Truck accidents involving an 18-wheeler, tractor trailers, semi-trucks and large fright carriers do not have to occur at high speeds to leave devastating damage and severe injuries. Due to the sheer weight of a tractor-trailer, a typical automobile can be crushed at low speeds. Some estimates today put the number of catastrophic accidents at ten percent. Finding the right representation can be difficult, personal injury lawyers Fisher & Talwar would like to make it easier for you to obtain just compensation for your truck accident injuries.
Truck accidents can happen out of nowhere and change the lives of our loved ones forever.
Common Causes of Los Angeles Truck Accidents
Los Angeles is known for its traffic. The city is home to many freeways, including I-10, I-5, I-405, I-105, I-210, and U.S. Route 101. These highways are often packed with 18-wheelers hauling goods from Point A to Point B. With so many semi-trucks on the roadways, accidents involving these large trucks are common. In 2013, 18-wheelers were involved in 338,000 accidents. Of those, 73,000 caused injuries, and 3,906 resulted in death. California has become the top state for semi-truck accidents.
There are many factors that can lead to truck accidents. Read on to learn more about the causes and see how a Los Angeles truck accident attorney can help you if you are involved in a truck crash.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Both prescription and illegal drugs can cause serious effects to truck drivers. They can affect one’s judgment, slow down their reaction times and make them drowsy and less alert. The same goes for alcohol. Intoxication can affect one’s ability to drive.
Lack of Training
Semi-trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. That can be as much as 20 times the weight of a passenger car. Drivers must be in control of a truck so huge, and in order to do so, they need proper training. These trucks are bigger and longer and therefore harder to maneuver. A truck driver with minimal training can cause significant damage to other vehicles on the roadways. This is especially true if the driver is lost or driving on unfamiliar roads.
Distracted driving is common among truck drivers, especially when they drive in remote areas and are bored. Many turn to their smartphones to surf the Internet, call people and send texts and emails. These actions cause the driver to take his or her eyes off the road for several seconds. This is enough to cause a serious accident. Even actions such as eating, reading, using the navigation system, and fiddling with the radio are huge distractions that take drivers away from the task of driving and increase the risk of truck accidents.
Per federal regulations, truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving per day. However, some companies don’t follow this rule because of the strict deadlines they have. They force the driver to drive hundreds of miles a day and this can be exhausting to even experience drivers.
While the speed limit is set at 55 mph for semi-trucks, many drivers exceed this limit because they are in a hurry and need to meet their deadlines. It is hard for speeding 18-wheelers to slow down in an emergency, so this can lead to rear-end accidents, which can total a passenger car even at low speeds.
Semi-trucks need to be maintained regularly. Trucking companies need to have documentation of maintenance performed. Trucks can experience tire blowouts and faulty brakes due to a lack of maintenance, and this can make the company liable in a crash.
Regulations are in place to limit the amount of cargo a semi-truck can carry. That’s because too much cargo on a truck can cause accidents. Too much weight can cause the truck’s tires to blow out or the truck itself to jackknife. In addition, too much cargo can cause it to fall off onto a nearby vehicle, causing serious injuries or even death.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 28 percent of truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. Those with sleep apnea are often awakened during the night due to their lack of breathing. This affects their performance during the day. Truck drivers with sleep apnea may fall asleep or at the very least become less alert while driving. Those with moderate to severe forms of sleep apnea are not allowed to work as commercial truck drivers unless they are being treated for their condition.
Since many truck drivers’ pay depends on the number of miles driven, it is only logically foreseeable that accidents will occur. There are various regulating laws that truck drivers and companies employing them are supposed to abide by, but often neglect. Our lawyers can help determine if the driver or the company employing them was negligent and responsible for the accident.
