San Fernando Valley Truck Accident Attorney
Large Truck Accidents
Large truck accidents by their nature are a cause of serious injury to their unfortunate victims. Even a minor impact by a large truck can cause jarring effects to the occupants of small passenger vehicles. A truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds is called a "large truck."
As a San Fernando Valley truck accident attorney I apply the term truck accident to crashes that involve small passenger vehicles and large trucks. Large trucks include tractor-trailers that are commonly referred to as "big riggs," "semis," "mack trucks," and "18-wheelers," and also single-unit trucks like those used for local parcel delivery and sometimes hauling garbage.
To understand the increased risk associated with large truck accidents, one only needs to look at a sobering statistic that compares fatality rates to injury rates in large truck accidents and all vehicle accidents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Victims of large truck crashes have nearly three times the mortality rate compared with victims of all vehicle accidents. Large trucks weigh tons.
Truck drivers must undergo specialized training to gain certification to operate the large vehicles. And fortunately, many truck drivers are excellent motor vehicle operators. But, given the challenges of being a large truck driver, namely operating under a demanding schedule, driving for long distances with minimal rest, and handling large vehicles on cramped roadways, truck accidents are very common.
Regulations for Truck Drivers and Carriers
Because of the great risk of harm that may result from negligent or careless operation of large trucks, there are substantial codes of regulation that govern this commercial activity. When Drivers of these massive vehicles travel interstate, they are governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Intrastate travel is governed by the California Vehicle Code, California Code of Regulations, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Federal and California laws include provisions that cover driver responsibilities, such as:
- Maintaining precise log books of hours of service
- Prescribing mandatory periods of rest between shifts
- Outlining a legal work schedule
- Adhering to weight limits for loads
- Following speed laws
Know Your Rights – There May Be More Than One Responsible Party
As the truck accident attorney at Jacob Regar Law, I can tell you that truck accident cases can become multi-faceted. There can be more than one responsible party, and this can only be determined after a thorough investigation of the underlying facts that are believed to have contributed to the truck accident.
Truck drivers may be the cause of truck accidents when they operate their truck in a negligent manner. Negligent driving and careless decisions behind the wheel can be caused by:
- substance abuse
- speeding and ignorance of traffic laws
- unfamiliarity with roadway
- unfamiliarity with vehicle
- inadequate surveillance
- texting and cell phone use
- aggressive driving
When a commercial truck driver's negligent operation of a large truck occurs in the course and scope of their employment, and there is an accident, the trucking company that owns the truck and/or employs the driver will likely be on the hook for the accident-related damages. This follows the law of agency and the legal theory upon which the plaintiff may sue the employer is called respondeat superior. The effect of this legal doctrine is to make the truck driver's employer responsible because their agent (the driver) was acting in furtherance of their financial gain.
Negligent Hiring and Supervision
Although background checks are mandatory requirements for trucking companies (carriers) to undertake before they hire drivers, sometimes red flags are ignored and as a consequence unfit drivers are placed behind the wheel of large trucks. This should never occur. If it does, the employer should be held responsible for their negligence.
Additionally, a known associated factor for large truck accidents is negligent supervision of truck driver employees. This form of employer negligence can be due to a failure to keep up-to-date on an employee's driving records. And it can also be due to placing too much work-related pressure on the driver employee.
Trucking companies and owners of large trucks have a legal duty to keep their trucks in good repair so that trucks will be fit to operate on public roads. A prime example of negligent maintenance of a truck includes the failure to properly maintain the vehicle's brakes. Large trucks are much too heavy to risk catastrophic consequences from unsafe brakes. Safe stopping distances for large trucks are of the utmost importance. This is a specific area of truck maintenance that cannot be ignored. And it should never be the case that a trucking company and/or owner of a large truck either too lazily monitored the state of repair of a truck's brakes or made the conscious and irresponsible decision not to repair the brakes on time in order to save money.
When a product that makes up a particular truck part fails due to a design or manufacturing defect, the manufacturer and supplier of the defective part may be responsible in whole or in part for any damages that result.
Negligent Repair Facility
Some accident victims are pained to learn that the truck accident that changed their life was avoidable. At times a truck mechanic and repair facility may have been negligent in the performance of their job duties to properly repair and service a large truck. In that case, they likely have responsibility for the damages that are caused by the truck crash. This type of information will typically only be discovered once a lawsuit has been filed. That is why it is so important to contact a competent truck accident attorney to discuss your case.
Environmental Factors - Government Liability for Unsafe Roadways
Unsafe road conditions can contribute or completely cause major truck accidents. Roadway related factors include inadequate or missing signs, missing guardrails, and poorly engineered roads. Because most roads in California are controlled by the state, very specific notice requirements must be followed to preserve your legal rights should you be injured in a truck accident that was caused by dangerous road conditions.
Negligent truck drivers are not always the sole cause of truck accidents. Sometimes negligent drivers of passenger cars create a dangerous driving condition that even a trained truck driver cannot avoid. As a result, the driver of the large and heavy truck is forced to make a defensive maneuver that sets a chain of events into motion that results in serious injury and even wrongful death to nearby drivers and passengers of other vehicles. This is a very real consequence of negligent drivers who make poor driving decisions, including texting while driving, speeding, inattention, and following too close to vehicles in front.
What to Do After Being Involved in a Truck Accident
- Move your vehicle to safe location—only if it is safe to do so.
- Call 911 for emergency assistance if you or someone else is injured.
- If you need immediate medical attention, ask to be transported by ambulance to the nearest emergency department.
- Make sure that a traffic collision report is generated by responding law enforcement.
- Exchange driver's license and insurance information with the other drivers. Make sure to record the license plate numbers of the other vehicles.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and remember to print them as soon as you can. You can also email the files to yourself or to an attorney for safe keeping.
- CALL the personal injury lawyer at Jacob Regar Law to learn the full scope of your rights. I will help protect your rights and begin an immediate investigation to preserve evidence.
- File an SR 1 report with the DMV within 10 days of the accident if there is vehicle damage greater than $750 or anyone is injured. Even minor injuries will trigger the requirement to file this form.
Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
Because of the enormous size and weight of large trucks, it unfortunately follows that the resulting injuries associated with large truck and smaller passenger vehicle accidents can be devastating. It is not uncommon for victims of truck accidents to suffer the following injuries:
- broken bones
- traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- spinal cord injuries
When you suffer injuries because of a truck crash caused by negligence, you are allowed to be made whole. The law gives you certain rights. You have the right to recover the money you owe for ambulance services, medical treatment, loss of income from missed work, future loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering from the great ordeal that you have been forced to live with.
I Can Help You Recover What You Deserve
If you or someone you know is a victim of a truck accident, you know how fast your life can change. You know what was taken from you. The constant stress and worry that follows an accident is compensable. The negligent party owes you for these losses. This is the law.
CALL ME Today at Jacob Regar Law for a FREE CASE EVALUATION
Telephone: (818) 588-0653