According to Truck Info, there are around 15.5 million trucks in the United States. Over 2 million of them are tractor-trailers.
As per Trucks, the number of trucking accidents is continuously increasing each year. Just in 2019, around 4,678 people died in truck accidents.
Although trucks make up the least percentage of the total roadway traffic, they largely contribute to the USA's massive fatalities each year. This is because truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries.
In most cases, if you have been hit by a truck, you will most likely sustain a catastrophic injury. Trucks have massive weight, and it is unlikely that you will escape unhurt in such an accident.
A catastrophic injury requires extensive medical treatment. Some examples of catastrophic injuries that you can sustain in truck accidents include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, paralysis, and soft tissue damage. Typically, these injuries are life-threatening and have long-lasting consequences.
You can quickly run into financial difficulties if you have been injured in a truck accident. Because catastrophic injuries require extensive treatment, your medical bills will be much higher. You will have to stay away from your job or business for several months to allow sufficient time for recovery. This means that you may have no source of income during this period.
We at the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm understand the financial difficulties truck accident victims in Nevada face. This is why we are here to help you. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation if you or your loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury in a truck accident.
The Most Common Causes of Catastrophic Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are often catastrophic. This is because trucks have massive weight. If a truck accidentally hits an individual, he/she will most likely sustain a severe bodily injury.
The most common causes of catastrophic truck accidents in Nevada include poor driver training, intoxicated driving, speeding, driving in unfamiliar territories, not checking blind spots, driver fatigue, aggressive driving, distracted driving, violation of traffic laws, and failed attempts to avoid collisions. Here is a brief discussion of each of these causes:
1. Poor Driver Training
Driving a truck requires excellent skill and expertise, as well as extensive training and experience. Unfortunately, most truck drivers in Nevada are unskilled and inexperienced. Some truck companies may also employ drivers who have not been properly trained.
Trucks are distinct from other types of motor vehicles because they are heavily weighted. This is why they require expert drivers and not amateurs. An amateur truck driver can easily cause a catastrophic accident.
1. Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
Road rage and aggressive driving is a leading cause of auto accidents in the United States. It is widely known that it is mostly teenage drivers who are highly susceptible to aggressive driving and road rage.
However, even experienced truck drivers aren’t immune to road rage and aggressive driving. These individuals may forget that they are driving a heavily-weighted vehicle and lose self-control. As a result, they will cause an accident.
2. Intoxicated Driving
Drug and alcohol use can result in physical impairment. If an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he/she may lose some of his/her skills, including reaction time, coordination, judgment, and vision.
These skills are essential when driving. If they become impaired due to intoxication, there will be a higher probability of a catastrophic accident.
3. Failed Attempts to Avoid Collisions
Even a diligent truck driver can turn out unsuccessful when avoiding a crash. It is quite challenging to avoid an oncoming collision, and this mostly results in a bad ending. When a truck driver attempts to evade an accident, he/she will most likely cause one.
Speeding is a leading cause of Nevada truck accidents. Remember that trucks are heavy-weighted. The average truck weighs around 80,000 pounds.
This heavyweight makes them susceptible to crashes in the event of speeding. With each speed increase, there is a higher risk of a crash.
5. Distracted Driving
Nevada traffic laws prohibit distracted driving. This is because driving requires maximum concentration.
It is unlawful to drive while using a cell phone, talking to passengers, eating, or drinking. If truck drivers are distracted, they can easily cause an accident.
6. Unfamiliar Territory
Often, truck drivers have to drive in unfamiliar territories. This is because they traverse various states.
In most cases, they are not aware of how the terrains of these states look. They can stumble across a hazard that they didn't know. In such a situation, if they have a slow reaction time, they will cause an accident.
7. Violation of Traffic Laws
Truck drivers can violate a traffic law, resulting in an accident. For instance, he/she may fail to yield to the right of way or use the wrong lane. A truck driver who neglects to obey traffic laws can easily cause an accident.
8. Not Checking Blind Spots
A truck driver should frequently check blind spots while behind the wheel. Blind spots are areas where the driver cannot observe directly while driving.
Truck driving schools customarily train their students to check blind spots. But, some truck drivers may intentionally fail to do so, and therefore, cause an accident.
9. Driver Fatigue
Some truck companies do not give their employee-drivers enough rest breaks. As a result, these drivers end up getting behind the wheel while tired.
Driving requires 100% alertness. A person who is exhausted cannot be alert when driving. This will increase the risk of a crash.
Liable Parties in a Catastrophic Truck Accident
Most people believe that it is the truck driver who should be held responsible for the accident. This belief is not true. Other several entities or individuals can be held liable in a truck accident. As per the facts and circumstances of your case, the responsible party may even end up being an organization or person you’ve never met.