California Truck Accident Liability
Liability in truck accident cases is typically assessed under the negligence standard. Put simply, negligence is the failure to take proper care when performing an action. Of course, applying the negligence standard to real-world situations can become extremely complicated. If liability is disputed in your Los Angeles truck accident case, you need to contact an experienced attorney immediately. Your attorney will be able to comprehensively review your claim and help you prove the four required elements of negligence, those being:
- Duty: A duty of care is a legal obligation to watch out for the well-being of another party. Your attorney will need to establish that the defendant actually owed you a duty of care and what exactly that duty of care entailed.
- Breach: Once you establish the standard of care, you will then need to prove that the defendant deviated from their legal duties. This is known as a breach.
- Causation: You will also need to prove that there is a causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and your truck accident injuries. Without that causal link, you will not be able to prove liability.
- Damages: Finally, you must also prove that you sustained real harm. While this may sound simple, it is still critically important. You will only be able to recover compensation to the extent that you can document your damages.
Many Parties Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident
Commercial truck accident cases are especially complex because several different parties may bear liability for your injuries. In fact, multiple parties may even share liability in your case. Parties that are often found liable for Los Angeles semi-truck accidents include:
- The truck driver;
- The driver’s employer;
- The owner of the truck or trailer;
- The company leasing the truck or the trailer; and
- The truck manufacturer.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WAYS YOU CAN AVOID TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Compensation Available for Truck Accident Victims
In California, commercial truck accident victims are entitled to seek compensation that accounts for the full extent of their damages. It is imperative that your settlement offer properly accounts for your damages. Specifically, you may be able to recover for:
- All medical bills;
- Any long-term rehabilitation expenses;
- Costs associated with necessary mental health treatment;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Long-term disability;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of life enjoyment; and
- Wrongful death.
You Need to Act Quickly
California has a strict statute of limitations for personal injury claims. In the state, you only have two years to take legal action. If you do not act within this time frame, you will likely lose out on your legal rights. There is a small exception for cases in which the injury was not discovered until well after the original incident. In those cases, California law allows one year from the date of the discovery of harm. Still, you do not want to mess with the statute of limitations. Please do not miss out on your opportunity to seek compensation simply because you waited too long to take action. You must protect your legal rights and financial interests. You owe it to yourself and your family to contact an experienced Los Angeles truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
You need to make sure everyone is physically okay. Ask anyone involved in the crash if they need an ambulance and call one if they do. If you are too injured to call, then ask someone else to. You need to prioritize your health.
You should not say anything that sounds like you are taking responsibility for the collision. In California, drivers who contribute to their accidents receive less in compensation than those who are entirely blameless. For this reason, saying something that could be interpreted as you accepting fault, which could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
For example, never say:
- “I’m so sorry.” This sounds like you are admitting you are to blame for the truck accident.
- “I didn’t even see you in that lane!” This sounds like you are admitting you were not paying attention to the road.
- “I’m okay.” Some physical injuries are slow to develop. If you immediately say you are fine, then later the trucking company might claim that are exaggerating your injuries.
Instead, wait patiently for the police to arrive to the accident scene and keep your comments to yourself.
It isn’t always easy, especially if you have suffered bad injuries that require you to rest up at home or in the hospital. As experienced truck accident attorneys, here is some evidence we have used over the years to establish fault:
- If the driver is fatigued, we have accessed the electronic logs for the truck. This will show how long the truck was in operation before the accident.
- If the truck or a truck part was defective, we can look at the truck to find out if a part was defectively designed or manufactured.
- If the load was unsafe, we can review paperwork that shows how much cargo was in the truck.
- If the driver was intoxicated, we can find police reports that document the level of intoxication.
- If the driver was on a cell phone, we can subpoena phone records that will show when he was on the phone.
This is only some of the evidence we have managed to find. One advantage of working with a seasoned attorney is that he or she will be able to pull together a strong case for compensation while you focus on your recovery.
A company needs to carefully screen the drivers that it hires. For example, they should perform a criminal background check and confirm that the driver has the correct licenses. They also need to ensure that the truck driver is sufficiently healthy to drive a big rig.
