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Commercial trucks operating on the highways of Arizona can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds as compared to the average passenger car weight of 4,156 pounds. This disparity in the weights of large trucks vs. passenger vehicles combined with the differences in size make collisions involving tractor-trailers much more dangerous than crashes involving other types of motor vehicles.

People who are involved in crashes with large trucks are much likelier to be severely injured or killed. When a truck driver causes a collision, the injured victims and the families of those who are killed have the right to pursue compensation through a truck accident claim. Working with a truck accident lawyer in Scottsdale at the law firm of Lamber Goodnow might increase the likelihood that you will prevail in your truck collision claim.

Our Scottsdale truck accident attorneys have extensive legal experience and are skilled litigators who dedicate themselves to pursuing justice for negligence victims. We start preparing our cases as if they will go to trial from the beginning and conduct in-depth investigations to gain a full understanding of all of the contributing factors that resulted in the collision. Our approach frequently enables us to secure settlements from the involved insurance companies that fully compensate our clients for all of their losses.

In many cases, insurance companies decide that it is in their best interest to settle with our lawyers instead of risking losses when they face us at trial. While we settle the vast majority of our cases, we have also amassed a record of success at trial because of our strong litigation skills and extensive legal knowledge. Contact a Scottsdale truck accident lawyer at our firm today to learn more about your rights.

Truck Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 146,900 people were injured and 4,965 were killed in large truck collisions in the U.S. in 2020. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) reports that 2,423 people were injured and 105 were killed in the state during the same year. In 2020, 10,713 large truck collisions were reported in the state.

These statistics demonstrate the severity of large truck crashes. Because of the risks of serious injuries and fatalities in collisions involving commercial trucks, both the state and the federal government have enacted strict regulations on trucks and the trucking industry to try to reduce the incidence of these types of crashes.

Common Causes of Large Truck Collisions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency that is tasked with regulating the trucking industry, including both truck drivers and trucking carriers. To help to understand the causes of large trucks, the FMCSA completed the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which reviewed data from 120,000 police-investigated crashes involving commercial trucks. The researchers found that 87% of all of the large truck crashes in the study were caused by driver negligence.
The study identified the following types of driving behavior that commonly resulted in collisions:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Inattentive driving
  • Misjudging the speed of other vehicles
  • Tailgating
  • Impaired driving
  • Poor control of the truck’s direction
  • Drowsy driving
  • Overcompensating
  • Unfamiliarity with the roads
  • Medical problems
  • Illegal maneuvers
  • Fatigued driving

Issues unrelated to the drivers that also factored into truck accidents included inclement weather, poor road conditions, and maintenance failures with the trucks.

Federal Trucking Regulations

The FMCSA has enacted multiple regulations governing the transportation industry, and many of these rules are found in 49 CFR Part 383. Some of the rules for truck drivers under the FMCSA’s regulations include the following:

• The maximum number of hours for driving per day is 11 out of 14 working hours. Drivers who drive 11 out of 14 hours must then take off for a minimum of 10 hours before they can return to work.

• Drivers can’t drive after working for 60 hours for seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight consecutive days. Once they do, they must then take off for a minimum of 34 hours before they restart the work cycle.

• Truck drivers must carry a single license called a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that is issued by their states. To get a CDL, a driver must pass skills and knowledge tests. Any driver who will transport hazardous materials must also secure a HAZMAT endorsement, which requires additional tests.

• Truck drivers must undergo biannual physical exams to continue driving commercially.
Unless they are transporting alcohol as cargo, drivers are prohibited from carrying alcohol in their trucks and also can’t drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or more.

• Commercial trucks must have electronic logging devices (ELDs) installed to track the hours that drivers spend driving.

• Truck drivers must comply with the load securement, loading, and unloading rules.
Critical information and markings must be displayed on trucks, including HAZMAT markings, DOT numbers, and more.

There are many other regulations that drivers and carriers must follow, including regulations about unfit drivers, disqualifying drivers, and others.

Relevant Trucking Laws in Arizona

Arizona also has multiple rules that govern truck drivers and carriers, including the following important laws:

ARS § 28-709 – Maximum speed

Commercial truck drivers have a maximum speed of 65 mph unless a lower or higher maximum speed has been posted by the state. This rule applies to truck combinations or trucks with gross weights of greater than 26,000 pounds and those towing pole trailers weighing at least 6,000 pounds. The maximum speed rule does not apply to vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers.

ARS § 28-1095(c) – Maximum length

The following maximum length laws apply to truck combinations and trucks operating in Arizona:

  • Semitrailer/tractor and tractor/semitrailer/forklift combinations can’t exceed a maximum length of 57.5 feet
  • Truck tractor/semitrailer combinations can’t exceed a maximum length of 28.5 feet
  • Truck/trailer combinations can’t exceed a maximum length of 28.5 feet
  • If a semitrailer is longer than 53 feet, the total combined length of the tractor/semitrailer combination can’t exceed a maximum length of 65 feet in Arizona. There is an exception when the trucks are traveling on routes designated by state and local authorities as a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s national truck route.
  • Vehicle transporter/semitrailer combination can’t exceed a maximum length of 75 feet.

