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Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyer

At Stone Rose Law, our Phoenix personal injury lawyers have extensive experience helping Arizona residents to recover money damages for their injuries after getting into an accident with a truck. If you have medical bills or property damage from a truck accident, we can help you.

Call us at (480) 498-8998 to speak with one of our Phoenix truck accident lawyers. A Phoenix truck accident attorney can tell you what your options are in a free consultation, and represent you in any legal claims you may have.

How Common Are Truck Accidents in Phoenix, Arizona?

Trucks are everywhere in Arizona. As of 2022, there were more than 385,000 trucks of all kinds registered with the Arizona Motor Vehicles Division. Arizona residents, commercial trucking businesses, and government agencies rely on the trucking industry to transport people, deliver goods and services, haul equipment, for waste removal, and build and maintain all kinds of buildings and infrastructure. 

How common are truck accidents in Arizona?

If we include pickup trucks, vans, and buses as well as other kinds of large trucks, then about one of every five Arizona motor vehicle crashes involves a truck.

statistics of motor vehicles involved in crashes

Source: Arizona Department of Transportation, 2022 Crash Facts

motor vehicle crash involvement by vehicle type

Source: Arizona Department of Transportation, 2022 Crash Facts

What Causes Truck Accidents?

Trucks share with passenger vehicles and motorcycles some common sources of vehicle accidents, like truck driver negligence. Some of these common causes with auto accidents include: 

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving too fast for the existing road, weather, and light conditions
  • Following the vehicle ahead too closely
  • Fatigued driving
  • Intoxicated driving

Because of their size, trucks are inherently harder to control than passenger vehicles. The bigger the truck, the greater the inherent risk of more serious injuries becomes. 

When a truck does lose control, whether on a Phoenix street, a Maricopa County highway, or an Arizona stretch of the Interstate freeway system, a frequent occurrence is the truck leaving its lane, possibly entering oncoming traffic and threatening a head-on collision, or even running off the road entirely. 

These possibilities mean that you could be involved in a truck accident when at first the truck is not close to you, or headed in a different direction from yours, but then suddenly careens into you. Out-of-control truck accidents also increase the chance of you being involved in a serious multi-vehicle collision.

In addition to the common causes of accidents above, there are other contributors to truck collisions that are more common to trucks as opposed to other motor vehicle collisions, or are more serious when they happen. 

These include:

  • The need for many trucks to use a wider turning radius than other vehicles, which can lead to wide turn accidents, broadside accidents, and rollover accidents.
  • The existence of large potential blind spots behind and to the sides of the truck, increasing the risk of blind spot crashes and backing accidents.
  • Lack of driver qualifications. Trucks are not passenger vehicles. They do not handle, accelerate, turn, or brake the same way cars do. Negligent truck drivers who are not properly trained to handle their vehicles are more likely to get into accidents with them.
  • Poor maintenance. All vehicles require maintenance. Trucks in particular require careful attention to their brakes (including trailer brakes), wheels, axles, tires, steering, and coupling system. Given the often catastrophic consequences of the failure of components or systems, proper maintenance is essential to reduce the risk of a serious and avoidable accident.
  • Overloading, improper loading, and load shifting. Combine a poorly distributed or poorly secured load with a sharp turn or hard braking, and this can create a truck’s cargo center of gravity to become unstable. Overloading a truck can also contribute to tire blowouts, brake failures, and jackknife accidents.
  • Driving on roads that are unsuited to truck traffic. Not all roads were made for trucks.
    Many older roads were designed before modern trucks became larger, heavier, and more powerful. Yet sometimes, possibly from a desire to save time or from being unaware, truck drivers will take their vehicles and their cargo onto roads that cannot handle them. In the most serious situations, this can lead to a roadway or bridge collapse, threatening not just the truck driver but others with serious bodily harm.
What causes truck accidents?

Effects of Truck Accidents

An experienced truck accident lawyer will tell you that truck accident injuries are basically the same as injuries you might receive in a car accident. You can experience physical injuries and suffer from mental and emotional distress.