When trucking companies cut corners, they often fail to adequately assess drivers. As a result, many people are injured on California’s roads each year in truck accidents.
You can absolutely receive compensation for these intangible losses; however, juries tend to be skeptical. Many people believe that victims exaggerate their suffering in the hopes of increasing the amount of money they receive, so your job will be to lay a solid evidentiary foundation.
For example, you can help prove your pain by keeping careful note of the prescription painkillers you take. You should also keep a journal where you document your pain, including where you feel it and its intensity.
Emotional distress is also hard to capture, but you can help your case by noting the antidepressants or anxiety medication you are taking. You can also have a therapist or other mental health counselor testify, as well as family and friends who report changes in your mood.
The trucking company has made a generous settlement offer and I need money badly. Should I just accept it?
No! You shouldn’t accept without talking to an attorney first. Chances are, the trucking company is not offering the full amount that you are entitled to. After all, insurance companies try to protect their bottom line, just like any other business. They also know that many truck accident victims are in financial distress after a crash, especially if they cannot work. So they hope that victims will quickly agree to a settlement.
Remember this: in exchange for money, you will need to agree never to sue the at-fault parties again for the accident. This means that if you need more money 5 years down the road, you can’t sue because you signed a release. You have one chance to get all the compensation you are entitled to, so don’t sign anything until you speak to us.
Let Our Truck Injury Lawyers Help You
Our law firm is experienced in handling large truck collision cases. When working with our Los Angeles truck accident attorney, you gain a significant advantage over the negligent party through our employment of top field experts who reconstruct the scene of the accident to prove the negligent entity’s fault.
You have enough to worry about after a personal injury involving a large truck. Let our knowledgeable truck accident lawyer handle your compensation claim. We will seek maximum compensation and always act in your best interests.
Why Clients Choose our Trusted Attorneys
Since our partners work directly with clients, we uphold the highest level of dedication and perseverance. Not only do we employ industry experts to conduct inspections of commercial trucks, we also make use of state of the art computer animations to clearly convey the details to jury and judges in many cases. Over the years we have had client referrals from other attorneys indicating a degree of trust in our litigation abilities by other law firms.
TRUCK SAFETY TIPS FOR LOS ANGELES DRIVERS
NOT ALL HERO’S WEAR CAPES
BUCKLE UP, IT’S THE LAW.
- In the year of 2010, 3,413 people died in accidents involving large trucks. 475 of of those 3,413 deaths reported were the truck drivers.
- In the year of 2015, 11% of motor vehicle accident deaths involved a collision with a large truck.
It has been reported on average each year that 130,000 car accidents involve trucks. This is a statistic we want to see decrease if not disappear entirely. The truck accident attorneys at Fisher & Talwar want to lend a hand in preventing truck accidents by making everyone aware of the problem and inspire them to do their part in making and keeping the roads a safer place.
AVOID DRIVING IN THE “NO ZONES”
Every car has two blind spots, which is an area of the vehicle that prohibits full vision of surrounding traffic. When it comes to 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, and semi-trucks, they each have four blind spots also referred too as the “no-zones”.
- Just behind the left and right mirrors
- Directly behind the truck
- Directly in front of the truck
After a semi truck driver checks on surrounding traffic and feels it is safe to merge into another lane, it is possible they will merge into your lane unaware of your presence in their blind spot. It is important that each driver know and understand where the “no-zones” are located on semi trucks and avoid coasting in them for extended periods of time. The drivers of semi trucks honestly can’t see your smaller vehicle in comparison when you are in the “no-zones”, which can, has, and will cause an accident.
In our cartoon depiction of driving in the “no-zone” we show just how quickly an accident can occur. Though dramatized a bit, history proves time and time again that the best practices when driving around large trucks is to know your surroundings and drive defensively. Even though you can see them, they may not always see you.
SEMI TRUCKS TAKE LONGER TO SLOW DOWN
A basic 18-wheeler or semi trailer can weigh up too 80,000 lbs maximum by law. Compared to most passenger vehicles weighing in at around 4,000 lbs, that’s a 95% difference in weight!
