Trucks are some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road, and in California, truck driving is a large industry, meaning there are several trucks on highways. Trucks are an integral part of the California economy as they transport tons of goods in and out of the state. However, they can also be dangerous road companions if an accident occurs, considering their size and weight, which is almost ten times more than regular/passenger cars.
To become a truck driver and earn a license, you have to undergo special training, but that does not mean accidents are inevitable. Every year, thousands of preventable truck accidents happen in California, claiming many innocent people's lives and leaving others with life-long injuries.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 400 people die every year in California only due to truck accidents, and more than 5,680 others suffer injuries. Most people who die and sustain severe injuries are the passenger vehicle’s occupant among these truck accident victims.
Just because you haven't come across any truck accident incidents anywhere in California, it doesn't mean they are rare. California laws and FMCSA have strict rules for truck drivers and trucking companies to prevent foreseeable accidents on the road. However, truck accident cases are still on the rise because of some people's negligence, for example, a truck driver driving under the influence of alcohol.
Truck accidents and regular or passenger car accidents differ in very many ways. The most notable fact about truck accidents is that they are large and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Because of this enormous difference in size and weight, when a truck strikes a passenger car, whether head-on or from the rear, there could be catastrophic injuries or even instant death.
A road accident involving a truck accident is more likely to result in extensive damages and losses than an accident involving a regular car. Therefore, truck drivers ought to be more cautious on the road than other drivers to avoid foreseeable accidents. The severity of a truck accident will depend on factors such as:
- The Truck's speed
- The Truck's freight
- Weather and road conditions
A truck ferrying hazardous or flammable freight is more likely to result in more severe injuries in case of an accident involving a regular car. When flammable cargo like petroleum explodes during a truck accident, there could be secondary injuries and damages to several people and vehicles around the area.
To avoid catastrophic truck accidents, we need to understand the common causes of these accidents first. Truck accidents in California can happen because of many reasons. Both truck drivers and truck companies are subject to strict federal and state laws on every aspect of their work.
While most trucking companies and truck drivers are aware of these rules and restrictions, they sometimes cut corners to increase their profit margins. Because of this, other motorists and pedestrians incur unnecessary bodily injuries when an accident happens. Here are the everyday causes of truck accidents in California:
According to FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), fatigue is the cause of about 13 percent of truck accidents, which happen every day anywhere in California because of many work hours and inadequate sleep. Trucking companies sometimes operate under strict timelines when making their deliveries, and this denies their truck drivers adequate time to rest and relax to rejuvenate for the next trip.
Lack of sleep and fatigue affects a truck driver's coordination, alertness, and judgment on the road, and it only takes a second of distraction while on the wheel to hit another vehicle. Most of the time, trucking companies are responsible for their truck driver's fatigue because of their strict timelines and unrealistic expectations.
California Vehicle Code 21702 makes it a misdemeanor offense to drive a truck for more than twelve hours consecutively within a day. However, some trucking companies do not pay attention to these rules because they care about higher profit margins when their truck drivers drive for many hours without rest.
In that kind of circumstance, the trucking company can be held liable for damages and injuries the drowsy truck driver causes along the way while trying to meet their strict deadlines under respondeat superior legal doctrine.
Distracted driving is any activity that can divert a truck driver's attention away when driving, for example, phone texting, playing with the radio, or kissing. Truck driving sometimes can get boring, especially when you have to deliver goods somewhere in a rural area where the radio signal is poor. That boredom may sometimes force a truck driver to find other entertainment sources like phone texting and calling to stay occupied.
Even where there is a good radio signal, the act of reaching out to the phone while driving is risky because it takes a truck driver’s attention away from the road. Suppose a distracted truck driver hits your car from the rear, whether texting or calling, he/she should be liable for your damages and other losses resulting from the accident.
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) makes it a crime to drive any automobile under the influence of alcohol because it affects a driver's ability to pay attention to the road like a careful, cautious driver. California law treats drunk driving as a serious offense because it shows disregard for human life and can lead to severe injuries or even death in the event of an accident.
If you incur injuries and damages in a drunk driving accident involving a truck, you're entitled to seek total damages compensation from the at-fault party. If a criminal court finds the truck driver guilty of driving under the influence, he/she can face a fine of about $390 and informal probation of three to five years. He/she will also automatically be liable for your damages resulting from the accident in a personal injury civil suit.
