Vehicle accidents frequently happen in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whereas these crashes can be devastating and might lead to death, truck collisions can be particularly catastrophic. This is because truck crashes involve autos that weigh considerably more than passenger cars, and they may lead to many victims sustaining injuries. Therefore, you need expert legal assistance if you’ve been injured or your loved one has died in a truck collision.
As car accident attorneys with several years of experience at Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we understand how challenging your life and wellbeing can be after involvement in a truck accident. We take a holistic approach to each case and take the necessary time to offer you all the help you need after a severe truck crash.
From there, we’ll fight to make sure you recover all the damages you deserve, so the accident doesn’t limit your life. Call us to talk to one of our skilled and compassionate attorneys regarding your personal injury case and know how they can help. We offer free, confidential consultations without any up-front charges.
Nevada Trucking Laws
Understanding laws that govern truck drivers and truck operations will help you know what steps to take when recovering damages after your truck accident.
In Nevada, federal and state regulations and laws govern commercial trucks like 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and semi-trucks used for interstate goods transportation. Federal and state trucking rules and regulations provide specific requirements and restrictions concerning several issues, like driving hours, driver qualifications, and truck weight limit. These rules and regulations keep the trucking industry running efficiently and, most importantly, protect all road users’ safety. Unfortunately, whenever trucking laws are violated, collisions can occur.
Due to the dangers truck accidents pose, the federal government has set strict regulations to ensure all trucking companies plus their operators drive the trucks safely and ensure they’re well-maintained. These regulations are known as the FMSCRs (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), set forth by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).
The FMCSA is the body that governs the United States trucking industry. If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash in Nevada, the FMCSA regulations are most likely to apply in your personal injury lawsuit. FMCSA rules and regulations govern:
- Hours of service— truck drivers aren’t permitted to work more hours than the regulations consider safe given their schedule and the load they’re transporting. Every driver must also keep a record of their driving hours.
- Inspection, maintenance, and repair— repairs and inspections must be frequently done on trucks. Not doing so could result in catastrophic crashes.
- Insurance coverage— a trucking company must have higher insurance coverage because they have a higher liability level. Higher insurance coverage is necessary since truck accidents often result in more severe injuries or deadly injuries.
- Safety procedures— this body reviews the fitness or safety of trucks then gives a rating. Should the truck be considered safe, it’s allowed to operate on the roads. Also, the FMCSA lets trucking companies and truck drivers know how they can alleviate the less-than-satisfactory safety problems.
- Driver qualifications— FMCSA requires that truck drivers be twenty-one years old, possess a valid CDL (commercial driver’s license, and be proficient English speakers.
Nevada trucking regulations are set forth by the NDOT (Nevada Department of Transportation). This body sets forth the weight limits, vehicle size, and regulations that truck companies and truck drivers must obey.
If you’ve been in a truck collision, your lawyer must be conversant with both the state and federal laws governing truck drivers and trucking companies. They must also understand how the respondent’s side and the court may interpret these laws regarding your specific case.
Types of Truck Accidents
Each year, we experience hundreds of crashes in Nevada involving trucks. Most of these accidents lead to catastrophic injuries, while others cause harm that’ll only become apparent after weeks or months into the accident. Dozens of individuals also die every year in these truck collisions, and surprisingly, those who fall, victims, aren’t always those who travel in smaller autos. Common truck accident types include:
- Wide turning collisions— trucks often swing in one direction as they start turning towards the opposite direction. These wide turns occupy a large part of an intersection and may trap vehicles between the curb and truck.
- Spilled load crashes— spilled cargo can cause severe collisions, and at times the kind of load being transported is sharp or hazardous.
- Head-on collisions— colliding head-on with a truck will frequently cause death or severe injuries.
- Jackknife crashes— when a truck brakes too hard, its trailer can skid outwards and to the side, striking a vehicle, motorcycle, or something else in the adjacent lane.
- Blind-spot accidents— a truck has a large blind spot. This could create a fatal collision since the truck driver may not notice pedestrians or vehicles when making lane changes or turning.
- T-bone crashes— these prevalently take place when a truck fails to brake at stop signs or red lights or when the driver loses control of the trailer.
- Rear-end accidents— if a truck driver unexpectedly slams on the brakes, it can be dangerous, especially for small PSV cars since they can become lodged under the truck. This is known as an under-ride, and it could also occur on the side of the truck.
- Rollovers— A rollover can occur for several reasons, but the truck driver loses control is the most common.
Most people think serious truck crashes usually take place on busy roads. However, deadly accidents are highly likely to occur on smaller roadways. This may be because pedestrians, drivers, and motorcyclists pay less attention to neighborhood or rural roads.
Causes of Truck Accidents
A truck accident can occur due to several reasons, including:
Truck Driver Negligence
Truck collisions may be a result of the negligent actions of truck drivers. These actions include:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Distracted driving— distracted driving includes anything that draws the driver’s attention away from the roadway. Common distractions are: adjusting air/heat condition controls, drinking, eating, reading, smoking, texting, talking on the phone, interacting with passengers, changing music, or grooming.