Imagine if a driver of a semi truck and the driver of a common passenger vehicle are traveling down a highway at 75mph and were to slam on their breaks at the exact same time, it would take the semi truck nearly double the amount of distance, if not more, to come to a complete stop than it would the passenger vehicle. Please keep this in mind as you share the road, be patient when driving, and avoid possible road rage or fatal accidents by NOT cutting off semi trucks.
Let us clarify, it is ok to pass trucks in traffic but at the right time. When you need to pass a semi truck make sure there is at least one car length between you and the semi truck to keep your vehicle visible. Our cartoon depiction of a passenger car cutting off a semi truck at a stop light may seem a tad over dramatized, but it is not too far from the truth. Remain patient of other vehicles. Strive to drive defensively. Be courteous of others and we can all contribute to keeping our roads safer.
NEVER TAILGATE A SEMI TRUCK
There are several reasons why you shouldn’t follow an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or semi truck too closely. When following too closely and traffic comes to a sudden stop for whatever reason be it road construction, a flat tire or blow-out, weather conditions, or an accident, you and your passengers are the ones at risk. In these situations, you do not have the reflexes or time to respond accordingly. And trust us, if your vehicle collides with the back of a semi, the odds are not in your favor. The semi most likely wont even feel the impact of your vehicle but you sure will.
Keep aware of your surroundings and allow the proper distance between you and the vehicle ahead. The best method to follow is the “3-second rule”. Choose a focal point that is parallel to the semi in front of you such as a road sign or a building and count the seconds from the time the semi passes it until your vehicle passes it. If you are under three seconds, then you are following too closely. Please be careful and practice the 3-second rule in order to avoid a collision or a potential pile-up. This could very well save your life.
ALLOW EXTRA SPACE FOR SEMIS TO TAKE WIDE TURNS
In the crowded, busy streets of LA it is all too common to see bumper to bumper traffic. But when you find yourself driving near and around 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, or semi trucks, please remember to allow them extra space. Everyone is in a hurry to get to their desired destination and crowding the surrounding traffic won’t make them move any faster.
When a semi truck is needing to make a turn and you or the surrounding traffic do not allow proper space or room needed for the driver of the truck to maneuver, you can pretty much guarantee someone is going to loose a bumper, side mirror, or even cause traffic to come to a complete stop.
If everyone were to practice courteous and basic traffic safety while driving, it would potentially speed up traffic due to less accidents caused by the negligence of others.
TAKE PRECAUTIONS FOR POSSIBLE BLACK ICE
Even when your most trusted weather reporter predicts a bright sunny day, Mother Nature can still change her mind in an instant. It’s common these days to expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather.
Even during the largest snow storm of the year, your day to day obligations still require attention. Because not everyone’s boss allows them to stay home drinking hot coco and temporarily forget their responsibilities while a blizzard brings down its wrath on a weekday, it is important that everyone understand and practice safe driving techniques on ice covered roads.
Be sure to allow more than enough distance between you and other vehicles. Plan ahead when coming to a stop or accelerating in case of ice. Leave the house early to allow yourself plenty of time to get to your desired destination.
DRIVING AGAINST STRONG SIDE WINDS
Head and tail winds are less noticeable to travelers but when a side wind picks up it can make even the most experienced driver a little nervous. If the wind is strong enough, it can even blow you and your vehicle off the road. If you ever feel your vehicle swaying off course due to high winds do not panic. Gently steer your wheel in the opposite direction correcting your course. Do not turn your wheel suddenly or you may possibly overcorrect causing your vehicle to roll. Gradually make smooth, gentle corrections opposing the wind.
If you do find yourself traveling in the mix of high side winds and want to pass a semi trailer, please weigh your options and cautiously make that decision after observing your surroundings and how much control the semi appears to have when also battling high winds. Strong side winds have been known to tip over trailers from the semi itself and the odds dramatically fincrease when a trailer is empty.
