Truck accident injuries are among the most devastating of vehicular accident cases. Given the size and weight of a commercial truck, smaller vehicles are significantly more vulnerable in a collision, often leaving drivers and passengers with severe losses. Arizona uses a fault-based system to govern auto accident cases, allowing you to recover compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses when someone else is at fault. The first step is identifying the types of injuries and how they impact your claim.
What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Nearly 5,000 people died in truck accidents in 2021, and of the crashes involving a commercial truck and passenger vehicle, 97% of the deceased were people occupying the passenger vehicles. The high rate of catastrophic injuries shows that these accidents forever change the lives of those involved. Consider some of the most common injuries and how they can impact someone’s life.
Head and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head injuries can be minor, such as bruising or superficial cuts, or more severe, like broken bones and mouth injuries. Among the most serious are traumatic brain injuries:
- Concussions are the most common and occur when a forceful impact causes the brain to hit the skull’s internal walls. The brain can then change and possibly lose function.
- Intracranial hematoma occurs when blood pools in the area around the brain and inside the skull.
- Edema occurs when the brain swells from an injury, causing pressure and sometimes requiring surgical intervention.
- Skull fractures can be thin, requiring only close monitoring as they heal, or depressed, which may lead to the leaking of cerebrospinal fluid and require invasive surgery to remedy.
- Diffuse axonal injuries damage brain cells, resulting in loss of function. Unlike a hematoma, no bleeding occurs, but swelling will cause pressure on the brain as well.
This list of potential head and brain truck accident injuries is not comprehensive. Some injuries, such as penetrating brain injuries, are less common but can result in severe consequences. Understanding the long-term impact of your injuries and working with an experienced Phoenix brain injury lawyer is a critical element of valuing a personal injury claim.
Back and Neck Injuries
Whiplash is the most common neck injury from an auto accident. It occurs when the head and neck snap back and forth when the torso remains in place or moves in the opposite direction. The force causes tiny tears in the soft tissue that cause swelling and discomfort and can last for months or even years.
Back injuries can include muscle strains and sprains that result in debilitating pain and make it impossible to work or even manage household chores. More severe back injuries result in broken or fractured vertebrae.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can produce the most severe and lasting impact on the body. Damage to this area can cause temporary or permanent partial or complete paralysis of the multiple regions, and how the injury affects mobility will depend on where it occurs. While there are several categories of injuries our spinal cord injury lawyers in Phoenix handle, they generally fall into one of three categories:
- Triplegia involves the loss of motor and sensory function in one arm and both legs.
- Quadriplegia is the loss of sensation and mobility in all limbs and can impact the respiratory system.
- Paraplegia involves the loss of movement and feeling in both legs.
Temporary paralysis is typically the result of compression injuries that can subside over time. One of the most devastating truck accident injuries occurs when something completely severs the spinal cord, resulting in permanent paralysis and forever impacting the person’s quality of life.
Fractures and Broken Bones
Broken and fractured bones are common in any severe auto accident. However, in a truck accident, the likelihood of breaks requiring expensive surgical intervention is much higher. Displaced bones fracture completely, and compound fractures occur when the broken bone penetrates the flesh and skin, which can lead to further complications.
All fractures come with a risk of disfigurement, dangerous internal bleeding, infection, and nerve damage. These injuries are excruciatingly painful and have long recovery periods where the person may be unable to work, causing them more financial strife.
Burns and Lacerations
The risk of burns in a truck accident is higher than other types of collisions. The reason is that commercial trucks and trailers are generally more combustible than most other vehicles. Trucks can explode or burst into flames on impact, and people may suffer friction burns from inside or outside the car. Severe burns come with a list of possible complications, including a high risk for infections.
Considering the damage a large truck can do to a passenger vehicle, the probability of suffering surface and deep lacerations is high. Sharp metal debris, rigid plastics, shattered glass, and distorted auto frames could all potentially cause severe lacerations. Again, the risk of infection is high.
What Happens If Truck Accident Injuries Result in Death?
The worst-case scenario is for someone to succumb to the injuries sustained in a truck accident. When this happens, the victim’s family has the right to seek compensation for their financial and emotional losses through the personal injury claims process. While our Phoenix wrongful death attorneys understand that the court system could never fully restore that loss, it still allows the family the opportunity to hold the at-fault party financially liable for their negligence.
Arizona Wrongful Death Law
Arizona law refers to a wrongful death as one resulting from any unlawful act, including default or negligence. Most truck collisions occur because someone violated traffic laws or industry legal guidelines and put others in harm’s way. When this occurs, the following people may file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation through Arizona civil court:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- The deceased’s serving children, including adoptive and stepchildren
- The deceased person’s surviving parent or guardian
- A personal representative, also known as an executor, of the loved one’s estate
When an executor of the estate files and wins a settlement or award, that payment goes to the deceased’s estate and surviving relatives who will inherit it.