- Aggressive driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving while intoxicated with drugs (prescription medication included) or alcohol
- Failure to maintain and inspect brake lights, tires, or other key truck components
- Ignoring speed limits (construction zones or reduced speed zones)
- Ignoring road conditions such as weather conditions and bridge weight limits
- Failure to install blind spot mirrors
- General negligence
Improper Truck Maintenance
Trucks have to be properly inspected, maintained, and repaired. Failure to do so by the responsible parties is a serious crime that could lead to severe or even deadly consequences. As we mentioned, Nevada laws and FMCSA regulations require that truck components be regularly examined. Drivers also have to complete written inspection reports at the end of every shift they’ve worked. Failing to do that may lead to trailer detachments, tire blowouts, rollovers, disabled signal lights, or brake failure.
Industry Demands Leading to Driver Fatigue
We mentioned that the FMCSA provides the Hours-of-Service regulation that limits how and when long-distance drivers can work. But industry demands like working overtime and pressure to meet tight deadlines cause most drivers to take shorter breaks and work longer hours. As a result, when the truck driver becomes fatigued, they’re most likely to suffer reduced awareness of their surroundings, less efficient information processing, or delayed reaction time.
Drivers of other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, or other road users can cause a truck accident by being reckless or careless. In addition, defective road design, construction works, poor road conditions, and adverse weather conditions may also lead to truck accidents.
Injuries in Truck Accidents
Truck crash injuries vary depending on the truck’s speed, site of impact, and your vehicle’s speed and stability (if you were traveling in an auto). However, most victims of these accidents suffer these injuries:
- Organ damage— At times, Truck accidents cause permanent damage to organs, making it hard for a victim to function.
- Broken bones— often, broken bones cause a long-lasting limitation and trauma that makes it challenging for the victim to resume their normal life and job.
- Soft tissue damage— torn tendons and ligaments often cause much discomfort and enduring difficulty compared to broken bones.
- Amputations — since large trucks have significant mass, they can cause substantial damage in an accident, making doctors amputate limbs because of the incapability to restore function or blood flow. Amputations can also occur in the course of the collision itself.
- Spinal cord damage— injury to the spine could make a person lose their mobility. In the worst-case scenario, they could be paralyzed. Whether mobility ever returns is often based on the victim’s specific case, including their general health and recovery ability.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) — TBIs often lead to long-term problems, including difficulty processing daily activities, ongoing emotional control problems, and sensory processing challenges.
Liability in Truck Accidents
Liability in truck collisions is among the major concerns whenever a truck accident causes property damage and injuries. Holding the correct party liable for the injuries, property damage, and losses is critical when seeking to recover damages from the accident. There are many entities or people potentially responsible for a trucking accident. These are:
The Truck Driver
The truck driver may be held accountable for the accident for several reasons. The driver might have violated the law or become distracted while driving. Or, there could be an operational problem with the truck that the driver failed to address. If they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving, they might also be liable for the injuries caused. Other contributing factors to an accident holding the driver accountable include drowsy driving, health conditions, driving at night, and driving long hours in a single trip.
The Trucking Company/Agency
The company that the truck driver works for can also be held accountable for the accident. Proving that a trucking company is liable for the crash can be challenging unless your lawyer or an expert is capable of exposing certain matters. These matters could include an incomplete inspection, unrealistic anticipations that push truckers further than they should, attempt to meet all deadlines, and the company cutting corners around safety.
All these issues may cause a trucking company to be held accountable for the accident. Most investigations show that the truck manufacturer and trucking company share responsibility in a crash due to cutting corners to increase speed and faulty equipment. Your attorney and expert witness may unearth these elements when investigating the company after the crash.
The Truck’s Owner
There are cases where trucking companies don’t own trucks— they only lease them and give them to their truckers. In these cases, the truck owner can be one of the guilty parties in a truck accident. A truck owner has the responsibility of inspecting the truck, checking its engine and internal workings. They must also ensure the truck’s necessary parts are well maintained, including the brakes, tires, electronic system, and fluids. Federal rules govern truck maintenance and inspection. If the truck owner failed to follow these regulations, they might be held accountable for injuries and losses.
The Manufacturer or Cargo Loaders
Some truck crashes involve the load the truck is carrying. If the cargo loader didn’t inspect the load fully and properly secure it, they may be held responsible when the equipment or boxes fall off and damages another auto or causes injuries. Additionally, the truck parts manufacturer may be liable if a defective part contributed to the collision. The parts batch may malfunction and result in a mechanical failure, faulty brakes, or tire blowout. If this is the case, the truck part manufacturer retains responsibility the court will require them to compensate the victim.
What If You Are Partially Liable for the
Nevada is a fault state. This means you may still recover damages even if you’re partly to blame for the crash that made you suffer injuries. Nevada applies the modified comparative negligence rule, which provides that a plaintiff can recover damages provided their degree of fault isn’t higher than the respondent.
For instance, if your entire compensation amount is $200,000, but the judge determines that you were 50% to blame for the collision, you’ll only recover $100,000 in compensation. Note that you’ll only recover damages if you are 50% or less to blame. If you’re 51% or more to blame, you won’t recover any compensation.