Be alert of your surroundings and drive defensively.
HYDROPLANING & BLURRED VISION ON WET ROADS
When there is heavy rain it can be terrifying to pass an 18-wheeler or to have an 18-wheeler pass you on the highway. In some cases, even having your windshield wipers going at full speed wont combat the spray of water that each tire throws in your vision. In this scenario, things can quickly escalade into an incredibly dangerous situation.
How to avoid hydroplaning:
- Reduce your speed during heavy rain.
- Make sure your tires have recently been rotated and balanced before traveling.
- Don’t set your vehicle on cruise control.
- Avoid driving through puddles.
- Avoid passing other vehicles including semis if possible.
How to recover from hydroplaning:
- Remove your foot from the gas peddle.
- Gently turn your wheel into the direction your vehicle is spinning. A good way to remember what that means is to keep your wheels facing the road ahead.
CAUTION FOLLOWING TOO CLOSE WHEN DRIVING UP HILL
18-wheelers, tractor trailers, semi-trucks can be hauling up to 80,000 lbs. Because of the tremendous weight a truck is pulling, the truck will slow down when on an incline. Surrounding traffic must be patient when following a truck up a hill. If a truck happens to be in the wrong gear when driving up hill it can cause the truck to stall ending in a complete stop and possibly a collision. If you are in a hurry and struggle practicing patience, either plan ahead and pass them prior to the incline or keep calm and slow down while they make their way up the hill.
We must also take precaution when following a semi uphill and allow room for human error. It has been known for cargo to come loose and fall out of trailers causing devastating wrecks. This is why CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) was organized. This is a nonprofit organization made up of local, state, and federal motor carrier safety officials who conduct roadside checks of semi trucks, 18-wheelers, and tractor trailers.
Signs to watch for:
- Faulty tie-downs.
- Improperly loaded cargo.
- Cargo that is stacked too high.
- Loose cargo
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Fisher & Talwar (213) 891-0777 Los Angeles Truck Accident Attorneys
Truck accidents involving an 18-wheeler, tractor trailers, semi-trucks and large fright carriers do not have to occur at high speeds to leave devastating damage and severe injuries. Due to the sheer weight of a tractor-trailer, a typical automobile can be crushed at low speeds. Some estimates today put the number of catastrophic accidents at ten percent. Get compensation for your injuries with the help of the personal injury attorneys at Fisher & Talwar.
Examples: Semi Truck Plows Into Two Vehicles
A 26-year old driver was seriously injured when, after striking a highway barrier with his car, a semi-truck plowed into his vehicle. Also stopped on the road was a second vehicle whose driver halted to render assistance to the driver of the first. While no injuries from the second vehicle were reported, the semi-truck actually plowed into both vehicles before they could clear the road.
It is unclear what caused the driver of the first vehicle to strike the barrier in the first place, but the entire accident remains an open investigation. The accident happened in Illinois, just past 1:30 am on March 13th, 2013.
Being a Great Good Samaritan
The driver of the second vehicle in the situation above is fortunate that he did not suffer the same fate as the driver of the first, but considerable amounts of damage could have been avoided if the response by the good samaritan had been more cautious.
While it is understandable to want to help other motorists after an accident, the best way to help is to first pull over to the side of the highway, or exit the highway completely, before calling for emergency responders. Stopping in the middle of the road creates another hazard that oncoming traffic may not be able to see in time to react, and creates the real risk of serious injury to the good samaritan who may not be paying attention to oncoming traffic at all.
By getting off the road to call emergency responders, a good samaritan can ensure that he or she will be out of the danger zone while the call is made and that the call won’t distract from his or her own driving.
When a person suffers an injury because of the negligence or recklessness of another, that injury victim generally has a right to seek compensation from those involved in causing the injuries. Unfortunately, finding fault and determining who to seek compensation from is not always easy. This is why an experienced truck accident attorney should be allowed to review the facts of a case and offer advice on the best course of legal action.
