The Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents in CA

Semi-truck accidents are common and often catastrophic vehicle collisions in California. They involve commercial motor vehicles that can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. Smaller and lighter passenger cars are no match – they typically suffer the worst damages. In 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) reported 107,000 injury accidents and 4,657 fatal accidents involving large trucks. In 82% of these fatal truck accidents, the victim was not an occupant of the large truck. Trucking companies and their drivers can prevent most semi-truck accidents in California.

Truck Driver Error

Negligent and reckless truck drivers cause many serious semi-truck accidents in California. Despite having commercial licenses and special driver training, truck drivers can make many of the same mistakes as typical motorists. These can include distracted driving or falling asleep behind the wheel. If a truck driver causes a collision, the trucking company could have vicarious liability for the injuries and damages of crash victims. A truck driver could cause a crash in many different ways.

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Texting and driving
  • Sending emails or browsing the web
  • Chatting on the phone or with passengers
  • Eating or drinking behind the wheel
  • Following too closely
  • Speeding
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Using improper braking techniques
  • Breaching FMCSA regulations
  • Failing to inspect and maintain the truck
  • Driving while fatigued

Commercial truck drivers have to follow dozens of federal and state laws when transporting goods. These include regulations in place for the safety of others, such as hours of service limitations. This law restricts how long a truck driver may be on the road without taking a rest break. Breaking this safety rule or others like it could result in preventable tragedies. Trucking companies in California will be vicariously liable for the mistakes of their drivers in most cases – even drivers who are independent contractors.

Truck Malfunctions

Semi-trucks have many unique elements compared to typical motor vehicles. They generally have a cab and an attached trailer, as well as 16 to 18 wheels or more. A commercial truck has height and weight restrictions but may exceed these restrictions to carry extra-wide loads with special permission. Large trucks use hydraulic braking systems, which work differently than traditional brakes. A big rig cannot stop as quickly as a smaller vehicle traveling the same speed. They have wide turn radiuses and large blind spots known as No Zones. While a truck driver has the power to prevent many serious car accidents, he or she may not be able to control a situation involving equipment breakdowns.

A defective or poorly maintained truck part could cause a semi-truck accident in California. Defective brakes, for example, may fail and cause a catastrophic rear-end collision or override accident. Other common part-related truck accidents are tire blowouts, rollovers, jackknife accidents and lost cargo loads. Negligent truck maintenance or repairs can cause preventable accidents. It is a trucking company’s responsibility to adequately maintain its fleet vehicles. If the part had a defect from the production company, however, the manufacturer could be liable.

Trucking Company Negligence

Breaching truck maintenance requirements is one example of many mistakes a trucking company could make that would increase the risks of a motor vehicle collision. Any act of negligence or recklessness on the part of the trucking company could lead to a crash.

  • Failing to screen applicants
  • Failing to properly train drivers
  • Violating federal regulations
  • Failing to test for drugs and alcohol
  • Ignoring safety complaints from the public
  • Paying for low-quality repairs
  • Pressuring drivers to break the rules
  • Failing to properly secure cargo
  • Cutting corners to save time or money

The trucking company could be directly liable for an accident if its negligence was the proximate cause. Work with an attorney to determine the cause of your California semi-truck accident as well as the identity of the defendant. A Sacramento truck accident lawyer can help you bring a claim to damages against the correct party before the deadline.