According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck accidents remain a major problem throughout the United States. In 2019 alone, there were 162,467 involving big rigs — including 12,761 crashes in California. These accidents were responsible for 452 fatalities and 5,464 injuries. In California, the majority (67%) of people who died in accidents with truckers are occupants of other cars and passenger vehicles.
Of course, not all truck crashes are fatal. Each year, thousands of Californians suffer serious injuries in trucking accidents. Common truck accident injuries include broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), internal injuries, and even paralysis.
Any type of truck wreck can be life-changing, causing both physical injuries and psychological trauma. In these situations, an injury victim and their loved ones may be able to file a claim for damages against a negligent semi-truck driver and their employer. If you have been in this type of crash, a skilled California truck accident attorney can help you get the compensation that you are entitled to under the law.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in California?
Motor vehicle accidents can happen in any number of ways — including truck collisions. However, because commercial motor vehicles are far bigger than most passenger vehicles and truckers tend to spend far more time on the road than the average driver, there are unique issues involved with commercial truck accidents.
Many truck accidents are directly related to an inability to control the rig. For example, we commonly see crashes involving:
- Rear-End Collisions – Heavy trucks need far more stopping distance than passenger vehicles, and this means that rear-end collisions are particularly common.
- Blind Spot Accidents – Large commercial trucks also have significantly larger blind spots than cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. However, this is not an excuse for sideswipes, turning accidents, and other types of collisions.
- Rollover Accidents – When a tractor-trailer driver loses control, perhaps due to a shifting load, the forces involved can be more than enough to cause the trailer to rollover.
- Jackknife Accidents – In some cases, a trailer will jackknife rather than rolling over. However, the consequences can be equally severe.
Beyond an inability to control the big rig, truck crashes may be caused by many of the same factors that are at play in car accidents. This may include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Driver fatigue
- Lack of truck driver training and experience
- Reckless, careless, and aggressive truck driving
- Cargo loading errors and trailer defects
- Truck defects
- Maintenance issues
Of course, the difference is that commercial trucks weigh far more than the average passenger vehicle — starting at 10,001 pounds and often exceeding 26,000 pounds.
As a result, truck accidents tend to result in catastrophic injuries or even death. In these situations, an injury victim and their loved ones may seek financial compensation for traumatic injuries or wrongful death with the help of a Los Angeles, California personal injury attorney.
Who Is at Fault for a CA Trucking Accident?
As with other types of motor vehicle collisions, responsibility for a California truck accident is based on a theory of negligence. Generally, a person is negligent when they fail to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. With a truck accident, both the driver and the trucking company could be negligent.
In California, a driver who is negligent is financially liable for any injuries and other losses that they caused another person. There are four elements of negligence:
- Duty: the truck driver owed the victims a duty of care to operate the truck in a safe manner;
- Breach: the truck driver violated that duty of care;
- Causation: the driver’s breach or violation caused an accident; and
- Damages: the victim suffered injuries as a result.
Importantly, if a truck driver violated federal or California law and that violation caused an accident, they may be determined to be “negligent per se.” This is a legal concept that can be used in California car accident cases when an at-fault driver (1) violates a provision of California’s vehicle code that was intended to prevent harm to others, and (2) that violation caused the crash.
For example, a truck driver merges onto the 405 freeway without yielding the right of way and collides with a passenger vehicle. Failure to yield the right of way is a violation of California’s Vehicle Code that was designed to prevent exactly this type of collision. If this violation was the cause of the accident, then the trucker could be found negligent per se.
Trucking companies may also be held liable for their role in a truck crash. This can happen in a range of ways, from setting goals that motivate truckers to violate safety rules to intentionally or recklessly violating federal and state transportation regulations. When these violations contribute to or cause a trucking accident, the company may be held responsible for any losses that occur as a result.
Common examples of trucking company negligence include:
- Encouraging drivers to violate hours of service rules;
- Negligent hiring and training of employees;
- Failure to maintain trucks and trailers appropriately;
- Overloading trailers;
- Allowing trucks to take on unbalanced cargo; and
- Permitting overweight vehicles.
Other parties may also be held responsible for a truck accident. This may include a truck or part manufacturer that sold dangerous or defective trucks or parts, third party companies responsible for loading the truck, or even government agencies who failed to properly care for a highway. Because these cases can be incredibly complex, it is important to work with a California truck accident attorney who can thoroughly evaluate the facts of your case and bring all responsible parties into a claim.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
After a truck accident, you may be overwhelmed with the pain from your injuries as well as increasing financial stress due to lost wages and mounting medical bills. In these situations, you may be tempted to just take the first settlement offer from the truck company. Instead, reach out to a truck crash injury attorney for a free consultation about your case.
Your lawyer will start the process by performing an investigation of the accident itself. From there, they will determine who may be at fault for the crash. They will then calculate a demand for compensation, including losses such as:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Property damage;
- Lost wages;
- Reduced earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering;
- Scarring or disfigurement;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Loss of consortium.
In many cases, your attorney will be able to negotiate a settlement that takes into account the full scope of your damages. If the trucking company or their insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can take the case to trial to obtain the highest possible recovery for you.
At Megeredchian Law, our personal injury lawyers provide experienced legal advice and representation for commercial truck accident victims and their families. From our main office in Glendale, we represent clients throughout California. If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a large truck, semi-truck, tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, or any other type of commercial vehicle, we are prepared to begin working on your case immediately.
We handle each case on a contingency fee basis, which means that we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. We offer free truck wreck case evaluations to all prospective clients, where we will advise you about your rights and options for moving forward with a case. In each case, we aggressively advocate for our clients to help them get the maximum compensation for their injury claims.
Hurt in a Truck Accident in CA? Reach Out Today.
We know that it can be difficult to move forward with your life after a trucking accident. We are here to help. Our legal team will take on the insurance company for you, getting you the money that you deserve for your injuries, and giving you peace of mind.
Megeredchian Law represents injury victims in Southern California and throughout the state with their truck accident claims. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed in a commercial truck accident in California, we are here for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 818-530-1300 or email us at any time.