In cases involving a chain of events and several different people, no single person may be entirely to blame for an injury and, in some cases, the law will even reduce a person’s recovery by his or her own level of fault. This means that a person who contributes to his own injuries recovers less in court than the person who contributes in no way at all. Most states use comparative negligence as the basis for splitting damages while few (mostly on the east coast) use contributory negligence doctrine.
To make sure they pursue the appropriate level of compensation from the appropriate parties, injury victims are encouraged to seek out professional legal advice before moving forward with any personal injury claim.
The case involving the semi-truck and the two vehicles stopped on the highway remains an open investigation, but there are several possible outcomes that can be speculated based on the facts as they have been reported so far. The driver of the semi-truck might face civil charges for the injury because it was his truck that slammed into the two vehicles, the good samaritan could face civil charges for blocking the road with the second vehicle and, in effect, doubling the size of the hazard of the road, and the injured driver may even face civil charges if the original crash which set the chain of events in motion was avoidable if not for his own negligence or recklessness.
Each case is different and will depend on the facts involved and the jurisdiction where the case is tried.
Bizarre Semi Truck Accidents
The maximum allowed weight for a U.S. semi-trailer is 80,000 lbs and the weight of a small car, truck, or minivan averages to around 4,000 lbs. This means, when fully loaded, a semi-trailer can weigh up to 20 times more than its surrounding vehicles. This is why it is so important to not only follow the laws put in place when sharing the road with semi-trucks, but to use common sense including:
- Not following semi trucks too closely;
- Staying out of their blind spots aka “no-zones”;
- Allowing semi-trucks plenty of room to make wide turns;
- Not cutting off a semi-trucks, they take longer to slow down;
- And remember to always drive defensively.
In 2014, a study was conducted showing that there were 10.7 fatal semi-truck accidents in the United States per million people. The data can seem a bit shocking from afar, but once you take a look at some of the most bizarre semi-truck accidents we found, the numbers might make a little bit more sense.
The image below is of a garbage truck crashing through the third floor of a maintenance facility in New York City back in August of 2011. The driver of the garbage truck claims to have lost control which resulted in a nearly fatal accident. Visit this site to read the full article.
I struggled to find an article explaining the next bizarre semi-truck “accident” so I decided to make up my own story:
Truck A (the yellow and green semi) has a terrible fear of tunnels. Truck B (the blue and grey semi) knowing of truck A’s fear of tunnels decided to give him a boost.
Think I’m wrong in my assumption? That instead, the drivers of the semi-trucks were driving under the influence with a side of road rage? It is a possibility…but I prefer to view the glass half full and this glass says they were being courteous.
Since I seem to have a knack for piecing stories together (referring to the above bizarre semi-truck accident) I wanted to give you the chance to analyze and predict a story yourself.
What do you think happened?
I’m sure you’ve been backed up in crappy traffic before but nothing compared to what this guy experienced.
All jokes aside, any time you are behind the wheel you are responsible for your safety and the safety of others around you. Most accidents happen when drivers become careless of the basic safety precautions including:
- Wearing a seatbelt;
- Checking your mirrors;
- Check to make sure your brake lights and headlights are working;
- Checking the tread on your tires before driving long distances;
- And not driving drowsy.
Another huge factor behind traffic accidents is road rage. Check out this example of road rage caught on tape: https://www.click2houston.com/news/road-rage-video-of-hummer-blocking-semi-in-midland-goes-viral
Remember the recent statistics, in 2014, 10.7 semi-truck accidents in the United States per million people were fatal. If you or a loved one are ever involved in a car wreck involving a semi-truck call Fisher & Talwar for a free consultation. They have helped thousands of people in Los Angeles get the help they needed to recover whether it was for medical bills or compensation for the injured while missing work recovering from severe injuries. Contact a truck accident attorney in Los Angeles today and get the help you deserve.