Have you or a family member recently been in an accident involving a commercial truck? It can turn your life upside down, but working with an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you get life back to normal sooner. Trucking companies can make it next to impossible to get the insurance settlement or legal damages you deserve. It often takes a team of knowledgeable legal professionals to accomplish what is otherwise a time-consuming and frustrating process.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a semi-truck or trailer, contact Kuzyk Law immediately. Our Antelope Valley truck accident attorneys handled dozens of cases just like yours every year. Call now at (661) 945-6969.
To get the insurance compensation or damages you’re entitled to after a commercial truck accident, call Kuzyk Law at 661-945-6969 or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation.
Causes of Truck Accidents in Antelope Valley, CA
In our law practice, we frequently find the same things contributing to truck accidents. Perhaps you have observed or, worse, experienced these hazards on the road when you’re driving.
Speeding causes accidents of all kinds, not just those involving commercial trucks. However, a speeding truck is going to result in more damage because of the weight behind it at impact. When trucks exceed the speed limit, they need more space to stop than a smaller vehicle. On a crowded roadway, this space often doesn’t exist, so a crash ensues.
What happens when truck drivers spend too long on the road and not enough time resting because of unreasonable deadlines? They become extremely fatigued. This can result in slow reflexes and reaction times that make getting into an accident more likely.
Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence is illegal in California and other states. Also known as DUI, driving under the influence can include operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, recreational drugs, or certain prescription medications. Some truck drivers use drugs in an attempt to stay awake longer and put more miles behind them, but this can backfire.
There are any number of things that can cause distractions for truck drivers. As well as talking or texting on a cell phone, which is not permitted in California without a hands-free device, drivers can miss things on the road due to chatter on the dispatch radio or cargo items moving around. It just takes a second of distracted driving for an accident to happen.
Improperly loaded cargo can cause shifting of weight and swaying of the trailer in large trucks. It can make turning corners and rounding bends hazardous for anyone in the vicinity. Improper loading also includes overloading, which is a common truck problem. Overloading makes commercial trucks that are already heavy even heavier, increasing the stopping distance they need and making rear-end crashes more likely.
Violating traffic laws
Violating other traffic laws besides speeding, using a cell phone, or driving under the influence can also contribute to truck accidents. This commonly includes:
- Failure to yield, either when merging or when making turns
- Not stopping at stop signs or traffic signals
- Speeding up instead of slowing down at yellow lights
- Failure to signal for lane changes and turns
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front of the truck
- Driving in lanes forbidden to commercial trucks
Statistics and Common Causes Of Commercial Truck Accidents
The economy is booming — unfortunately, so are truck crashes. Southern California is particularly prone to these devastating crashes thanks to its abundance of warehouse businesses and busy ports. Hundreds of commercial truck accidents occur on California roads every day, caused by ordinary or gross negligence.
So what are the most common causes of truck accidents? We can break them down into several categories.
- Passenger Car Fault. Most commercial truck accidents are caused by non-commercial vehicles who fail to respect commercial trucks. Passenger vehicles cause approximately 80% of accidents with large trucks, often by cutting in front of trucks or otherwise driving carelessly.
- Truck Driver Fault. Many accidents are caused by negligence on the part of a truck driver. Whether by failing to drive with care or actively violating traffic laws, truck drivers may cause accidents by:
- Driving fatigued
- Reckless or distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Texting while driving
- Company Fault. In some instances, the trucking company can be held responsible for negligence when a trucking accident occurs. Whether intentionally or not, companies that have been found to have violated safety requirements or state or federal regulations may be held liable for injuries or damages caused by the accident. Some examples of company negligence include:
- Improper maintenance
- Improper driver hiring and training
- Improper loading
- Allowing a driver to operate negligently
- Encouraging drivers to act unsafely
- Other Causes. Truck accidents may also be caused by variables outside of the driver’s or companies’ control. These include events such as:
- Adverse weather conditions
- Mechanical defects
- Unsafe road conditions
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCS) has placed strict guidelines on truck drivers that limit their hours and enforce safety regulations. When these guidelines are ignored, crashes, injuries, or fatalities are too often the result. Because trucks weigh more than 20 times as much as an ordinary passenger vehicle,passenger cars almost always come out the loser.
Accidents can be devastating, even without fatalities. Our personal injury attorneys are here to make the process of receiving compensation easier for you.
California Accidents Involving Large Trucks
According to the most recent data released by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California fatalities in crashes involving large trucks have been on the rise during the past decade:
- 2015 – 305
- 2016 – 375
- 2017 – 383
- 2018 – 375
- 2019 – 408
With millions of commercial trucks on the road in our state, that number is likely to keep on climbing. This puts California residents at risk when driving on the highway with them.
Truck Versus Car Leads to Serious Injuries, Fatalities, and Extensive Property Damage
One reason crashes involving a truck versus a car are so devastating is the size difference between the two vehicles. The simple physics involved means in most cases, the car (or van, pickup, or motorcycle) will bear the brunt of the impact. This leads to more serious injuries, disabilities, car occupant fatalities, and significant property damage, such as the smaller vehicle being totaled (not repairable or salvageable).
