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 including 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 at the same speed. They have wide turn radiuses and large blind spots known as No Zones. While truck drivers have the power to prevent many serious car accidents in California, they 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 a California truck accident 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 for damages against the correct party before the deadline.

Types of Damages You May Recover in Truck Accident Claims

Individuals involved in semi-truck collisions in California have specific rights and potential avenues for compensation due to the typically severe nature of these collisions. Understanding these rights is paramount for victims and their families to ensure they receive the justice and financial support needed for recovery.

Right to Compensation

Victims of semi-truck accidents have the right to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages incurred as a result of the collision. These damages can be extensive, given the severe injuries and significant property damage often associated with such accidents. Compensation may cover:

  • Medical Expenses: Includes immediate medical care, rehabilitation, medication, medical equipment, and any future medical treatments related to the injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: Recovering lost income during treatment and potential future earnings lost due to lasting disability or impairment.
  • Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages covering physical pain, emotional trauma, diminished enjoyment of life, and other psychological impacts.
  • Property Damage: Reimbursement for the vehicle repair or replacement and any other personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Punitive Damages: If there was egregious negligence or intentional wrongdoing on the part of opposing parties, victims may be provided punitive damages to punish the offender and deter future misconduct.

To pursue compensation, victims typically file a claim against the truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance policy. If insurance coverage is insufficient, or liability is disputed, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit. Engaging with the experienced lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp., who specializes in collisions with commercial trucks, is crucial to navigating the complex legal landscape and ensuring your rights are protected.

Comparative Negligence Law

California’s pure comparative negligence law may affect the amount of compensation victims can receive. If the victim is found partially at fault for the collision, compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault. For example, if a victim is found to be 20% at fault for the accident and the total damages awarded are $100,000, the victim would receive $80,000.

Seeking Legal Representation

Given the complexities involved in semi-truck accident claims and the potential for significant compensation, securing legal representation is highly advisable. A California attorney experienced in handling truck accident claims provides invaluable assistance by:

  • Investigating the accident and gathering evidence
  • Identifying all sources of liability and insurance coverage
  • Negotiating with insurance companies and opposing counsel
  • Advocating for the victim’s rights and best interests throughout the legal process

Semi-truck collisions can have life-altering consequences for victims and their families. Understanding and exercising your rights to compensation is critical to achieving financial stability and focusing on recovery in the aftermath of such a devastating event.