According to California Vehicle Code 22405 VC, it is unlawful to drive a truck above the speed of 55 miles per hour. However, some truck drivers may not pay attention to this limit when they are under pressure by their employer to deliver goods to the recipient as soon as possible.
Any standard cautious truck driver should adjust his/her truck's speed accordingly whenever on the road according to the location speed limit, weather, and road conditions to prevent unnecessary accidents. If a truck driver delays a customer's goods because of his/her poor time management skills, he/she may try to speed to cover the time wasted, which can lead to unnecessary accidents.
Inadequate Truck Driver Training and Truck Maintenance
There are thorough training and conditions for attaining a truck driving license. However, somehow some people manage to get on the road without meeting these regulations, which is very risky because poor road and weather conditions may require extra experience and skill on the wheel.
It is upon trucking companies to ensure their trucks are in a roadworthy condition before they get on the road for any trip, but this is not the case with most companies. Repair and maintenance of trucks take time and money that most companies consider valuable on their strict schedules. Suppose a poorly maintained and unroadworthy truck leads to an accident. In that case, the trucking company should be liable for all the damages that other road users incur because of the accident.
Improper Cargo Loading
Road accidents related to improper cargo loading are rare, but when they happen, they can cause catastrophic injuries, especially if the truck freight was flammable. Improper cargo loading can easily make a truck rollover, especially in a corner, as the truck driver tries to turn.
When people incur injuries in most truck accidents involving improper cargo loading, the trucking company is usually at-fault unless a defective part of the cargo or truck leads to the accident. Regardless of who is at fault in the truck accident incident, it would be best if you did whatever you can to pursue compensation for your damages resulting from the accident.
Depending on factors like the truck's speed, freight, and road condition, you could suffer various injuries when a truck strikes your car in any direction. Sometimes even the aftermath of a truck accident could be life-long, which is why it is vital to seek compensation for your current damages and future medical needs you may need. Here are some of the injuries that you can sustain in a truck accident:
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Bruises, cuts, and lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Broken bones
Even if you feel perfectly fine after a truck accident, it is wise to consult with a health care provider for examination because internal injuries are not visible immediately after an accident.
Your choices immediately after a truck accident will determine the amount of compensation you can receive and whether you are eligible to receive compensatory damages. Here is what you should do immediately after a truck accident to protect your compensation rights:
Remain at the Truck Accident Scene
California Vehicle Code section 20001 VC requires you to remain at an accident scene until police arrive. Failure to stay at the scene could lead to other unnecessary charges like hit and run or felony if someone dies in the truck accident.
Remaining at the truck accident scene would also be in your best interest if you don't need any immediate medical assistance because you will be able to collect other crucial pieces of evidence for building your compensation claim.
Truck accidents involving big trucks like 18 wheelers are often very severe, resulting in physical injuries and even death. Suppose you are in your right physical condition. In that case, you should dial 911 immediately to summon police officers and emergency medical technicians to come to the accident scene to offer the necessary assistance.
The responding police officers will investigate the truck accident’s cause and create a report for further investigation, including the eyewitnesses' information. Ensure you ask for a copy of the police truck accident report for use in your injury case investigation as you pursue your damages compensation.
Document the Truck Accident Scene
Even if the police records most of the truck accident information, you should document your information because they can make errors or omit some crucial information useful in your compensation claim. Talk to a few eyewitnesses if you can and ask them if they can testify what they have seen if need be, and don't forget to take their number.
Using your smartphone, you can record videos and take pictures of things that can be useful in your injury lawsuit, including:
- The truck's number plate
- Street signs
- Your injuries
- Road conditions of the area
- Skid marks
- The speed limit of the area
When documenting the truck accident information, don't forget to inquire about the truck driver's name, license information, contact numbers, and insurance information.
Seek Medical Help and Call a Truck Accident Attorney
Your injuries can worsen if you don't seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Also, suppose you wait to get medical attention for your injuries. In that case, you can ruin your potential injury claim because it will be overwhelming to demonstrate the link between the truck accident and your injuries/damages.
