Any motor vehicle accident can cause serious injury or fatalities. The risk of serious injury or death is multiplied when a large truck is involved.
Commercial trucks, such as 18-wheelers, are much larger and heavier than the typical passenger vehicle. Commercial trucks are likely to do more damage in a collision. Especially when the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident are cars and light trucks. A smaller vehicle offers little protection against a semi-tractor-trailer or any kind of large vehicle.
The risk of an accident is greater as well. Large commercial trucks tend to be more difficult to maneuver and take longer to stop. A large commercial vehicle has more significant blind spots. They are susceptible to incidents like jackknifing that don’t occur with smaller vehicles.
Some types of large trucks carry materials that can spill, fly loose, or otherwise interrupt traffic or interfere with other vehicles on the road. Some examples of these types of trucks include dump trucks, tankers, and car carrier trailers.
Attorneys for Traffic Accidents in Los Angeles, California
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a truck accident in the greater Los Angeles County area, then call us for a free consultation. Do you want to know how much your case might be worth? Contact us to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.
At Yarian & Associates, APC, APC, we pride ourselves on using an exceptional team of qualified and highly experienced personal injury attorneys. Since 2001, we have been representing clients in complex cases. We have been able to recover millions of dollars in compensation from insurance companies, corporations, and employers for our clients.
We accept clients throughout the Los Angeles County, Tulare County, and adjoining counties. With our central office in Los Angeles, we have also represented clients in Fresno, Irvine, San Bernardino, Riverside, Glendale, and Visalia.
We offer our valued clients a very professional service. With our years of invaluable experience, we are skilled in truck accident cases. Dial (844) 291-1911 or submit an online contact form today.
Overview of Truck Accident Claims in California
- Common Injuries
- Road Hazards
- Designated Hours
- Truck Drivers
- Additional Resources
Statistics on Large Truck Accidents in Los Angeles County, California
Across the United States, about 95,000 people each year sustain injuries in truck accidents. Additionally, approximately 4,000 are killed due to the crash. In 2015 alone, there were 271 fatal crashes involving large trucks on California roadways. Out of the 271 crashes, there were 296 reported fatalities.
Due to commercial truck sizes, the vast majority of those killed and injured are outside the truck. The parties that can be injured in these truck accidents include:
- Drivers of other vehicles on the road;
- Passengers in other vehicles involved in the crash; and
- Pedestrians and bicyclists.
Our attorneys are experienced with a wide range of personal injury cases involving the following types of large trucks:
- Semi-truck or semi-trailer;
- 18-wheeler or big rig;
- Car carrier trailer (also known as a car-carrying trailer, car hauler or auto transport trailer);
- Dump truck;
- Tanker trailer;
- Garbage truck;
- Refrigerator truck;
- Tow truck;
- Mobile crane;
- Cement mixer (concrete transport truck);
- Flatbed truck; or
- Log carrier.
Types of Trucks
There are many types of commercial trucks on U.S. roadways. Each truck is designed for a different task. Some of the most common truck types, their cargo, and risks they pose include:
- Tractor Trailers – A tractor-trailer is also known as a “semi-trailer,” “18-wheeler,” or “big rig.” A tractor-trailer has large blind spots making them easy to hit merging vehicles. A tractor-trailer also has a high center of gravity, which makes a greater risk for the truck to roll over in an accident. A tractor-trailer can carry many different types of cargo based on its attached trailer. For instance, a refrigerated trailer will transport produce, while a dry van trailer may transfer Fed-Ex deliveries. The maximum weight of a tractor-trailer without a tandem is 20,000 pounds.
- Tanker Trucks – A tanker truck transports liquids or gases. Normally, tanker trucks carry classified hazardous materials. Tanker trucks are large with a high center of gravity and move very dangerous cargo. This makes any sort of accident incredibly unsafe as they are prone to rollovers and can blow up easily. An example of a tanker truck may be a Shell Jet A refueler tank truck or irrigation water tanker truck. Tanker trucks have a maximum combined cargo and truck weight of 80,000 pounds.
