Many people are injured or killed each year as a result of a trucking accident. When a commercial vehicle hits a smaller vehicle or rolls over on the highway, the consequences are often devastating. Even if a truck driver walks away relatively unscathed, pedestrians or people in cars or on motorcycles may be injured or killed due to the weight and size of the truck. If you are hurt or a loved one is killed by a careless truck driver, the California personal injury lawyers at Black & DePaoli can help you recover compensation for your losses. From our Folsom office, we represent California residents who need a Folsom personal injury attorney to assert their rights.
Establishing Liability After a Truck Accident
Trucking accidents often result from a truck driver’s negligence. It is difficult to operate a tractor-trailer that can weigh more than 80,000 lbs safely. There are many laws and regulations that tractor-trailer drivers must follow to avoid injuring others. If a truck driver violates the safety rules and injures people, victims may be eligible for compensation. The attorneys at Black & DePaoli will help you obtain just compensation.
An individual truck driver’s insurance policy may not have sufficient coverage for all the injuries sustained in a truck accident, particularly when there are many victims. You may also be able to turn to the truck driver’s employer to recover damages. The employer may be held indirectly responsible for the negligence of their employee.
Federal and state laws regulate trucking companies as well as their drivers. If a trucking company fails to follow the rules related to hiring, training or overseeing the work of a truck driver, they will be directly liable under theories of negligent hiring, training, or supervision. These theories require you to establish that the trucking company was independently negligent.
For example, if a trucking company fails to conduct a background check that would have revealed that the driver was an alcoholic with multiple DUIs and his drunk driving is the cause of an accident, you may be able to hold the trucking company responsible. Trucking companies have more insurance coverage than individual drivers, so establishing their liability may be crucial in recovering the full amount of your damages.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in California
Truck accidents occur for many reasons, generally including things like driver error, poor vehicle maintenance, improper cargo loading, and dangerous driving. A truck accident personal injury attorney in Folsom, California, will review the details of a truck accident claim to help a client determine the best route to compensation for their injuries.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents in the Folsom area include:
- FMCSA violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes rules and regulations for the American trucking industry. Some of these rules apply to truck drivers themselves while others apply to the trucking companies that employ their services. Trucking companies or independent operators that fail to abide by FMCSA standards could cause serious accidents as a result.
- Truck driver errors. Truck drivers have demanding jobs. Some of them drive while fatigued or abuse over-the-counter drugs to stay awake longer than they should. The FMCSA has established hours of service laws that dictate how long truck drivers may remain behind the wheel at one time as well as appropriate standards for rest breaks and days off. Violations of these rules can not only lead to fines and other professional consequences but also civil litigation from victims of trucking accidents caused by these violations.
- Improper cargo loading. Tractor-trailers are responsible for transporting millions of tons of cargo across the country daily. It falls to distribution centers to ensure trailers are correctly loaded with their hauls secure. An imbalanced cargo load offsets the vehicle’s center of gravity, which is much higher than that of a standard passenger vehicle. Overburdened and overweight tractor-trailers can easily cause accidents in several situations. An overweight or improperly loaded truck is a major hazard to every other driver on the highway. Large commercial trucks already have much lower braking ability than smaller, lighter passenger vehicles, and a truck in this state may not be able to stop in the usual amount of time or distance to avoid a collision.
- Jackknife accidents. Another risk caused by large trucks’ poor braking ability is the chance of jackknifing. A jackknife occurs when the truck portion of a tractor-trailer starts to stop, but the trailer it’s towing retains momentum. This causes the trailer to push the truck to one side, causing the compound vehicle to form an “L” or “V” shape. Jackknifing accidents are incredibly dangerous and often cover multiple lanes of traffic until the truck driver regains control of the vehicle.
- Wide turn accidents. Large tractor-trailers have much wider turning radii than smaller vehicles. While a small two or four-door vehicle can perform a sharp turn with relative ease, a larger tractor-trailer must make extra room by pulling wide to complete the turn. Other drivers nearby must use caution when large commercial trucks make turns. If a large truck takes a turn too fast, this may cause a rollover accident. In these kinds of collisions, the trailer of the vehicle rolls over on its side. When this occurs, it may fall into the adjacent lane and injure other drivers, or drivers nearby may not have time to react and avoid hitting the rolled-over trailer. Wide turns can also lead to squeeze play accidents. As the term suggests, these accidents involve smaller vehicles becoming trapped between a turning truck and its inner turning radius, either against another vehicle or the curb. Drivers must use caution when approaching a turning tractor-trailer and avoid driving next to a truck as it begins a turn.
- Dump truck accidents and other hauling accidents. Trucks not only carry goods across the country, but they also provide waste removal services for all types of companies across the United States. Dump trucks typically work with construction companies to haul away demolished debris and other refuse from building sites. These vehicles can cause serious accidents if operators fail to use them correctly or fail to secure their loads properly. Another hazard from dump trucks and other large open-trailer vehicles is falling debris. If there is any chance that debris in the back of a large truck could fall out of a truck, the truck’s operator should tie it down or otherwise secure the debris with a cover to prevent this from happening.
If you experienced any truck accident due to one of these causes, a truck accident personal injury attorney in Folsom, California, could help you determine the best steps to take toward recovery.
Common Injuries in Trucking Accidents
Any type of motor vehicle collision has the potential to cause serious injuries to the drivers and passengers involved. However, tractor-trailer accidents have a greater potential for injuries due to the large and inherently dangerous nature of their vehicles. Common injuries in truck accidents can include:
- Broken bones.
- Sprains, strains, and soft tissue injuries.
- Increased damage to preexisting injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries, such as a concussion.
- Spinal cord injuries, some of which may cause permanent disability or prevent a victim from returning to work.
- Internal organ injuries, some of which may entail long-term complications.
- Fatal injuries. Truck accidents are deadly, and a victim may not survive their injuries.
Tractor-trailers are the largest on the roads and present a serious danger to others. Truck drivers, trucking companies, distributors, and/or truck part manufacturers who fail in their duty of care to ensure the safety and reliability of these vehicles and their operations could be liable for the victim’s injuries and damages. The catastrophic injuries that occur from tractor-trailer accidents aren’t something victims should have to manage alone.
Consult an Experienced Folsom Truck Accident Lawyer
Folsom truck accident lawyer Travis G. Black worked for the insurance industry before establishing his own firm in Folsom. He now uses his knowledge of this industry in service of his clients. Our firm offers knowledgeable legal counsel and works diligently on behalf of accident victims. Contact us online or call Black & DePaoli at 916-962-2896 for a free consultation with a Folsom truck accident attorney.
- Blind Spots
- Overweight/Overloaded Trucks
- Braking Ability
- Truck Driver Fatigue
- Wide Turns
- Jackknife Accidents
- Delivery Vehicle Accidents
- Tanker Truck Accidents
- Tire Blowout Accidents
- Dump Truck Accidents
- Stopping Distance
- Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
- Truck Rollover Accidents
- Squeeze Play Accidents
- Over-the-Counter Drug Use and Truck Accidents
- Falling Debris
- Federal Trucking Regulations