Our nation depends on commercial trucking for food, consumer goods, and everything else we need to live. People are buying more products online, which requires shipping to get them to their destinations. There is an ever-increasing number of trucks on California’s roadways today and with that an uptick in the number of truck accidents. If you’re looking for a truck accident lawyer or need more information from an experienced truck accident attorney in Antelope Valley, Kuzyk Law welcomes your call.
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.
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents In California
According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, 4,761 people were killed in crashes in which large trucks were involved, large trucks defined as medium or heavy trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more.
What causes these fatalities and other commercial truck accidents? Sadly, the reasons are almost always preventable.
You’ve probably heard that driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, and this is true. Fatigue impairs your decision-making capability and your physical ability to react quickly to hazards on the road.
Commercial truck drivers become fatigued for many different reasons. Some work too many hours in a day or don’t stop often enough for refreshing breaks and meals. Employers may contribute to this by pushing drivers to hit a time or distance goals that are often near impossible to meet.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019, some drivers may be fatigued due to illness or maybe covering extra ground to make up for sick colleagues.
In this case, it may be the employer who is liable for damages caused by the accident. Trucking companies are well insured for this type of contingency, more so than individual automobile drivers.
Speeding is another major cause of accidents involving all kinds of motor vehicles. The problem with a speeding truck is twofold: it takes much longer to stop because of its greater weight, and the impact in a collision is much more devastating. While speeding-related deaths dropped in 2018, there were still 9,378 deaths due to speeding.
Why do truck drivers speed? In some cases, it’s the same reason as they drive fatigued: because they are pushing their limits, usually at the behest of their employers. Other times, speeding can be a bad habit, pressure from surrounding traffic to exceed the speed limit, or road aggression and disregard for other drivers.
When speeding is combined with the other accident risk factors listed here, the consequences can be fatal. A tired driver going too fast with an overloaded or improperly loaded truck is a danger to all.
Overloading makes a truck too heavy, which affects its ability to maneuver properly and stop within a reasonable distance. This can result in rear-end collisions.
Trucks that are overloaded may be violating legal weight restrictions. There is a reason every truck has a weight capacity that must not be exceeded. Overloaded trucks are unsafe on the road and put everyone near them in jeopardy.
Even when fatalities aren’t involved, there are thousands of serious truck accidents every year in Southern California, including those from overloading. These accidents can cause lifelong disability, dismemberment, and loss of property, including motor vehicles. Serious accidents have a domino effect on our highway system, tying up traffic, damaging infrastructure, and usurping valuable first responder manpower.
A truck can still be within its weight limitations and be improperly loaded. When a large truck has an uneven weight distribution, such as when the rear end is loaded with more weight, it can still be prone to collisions. Like with overloading, this often results in rear-end collisions.
Improper loading can also cause jackknifing, where the rear end of the truck swings around towards the front. Jackknifing accidents can end with loss of life, permanent injuries, extensive medical bills, and long-term medical care needed for those involved.
Whoever is responsible for loading and weighing the truck’s cargo is usually responsible when accidents result from improper loading, and that could be the driver, the truck owner, the shipping company, or the owner of the freight.
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.
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.
When To Contact Your Antelope Valley Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer Today!
If you are in an accident, you need to file your complaint within a set period of time, called a “Statute of Limitations.” You should get advice from one of our Antelope Valley truck accident attorneys as soon as possible so you are fully informed on your rights, and so you do not miss your deadline to file a lawsuit, otherwise, you can lose your claim.
Contact our highly skilled Antelope Valley commercial truck accident lawyers as fast as possible to pursue your claim, because the longer you wait, the greater the chance that the amount of money owed to you will decrease. You could even lose your right to a claim entirely.
It is of paramount importance that you hire legal professionals who specialize in settling and litigating truck accident cases. Working with an inexperienced lawyer could mean losing out on huge amounts of money that you deserve.
There is a reason we encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible after a truck accident: There is a time limit, called the statute of limitations, during which you must file a complaint to initiate a lawsuit. Don’t lose your right to a claim or risk getting less than you should by waiting too long.
Kuzyk Law has been on the side of accident victims since 1971. Let us help you, too! Contact a truck accident lawyer today!