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.
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.
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.
Source: Arizona Department of Transportation, 2022 Crash Facts
Source: Arizona Department of Transportation, 2022 Crash Facts
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.