Physical Injuries From a Truck Accident

When it comes to physical injuries, the main difference between a car accident and a truck accident is that because of the greater impact energy involved when a truck hits your car, there is a good chance that what might be an ordinary injury in a car accident is a serious or even catastrophic injury in a truck accident.

For injured truck accident victims, what would have been a bone fracture could become an open break. A mild concussion could become a severe traumatic brain injury. A back sprain can become a spinal cord injury, and that sore and stiff neck today can become tomorrow’s neck injury. The possibility that you could suffer internal injuries increases as well.

Mental and Emotional Distress

Also like with car accidents, in addition to physical injuries, a truck accident can leave you with the equivalent of mental and emotional scarring through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is especially true if the truck accident resulted in serious injury to you, or serious injury or death to a family member.

Remedies for Arizona Truck Accidents

What Legal Causes of Action Do You Have?

What relief you can receive for your injuries and property loss and damage from a truck accident depends on the facts of the accident. Generally, when our Phoenix truck accident attorneys investigate a truck accident, we consider legal options including personal injury, wrongful death, a survival action, and possible third party liability, including product liability. While there is no cookie-cutter formula for tabulating your potential compensation amount from a personal injury case, our personal injury calculator can at least give you some context to work with. 

How Much Time Do You Have?

Arizona law allows you only a limited time to make a legal claim for personal injury after a truck accident. The general rule is that you have two years from the date of the accident if your injuries occurred on that date. This is the Arizona statute of limitations for personal injury.

If, however, you do not discover your injury until some time passes after the accident, then it is possible that instead of on the accident date, your two-year period to file a lawsuit can begin on the day you discovered the accident-related injury or medical condition. 

  • Often, for example, back injuries can feel minor right after the accident, but what seems like minor stiffness and soreness at first can progress into a debilitating injury a few days later that keeps you from working.
  • You may walk away from the accident scene with a mild headache that you believe a couple of aspirin can fix, but learn later that you have a concussion.
  • Or you may think you feel fine emotionally right after the truck accident, but a few days or weeks later you start having recurring nightmares about it and begin to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Truck Accidents

Personal injury lawsuits are the most common way to recover compensation for the harm done to you from a truck accident. A personal injury lawsuit is a civil lawsuit you file in an Arizona county court that has jurisdiction over the defendant.

In a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove it more likely than not that each of the following four elements are true:

  1. The defendant––usually the other driver––owed you a duty of reasonable care at the time of the accident. You can satisfy this element by showing, for example, that before the accident the truck driver owed you a duty of care to operate the truck in a safe manner and to obey the posted speed limit.
  2. The defendant breached that duty of reasonable care to you. In our example above, if you show that the truck driver was speeding at the time of the accident and was texting while driving when it happened, these facts support your claim that the driver breached the duty of reasonable care.
  3. You suffered harm from the accident. Evidence of your physical injuries, including medical treatment records, property damage or replacement repair estimates, and lost income because you cannot go back to work are a few examples of how you can support this element.
  4. The acts of the defendant in the accident caused the harm you suffered. Not all the ham that flows from a truck accident necessarily comes directly from the collision itself. Sometimes indirect or follow-on harm to people and to property can take place, too. To recover damages, you must trace the harm you have experienced to an act or failure to act on the part of the other driver. The more tenuous this connection is, the less likely that a court will hold the defendant responsible for any resulting harm.  

Wrongful Death or Survival Action

Sometimes a truck accident is severe enough that not everyone survives it. A death from a truck accident can occur immediately at the scene, or can come days, weeks, or even months afterward. When this happens, as a surviving relative of the deceased person you might have a wrongful death or survival action claim against the other driver.

Wrongful Death Claims in Arizona

A wrongful death claim is one that surviving relatives may have if the negligent, reckless, or intentional act of another person caused the death of a deceased relative. Wrongful death is a common law cause of action, meaning that it has evolved over time through Arizona court decisions.