One of the primary challenges of truck accidents involves proving who is to blame. Trucking companies’ insurers will try harder to shift the blame to you or any other involved parties. Should they succeed, you may lose your legal right to damages entirely. This is one of the main reasons you should hire a personal injury lawyer to help you fight your case.
Proving liability in truck accidents involves showing that the respondent was negligent. To prove negligence, you must demonstrate these four elements:
- The respondent owed you a duty of care.
- They breached that duty.
- Their breach led to the truck accident.
- You suffered injuries due to the accident, for which you are seeking damages.
Proving liability comes from a rigorous gathering of proof and comprehensive investigation to support your personal injury claim/lawsuit. Expect challenges from the defendant’s side, including their insurance company and lawyers. Trucking companies and manufacturers will especially have high-powered attorneys on their side. Therefore, you will need an attorney willing to do everything legally possible to substantiate your compensation claim. The lawyer will help you:
- Investigate the collision.
- Collect the proof required to substantiate your claim/lawsuit for maximum damages.
- Interview all the eyewitnesses to the accident.
- Review the liable truck driver’s employment history and credentials.
- Review the truck’s inspection and maintenance records.
- Establish if all federal or state laws, regulations, and rules were followed.
- Secure mobile phone records, black box data, and any other electronic info to determine how the collision happened.
Other proofs that can show liability and help you recover damages are:
- The trucking company’s safety records, internal policies, and violation history.
- Driver logbooks.
- Medical records.
- Vehicular damage.
- Testimony from crash reconstruction experts, doctors, and financial planners.
- Medical bills.
- Police reports.
- Your employment records and pay stubs.
Whether or not your personal injury claim/lawsuit becomes successful depends on the quality of proof you present to the court or insurance company. If you don’t have satisfactory proof, the insurance provider may propose a settlement offer that’s far much lower than you’re owed or deny your claim altogether.
Damages in Truck Accidents
There are several types of damages you may recover after involvement in a truck accident. These damages are categorized into two— economic (special) damages and non-economic (general) damages. Economic damages compensate for the victim’s tangible losses. It’s easier to place a dollar value on these kinds of damages. On the other hand, non-economic damages compensate for the non-tangible losses. They’re the subjective, unquantifiable, non-monetary losses. It is not easy to calculate the value of these damages.
Economic damages include:
- Medical bills (both current and future), including charges for prescription drugs, tests, transportation to doctor appointments, surgeries, other medical procedures, stay at the hospital, treatment in the emergency room, and transportation in an ambulance.
- Lost wages for being incapable of resuming work after the accident or for the work-time you miss because you needed to attend doctor appointments.
- Out-of-pocket expenses.
- Repair and replacement costs.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Household services.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of society and companionship
If your loved one dies in a truck accident, you can bring a wrongful death claim/lawsuit to recover wrongful death damages. These damages include:
- Loss of consortium
- Pre-death pain and suffering
- The medical treatment costs the deceased incurred due to their injuries before their death.
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of guidance, nurturing, and care the deceased would’ve provided
- Loss of any inheritance due to the demise
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s individual’s expected income
- Value of the services the dead victim would’ve provided
Statute of Limitations in Truck Accidents
In personal injury cases, a statute of limitation is a law that restricts the period victims have to file a claim/lawsuit against another person. In most injury claims/lawsuits, the statute of limitations starts on the date the injury occurred. This means that the clock starts running in truck accidents when a victim is injured in the crash.
Generally, the statute of limitation in Nevada truck accidents is two years from the date of the crash or injury. For some cases, this statute of limitations may be tolled or paused. This typically occurs when the victim is a minor. In these cases, the clock won’t start to run until the child turns eighteen years old. If the statute of limitations expires before bringing your claim/lawsuit, your claim will likely be denied.
What to Do After Being in Truck Accident
What you do after a truck accident will hurt or improve your chance to recover compensation. Note that the at-fault parties and their insurance providers aren’t on your side. Therefore, after the crash, you should only interact with a third party after you’ve consulted with a skilled personal injury lawyer. Here is what you should and shouldn’t do after a truck accident:
- Seek medical attention.
- Note down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the parties involved in the accident and any eyewitnesses. You also have to note down the trucking company’s name and contact details.
- Take photos of the accident scene and note down precisely what happened before and after the crash. You could include your speed, driving conditions, and the lane you were traveling in your account.
- Consult with a personal injury lawyer.
- Do not admit fault.
- Do not negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company or sign anything with them.
Find a Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Near Me
If you’ve been injured or your loved one has died after being in a truck accident, we may help you receive fair compensation for the injuries, losses, or damage you suffered. At Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we’re aggressive in holding at-fault parties responsible for their negligence. We’ll investigate the accident thoroughly to uncover all the at-fault parties from which you can pursue compensation.
We also boast extensive knowledge of trucking industry regulations at the state and federal levels and can establish if any were violated, leading to the accident. Contact us today at 702-576-0010 to schedule a consultation for a cost-free case evaluation. We work on a contingency fee basis, and you won’t pay unless you’re compensated.