Take note that Nevada is not a no-fault state. As the victim, you will be required to prove the liability of the person responsible for the accident. It is only after you have established liability when you can receive compensation.
Two or more individuals or organizations can be liable for a truck accident. In such a situation, you will be able to claim compensation from all these parties.
If you were partly responsible for the crash, you could still receive compensation under Nevada’s Contributory Negligence Laws. Here, the amount of money you will receive will depend on how much the other party's actions resulted in the accident.
Below, we list for you examples of parties that can be held liable in a truck accident:
- The truck driver
- Motor vehicle drivers
- Trucking companies
- Third-party vendors
- Cargo loaders
- Truck owners
- Governmental agencies
- Truck manufacturers
- Truck maintenance companies
Let us discuss how each of these parties can be liable for a catastrophic truck accident:
1. The Truck Driver
The leading cause of truck accidents in Nevada is driver negligence. The truck driver can be held responsible for a crash if he/she:
- was driving while exhausted
- showed an element of aggression and road rage while driving
- drove recklessly or carelessly
- tailgated other motor vehicles
- was suffering from an illness that made him/her incapable of driving the truck
- violated a traffic law, including speeding or running a red light
- was driving while intoxicated
- was driving while distracted
- failed to check blind spots
- didn’t react quickly to evade roadside hazards
Even if you are 100% sure that the truck driver was negligent, you will still have to adduce enough evidence to show that he/she should be held liable for the crash. This is why you will require professional legal help from an attorney when filing your claim.
Your attorney can review the driver’s record, to find out if he/she has ever caused an accident before. Often, truck drivers who do not have a clean record are easily held liable for accidents. For instance, if the truck driver has a prior conviction of drunk driving and you suspect that he was intoxicated when the accident occurred, it would be much easier to prove your claim.
Also, your lawyer can send a private investigator to the accident scene. This investigator will look for the black box of the truck. This black box will help him/her ascertain the truck’s condition when the accident occurred. From his/her findings, your lawyer will determine if the driver can be held liable.
However, you must contact your lawyer as soon as possible after being involved in a truck accident. This will make it easy for him/her to send private investigators, who will rush to the accident scene to gather, collect, and preserve evidence.
2. Motor Vehicle Drivers
Motor vehicle drivers can be held responsible for a truck accident. This is because these individuals can cause a crash if they drive negligently.
Often, motor vehicle drivers break several traffic laws, engage in speeding, road rage, and distracted driving, as well as drive while physically impaired. All these acts increase the risk of a collision.
Also, motor vehicle drivers may be utterly ignorant of a truck's performance capabilities. For instance, they may not know that a truck has limited acceleration braking and visibility.
If you believe that it is the motor vehicle driver who should be held responsible for the crash, you can file a claim with his/her insurance company for compensation. Nevada law requires that all motorists should have liability insurance. If the motor vehicle driver responsible for the accident does not have liability insurance, you can file a claim for compensation under your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
3. Trucking Companies
According to Nevada personal injury law, trucking companies have a duty to care when discharging their obligations. For instance, they should hire only qualified drivers, train them properly, give them adequate rest breaks, and screen them frequently for alcohol and drugs. If a trucking company does not do any of these activities, it can be held responsible for an accident.
For your claim against a trucking company to be sustained, you must have sufficient evidence. For example, if you allege that the company failed to give enough rest breaks to its employee-drivers, you must produce work records that verify this allegation.
In most cases, if the truck driver caused the accident, the trucking company will also be held liable. This is because Nevada Personal Injury Law provides that employers can be vicariously liable for their employees' negligent actions.
4. Third-party Vendors
A trucking company may outsource its work to a third-party vendor. For instance, it may delegate administrative work, such as driver recruitment and cargo packing to another company.
If this third-party vendor is negligent when discharging its duties, it can be held liable for the crash. For instance, it will be obliged to compensate the injured victims if it recruited unqualified drivers or overloaded the truck.
As the injured victim, you will not be required to file a claim with the third-party vendor. What you need to do is submit a claim with the trucking company, who will subsequently claim it against the third-party vendor.
5. Cargo Loaders
Cargo loaders have a duty of care to ensure that the truck’s contents are secure for a long-distance journey. If you were involved in an accident with a cargo truck, your lawyer would investigate if:
- The contents of the cargo fell off onto the ground
- The cargo was exposed, loose, or unsecured
- The cargo was not evenly distributed, and it made the truck unstable
Your lawyer will also analyze the cargo records. From these records, he/she will find out which parties loaded the truck. Your lawyer will pursue these cargo loaders for compensation.
6. Truck Owners
Not all trucks are owned by trucking companies. In some instances, trucking companies rent trucks from different individuals.