Often the object of a wrongful death lawsuit is to recover for the surviving relatives loss of the companionship, support, and economic contributions of the deceased relative. Costs for medical treatment between the time of the accident and the relative’s death, emotional distress damages, and possibly punitive damages are recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Arizona Survival Action Statute

Arizona’s statutory laws include a provision enabling the estate of a deceased person to file a lawsuit after the death to recover damages for harm done directly to the deceased. Aside from its statutory base of authority compared to common law, this is the main difference between a survival action and a wrongful death action, which is mainly to recover damages for harm to the surviving relatives.

A wrongful death action and a statutory survival action are both possible in the aftermath of a fatal truck accident in Arizona. If this happens, there can be some crossing over of plaintiffs in both actions, especially if a family member of the deceased person is also the representative of the deceased person’s estate. 

Claims Against Third Parties

Although the most obvious defendant in a truck accident lawsuit is the driver of the truck, others can also play a part in causing a truck accident, and you can hold them accountable for their share of the resulting harm to you. Below are some examples of how liable parties other than the truck driver can share responsibility for causing a truck accident.

Claims Against the Employer of the Truck Driver for Commercial Truck Crashes

Commercial trucking accidents frequently involve a truck company as the owner of the vehicle, the employer of the driver, or both. Under Arizona law, the concept of “agency” means that an employer can delegate its authority to its employees, but it cannot delegate its responsibility for what they do in the course of their employment. Many trucks on Arizona’s roads are commercial vehicles, meaning that trucking companies own them. If you are involved in a commercial truck accident with a company-owned vehicle, then you may have a claim against the trucking company as well as the driver. This is true even if the truck driver works as an independent contractor.

This is particularly so if at least part of why the accident happened was because of a factor like the truck driver’s poor training, or driver fatigue from working too many hours without rest, or if the vehicle is poorly maintained and a mechanical defect like bad brakes or steering contributed to the crash.

Product Liability Claims Against the Truck Manufacturer or Seller

Sometimes, a truck’s manufacturer can build a vehicle in a way that its design or construction makes it inherently unsafe. If, for example, a truck’s brake failure is the result not of poor maintenance but rather a faulty design of a key vehicle system like brakes, steering, hydraulics, wheels, tires, and fuel lines, then this opens up the truck manufacturer to a possible product liability claim.

To prove product liability, you must show that the defective item was unreasonably dangerous even when it is being used as the manufacturer intends. You must also prove that the defective part or condition was the same at the time of the accident as it was when the vehicle was purchased.

Product liability claims are “strict liability” claims. What this means to you is that if you can prove that the product was defective per the above standards, then you do not need to show that the truck builder was negligent to be able to recover for product liability.

Another feature of product liability claims is that everyone in the chain of distribution of the inherently defective truck can be held strictly liable for the harm it causes, including the dealer or other party that sold the truck to the company that owned it when the accident happened.

Claims Against Other Drivers and Pedestrians 

As long as the chain of causation is strong enough, the act of someone other than the truck driver can contribute to a truck accident. For example, if on a multi-lane highway another car driver negligently changes lanes in front of a truck, causing the truck driver to swerve into your lane in an attempt to avoid an accident with other driver, then it is arguable that the negligence of the other car driver at least partly caused the truck driver’s act that harmed you.

Similarly, if a pedestrian jaywalks in front of your car, forcing you to brake hard suddenly, and a truck collides with you from behind as a result, then both you and the truck driver could have claims against the pedestrian based on negligence or contributory negligence.

Claims Against Arizona Government Entities

Unlike owners of commercial trucks, governments—from the United States Federal Government all the way down to municipalities like Phoenix—are generally immune to being sued for their actions and decisions taken in the normal course of their activities. This is known as limited sovereign immunity. 

