El Cajon Truck Accident Lawyer
A large truck is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as any truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds. However, it should be noted that in an average year, 86 percent of large trucks involved in fatal crashes had a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 26,000 pounds. Large trucks legally can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. To put that into perspective, consider that the average passenger car weighs just over 4,000 pounds, or 20 times less than the heaviest truck on a California road.
Keeping the sheer weight of trucks in mind, it is easy to understand why when a collision between a large truck and a passenger car occurs, the damages suffered by the motorist in the smaller vehicle are often so severe.
If you have been involved in a serious truck accident in California, or if your loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a truck accident, our knowledgeable truck accident attorneys are here to help you build your claim and recover a settlement for your losses. Please contact us today for your free consultation.
Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
Truck accidents almost always leave those involved with serious or fatal injuries. It is much more common for the driver, as well as any passengers, of a passenger car to suffer much more serious injuries than a truck driver does. In fact, it is not uncommon for a truck driver involved in a crash to suffer hardly any injuries at all. Injuries that drivers of smaller vehicles, and their passengers, may incur in a truck accident include, but are not limited to:
- Head and brain injuries. Head and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common in a large truck accident, and are caused when the victim’s head is traumatized by another object, shaken violently, or when the skull is penetrated by a sharp object. TBIs can have serious long-term effects, perhaps even rendering the victim unable to care for themself moving forward.
- Back and spine injuries. The back is comprised of a number of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones (the vertebrae that form the shape of the spinal column. When any of these are impacted, the affected person may experience pain, complications with mobility, and perhaps even severe disability. The most dangerous type of spinal injury is an injury to the spinal cord, which can leave a victim permanently or partially paralyzed.
- Internal Injuries. Within the body there are a number of essential organs, like the liver, heart, and kidneys. When a body is punctured, compressed, or crushed, an internal injury may occur. Internal injuries can be life-threatening, and a person who is suffering an internal injury needs immediate emergency medical treatment.
- Fractures and soft tissue injuries. Fractures and soft tissue injuries may not be as serious as are all TBIs or spinal cord injuries, but they can still be very painful and disabling, too. What’s more, if these injury types are severe, they may require surgery to correct, which can be very invasive.
Injuries incurred in a truck accident may also be psychological as well. It is not uncommon for truck accident victims to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety after the accident.
Who’s Liable for a Truck Accident in California?
California follows an at-fault car insurance system, which means that a party must be found at-fault before their insurance will pay for any damages incurred by a victim. As such, if you have been involved in a truck accident and been hurt, it is important that you understand how to determine and prove fault. Our attorneys can help you to determine fault by gathering evidence on your behalf, including statements from any witnesses who may have seen what happened; electronic control module data (also called black box data); photographs of damages, angles of vehicles, injuries, debris in the road, traffic signs, weather conditions, and more; police reports; driver log reports; and more.
One of the aspects of truck accident claims that make them more complicated than average claims is that the number of potentially liable parties is greater. Instead of just dealing with the potential fault of two drivers, liable parties may include the driver of each vehicle involved in a crash, the driver of a third-party vehicle, the trucking company, a vehicle part manufacturer, or a shipper or a loader of cargo. We determine what insurance options are available to you, and whether the accident was caused by or contributed to by any other parties.
Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents
Due to the nature of their work, truckers are particularly vulnerable to falling asleep behind the wheel. It is not uncommon for truckers to drive during night hours when it is easy to succumb to sleepiness. As discussed above, they are usually under tremendous pressure to deliver their consignments on time.
A regular motorist who feels tired can pull into a rest stop and sleep for some time. But a truck driver may not have that luxury as a few hours of much-needed sleep might disrupt their delivery schedule.
To counter the problem of long hours on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has stringent hours of service regulations that all over-the-road truck drivers must follow. Sadly, these safety guidelines are often ignored by truckers who are pressured to meet deadlines and/or incentivized to deliver their cargo loads on or before schedule.
If a truck driver ignores government rules and a crash ensues due to drowsy driving, it is vital that those responsible for the accident are held fully liable. Such cases can be complex, and it can be challenging to understand whether the driver or the trucking company is at fault, which depends, to a large extent, on the relationship between the former and latter.
In case the trucker is a direct employee of the trucking company, it is quite apparent that the employer can be held liable for the accident. But when the driver is listed as a subcontractor, the case warrants further investigation.
At times, the trucker might meet the criteria for being an employee but is wrongly classified as a subcontractor, which might be done to help the trucking company avoid liability for the actions of the driver.
The Impact of Trucker Fatigue
A majority of truckers are paid by the mile, not by the duration they spend on the road or away from their loved ones and homes. Consequently, many of them continue to drive, even as tiredness takes hold. Further, they may feel significant pressure to meet unreasonable deadlines. Interestingly, operating a vehicle after remaining awake for over 24 hours has a similar effect as driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10 percent.
Drowsy drivers often struggle to focus on the road
If a trucker becomes drowsy behind the wheel, they may find it challenging to focus on the road and their surroundings.
Due to the fatigue, some truck drivers may not be able to respond quickly enough when another vehicle pulls ahead of them as they simply do not note its presence. Other truckers may fail to notice a car positioned in one of the truck’s large blind spots. Yet others may not notice traffic pattern changes, including changing traffic signals or speed limits.
Drowsy drivers often experience a decrease in their reflex responses
Most drivers, particularly truckers, require sharp reflex responses to enable them to react rapidly to the dangers on the roads and prevent crashes. But similar to intoxicated drivers, drowsy drivers may lose the reflexes to react fast to a threat.
If the vehicle has a tire blowout or swerves in traffic, the trucker might lack the reflexes to respond properly. Tired truck drivers may make an accident scene near them worse as they cannot respond quickly enough to steer the truck clear of the crash site.
Drowsy truck drivers often struggle to make quick, sound decisions
When behind the wheel, a driver has to make quick decisions for the safety of everyone on the road. Drivers need to decide what speed to maintain, when to change lanes, or how to react when approaching a traffic signal. Besides that, they must make fast judgment calls when faced with a potential collision. However, fatigued truckers may be unable to make those decisions in an efficient manner.
Recovering the Damages You Deserve
We know how significant the losses can be in a truck accident claim, and how complicated determining and proving liability often is. When you hire our law firm, we work hard to build a strong case on your behalf that is designed to get you the settlement amount you deserve. We will valuate your claim to determine the value of your economic and economic damages, assisting you in recovering compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, future heatlhcare costs, pain, suffering, emotional anguish, and more. If your loved one has been killed in a truck accident in California, we can help you to seek compensation for wrongful death, including funeral and burial expenses and loss of consortium damages.
Contact a California Truck Accident Attorney Near You Today
Even if you are alive after a truck accident, you may feel as though your life, and your future, have been completely stripped from you. We know the feelings of helplessness and pain that you are likely experiencing, and understand that nothing is easy about the recovery process.
At the offices of Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, LLP, our caring truck accident attorneys are here to serve you. We will never charge you for our legal services unless your case is won, and are always happy to provide you with a free consultation and legal advice. To schedule your no-cost case evaluation today, please call us at 619-441-2500.
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