A truck owner has a duty of care to maintain his/her truck in an excellent working condition. For instance, he/she should constantly check the truck engine and tires and repair faulty parts. Moreover, a truck owner should follow Federal Regulations, which set a standard for truck maintenance and care. If a truck owner fails to take care of his/her truck properly, he/she can be held liable for an accident.
7. Governmental Agencies
Dangerous roads are one of the significant causes of truck accidents in Nevada. The presence of roadside hazards, such as soft shoulders or broken pavements, largely increases the risk of an accident.
If you believe that a dangerous road caused the accident, you can file a claim against a governmental agency for compensation. This governmental agency can be local, state, or federal.
In some situations, the government can hire independent contractors who may be negligent when carrying out their duties. For example, they can omit setting up a work zone, which would have warned drivers that a particular highway is still being constructed. In such a situation, you can claim for compensation against the government.
If the liable party is a governmental agency, you won’t be required to file a claim. As the victim, you will have to write a letter to the government demanding compensation. If the government fails to compensate you, you will serve them with a notice of intention to sue. Then, you can institute a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
To receive compensation from the government, you will be required to prove that it knew about the existence of the dangerous road condition and that it did nothing to repair it. Take note that seeking compensation from the government is an uphill task. You will need the help of a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience in dangerous road cases.
8. Truck Manufacturers
Truck defective parts and mechanical failures can increase the risk of a collision. In such a situation, you may consider suing the manufacturer of the truck for compensation.
Even though many mechanical failures and faulty parts arise due to poor maintenance, certain factors can show that the truck manufacturer should be held liable. These factors may include poor lighting, tire blowouts, brake failure, and transmission failure.
Your lawyer will institute a product liability lawsuit against the truck manufacturer. This way, you will obtain fair compensation.
9. Truck Maintenance Companies
Typically, truck owners and trucking companies outsource their maintenance and repair work to truck maintenance companies. These companies can be negligent while carrying out their work.
For instance, they can replace a worn-out tire with a deflated one. In such situations, these companies will be held liable for the accident.
Catastrophic Injuries in a Truck Accident
Often, a truck accident leaves its victims with severe bodily injuries. Here are the most common types of catastrophic injuries in a truck accident:
1. Head Injuries
If a truck hits your car, you may be thrown up and down continuously inside the vehicle, or even out of it. As a result, your head may hit certain hard objects, including the windshield and the dash. This will make you sustain a head injury. The most prevalent type of head injury is traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
You will sustain a traumatic brain injury if your head received a violent and sudden jolt or blow. Traumatic brain injuries require immediate medical attention, and often, cause life-altering conditions. They may also have side effects like:
- Slurred speech
- Ongoing headaches
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Sound and light sensitivity
- Concentration problems
- Memory loss
- Confusion causing anger or anxiety
- Blurred vision
Concussions are mild TBIs, which occur when an individual receives a blunt blow. Its physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, and temporary loss of consciousness.
The term ‘whiplash’ refers to a soft tissue injury that is sustained at the neck. At a truck accident scene, your head may be suddenly thrust forward, and then snap to a stop. Whiplash causes severe symptoms, including limited neck movement, as well as pain and numbness.
3. Broken Bones
A truck accident can break any type of bone inside your body. Bone breakage typically occurs when you brace yourself against the vehicle in preparation for a crash. It can also occur if you are whirled around inside the car during impact.
Fractures can result in physical impairment for several months. The most common fractures in truck accidents occur at the ribs, arms, hands, face, wrists, pelvis, and legs.
4. Back Injuries
Back injuries can lead to long-term physical impairment. This is because these injuries affect the structure and general functioning of the spinal cord.
If your spinal cord is damaged, you may lose your sensation capabilities and motor functions. You may also develop permanent or temporary paralysis.
Trucks use more fuel than other motor vehicles. This is why they have large fuel tanks. During impact, these fuel tanks can explode or rupture, resulting in big and uncontrollable fires.
Truck accident burns can cause significant mutilation, blistering, scarring, and pain. Victims who are unlucky to be trapped in the fire face a high risk of death.
6. Airbag and Seatbelt Injuries
Airbags and seatbelts can help save lives in an accident scene. However, if the accident has a high impact force, these safety features can cause catastrophic bodily injuries.
The primary function of seatbelts is to hold your body in place during a crash, to prevent you from being thrown around inside the vehicle. However, if your body is thrown against the seatbelt, you may sustain shoulder injuries, lacerations, bruising, and abrasions. You may break your ribs too.
Similarly, airbags deployed with a great force can result in head, chest, back, or neck injuries. They can also cause skin burns or abrasions.
Find a Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
If you have sustained a catastrophic injury in a truck accident, you are entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. We at the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can help you determine your claim's total value. We will also help you pursue fair compensation.
We work on a contingency-fee-basis, so you will only pay us if you receive compensation. Call us today at 702-996-1224 for a free consultation to find out how you can protect your legal rights.