- Dump Garbage Trucks – Any sort of garbage, trash, or work vehicle is considered a dump truck. A dump or garbage truck tends to be more risky for pedestrians or bicyclists. However, an accident with a motor vehicle can happen and is detrimental to a standard auto vehicle. Dump trucks carry waste, dirt, demolition debris, gravel, construction material, sand, and dry materials. Any accident with a garbage or dump truck can result in tip-overs and flying dangerous debris. Garbage and dump trucks usually weight around 51,000 with cargo. A company that uses dump trucks consistently is the WasteManagement companies in your area.
- Tow Trucks –A tow truck is normally owned by a private operator or company. Tow trucks are large, weighing at 10,000 pounds and make up the majority of truck accidents. Accidents with tow trucks also can be dangerous due to the cargo they are carrying. For instance, a tow truck may have another car attached to its trailer and in an accident, the vehicle may be unattached and impact your automobile. Tow trucks are considerably smaller than most trucks. A tow truck can tow up to around 13,000 pounds.
- Flatbed Trucks – Trucks with long open trailers that accommodate easily loadable cargo are flatbed trucks. Flatbed trucks do not have walls or sides where the cargo is placed. Normally, flatbed trucks hold items that do not fit in trailers such as cranes, building materials, or machinery. A flatbed truck accident is incredibly dangerous since they can carry more weight than an enclosed tractor trailer. Additionally, the cargo can dislodge and create lasting damages. The military very regularly uses flatbed trucks to move their heavy machinery and equipment. Flatbed trucks normally weigh around 45,000 pounds.
Common Injuries from Truck Accidents
A truck accident can be devastating. Due to commercial trucks large stature and weight, normally the injuries sustained are very severe. Some common truck accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Rib and torso injuries
- Seat belt injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
- Back and neck injuries
- Internal injuries
- Wrongful death
Types of Common Road Hazard for Trucks
Obstructing hazards are always dangerous for roads and freeways. However, for a truck such as an 18-wheeler a road hazard is even more deadly. It requires a great deal of skill to operate a large commercial truck. A truck driver must act quickly and may not have time or space to avoid certain road hazards.
Some common road hazards that lead to truck accidents include:
- Missing or broken signage
- Missing or insufficient road reflectors/paint lines
- Narrow bridges and roads
- Poor intersection planning
- Poor road maintenance
- Poor road design
- Potholes/Uneven pavement
- Shoulder drop-offs
- Loose gravel
- Pot holes
- Limited visibility due to trees or other road designs
- Limited visibility due to insufficient lighting
Truck Driver Designated Hours
A timed truck driver is given a limit of miles/hours they are supposed to drive before their workday is over. These federal truck regulations are regulated by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA regulations help improve safety for the driver and other vehicles to deter driver fatigue.
Not all truck drivers follow these same guidelines, but most do. A truckers hours-of-service usually follow:
- 14-Hour Duty Limit – A trucker is not allowed to drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty following at least 10 consecutive hours spent off duty.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit – This rule indicates how long a truck driver can drive. A truck driver is not allowed to drive more than 11 hours. In order to drive again, the trucker must be off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.
- 60/70 Hour Duty Limit – This rule is based on a seven or eight day period. It varies on the driver and depends on the types of hours and days of the week he works. If a trucker has been on duty for 60/70 hours during seven or eight consecutive days they are not allowed to continue to drive. A trucker may restart the 60/70 hour rule after at least 34 consecutive hours spent off-duty.
Damages for a Commercial Trucking Accident
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck, you may be entitled to compensation. Some common examples of recoverable damages include:
- Medical expenses, past and future, that are attributable to the accident;
- Reimbursement for property loss or damage, such as replacement of a totaled automobile; and
- Compensation for lost income and loss of future earning capacity;
You may also be entitled to compensation for intangible, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Damages are different in every case. However, a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling commercial truck accident cases can assess your case and provide more specific information about the damages that may be available in your case.
