Answers With Azizi – The Personal Injury Lawsuit Podcast
Welcome to “Answers with Azizi,” a straightforward audio conversation with Los Angeles truck accident lawyer David Azizi about the legal matters affecting those who have been harmed, often due to the negligence of another party. If you’ve been injured in a collision with a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, big rig, bus, or oher large commercial vehicle, this episode aims to address your concerns. You may also benefit from our page discussing a full legal strategy of legal and saftey steps after a crash with a large truck.
Listen to the podcast episode by clicking the player at the top of the page
Questions featured in the episode:
- What kind of vehicles are you dealing with when you talk about truck crashes?
- How would you define a commercial vehicle?
- What actions should victims be taking for themselves and at what point is it time to contact a truck accident lawyer?
- What steps do you take an injured client through in a consultation?
- Who specifically are you taking action against in these truck cases?
- Are there typical categories of driver negligence that seem to be repeated more commonly by truckers?
- How do you interact with families dealing with a wrongful death or severely injured family member?
- What about clients who are being hounded by the trucking companies or insurance companies?
- Does location of the accident hold special consideration?
- Can explain how California works if you do hold some amount of responsibility for the accident that happened with a truck?
Transcription of Podcast Episode: After a Truck Crash
Answers With Azizi – Episode 1 – What To Do After a Truck Accident
Host: This is answers with Azizi. I’m your host Jeremy Kocal and in today’s episode, Attorney David Azizi takes us through what to do after an accident with a large semi-truck, bus, or commercial vehicle. Let’s dive in.
What kind of vehicles are you dealing with when you talk about truck crashes? I know that it covers commercial vehicles, large trucks — how would you describe these vehicles so people can know,”Oh this is the kind of accident I’ve been in?”
David Azizi: With regards to truck accidents, there’s different types of trucks out there. There’s trucks that are called, like box trucks. Those are the ones that, for example, you rent a U-Haul truck where you put everything in there and take it and it looks like a box. Those are called box trucks.
David Azizi: Tractor trailer trucks – The tractor is the portion which is the front portion of the truck and then the trailer is what basically hitches on to the tractor and those are the ones you see on the freeway. Usually they’re like 48 footers or 53 footers.
David Azizi: There’s dump trucks. We’ve had cases where dump trucks are involved. Unfortunately, in all of these cases the uniformity that we have in all of them is that when they cause an accident, because of the mass and the weight that these vehicles carry, the injuries are usually pretty severe injuries. I mean you have tow trucks as well too. And these vehicles are built tough and they have a lot of horsepower a lot of torque and they’re built that way because they’re built to be able to carry a mass amount of weight.
David Azizi: And a lot of times the weight also plays a role because I’ve had some of these tractor trailer drivers who were in a case that we have as a defendant — they’ve come to me and said, “Look when I hit that vehicle and I applied my brakes, it took a while for my truck to come to a stop because of the amount of weight and mass that’s being carried by that, for example, tractor trailer.
Host: As far as what qualifies as a commercial vehicle how would you define a commercial vehicle?
David Azizi: What we do in our case is rely on more is whether the person has a commercial license or not. Because in order to be able to get a commercial license there’s more training, more responsibility that goes in it. For example, sometimes bus drivers, if they are driving a bus they might necessarily have to get a different type of license to be able to drive a vehicle. So the vehicle itself doesn’t… sometimes makes a difference. When it gets to commercial sense, we look more as far as the driver to see if they received the proper training and have the qualification in order to be a commercial driver.
Host: Somebody has been in a very challenging and possibly horrific accident in their vehicle with one of these large trucks. Can you just kind of walk through the steps of what action they should be taking for themselves and then at what point you know it’s for them to get in contact with you? And what steps you take them through?
David Azizi: Depending on which side you are — if you’re in the truck, I’ve had situations, a couple where there were two vehicles that were both trucks, big utility vehicles where one of the truck driver’s tires had a blow out because it was really bald and they hadn’t changed it and they had a blowout, lost control, hit another truck, caused that truck to overturn. And my client literally had to punch his way out of the front windshield in order to be able to get out because his vehicle caught on fire and literally did that in order to get out.