Who Is Liable for Damages in a Truck Accident Case?
Before you file a lawsuit or claim, you must identify who is liable for the truck accident injuries and gather sufficient evidence to prove their connection to the accident and your losses. That process is slightly more complex in a truck accident case because of the potential for multiple liable parties. The possible defendants in a truck accident lawsuit where the truck caused the accident include:
- The truck driver: This is the most apparent culprit because they are on the scene. If the driver violated traffic laws or regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, such as the allotted hours of service on the road, the driver would be responsible for their actions.
- The truck driver’s employer: Independent truck drivers have more responsibilities, but an employed driver’s company could be liable for damages if an accident results from failure to inspect or maintain the truck, failure to adequately vet and train the driver, or incentivizing truck drivers to violate safety standards to meet the company’s economic agenda.
- A third-party mechanic: When the trucking company outsources the inspection and maintenance responsibilities to an outside mechanic, that person or company would be liable for any mechanical issues they failed to correct during maintenance and repair.
- The cargo loading person or company: The FMCSA regulates the weight and security of cargo in commercial trucks to avoid excessive wear on the trucks and dangerously shifting loads in transit. Violations of those standards would result in liability for an accident.
- The truck or part manufacturer: If a defective part causes the truck to crash, the manufacturer would be liable for the resulting damages from an accident.
Most people turn to a Phoenix truck accident lawyer for help because of the complexity of liability in these cases. Depending on the details of your case, you may have more than one liable party or even more than one type of case.
Shared Fault in Arizona
Truck accident cases can become more complex when multiple parties share responsibility for the accident. If you or your loved one was partially at fault, that does not automatically exclude you from recovering damages. Arizona applies the pure comparative negligence rule to cases involving shared responsibility. This rule requires the court to determine each party’s fault percentages and deduct the plaintiff’s portion from their total damages.
For example, if the court finds you or your loved one 30% at fault, you can still recover 70% of the total damages from the at-fault party. Additionally, because Arizona is one of only a few states following the “pure” version of comparative fault, you can be more than 50% at fault and still recover losses.
What Damages Can You Recover From Truck Accident Injuries?
The compensatory damages from a truck accident case include economic and non-economic losses. These reflect how the accident and your injuries impacted your life financially and emotionally. The court allows you to seek compensation to make whole what you lost. You may also receive punitive damages in some cases, but these are rare in motor vehicle accident lawsuits and require proof of gross negligence or malintent.
Economic damages reflect how the accident affected you financially. Those losses vary from case to case but commonly include the following:
- The cost of medical treatment for your injuries, including future care
- The income you lost while recovering from your injuries or as a result of permanent disability
- The cost to repair your damaged property or replace it
- Any out-of-pocket replacement expenses, such as household care or transportation to medical visits
When you hire an attorney, they will collect the documentation necessary to prove these losses and calculate the total to reflect ongoing losses adequately.
Non-economic damages cover how the accident and your injuries impacted your emotional state. For example, the common severity of truck accident injuries can result in extensive physical pain and suffering from injuries, as well as treatment. You can also claim loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and mental anguish. Calculating these losses requires an experienced attorney who understands the precedents and will ensure your demands are reasonable.
Wrongful Death Damages
Wrongful death cases cover some of the same compensatory damages, but with others specific to the loss of a loved one:
- Loss of inheritance, income, and benefits the deceased provided for your household
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- The emotional pain and suffering you endured
- The cost of funeral and burial expenses
The actual damages available will also depend on the victim’s relation to you. For example, a stay-at-home mother who lost her spouse may have more financial losses than others.
What Can an Arizona Truck Accident Lawyer Do for You?
Truck accident attorneys help victims and their families build a solid case for compensation. Your chances of securing a fast and fair settlement are significantly higher with legal representation. They investigate the claim, find evidence of negligence, and identify all recoverable damages, ensuring you demand fair value for your losses.
Other benefits of hiring a lawyer include:
- They work on contingency, meaning you pay no upfront fees for their services.
- They handle all communication with the insurance companies, who are sometimes combative when facing large payouts.
- They protect your rights and ensure you understand every step of the legal process.
Truck accidents can have devastating financial consequences, and most victims choose not to risk taking on large truck companies with extensive legal resources without a professional to guide them.
Should You Contact a Lawyer About Your Truck Accident Injuries?
In the aftermath of a truck accident, victims and their families often have questions about the civil legal system. Every case has unique details that can impact a claim, and an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you understand what the details of your accident and resulting consequences mean for your claim.
The Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Sargon Law Group help people with truck accident injuries recover the compensation they need to restore financial stability, rebuild their lives, or adjust to new circumstances. Contact Sargon Law Group in Phoenix, Arizona, today to schedule your free case evaluation. You pay nothing out of pocket unless we win.