Being a motorist in California means sharing the road with semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks. Commercial trucks are vital to the U.S. economy, but because of their considerable size and weight, they also pose a greater risk of traffic accidents, and accidents involving large trucks are often deadly for other drivers and passengers. According to a 2020 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 5,000 people killed in U.S. accidents involving large trucks in 2018, and 71% of the people killed were occupants of other vehicles. If you have been seriously injured or if a loved one was killed in a traffic accident involving a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, big rig, or any other large truck, we are here to help. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can work with you to determine whether there is a need for legal action and ensure that you get the maximum compensation you are entitled to. Call us today, so we can get to work evaluating your claim.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Large commercial trucks include medium or heavy trucks with a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 pounds, with the exclusion of buses and motor homes. These trucks tend to be difficult to maneuver on the road and because of this, truckers are required to have extra training. They are also required to exercise reasonable care when behind the wheel to ensure the safety of other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians and to reduce the risk of an accident. Not all truck drivers practice safe driving techniques on the road, which increases the risk of serious, potentially fatal trucking accidents, but not all trucking accidents are caused by driver error. The following are some of the most frequent causes of large truck crashes.
Speeding is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents in California and throughout the country. Because of the overwhelming weight and size of big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles, driving at a high speed only increases the risk of other drivers and vehicle occupants being killed in the event of a trucking accident.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law in every state. Nevertheless, thousands of people are injured or killed in traffic accidents caused by intoxicated drivers. In 2017, California had the most drunk-driving fatalities of any state, with 1,120 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.
Distracted driving is another major cause of accidents involving large trucks. Although most people think of distracted driving as driving while talking on the phone or texting, distracted driving can also involve eating, changing the radio station, looking at GPS or any other activity that takes a driver’s attention off the road.
Although there are strict laws in place regarding the number of hours truckers can drive before taking a mandatory break, truck drivers are often overworked and do not get enough time to rest. Driving while fatigued can lead to slower response times and poor decision-making, which increases the risk of serious trucking accidents.
There are some situations where a trucking accident occurs not because of a mistake the driver made, but because there was a problem with the truck itself. Not all trucking companies are diligent about properly maintaining and repairing their equipment and some commercial trucks or truck parts may also be defective. If this is the case and a truck malfunction causes or contributes to a trucking accident, the trucking company or the manufacturer of the truck’s parts may be at fault.
Types of Trucking Accident Injuries
Due to the sheer size and weight of large trucks, it comes as no surprise that trucking accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, even at low speeds. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and occupants of other vehicles can be involved in trucking accidents and may sustain one or more of the following injuries as a result:
- Head injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Neck and back injury
- Scrapes or cuts
- Broken ribs
- Internal bleeding
- Knee trauma
- Organ damage
- Wrongful death
Serious trucking accident injuries can leave victims and their loved ones with costly medical bills, possibly amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to crippling medical expenses, truck accident victims may also suffer from lost wages, diminished earning capacity, property damage, and pain and suffering, among other damages. By calculating the extent of these damages, a skilled attorney can determine how much your personal injury claim is worth following a trucking accident.
Who is Liable for My Truck Accident Injuries?
Under California personal injury laws, victims of trucking accidents may be able to sue and seek compensation from the truck driver or any other responsible party. Much like a car accident or motorcycle accident claim, most personal injury claims related to trucking accidents are based on the theory of negligence. To prove negligence in a truck accident case, you must first prove that the at-fault person or party (the defendant) owed you a duty of care and that the defendant breached that duty of care by acting in a certain way (i.e. speeding, driving while distracted, driving under the influence of alcohol). You must also show that the breach of duty caused your injuries and that you incurred damages as a direct result of your injuries.
What About the Insurance Company?
Insurance policies for commercial trucks are often very large and if you are involved in a trucking accident, you may be able to obtain a considerable settlement from the truck driver or trucking company’s insurance provider. However, it is important to remember that the insurance claims adjuster is not on your side and is not operating with your best interests in mind. In fact, it is not uncommon for an insurance company to try to pin a portion of the blame for a truck accident on the injured victim, in order to reduce the value of the victim’s claim. An insurance company’s main goal is to limit the amount they are required to pay, and if you are injured in a truck accident in California, the insurance company may try to get you to settle the claim quickly by offering you a lowball settlement right away. That is why we always recommend retaining a personal injury attorney with experience handling trucking accident claims.
Our Personal Injury Attorneys Will Fight for You
Having an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner is your best bet if you want to maximize your recovery following a trucking accident, whether that means negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company or bringing your case to court. If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries in a California trucking accident, our legal team can assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve for your losses, including medical bills, property damage, diminished ability to work, and more. Contact our trucking accident attorneys today for a free initial consultation.