David Azizi: There are also some circumstances — majority of circumstances where clients that have come to me have been regular vehicles — sedans, sports cars — things like that. And unfortunately in those instances, if they’re involved in a truck accident, particularly where a tractor trailer has collided into them, a lot of times I’ve gotten calls from those clients about a week or two after the collision, once they’ve been able to get out of the hospital, and been able to get things back together and they’re like, “OK well I need to call a lawyer now.
David Azizi: My suggestion is if you’re involved in a truck versus vehicle accident, depending on the extent of injuries, it’s most important to always seek the medical attention that you need. And once you’re able to contact a lawyer such as myself — What we do is we like to be able to preserve as much evidence as possible. These trucks are equipped with what they call black boxes.
David Azizi: There is information in there that we can request that the truck company preserve the vehicle so we can have somebody go out there and retrieve the data from the black box. And that would give us information as to how fast they were going, whether they braked at a certain time or not. That’s important in being able to get in contact with a lawyer such as myself who has the experience in handling these truck cases.
David Azizi: We’d like to be able to get the police report. A lot of times these truck accidents generally happen on the freeway. So we send somebody out to try to get the CHP report as soon as possible. We also request the 911 calls because there’s a lot of times where accidents happen, people observe it and call 911 and continue on. And those witnesses are not necessarily on the police report, but they are individuals who witness an accident and they can provide a lot of detailed information as to how the truck driver was at fault for causing the accident.
David Azizi: In terms of medical care, we like to be able to be available for the clients. Sometimes we’ve had clients who come to us and say, “Look I don’t have any health insurance but I am injured and I’m not quite sure as to how I can get any medical care.” A lot of times we know doctors which provide medical care on a lien basis, and what that means is the doctor is willing to provide medical care and hold off on payment until the end of the case.
David Azizi: And irrespective of whether they win or not, they get paid from the lawsuit recovery that we get. Those are just some of the few suggestions that I would have for people who were involved in a truck accident.
Host: Who specifically are you taking action against in these truck cases? The driver of the actual trucking company? The insurance company? How do you differentiate that and which which is typical that you would pursue action against?
David Azizi: Well generally when you file a claim, you’re filing a claim against the individual who caused the accident. Their insurance company comes in and per their contractual agreement with the truck driver, agree to provide a defense and provide representation. But the person that you’re going after is the truck driver.
David Azizi: Now sometimes some of these truck drivers are independent contractors, meaning they work for themselves or they have their own company. And sometimes they’re employees of a company. So in that scenario, you would sue the truck driver individually themselves. And then also you would be suing the company because the employee was within the course and scope.
David Azizi: Now there is another exception, for example, there could be — and this is a very limited exception — You have companies that are in the business of transporting goods or materials. I mean that’s all they do. And in that particular scenario they may hire independent contractors, such as independent truck drivers, to provide that service for them. And the law says that if you’re in the business of transporting goods and you hire an independent contractor, not only is the independent contractor responsible for the accident, but you as a moving company are also responsible for the negligence of that independent contractor truck driver.
David Azizi: And the law has made an exception in that sense because their attitude and thought process is, when you have people who are in the business of transporting, we want those people to be responsible to make sure that they hire the appropriate people, that they hire qualified drivers that are not negligent in their driving habits, and if they don’t, then they are responsible for having hired that person.
David Azizi: Why some of these cases have such high costs involved?
David Azizi: Unfortunately most of the time, the amount of injuries sustained by the occupants of the vehicles is pretty severe. And when you have severe injuries of that nature, the trucking companies have big insurance companies that are behind them, and they’re going to fight tooth and nail to try to make sure that they pay the least amount of money, or they fight the case as much as possible to say that they weren’t at fault. And as I was indicating to you, a lot of times the legwork in these type of cases involves us having to hire an expert who can go out there and get to the black box of the subject truck.
