• ARS § 28-1095(c) – Maximum length rules
The following maximum lengths apply to different truck combinations in Arizona:
- Truck tractor-semitrailer combinations and truck tractor-semitrailer-forklift combinations – maximum length of 57.5 feet
- Truck tractor-semitrailer-trailer combinations – maximum length of 28.5 feet
- Truck-trailer combinations – maximum length of 28.5 feet
- If a semitrailer’s length is greater than 53 feet, the total length of the tractor-semitrailer combination cannot be more than 65 feet on all Arizona highways except for the national truck route network as designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Local authorities must consider structural hazards, street widths, and other factors as hazards when designating the streets.
- Vehicle transporter hauling a semitrailer – maximum length of 75 feet
You can learn more about Arizona’s trucking and licensing regulations by visiting the AZDOT’s website or calling (602) 712-8851.
Complexity of Truck Accident Investigation and Litigation
Truck accident cases are typically much more complex than other types of motor vehicle collisions. This is because of several factors, including the size and weight disparities between the involved vehicles, the severity of the injuries, the types of cargo the truck might be hauling, and the multiple defendants that might be involved.
Potential Defendants in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Many truck accident claims involve multiple defendants. Some of the potential defendants that might be liable in a truck accident case include the following:
- Truck driver
- Trucking carrier
- Truck owner
- Trailer owner
- Third-party maintenance company
- Manufacturer, distributor, designer, and retailer of defective truck parts
- Party responsible for maintaining the roads
When a truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, the company might be vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence. Employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees when they are working within the scope and course of their employment. This means that the trucking carrier might be responsible for paying damages since its insurance policy will likely have much higher liability limits than the driver’s policy.
However, many trucking companies claim that their drivers are independent contractors. Companies are not vicariously liable for the negligent actions of independent contracts since they don’t have an employee-employer relationship. However, the company might still be directly liable when it negligently hired or retained an incompetent driver. In some cases, a driver might be misclassified as an independent contractor when they should be treated as an employee. Under Arizona law, multiple factors will be considered to determine whether the driver should be treated as an employee instead of as an independent contractor, including the degree of supervision and control the company exercises over the driver, and others.
Statute of Limitations for Arizona Truck Accident Claims
Every state has established statutes of limitations that determine when claims can be filed. In Arizona, the personal injury statute of limitations for truck accident claims is found in ARS § 12-542. Under this law, you must file a claim within two years of your injury accident or lose your right to pursue compensation through a lawsuit. This statute also prescribes a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. For those claims, the limitations period begins to run from the date of the victim’s death.
Investigating Truck Accidents
Because of the multiple potential defendants, numerous regulations and laws, and other factors, a thorough and proactive investigation is critical in a truck accident case. In some cases, trucking carriers might spoliate evidence that could be used to prove their negligence and liability. A Mesa truck accident lawyer at Lamber Goodnow understands the importance of moving quickly following an accident to preserve evidence that might otherwise be lost or destroyed. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling commercial trucking collision claims and take a proactive approach whenever we are retained. We work closely with investigators and experts to uncover evidence and analyze all facets of a case to establish the liability of the defendants. Some of the types of evidence that might be important include the following:
- Electronic logging device logs
- Truck’s black box
- Maintenance and repair records
- Driver’s background
- Training procedures and handbooks
- Hiring and supervision records of the driver
- Load securement and capacity
- Indicators of driver distraction or fatigue
- Other factors
Our attorneys fully investigate every aspect of a crash to identify all contributing factors that caused it.
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FAQs: Large Truck Collisions
Because of the large disparity between the size and weight of large trucks vs. passenger vehicles, truck collisions are frequently catastrophic and result in lifelong disabilities and fatalities. The FMCSA reports that 5,005 trucks were involved in fatal accidents in 2019, and 119,000 were involved in injury accidents. People who are injured in collisions involving large trucks frequently suffer severe injuries that might leave them facing lifelong disabilities. The victims of truck collisions often have numerous questions about these types of accidents. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions the Mesa truck accident attorneys at Lamber Goodnow receive about large truck crashes.
Q: What Should I Do After a Truck Collision?
A: If you are in an accident involving a large truck, you should do all of the following things to protect your rights:
- Remain at the accident scene.
- Call 911 to request the police and medical assistance.
- Check yourself and others for injuries, and provide first aid if you can.
- Take photographs of the accident scene and the damage to both vehicles with your smartphone.
- Don’t apologize, admit fault, or tell the police you were uninjured.
- Tell the responding officers what happened, but stick to the facts without speculating.
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- Don’t talk to the trucking company or insurance company or sign any documents without talking to a Mesa truck accident attorney atLamber Goodnow.
- Retain a Mesa truckaccident lawyerat our firm.
Following these tips should help you to preserve your rights to pursue damages in a truck accident claim.
Q: How Do Insurance Companies and Trucking Carriers Defend Against Truck Accident Claims?
A: Arizona follows a pure comparative negligence principle under ARS § 12-2505. Under this law, each party involved in an accident is responsible for their degree of negligence or fault. While this rule means that you won’t be barred from recovering compensation if you shared some of the fault for causing the accident, defendants commonly try to place blame on truck accident victims to reduce their percentage of fault and the amounts they might be forced into paying out in claims.
For example, if a trucking carrier successfully argues that you were 50% at fault, the total verdict award you might otherwise receive will be halved. When multiple defendants are involved, they might also try to shift some of the blame onto other parties to try to reduce how much they might have to pay. In some cases, a defendant might try to place all of the blame on the victim to try to avoid liability altogether.
Q: What Are Black Boxes and ELDs?
A: Large trucks contain black boxes, which are devices that record critical information about them. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are also mandated to be installed in large trucks. These devices electronically record information about the hours of service the driver logged, their speed of travel, and other information. Because of the importance of the data recorded by black boxes and ELDs, your Mesa truck accident attorney will work to secure them from the trucking carrier by filing a motion with the court asking for the information to be preserved. The data can show the truck’s speed, whether the brakes were engaged and when, the truck’s average speed, the speed at the time of your accident, and other information.
Q: What Should I Do If I Am Injured Too Badly to Gather Information?
A: Because truck accidents are often severe, it might not be possible for you to take photos and get the names of witnesses at the accident scene. If you are badly injured, your priority should be getting immediate medical attention. If you are conscious and able to talk, you can ask a friend or acquaintance to take photos for you and get the names and addresses of witnesses. If that is not possible, you can still contact the experienced attorneys at Lamber Goodnow. Our firm can send crash scene investigators to your accident scene to collect evidence for you.
Q: When Should I Contact a Mesa Truck Accident Lawyer?
A: While the deadline for filing a truck accident injury claim in Arizona is two years after your collision, you shouldn’t wait until the end of the limitations period to speak to one of the experienced lawyers at Lamber Goodnow. The best approach is to consult a Mesa truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your collision. Critical evidence such as information from black boxes might be recorded over within 30 days. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible can help you to preserve critical evidence before it can be lost and provide your lawyer with more time to fully investigate your case.
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