After seeking medical attention, you should consult with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible for assistance in calculating your damages and legal counsel on your way forward to pursue damages compensation. Because truck accidents are different from other regular/passenger cars, you should find an attorney specializing in truck accidents and have significant experience in this field to ensure the best legal representation.
The truck accident that led to your injuries and damages could be because of many factors, which means there could be more than one liability area. It takes an experienced truck accident attorney to determine which party was negligent in observing his/her duty of care in the event of the accident that left you with injuries and damages. Below are common liability areas of a truck accident:
- The truck driver – This is possible if the truck driver was doing activities that distract his/her attention and ability to focus on the way, like phone texting or alcohol drinking.
- The trucking company – The trucking company is also a potential liability area your attorney will consider. Some trucking companies are after big profit margins, making them ignore truck accident preventative measures by FMCSA.
Apart from the trucking company and truck driver negligence, a truck accident could also be due to improper road conditions or truck/trailer defective parts. Depending on the nature of the accident and other circumstances, your attorney might be able to determine which party to sue for your damages resulting from the truck accident.
When you incur damages in a truck accident, time will be of great essence to retain your compensation rights for every loss and injury. Ensure you file your injury lawsuit to seek compensation for your damages resulting from the truck accident no later than two years after the accident. However, if you're filing a civil suit against a government agency, you should submit your injury claim in a civil court no later than six months following the accident.
Your attorney will help your file a personal injury case timely while still valid to retain your damages compensation rights. We invite you to contact Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm for a result-oriented legal representation to achieve the adequate compensation award you deserve for your damages resulting from a truck accident that you weren't at fault for.
There are many actions an attorney can take to help you achieve an adequate compensation award in a personal injury lawsuit. As you recover and heal from the injuries resulting from the accident, your truck accident attorney will be gathering all the necessary pieces of evidence to pursue your damages compensation from the at-fault party.
Your attorney will negotiate with the at-fault party if he/she is willing to settle the case out of the court to achieve a favorable settlement outcome for your damages. If they don't come to a fair settlement agreement to cover all total damages, your truck accident attorney will help you file a civil suit against the defendant.
If the case reaches the court benches, you should be ready for any outcome because the judge will consider your attorney's evidence and the defendant’s evidence when making the case judgment.
Just like any other personal injury suit, your truck accident attorney must demonstrate all elements of negligence evident in the case to show the judge that you're eligible for compensatory damages as a result of the truck accident. Below are the elements of negligence in a truck accident that your truck accident attorney will help you demonstrate in court during your civil suit against the defendant:
- Duty of Care
- Breach of the Duty of Care
The judge expects your attorney to prove the above element of negligence in a truck accident above a reasonable doubt to ascertain that you are eligible to receive your damages compensation. Your attorney can pursue your damages compensation resulting from the truck accident. Ensure you contact a reliable and reputable truck accident within your location for the best legal representation you need during this challenging moment.
The court will provide you compensatory damages for all your losses and injuries resulting from the truck accident if your attorney proves the defendant was at fault in the truck accident. The damages you will receive for your losses include:
The court will award you economic damages for all your losses that you had to incur or will incur in the future out of pocket due to the truck accident where the defendant was at fault. Here are compensable economic damages in a truck accident:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical treatment
- Lost earning capacity
- Vehicle repairs
- ER treatment
- Loss of a consortium
- Prescription drugs
In a truck accident, you can also incur emotional and physical damages not compensable in any monetary means, and the court acknowledges that. You might also be eligible for non-economic damages for the following type of losses resulting from a truck accident:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Emotional distress
- Physical disability
Suppose the truck accident took the life of your family member. In that case, you might also be able to pursue compensation under California's wrongful death laws for all the support the deceased gave to your family. Even if you feel you might be partially at fault for truck accident occurrence, you're still eligible for compensatory damages as per your degree of negligence, according to California comparative negligence law.
Suppose you incur injuries and losses in a truck accident and wondering who to turn to for your damage's compensation. In that case, you should contact a truck accident attorney to answer all your questions on how you can seek the compensation you deserve.
A truck accident attorney will review your truck accident case and explain the law surrounding the case to you in a language you can understand. The dedicated and trustworthy California truck accident attorneys from the Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm have significant experience and skills to fight on your behalf to achieve adequate compensation for your damages. Call us at 888-511-3139 today and schedule a free consultation with our attorneys to begin your journey to recovery.
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