But in some situations a government can act negligently in such a way that the negligence harms you. One example could be if the city where you live in negligently allows a dangerous road condition to continue to exist after it learns about it, and that dangerous condition causes or contributes to your accident. Another is if you are involved in a collision with a truck owned by the government.

Suing city hall” may be possible in Arizona, but it is not easy. You must follow some specific procedures, including filing a notice of claim, that are different from suing the owner of a commercial vehicle in court. In a free initial consultation our Phoenix truck accident attorneys at Stone Rose Law can tell you if you have a potential claim against a government agency.

Money Damages Recovery for Arizona Truck Accidents

No matter what path you choose in a truck accident lawsuit—personal injury, wrongful death, or third party liability—money damages are your main source of financial compensation. What this means is that the harm done to you needs to be convertible into an equivalent sum of money. This is true whether the harm is easily measured (like medical bills or property repair costs) or is more subjective in nature (like emotional distress or pain and suffering).

Like you can use more than one legal theory to file a truck accident lawsuit in an Arizona court, your personal injury claims can be based on different forms of harm. The three kinds of money damages you could recover in a truck accident case are economic damages, non-economic damages, and possibly, punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are also known as direct damages. These are damages that you can, compared to other forms of money damages, calculate relatively easily. This is because frequently economic damages take the form of medical bills, receipts, repair estimates, and other documentation.

Some specific kinds of economic damages you can seek to recover are:

  • Medical treatment costs, including anticipated future healthcare costs
  • Lost wages and lost earning capacity.
  • Property damage.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages address harm you suffer that is not as neatly calculable as economic damages are but are still recoverable nonetheless.

Examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering, and mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship 

Punitive Damages

Sometimes the behavior of one or more of the defendants in a truck accident can be so reckless, purposeful, or otherwise outrageous that a court will allow punitive damages. As their name suggests, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant rather than to restore you for some loss from the accident.

Punitive damages can also serve the purpose of deterring others from engaging in the same kind of acts that led them to be imposed on one or more defendants in your case.

Comparative Fault Law in Arizona

Arizona personal injury law allows for imperfect liability outcomes. Meaning, it is not uncommon in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit for the defendant to be less than 100 percent at fault and for the plaintiff to share at least a little of the blame for the accident.

If a defendant in a truck accident lawsuit can show that you as the plaintiff were at least partly negligent in leading to the accident, then in its final award a court can reduce your damages recovery by an amount equal to the percentage of your comparative fault.

For example, if upon judgment the court finds that the truck driver was 75 percent at fault for the accident but that you were also 25 percent at fault, then the court will reduce your initial damages award by 25 percent.

“How Can a Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?”

If you have been in an accident involving a truck, then you find yourself at the beginning of a legal process that can be complicated, sometimes frustrating, and time-consuming. Here are some of the issues you may face as a truck accident victim:

