It is an unavoidable fact of life that we have to share the road with very large semi-trucks, despite the severe threat they pose to occupants of our much smaller vehicles. Demand for truck transportation has never been higher; more huge trucks are on our roads, and drivers are vulnerable to injury from a semi-truck. Sadly, experiencing a horrific crash on Southern California highways is a real possibility. If you or a loved one was in a crash with a commercial truck, it is important that you schedule a free consultation with JCS Law Firm as soon as possible. We will get to work on your case immediately.
Causes of Los Angeles-area Semi-Truck Crashes
Trucks and tractor-trailers are much heavier than cars, and they take a long time to come to a stop. As a result, accidents involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles often result in catastrophic and debilitating injuries. Typically, these kinds of crashes are caused by one of the following:
- Driver fatigue. It is not easy for truck drivers to get quality sleep, and they often drive when they should be resting. Long, monotonous trips also contribute to drowsiness behind the wheel.
- Driver distraction. On top of professional distractions such as logging miles, talking to dispatch, and navigating a new route, truckers often also engage in dangerous behaviors such as talking on a cell phone, texting, and even watching TV while they are driving.
- Driver impairment. Just like any other driver, truckers can be impaired by alcohol or drugs while driving. Unlike other drivers, however, truckers are trying to control a 40-ton vehicle while their reaction times are slowed and judgment is compromised.
- Speeding. A speeding semi-truck is much more dangerous than a speeding car, and yet truckers regularly violate speed limits to get to their destinations on schedule.
- Driver health issues. Sleep apnea and other medical conditions can affect a trucker’s ability to operate their rig safely. Employers are supposed to screen for these conditions but often fail to do so.
- Maintenance problems. Vehicle safety inspections and maintenance should occur regularly—both by the driver during a trip and by the trucking company between hauls. When these actions aren’t taken, mechanical problems or a product defect with the truck itself can cause accidents.
- Unbalanced load. If cargo is not loaded correctly in the trailer, it can cause the truck to jackknife, despite the driver’s efforts to control the vehicle.
Proving that one or more of these factors caused the accident can increase the value of your personal injury case. An experienced truck accident attorney will compel the trucking company to turn over important evidence—such as the truck’s event data recorder, which is the truck’s black box, driver history, drug test screenings, and driver logs—to determine the cause of the crash.
How Do Commercial Truck Crashes Differ From Car Accidents?
While you might be able to settle a simple car accident property damage claim by yourself, you should not attempt to deal with a commercial trucking accident on your own. These cases are complex and differ from a typical car crash in the following ways:
- Corporate lawyers. Trucking companies employ teams of defense attorneys to fight off insurance claims and lawsuits.
- Multiple liable parties. While the truck driver might be at fault, their employer and other parties might share liability. An experienced truck accident attorney will pursue every potential source of compensation for his client.
- Bigger insurance policies. Commercial trucks are required to carry multi-million dollar insurance policies. This means a tougher fight to get all the compensation you deserve but also the potential for a large settlement or verdict.
- Federal regulations. Trucking companies and truck drivers are subject to complex federal regulations regarding who they can hire, the number of hours they can drive, and how the truck is equipped and maintained. It takes experience to know when these laws have been violated and to obtain the necessary evidence to prove legal violations.
- Catastrophic injuries. Because of the huge disparity in vehicle size, occupants of passenger vehicles hit by semi-trucks often suffer brain injuries, paralysis, amputation, and other life-long injuries. Not every personal injury attorney is knowledgeable about getting appropriate compensation for catastrophic injuries for past and future medical care and loss of earnings if one cannot work in the same capacity as they did before the collision.
These factors make a semi-truck accident claim very complicated. You need a lawyer who has expertise in handling these cases and getting the best results for his clients.