California’s convenient highways, bustling cities, and thriving economy make the state a hub for trucking activity, especially along the I-5 corridor in the Central Valley. But this vibrant transportation network also brings a concerning downside: trucking accidents that can lead to serious injuries and even wrongful deaths.
If you or someone you love has been in an accident with a truck, figuring out the cause of the crash can help you get financial compensation from the people responsible. Usually, that involves a trucking company that is vicariously liable for the actions of its drivers. A personal injury lawyer can help you build a case to put responsibility where it belongs and get you a settlement that recovers as much as possible for your losses.
How Common Are Trucking Accidents?
Unfortunately, trucking accidents are not rare occurrences in California. The Golden State’s extensive road network, heavy traffic, and the constant movement of goods create a fertile ground for traffic incidents involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other commercial trucks.
According to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when trucks crash, most deaths are the occupants of passenger vehicles. Large trucks could weigh up to 20-30 times more than passenger cars and because trucks often have a high ground clearance, smaller cars can end up running under a truck in the case of a crash.
Trucking inherently comes with additional risks and dangers – such as grueling long-distance routes that wear down both the truck driver and the truck itself. People can get seriously injured when trucking companies cut corners or push their drivers too far.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents?
Trucking accidents take many forms depending on the size of the truck, whether it’s carrying oversized or hazardous materials, and road and weather conditions. Every case is unique, but an experienced truck accident attorney will know to look for these common causes:
- Distracted Driving – Like all motorists, truck drivers can become distracted by their smartphones, GPS devices, or other interruptions such as eating while driving. A momentary lapse in attention can lead to devastating consequences.
- Truck Driver Fatigue – Long hours on the road and tight delivery schedules can lead to exhausted drivers who make poor decisions, react slower, or fall asleep at the wheel.
- Speeding and Aggressive Driving – Trying to meet delivery deadlines or simply not following the speed limit can lead to serious accidents, especially rear-end collisions, because trucks need a much longer distance to stop at high speeds. Other aggressive and risky behaviors such as tailgating, weaving between lanes, and road rage can lead to dangerous situations, especially when large trucks are involved.
- Inadequate Maintenance or Brake Issues – Poorly maintained trucks are more likely to experience mechanical failures that can lead to accidents. Regular inspection and proper maintenance are essential and cannot be overlooked.
- Improperly Loaded Cargo – Trucks must be loaded correctly and securely to maintain the balance and stability of the vehicle. Items that have been improperly loaded can fall off the truck bed, hitting other vehicles or causing the truck to roll over.
- Road and Weather Conditions – California’s diverse climate poses challenges for truck drivers, especially in mountainous areas and valleys with steep or narrow roads. Rain, fog, snow, and heavy winds can reduce visibility and road traction, increasing the risk of accidents, particularly if the truck driver isn’t experienced in driving in those conditions.
- Driving Under the Influence – Despite strict laws and regulations, some truck drivers may drive their routes under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can seriously affect a driver’s judgment and their reaction times, increasing the potential for accidents.
Trucking accidents can get complicated because there are so many moving parts – from the driver to the trucking company’s management or even third-party maintenance providers. A good lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of your case with confidence.
Why Determining Cause Matters for Compensation
Understanding the cause of a trucking accident is not just about determining what went wrong. It’s also crucial for the people involved in the accident to get compensation for their injuries and damages, especially if someone else’s negligence is responsible for the crash.
Because truck accident injuries can be so severe, these types of cases tend to have high stakes. Recently, our team at Sepulveda Sanchez Law secured a $10 million settlement for a victim of a trucking accident in Stockholm.
In California, whoever is at fault in an accident is responsible for paying for the consequences.
For example, if the accident was caused by a fatigued driver, the trucking company may share responsibility for allowing their employee to work overly long hours. If improper brake maintenance was a factor in causing the crash, the trucking company or their maintenance provider could be held accountable for neglecting their legal duty to keep their vehicle in safe and proper working condition.
In California, personal injury law allows the victims of trucking accidents to pursue financial compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. If you’ve lost a loved one to a trucking accident, you can hold the people responsible by filing a wrongful death claim or survivor’s claim for damages.
Navigating a complex truck accident case can be overwhelming, especially when you’re facing a large trucking company or its insurance company, neither of which is on your side. This is where an experienced truck accident lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. A good attorney looks out for your best interests at all times by:
- Investigating the accident to determine the cause and identify who’s responsible,
- Gathering critical evidence such as accident reports, witness statements, and expert testimony,
- Negotiating with insurance companies to get you a proper settlement offer,
- Preparing a strong and strategic legal case, and,
- Representing you in court if necessary.
Trucking companies have legal teams on their side to protect their interests. You deserve a dedicated advocate who will fight for your rights and make sure you have the support you need to recover and move forward with your life after the devastation of a trucking accident.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we can help. Contact us now for your free consultation.