  • Dealing with your insurance company. If you make an insurance claim after a truck accident, or if you are sued in connection with a truck accident, then your insurance company can assign its own attorney to represent you. This attorney is not, however, “your” attorney because that lawyer is being paid by the insurer and answers to the insurer. While your insurance company lawyer is ethically bound not to harm your interests in a truck accident claim, he or she must also listen to the insurance company’s desire to keep any payout in settlement or a court award to a minimum.
  • Finding out who to make a claim against. How do you determine the relationships among the people who contributed to causing the truck accident? How do you find evidence in their possession, like log books for commercial drivers, or maintenance records, inspection reports, or any citations issued for violating federal trucking laws? How do you get that evidence?
  • Dealing with other insurance companies in negotiations. Unless the truck driver and the driver’s employer are both uninsured for the truck, for accidents involving commercial vehicles you will almost certainly find yourself dealing with insurance companies for the driver, the employer, or both. These insurance companies will have their own Arizona personal injury attorneys, and their job will be to look for any way to either deny liability or to minimize any insurance settlement payout you receive.
  • Dealing with court motions and multi-party claims. Especially if the truck involved in the accident was a commercial truck, and sometimes if third parties played a role in causing the truck accident, you should not be surprised to see multiple defendants in a truck accident lawsuit. Many times these defendants will file counterclaims against you alleging contributory negligence. They can also file cross-claims against one another, and motions to dismiss your claims and those of other defendants. Before long, you could be looking at a confusing multitude of lawsuits all arising from the same truck accident.
  • Dealing with deadlines. Arizona civil court cases can take a long time to settle or to litigate. But you still have multiple mandatory filing dates to meet throughout. Some of these deadlines will be court-ordered in connection to your claim, others can relate to claims that other parties may have against you. But if you inadvertently miss a required filing, or respond with the wrong documents or insufficient documentation, then you could harm your own case or even lose it based on a “technicality.”
  • Dealing with other insurance and personal injury lawyers. If you do not have a lawyer of your own in a truck accident lawsuit or settlement negotiation, then other lawyers for the driver, the truck’s owner, and their insurers can all communicate with you directly. These attorneys are professionals who know how to ask you questions designed to get you to say things to harm your case. They will use anything you say to them against you if they can.
  • Gathering, preserving, and presenting evidence. In a settlement negotiation, court case, or arbitration, your say-so is not enough to win in a truck accident claim. You need to back up your injury and damages claims with evidence. Evidence can be testimonial, including expert witness testimony and accident reconstruction experts, it can be documentary, it can be material (including any electronic data collected and stored by the truck itself), and it can be circumstantial. Where do you look for your evidence? How do you gather it? How do you present it? 

These are only some of the considerations that go into making, and winning, a personal injury lawsuit for a truck crash.

Fortunately, if you live in Phoenix, or Maricopa County, or anywhere in the state of Arizona and are the victim of a truck accident, a highly experienced Stone Rose Law truck accident attorney is only a phone call or a mouse click away. You don’t have to go it alone. Let our Arizona personal injury law firm stand between you and the other side’s lawyers. 

Our Phoenix truck accident lawyers have decades of combined attorney experience representing truck accident victims like you in truck accident cases and insurance settlement negotiations. This gives our law firm practical, working knowledge of all the mechanics involved in preparing and if need be, litigating your claim against everyone responsible for your injuries.

The majority of Arizona personal injury lawsuits settle out of court. Our traffic accident lawyers are aggressive negotiators who will make sure that no potential claim of yours gets overlooked and that insurance attorneys and other defense lawyers cannot trick or browbeat you into accepting less than you deserve in full settlement. But to be credible, your settlement negotiating position must be backed by the credible threat of a truck accident lawsuit if a fair outcome cannot be agreed upon. 

Stone Rose truck accident attorneys are even more aggressive in court than they are in negotiations. Throughout negotiations with insurers and uninsured defendants we will be building the strongest case for trial possible for you, just in case. We will also make sure the other lawyers for the other parties know it, too. Because we will be gathering evidence the entire time to build your case, including if necessary getting it from the other involved parties to the accident through formal discovery requests.

We will also make sure the other parties that we represent you on a contingency basis, so there is no point in them trying to financially bleed you to death by engaging in stalling measures and other dilatory tactics to drive up your legal bill. You won’t have one, unless we win your case. And if we win, we will seek attorney fees from defendants who try to take advantage of you in this way.

Remember, truck crashes are often serious or catastrophic accidents because of the size and weight of the truck versus you. The catastrophic injuries you can suffer from a truck accident can be equally serious and catastrophic. The stakes are too high for you to leave your legal claims to chance.

When it comes to recovering the settlement compensation or money damages award you need and deserve to make you whole again as much as possible after an Arizona commercial trucking accident, call our Phoenix truck accident attorneys at Stone Rose Law today, (480) 498-8998, to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. If you have a question, or prefer to schedule a no-cost initial appointment online, a Stone Rose personal injury attorney will reply to you as soon as possible.

You only have two years to file your legal claim for harm done to you in an Arizona truck accident. That time can slip by faster than you think. Don’t delay. Call Stone Rose Law today.