The last thing you remember before waking up in the hospital with a severe headache and several casts on your body was singing along to "King of the Road" as you cruised down the interstate. The nurse tells you what happened, explaining how lucky you are to be alive after being hit by a truck whose driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel. You'll be okay, but will need a few months of physical therapy and won't be able to work for quite some time.
It wasn't your fault, but now you're stressed about making the mortgage payment on your Scottsdale home as medical bills pile up. Arizona law requires you to prove negligence (with help from your insurance company) when filing a claim for a motor vehicle accident. Since the trucking company didn't provide the driver with adequate rest breaks, causing him to nod off, you might be able to file a claim against the driver's employer.
In any event, you'll probably want an attorney to help sort everything out as you recover. The following information will help you get up to speed on what to do after a truck accident in Arizona.
What to Do After a Truck Accident: First Steps
If you're involved in a truck accident, make sure you check on everyone involved immediately following the accident and call for emergency help -- unless you're seriously injured. Also, if possible, move your vehicle out of traffic. Next (again, if you're physically able to do so), take notes and photos; talk to any witnesses to the crash; and exchange information with the other parties (i.e. driver's license information, truck driver's employer, insurance information, etc.).
Arizona Truck Accidents: Liability for Injuries
Since Arizona is an "at-fault" state, you'll need to prove the other driver was negligent or reckless in causing your injuries. The state also employs the legal theory of pure comparative negligence, which assigns liability in proportion to each party's percentage of fault. For instance, if the driver was speeding on an icy roadway, but you were reading text messages on your phone, both parties will share some portion of the blame (which will affect the damages you're able to claim).
Also, make sure you speak with an attorney before signing onto a settlement right after the accident. Insurance companies may try to minimize their legal exposure by rushing a settlement before the extent of your damages has been realized. If you sign a settlement, you won't be able to claim additional damages later (such as soft tissue injuries that aren't always apparent right away).
Arizona Truck Accident Laws: The Basics
Few incidents are more frightening than being swept off the highway by a jackknifing big rig, especially when it results in serious injuries. The following is a summary of laws and regulations pertaining to Arizona truck accidents, written in an easy-to-read format.
Arizona Constitution, Article II:
- Section 31 (Damages for death or personal injuries)
Arizona Revised Statutes:
|Liability and Negligence
If you've been injured as the result of a truck accident, you should file a claim with your insurance company. Arizona is an "at-fault" state, which means any claim for injuries must prove that the other party was negligent (many other states are "no-fault" states).
Arizona law applies "pure comparative negligence" to claims, which means a jury (should it ever go to trial) will assign percentages of fault to each party when awarding damages. This same formula is also applied to insurance settlements.
The truck driver's employer, the owner of the truck, the manufacturer of the truck, the truck maintenance company, and other parties also may be held liable (via their insurers).
Examples of negligence include:
- Driver fatigue;
- Speeding or other traffic violations;
- Impaired driving;
- Failure to provide drivers adequate rest between trips; and
- Faulty truck design or improper maintenance.
Economic recovery, or damages, may include the following:
- Medical and home care expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Wrongful death.
Note: Per the state constitution, there are no limits to the amount of damages a plaintiff may be awarded for wrongful death or injuries.
|Federal and State Trucking Regulations
Truck drivers and their employers must adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) regulations. You'll want to establish whether the truck driver violated any of these regulations before filing a claim, which include:
- Maximum number of hours the driver may work within a specific time frame;
- Truck driver's alcohol and drug use history;
- Truck driver's driving history;
- Maintenance schedule for trucks and trailers; and
- The level of training the driver received.
|Statute of Limitations
Within 2 years if anyone was injured or killed in the accident (also, within 2 years for property damage).
Keep in mind that for wrongful death claims the "clock" starts running at the time of the victim's death, which may come later than the date of the accident.
See also Arizona Civil Statute of Limitations.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- Arizona Laws - Summaries of select Arizona laws spanning criminal, injury, family, small business, real estate, consumer, and other practice areas.
- Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
What to do After a Truck Accident in Arizona: Related Resources
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Arizona Truck Accident Claim
Accidents involving commercial trucks tend to be quite serious, given the sheer size and weight of many of these vehicles. You may be dealing with serious trauma and months or even years of recovery, which can derail your career (and thus earning capacity) as you rack up medical bills. Make sure you receive the compensation you deserve by speaking with an experienced Arizona car accident attorney near you today.