Determining Liability in a Large Truck Accident Case
In any motor vehicle accident case, the injured party must establish that the defendant was at fault. Usually, this involves showing that the other driver was negligent in some way. Common types of negligence in motor vehicle accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Distracted driving, including mobile device use while driving;
- Exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions;
- Failure to maintain the vehicle in a safe condition; and
- Fatigued driving, which in commercial cases may include violation of hours of service regulations.
In a case involving a commercial motor vehicle such as a truck, determining who is responsible and to what degree may be far more complicated than in the typical car accident case. Some of the reasons determining liability is more difficult in commercial trucking cases include:
- Because many commercial motor vehicles and drivers are subject to federal regulation, therefore there may be different statutes and regulations in play;
- Because the driver may or may not be the owner of the truck, and may be an employee or independent contractor of a third party. This can create layers of liability;
- Because some truck drivers are encouraged—or even required—to engage in unsafe practices to fulfill their employers’ or clients’ requirements, those third parties may also be liable; and
- Because faulty equipment or vehicle maintenance may play a role in the accident, manufacturers. This may make third parties responsible for maintenance and repair be wholly or partially responsible.
Identifying all responsible parties and assembling evidence in a commercial truck accident case can be challenging and time-consuming. The sooner you connect with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling large truck accident cases, the better.
Some of the reasons it is to your advantage to get started early include:
- Gathering evidence across state lines and regarding multiple possible defendants can be time-consuming, and you do not want to delay recovery;
- The nature of the commercial trucking industry is such that evidence may naturally be altered or destroyed in the course of continuing business operations; and
- You will likely be contacted by one or more insurance companies regarding your accident. These conversations are opportunities for an honest mistake to cost you the compensation you deserve.
Truck Drivers as Injury Victims
Many who are injured or killed in large truck accidents are occupants of other vehicles or bystanders. However, at times, commercial truck drivers themselves are often injured or killed. In fact, more truck drivers are killed on the job than workers in any other industry.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the driver—or the surviving kin in the case of a fatal accident—may be entitled to damages from the trucker’s employer, the company licensing the vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer, or another responsible party. This may be true even if the driver was partially at fault for the accident.
If you are a California truck driver who was injured in a crash, our personal injury attorneys can help.
Large Truck Fatalities – Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and read some information regarding large truck deaths in the U.S. See some recent 2016 statistics regarding commercial truck accidents, and how a driver may get into a crash.
Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts – Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, a local government agency responsible for regulating safety of commercial motor vehicles. Read facts about large truck and bus crashes. See the recurring annual report that contains descriptive statistics about fatal, injury, and property-damage crashes involving large trucks and bus crashes.
Truck Accidents – Visit Consumer Safety’s website, a non-profit organization that strives to make information about recalls and safety-related news accessible to everyone. Read statistics, causes, tips, and solutions when a person has been in an accident with a truck.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney for Truck Accidents in California
Most personal injury attorneys routinely handle car accident cases. However, a commercial trucking accident case is different from a run-of-the-mill car accident case.
If you have been injured in a collision with a large truck or hit by a truck, you want the assistance of an attorney who:
- Is familiar with the state and federal laws and regulations applicable to the operation and maintenance of commercial motor vehicles, especially large trucks;
- Has experience working with and knowledge of experts who can help to establish liability in a commercial trucking accident case; and
- Has the resource to manage a case that may involve a significant investment of time and advancement of expenses such as expert witness fees.
The attorneys at Yarian & Associates, APC have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to:
- Investigate your commercial truck accident claim;
- Assemble a strong case on your behalf;
- Arrange for accident reconstructionists and other experts to support your claim;
- Advance the costs of the investigation and construction of your case;
- Negotiate on your behalf; and
- Prepare and try your case before a jury if that is in your best interests.
We understand that a traumatic event like a commercial truck accident can derail your plans and throw your life into turmoil. We want to help restore your peace of mind. We’ll fight for the recovery you deserve while you focus on your recovery.
The initial consultation is always free, and you aren’t responsible for any fees or cost unless we settle your case or win a verdict for you. Dial (844) 291-1911 right now or schedule an online appointment today to get started.
This article was last updated on June 20th, 2018.