What to Do if You Are in a Commercial Truck Accident in Antelope Valley
If you are involved in a truck accident, first ensure that everyone at the scene is safe. Dial 911 and ask for first responder assistance, even if you’re not sure if you have injuries. You may have a head or neck injury, internal bleeding, or shock that isn’t readily apparent to you and that needs immediate medical attention.
Make sure a police report is filed. If necessary, and if you are able to do so safely, take photos or videos of the crash scene with your mobile phone.
Your next step, if you live in Antelope Valley or nearby areas of Southern California, is to get in touch with the Antelope Valley truck accident attorneys at Kuzyk Law to protect your rights and discuss your options. In many cases, you may be entitled to a settlement with the insurance carrier for the trucking company or owner of the truck. Many cases are settled amicably, and you can move on with your life.
If you need to go to court, we can assist you there as well. This could happen if the party responsible for the accident refuses to settle. Kuzyk Law will fight for the compensation you deserve and can negotiate for numerous types of expenses, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
We can even help you find the medical professionals you need to help you on a lien basis. In these cases, it is vital that a commercial truck accident lawyer negotiate on your behalf so that we can get you the maximum reimbursement and compensation for the damages, pain and suffering, medical bills and lost earnings you suffer. We can also recommend excellent doctors to help you on a lien basis if you do not already have your own medical doctors picked out.
Defensive Driving Tips to Avoid Crashes with Large Trucks
When on the roadway with large trucks, it’s essential to practice defensive driving to minimize your risk of a serious accident. Use these tips to stay safer when behind the wheel:
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spots directly behind it and to the side a bit behind the cab.
- Give a truck near you plenty of space. If it’s speeding or the driver doesn’t see you, don’t try to compete with it. Just let it go ahead. Giving a truck ample room also protects you from flying debris if they blow a tire or lose cargo.
- Allow trucks more time to slow down and stop. For example, if you are turning left against oncoming traffic and the light turns yellow, don’t assume a truck heading towards you will stop in time for the light.
- Use your turn signal and pay attention to a truck driver using theirs. Yield to trucks trying to change lanes.
- Never come up alongside the right side of a truck trying to turn right, even if you are also turning right. Either turn behind and after the truck or to the left, lanes permitting.
What to Do After an Accident with a Commercial Truck
If you are in an accident with a truck, follow these steps:
- Decide whether it’s safer to stay where you are until help arrives or pull to the side of the road.
- Call 911 for assistance, even if the accident seems minor. It’s important for law enforcement to try to determine who is at fault as soon as possible. This determines insurance settlements and other issues. You could have vehicle damage that isn’t immediately apparent or delayed pain for which you need compensation later.
- Get medical treatment for any urgent injuries.
- Exchange information with involved parties: name, employer, license plates, and insurance carrier.
- Take photos or video with your mobile phone if possible, even if others are photographing the incident.
- Report the accident to your insurance carrier and the CA DMV.
- Consult with a truck accident attorney at any point you feel necessary.
Contact Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers with a Track Record of Success
You can call a truck accident lawyer at any time you like, whether at the scene of the accident or weeks later. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you negotiate a better insurance settlement or take your case to court for damages, such as medical care, disability, lost wages, and emotional trauma. These things take time and resources most folks don’t have, but our staff at Kuzyk Law can get them done for you while you recover or return to your regular life.
Our law offices have an excellent track record of success with truck accident cases in Lancaster and the Antelope Valley. Call Kuzyk Law today at 661-945-6969 or set up a free consultation using an online form. Don’t let the statute of limitations pass to get the compensation you deserve. Reach out now.
Kuzyk Law has been on the side of accident victims since 1971. Let us help you, too! Contact a truck accident lawyer today!
Call us at 661-945-6969 or reach out online today.
Why do so many trucks speed?
Usually, it’s because they’re trying to meet a deadline imposed by their employer, especially if they’re carrying time-sensitive cargo like perishable food. There can be penalties for arriving late, even if it’s not their fault due to traffic, weather, or road construction. Speeding often happens in conjunction with other accident contributors.
Why is taking some prescription medications considered “driving under the influence?”
Some medications can be sedating and cause drowsiness in drivers, which can lead to accidents. Even drugs that are perfectly legal can cause a DUI. In most cases, the driver was told not to operate a vehicle while taking the medication, but they ignored the warning.
Is it true that driving when tired is as bad as driving under the influence?
Yes, in many cases, extreme fatigue reduces reaction times and reflexes to the same degree excess alcohol or drugs do. Fatigue is a major contributor to many truck accidents in California.
If I think I was at fault in an accident, shouldn’t I have said something to the police officer who responded?
Never say more than required to law enforcement. Do not admit fault. You could be nervous, in shock, or feel intimidated into saying you’re at fault when you’re not.
Is there a window of time if I decide to sue the other party in a truck accident?
Yes, there is what’s called a statute of limitations to litigate accidents in California. You don’t want to miss this window. That’s why we recommend calling a truck accident lawyer right away if you’ve been in an accident.