David Azizi: It would have to involve us if they’re disputing liability — hire an accident reconstruction expert to recreate the accident and assist and help us to establish that the truck driver was at fault.
David Azizi: On the medical side, again because sometimes of the severity of the injuries sustained, there is a lot of medical doctors that are involved. And these medical doctors are necessary to be retained, necessary to help us with the case. And unfortunately, most of the time these cases go near trial in order for them to settle and sometimes even have to go for trial in order for them to settle. So that’s why they’re very costly and there’s a lot of costs involved in pursuing such cases, which we’re happy to advance the costs on behalf of the clients in order to pursue the case on behalf of the clients. Because again, if we take a case, we believe in it and we fight it to the end. And even if it needs to go to trial, we’re willing to spend the money that needs to be spent on it in order to prove the case on behalf of the injured client.
Host: Are there typical categories of driver negligence that seem to be repeated more commonly by truckers and these accidents with vehicles?
David Azizi:Lot of times these truckers that are involved in these particular accidents — they misjudged the traffic conditions, they misjudged the stopping distance. I, for example, currently have a case where a truck driver observed traffic in front of her slowing down. She decided, wrongfully, but she decided that, “OK it’s a good time for me to go ahead and grab my hamburger out of the bag, unwrap it, take a bite.” And then when she looks up, she misjudged the traffic in front of her and thought that she has enough time to be able to engage in the reckless activity that I just described for you, and then noticed, “Oops, I don’t have as much stopping distance as I thought,” and then slams on her brakes. So in that scenario, because of her inattentiveness and reckless conduct, she ended up crashing into about nine cars, and caused our client to sustain severe neck injuries, and unfortunately that gentleman has had to undergo two surgeries, and he has had two levels of his neck fused as a result of the accident.
Host: When you are dealing with somebody who is so injured that they need family to act on their behalf or maybe they’ve even lost their life and they need a family member to step in and try to help them get justice, what is your interaction like with those families? What kind of information do you need from them to be able to move these cases forward?
David Azizi: If it’s unfortunately a wrongful death, then there’s an order of people who would be able to pursue a wrongful death. For example, if the person who has passed away has a wife and children, his wife and children would be able to pursue a wrongful death cause of action.
David Azizi: If that person who has passed away only has his parents, then his parents would be able to pursue a cause of action on behalf of their trial.
David Azizi: And then it just keeps successively going down. For example, if they don’t have any parents but they have siblings, their siblings would be able to pursue a cause of action on their behalf. And in that scenario, either the spouse, the children, the parents, or the siblings are the individuals that would be a party to the case and they would be bringing a wrongful death lawsuit.
David Azizi: Now if the person hopefully did not pass away, but sustained severe injuries… we’ve had cases where, for example, people are comatose, so the next of kin would act as a guardian on behalf of that person who is comatose. Or in some scenarios, if the person is not comatose, but has severe injuries and is bedridden, that individual, depending on whether they’re a minor or an adult… If they’re minor everybody always needs a guardian. But if they’re not a minor, but they’re debilitated in a hospital where they can’t move for a period of time, they are still the client. It’s just that their family members would be the contact person to help and assist us and being able to move the case along. And a lot of times what I tell my clients is, look I want you to focus on getting better. That’s your number one goal. That’s what I need you to do. Everything else — that’s why you’re hiring a lawyer.
David Azizi: We will take care of the responsibility of sending letters to the insurance company on behalf of the trucking company. We will retain the appropriate experts to establish and prove your case. We will do the discovery, filing of the lawsuit, everything that needs to be done to advance your case. The only thing we would want to do is follow up with your medical care and do everything that you can do to get back to, as much as possible, how you were before the accident.
Host: I’ve heard of some circumstances where trucking companies or insurance companies are calling the injured parties to speak with them maybe even to try to offer some kind of deal. How do you speak to clients that are going through that kind of interaction?
