Trucks are known to cause major accidents on the road and put other drivers at increased risk. From personal pickup trucks to large commercial big rigs, the large sizes and heavyweights of these vehicles can have more serious effects when involved in collisions. Some large trucks weigh up to 20 times more than the average passenger car and crashing into one of these massive vehicles can leave drivers with extensive injuries. A Beverly Hills truck accident attorney at Jacoby & Meyers can help anyone who is involved in an accident with a truck get compensation to cover his or her monetary damages like loss of income, medical treatment and bills and additional compensation for pain and suffering. We reach settlements with the insurance companies of the liable third party through negotiations and when necessary, with the filing of a lawsuit.
Truck accidents are very dangerous as the vehicle itself poses a greater risk to its passenger and driver than perhaps an automobile or other motor vehicles. Due to the number of large trucks frequenting the freeways and roadways on a daily basis, the risk of an accident increases significantly. This causes increased danger and risk of injuries including paralysis, wrongful death, brain injuries, broken bones, amputation, and perhaps even burn injuries if the crash is significant and leads to a rollover or fire.
The destructive force of semi-trucks and 18 wheelers in an accident is far greater than any other vehicle on the road. A person who has an accident with one of these big trucks is much more likely to sustain major injuries and property damage than if he or she had been hit by another car. A California truck accident lawyer can help navigate the unique circumstances involved in trucking accidents.
In 2003, one out of every nine traffic fatalities in the United States resulted from a truck-related accident. In Los Angeles County in 2010, truck and tractor-trailer accidents caused 30% of California’s traffic injuries and 22% of the state’s traffic fatalities. In the same year, close to half of the state’s traffic injuries caused by trucks occurred in Southern California (Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Orange County data). These types of accident are on the rise across the nation. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, both 2010 and 2011 saw significant increases in semi-truck and big-rig accidents and fatalities.
What Causes Truck Accidents to Occur?
Despite federal safety regulations that truckers are supposed to follow, they may still be negligent behind the wheel and put other drivers on the road in danger. What constitutes negligence in the eyes of the law is the legal standard that must be met to have a meritorious and successful claim against a third-party. Click here to learn more about the legal negligence standard, what needs to be shown and how it is proven by your attorney to the opposing side and the court. Quite often, drivers of semi-trucks or the companies that employ them ignore safety laws to meet strict delivery deadlines, and this can increase the chances of having collisions with other motorists on the road if truckers speed or drive aggressively in other ways. Truckers who become distracted from eating, grooming or using mobile devices while trying to drive can also increase the chances of getting into a crash. Driver fatigue, unsecured loads and mechanical failures are other leading causes of truck accidents. Wet or icy roads along with other unsafe road conditions can further contribute to truck crashes and accidents with cars, bicyclists, pedestrians and even other trucks.
As a group, truck drivers have excellent driving and safety records. Those are requirements of the job, and most trucking companies will immediately suspend or fire a driver that does not maintain a safe driving record.
18 wheelers and semi-trucks drive hundreds of thousands of miles, so they must be carefully maintained in excellent condition. Federal and state laws mandate truck maintenance and safety. They also regulate truck size and loads.
In spite of these safety measures, there are still as many as half-a-million truck involved accidents each year. Although many accidents are caused by the drivers of smaller vehicles, a significant number of these accidents are caused by the truck driver or the truck. Here are some common causes of these accidents where the trucker is at fault:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Abuse of alcohol and other drugs is the most common cause of vehicle accidents each year. The percent of truck drivers who have accidents while “under the influence” is lower than the national average for all drivers, but is still a factor in a significant percentage of big rig accidents.
Fatigue. Fatigue is one of the leading causes of accidents for truck drivers. The law limits the number of hours a driver can spend behind the wheel and how long he or she must rest afterwards. Drivers sometimes press these limits. About one-fourth of the truck drivers on today’s highways admit that they have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Speeding. Prior convictions for speeding are a big factor as well.
Product defects in the truck itself. Design and construction of today’s trucks use parts fabricated of many different materials and incorporate sophisticated electronics.
These new designs, parts and electronics can make truck maintenance more complex than it has been in the past. Improperly fitted parts or the incorrect parts can contribute to failures that lead to accidents.
Improper care and maintenance of the truck. Trucks are on the roads all the time, and require regular maintenance and care. A truck that has not been properly serviced can also fail in critical highway situations, causing an accident.
Improper loading. Distribution of the load in a large truck is critical to its safe operation. If a load is unbalanced, it can cause the truck to be unstable at higher speeds and can precipitate an accident.
Improper inspection. Owner and government inspections are intended to assure that trucks traveling on U.S. highways are safely loaded, within weight and size tolerances. An error in one of these inspections can allow an unsafe condition to continue and may be responsible for an accident, if the problem was not identified in the inspection.
Owner or employer negligence. Truck owners are responsible for hiring competent maintenance staff and for hiring and training skilled, safe drivers.
Owners who overlook problems with drivers speeding or fatigued drivers can be responsible when those drivers cause the accidents. They are also responsible if an untrained (or under-trained) maintenance person makes mistakes when working on a truck.
What You Should Do Immediately After Your Accident with a Big Rig or Truck
Following a crash it is essential that you contact a lawyer and begin to document information at the scene. You may be sure that the company that owns the vehicle will pay close attention to every detail of the accident. You have to be prepared.
- Make sure everyone who may need medical attention gets it.
- Get license and registration information for all vehicles involved in the incident.
- Find out the name and contact information for the company that owns or has hired the truck.
- Get the names, contact information and insurance information for all drivers
- Record the names and contact information of passengers and potential witnesses.
- Preserve evidence. Subtle details about the scene may not be obvious to you but will mean a great deal to experts. They may also make an impression on the judge and jury if you have to go to court.
- Photographs and records of medical injuries.
- Measurements and photos before the scene is cleared.
- Legal documentation recorded by the police on the scene. The police are likely to be directly involved in a big-rig crash. Be sure they have photos and measurements.
- Preserve your vehicle. Do not allow it to be disposed of even if it is totalled.
An accident with a big truck can be traumatic and overwhelming. The conditions surrounding an accident with a big rig–when you or your passengers may be hurt or disoriented–make it difficult to do everything you should at the scene.
If you are looking for an effective Los Angeles injury attorney, make Jacoby & Meyers your first call. We can respond immediately and assure that the necessary information and evidence are preserved. Jacoby and Meyers has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to pursue and win complex truck-related accident cases.
Liability and Owners of Commercial Vehicles
Accidents are a normal part of doing business for companies that own or hire big trucks. They are fully prepared to protect themselves whenever there is an accident.
They often have “SWAT teams” that go to the scene of the accident. The SWAT team’s job is to protect the company’s interests. These teams include technical experts, industry analysts as well as attorneys.
The victims of the crash are up against these well-organized businesses and their professional SWAT teams.
Remember, the injured person has to prove that the other driver was negligent or at fault. It is hard for a person who may be seriously injured to successfully handle a claim against these forces.
However, the accident lawyers at the Jacoby & Meyers California Law Offices have both the knowledge and resources to counter any strategies the SWAT team might pursue. Jacoby & Meyers is a leader in the state when it comes to winning claims in accidents involving large trucks.