San Diego 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.
- 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.
- Internal Injuries. Within the body there are a number of essential organs, like the liver, heart, and kidneys.
- 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.
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
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. However, even with strict FMCSA adherence, truck drivers can experience fatigue by the end of their shift. Elements that increase the risk of driver fatigue include: illness, medication, inebriation, unusual shifts due to the pay structure of truckers.
The majority of truck drivers are paid by the mile and not by the amount of time spent behind the wheel. They don’t get compensated for the time spent away from their homes and families. Many of them, as a result, choose to drive continuously even after fatigue sets in. Some commercial drivers may feel immense pressure for meeting unrealistic deadlines.
Things to Avoid When Driving Near Big Rigs
Don’t Pass on the Right
There is a high likelihood that you would need to go around large semi-trucks on the road. It could be because they are driving too slowly or that you need to get into a different lane. The important thing to remember is that never pass a truck on the right. It is safer to stick to the driver’s side of the semi when passing. This will allow them to see you coming.
Don’t Drive in a Bling Spots
Every vehicle has a blind spot. However, it is more important to avoid being in a blind spot when trying to go around a 15-ton truck. You can ensure your and other driver’s safety by getting out of a semi’s blind spot quickly and legally. You want the truck driver to know that you are driving near them in case they have to swerve for any reason.
There are 4 blind spots in large rigs:
- Directly in front of the rig
- On either side of the semi
- Right behind the truck where the driver is unable to see in the mirrors
Never Cut a Truck Off
One of the worst things inexperienced and reckless drivers do is cutting a truck off. Most people don’t give this a second thought while speeding on a highway. Stemming from this, when a semi-trailer is cut off suddenly, it needs to brake, which can prove to be deadly.
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 San Diego 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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