David Azizi: I would tell them that if you know anything about insurance companies you would know that they are only looking after their interests. If they’re calling, to settle with you right away, that should be a red flag for you because they’re trying to lessen their damages right away. Because the longer that time goes by, and if you’ve been involved, for example, in a truck accident where you’ve sustained injuries, they may want to right away come to you and say look we’ll offer you $20,000, $30,000, because sometimes people who have been involved in such cases may have claims that are worth two to three million dollars or even more.
David Azizi: Insurance for the trucking company sees this as — if we offer this person twenty to thirty thousand dollars right away, and an exposure of a several million dollar lawsuit or claim, we’re winning.
David Azizi: So a lot of times I tell clients like that, look it may be a good settlement. I don’t know, but I would advise you that you contact a lawyer and get a free consultation. There’s no money that you have to pay. Present your case to an attorney and find out from that experienced attorney as to whether the offer that’s being made is reasonable or not.
David Azizi: We work on a contingency basis. And what that means is we don’t get a penny paid to us until we make a recovery for you. So as lawyers, we are interested in making sure that you also recover the right amount. So if they’re not paying you a fair share, our advice would be to you — No, your case is worth a lot more. If they’re paying you a fair share, then as an attorney I’m not gonna go ahead and take that case because I will tell you, look I can’t do better even if you came to me, I’m not going to be able to do better. So what’s the point in trying to come to me? I would suggest that that’s a good settlement — move on and settle.
David Azizi: But in my experience in the past 20 years, I’ve never ever found that the insurance company has offered a settlement amount to a potential client that’s called me to where I’m like, yes take that amount. It’s a good offer. That’s never happened but, hey anything’s possible.
Host: What considerations of location would be important for you? You know, your practice is based in Los Angeles. If somebody is dealing with an accident that happened in the state of California, does it make a difference if, you know, the truck originated in Montana or in New York?
David Azizi: No, as long as that truck is involved in an accident here in California, they’re subject to California law, California rules, rules of the road here in California. And so… and a lot of these trucking companies have interstate licenses. If they do interstate trucking they understand that if they are in another state and they cause an accident, they’re responsible for being liable in that state.
David Azizi: And as far as the plaintiff goes, the injured party, we represent clients all over California — Northern California, Southern California even. Just because my office is in L.A. doesn’t make a difference. We represented clients all the way up to San Francisco and San Jose, Sacramento, all the way down to San Diego. We travel all over the state of California.
Host: Can explain how California works if you do hold some amount of responsibility for the accident that happened with a truck?
David Azizi: In California it’s called comparative fault. Whereas some states, if you are found to be at some portion at fault, you don’t have a claim to pursue.
David Azizi: Here in California the law says, look, if two parties are involved in an accident, for example — recently I had a case where a person entered on a yellow and another person entered on a green and there was a collision. And the argument was, well, this person should’ve never entered on this yellow. It was not safe and they probably entered on close to a red and went through the intersection. The person who entered on a green should have made sure that the intersection was clear and allowed this vehicle to clear before it went there. So in that scenario a jury was presented with the facts, and a jury was able to determine based on a comparative fault, for example saying, well the person who entered on a green is 35 percent at fault. The person who entered on a yellow and should have stopped as opposed to proceeding through is 65 percent at fault.
David Azizi: So that’s how it works out in California. And then depending on the damages awarded, each party’s percentage of fault gets reduced for their fault. So for example — if they got a hundred dollars, the person that got 35 percent at fault would get their hundred dollars award reduced by 35 percent. And alternatively, the other way, if that person got $100 they would get 65 percent deducted from their award of $100.
Host: If you have questions about a truck accident or crash with a large commercial vehicle, contact David Azizi at AziziLawFirm.com.
And here’s our legal disclaimer: This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever. If you have specific legal questions contact an attorney to discuss specific legal matters about your case. The attorneys of David Azizi operate in Los Angeles California. Listeners should note that legal services may be performed by others. Join us again on Answers with Azizi. Thanks for listening.
Contact A Proven Los Angeles Semi Truck Accident Law Firm
If you have additional questions about an injury that happened as result of an accident with a large truck or commercial vehicle, or other legal matters, contact the Law Offices of David Azizi today for a free case review by calling (800) 991-5292.