To learn more about Arizona’s truck regulations, you can call (602) 712-8851 or visit the ADOT website.

Why Truck Accident Lawsuits Are Typically More Complex

Truck accident cases are frequently more complex than claims involving other motor vehicle accidents for a few reasons. These collisions frequently involve injuries that are much more severe. Trucking carriers are required to carry insurance policies with much higher policy limits, so the insurance companies often aggressively defend against claims even when the truck driver is responsible. Truck accident claims are also more complicated because multiple parties might be liable.
Some of the parties that might contribute to the cause of a truck accident include the following:

  • Truck driver
  • Driver of the other vehicle
  • Trucking carrier
  • Shipper
  • Truck/trailer owner
  • Repair facility
  • Manufacturer, designer, and retailer of a defective truck component
  • Private or public entity that maintains the road

Vicarious vs. Direct Liability in Truck Collisions

Employers are vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees when they harm others while they are acting within the scope and course of their jobs. This means that a truck driver’s trucking company might be responsible for paying damages to accident victims when the truck driver caused the collision.

However, many trucking companies claim that their drivers are independent contractors. When an independent contractor causes an accident, the employer is not vicariously liable because there isn’t an employer/employee relationship. However, some trucking companies misclassify drivers as independent contractors. A Scottsdale truck accident attorney at Lamber Goodnow can review the driver’s employment records and the degree of control exercised by the carrier over the truck driver to determine whether the driver might have been misclassified and should instead be considered an employee.

Even if a truck driver is an independent contractor, it still might be possible to hold the trucking carrier directly liable. The company might hold direct liability if it negligently hired an incompetent or unfit driver or negligently supervised or retained them. Your attorney will also complete a full investigation to identify all other liable parties to maximize your potential recovery amount.

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FAQs: Scottsdale Truck Accident Claims

Truck collisions are frightening and overwhelming. Many people who have lost their loved ones or who have been seriously injured in collisions caused by commercial trucks have questions about their rights. Here are a few of the most common questions the attorneys at Lamber Goodnow in Scottsdale receive about large truck crashes.

Q: When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

A: Some people mistakenly believe that an injury claim against a trucking company will be easy when the driver was obviously at fault. However, insurance carriers aggressively fight against truck accident claims because of the severity of the injuries and the large amounts of money that might be involved. Trucking carriers and their insurers have teams of defense lawyers and investigators who often descend on the accident scene immediately after a collision to gather evidence and begin building their defense cases. Trying to go up against a corporate defense team without the help of a Scottsdale truck accident lawyer can place you at a large disadvantage.

The state has established a statute of limitations that places a deadline on when you retain the right to file a lawsuit against a trucking company for your injuries. Under ARS § 12-542, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of your accident. If you don’t file a lawsuit by that time, you won’t be able to pursue legal remedies for your losses. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is also found in § 12-542. If you lost your loved one, you will have no more than two years following your loved one’s death to file a lawsuit.

While the general statute of limitations is two years, the best approach is to retain a Scottsdale truck accident attorney at Lamber Goodnow as soon as possible. Working with a lawyer from the start places you on more even footing with the defense team, provides your lawyer with more time to investigate your case, and helps to prevent mistakes that could harm your chances of recovering compensation.

Q: Can I Still Recover Compensation if I Was Partially at Fault?

A: Arizona follows a pure comparative fault system found in ARS § 12-2505. Under this law, being partially at fault will not bar you from recovering compensation. However, your total award will be reduced by how much fault is attributed to you. For example, if a jury returns a verdict in your favor of $1 million but finds that you contributed 20% of the accident’s fault, your net verdict will be reduced by 20% to $800,000.

Q: Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for a Truck Accident?

A: Under ARS § 12-612, Arizona restricts the parties who are allowed to file wrongful death claims to those with the following relationships with the deceased victim:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Surviving child(ren)
  • Surviving parent(s) or guardian

If none of these parties survive the deceased victim, the executor or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. When that happens, any award or settlement will be paid into the estate to benefit the heirs or beneficiaries.

Q: How Much Is My Claim Worth?

A: There isn’t a set value that an attorney can quote for how much a truck accident claim might be worth. Instead, the value of a truck accident claim depends on the facts of your case and other factors, including the severity of the injuries, the actions of the negligent party or parties, whether the victim shared liability, the available recovery sources, and more.

Some of the types of damages that might be recovered in a truck accident case include the following:

  • Past/future medical expenses
  • Past wage losses
  • Future anticipated losses of income
  • Funeral/burial costs (wrongful death)
  • Property losses
  • Lost inheritance rights (wrongful death)
  • Past/future physical pain and suffering
  • Past/future emotional trauma
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium/guidance (wrongful death)
  • Loss of the value of the contributions the deceased would have made (wrongful death)
  • Punitive damages

Your truck accident lawyer in Scottsdale will analyze your case and explain the types of damages you might be able to recover.

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