Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you know suffer through a serious truck accident involving a big rig or 18-wheeler we strongly urge you to stop reading and call the truck accident lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm right away!
Our big rig truck accident legal experts are available to take your call 24/7, 365, and can be reached at 1-800-522-7274.
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Your Expert Truck Accident Lawyers
There is no shortage of big rigs on the roads these days. The commercial trucking industry is bigger than ever, and that means that more big rig trucks are on the road during more hours of the day than ever before. While there are rules about how long truckers can drive without rest, many drivers still push the limits driving longer hours than allowed. That’s not to say that truckers are always at fault, but truckers come under a lot of scrutiny following a big trucking accident.
At the Wilshire Law Firm, our expert lawyers can help you understand the rights and responsibilities you have as a truck driver in the state of California. What’s more, if you have been in an accident with an eighteen-wheeler, it’s important to know what your options are and how you can make the most of your claim in court. There’s no need to try to defend your case in court by yourself.
We’ve put together a comprehensive review of what it means if you have been in a trucking accident, statistics about trucking accidents, risk factors associated with these type of accidents, and a to-list of action items to help you navigate the first few days following a big rig accident – whether you were driving a big rig or have been hit by one.
Big Rigs Means Big Accidents
It’s no secret that big rig trucks take up a great deal of the roadway. Many trucks haul single trailers, but these days, experienced truck drivers are permitted to haul 2 trailers making the axel count on a commercial truck much higher. The bigger the truck, the more at risk it is for accidents and causing injury.
These trucks are used to transports goods all over North America. With the food and retail industry still relying heavily on ground transportation to ensure that goods get from one location to another, the roads are littered with oversized trucks trying to race against delivery deadlines. In the north and north-eastern parts of North America, weather conditions often play a role in slowing down deliveries, which causes truckers to try to make up time on the road when the weather clears. Heavy rain in the south can also contribute to slower delivery dates.
If you’ve ever had one of these big rigs barreling toward you on a narrow road, you know how intimidating they can be. Small vehicles often move off the road or to the side of the road as these big vehicles are passing, and when smaller, faster cars are trying pass on the same side of the road, drivers often speed up to get by these large trucks, increasing the risk of accident for the driver of the smaller vehicle.
Unfortunately, when smaller cars and trucks collide with an eighteen-wheeler, the result is never good. Because of the massive size difference between ordinary cars and trucks and big rig vehicles, these accidents often result in severe or lasting injury, and even death. What’s more, these accidents can also involve multiple vehicles. Because of the heavy weight of a fully loaded semi truck, the vehicle may not be able to stop quickly when it has collided with another vehicle, so multiple cars may become piled up due to the momentum of the commercial truck as it comes to a stop. Of course, if this happens, additional damage, injury, and even death can occur.
Commercial Trucks Have a Number of Risk Factors
Truck driving training has improved a great deal over the last few decades. With more vehicles on the road, a better understanding of what long-haul trucking can do to drivers, and a greater focus on work/life balance for truckers have all contributed to improving the safety and statistics of truckers. However, the risk factors continue to be prevalent and difficult to mitigate given the unpredictability of other drivers, as well as other truck drivers on the road.
Trucks have bigger blind spots than ordinary cars.
Due to the oversized trailers and cargo that big rigs carry, a driver’s ability to see to the end of the vehicle is limited. Unlike regular cars and trucks, which also have blind spots, truck drivers of big rigs have to content with larger blind spots which means that they cannot see approaching traffic from behind them as they drive on the road. This often results in sideswiping accidents where a small vehicle is hit by a truck because the driver of the big rig couldn’t see the small car in their blind spot.
Big rigs take longer to speed up and slow down.
If you’ve ever been behind a commercial truck as it pulled away at a green light, you know how long it can take for these vehicles to get up and go. In fact, they don’t get up and go anywhere very fast. This can lead to impatience in the drivers following these trucks. Trying to get around or speed up to avoid having to be stuck behind these trucks can also cause accidents for everyone involved. When it comes to stopping, big rigs can take even longer to slow down, and this means that if you stop your car suddenly on the highway, the truck behind you might not be able to stop in time.
The load they carry may be a hazard.
In addition to the risks associated with the sheer size of these vehicles, additional risk is present when the loads being carried by truckers contain hazardous materials. These could include petrol products, liquid gas, or biohazard materials. Additional risk comes into play when trucks are carrying livestock or heavy loads of lumber that might not be secured properly. The longer the truck is on the road in between inspections and maintenance checks, the greater the increased risk of accident or injury for the driver of the truck and those vehicles around them.
Long haul rides contribute to driver fatigue.
Recent studies have shown that being overtired can limit a person’s response time to levels similar to someone who has been drinking. This means that when you drive while tired, you are putting yourself and others at risk. Regular drivers know how difficult it is to pay attention when their eyes feel heavy, so just imagine how difficult it is for a driver of a 30-tonne truck carrying thousands of pounds of cargo or livestock. The risks go through the roof. There are rules in place to prevent drivers from driving long periods of time without rest, but there’s no guarantee that drivers are following those rules. In particular, poorly managed trucking companies or contracted drivers may not take those rules under advisement. The fact of the matter is that rules are broken each day, and we cannot rely on them to keep people safe on the road.
Loads may not be secured properly.
Whether rushing to meet a delivery date or missing a secure line because of fatigue, unsecured loads can contribute to the risk of accident or injury on the roads. When it comes to a court case of a damages claim, determining the cause of the unsecured load can be difficult, but the experts at Wilshire Law Firm can help you navigate the body of evidence and put yourself in a position to win. In almost all instances, poorly secured loads are the fault of the trucking company, or the trucks may not be maintained regularly.
Unpredictable weather can cause accidents.
The weather plans an important role in the success of a long-haul trucker’s journey. Depending on location, various weather conditions can play a factor in the number of accidents and risks associated with driving a big rig vehicle. Cross-country trips provide an even greater chance of risk as the types and frequency of weather chance as you move from state to state. Snow, rain, sleet, ice, and even extreme heat can all cause accidents on the road. What’s more, poor road conditions and maintenance can also contribute to these accidents.
Staggering Statistics on Trucking Accidents
Without the thousands of commercial truck drivers across North America, our economy wouldn’t be what it is today. We need truckers to move goods in a safe and timely fashion from one location to another. Unfortunately, with so many trucks on the road comes many risks and an even greater number of accidents reported each year.
In North America, nearly 10 million people are employed in the trucking industry, and nearly half of those people are employed as truck drivers of some kind. Recent numbers put the total number of trucks on the road to be about 15 million with over 2 million of those trucks classified as semi trucks. The rest of that number is comprised of oversize trucks like tractors, garbage trucks, dump trucks, and other large trucks that don’t haul goods across the country but suffer from all the same risk factors and issues that semi-truck drivers do.
In 2015, over 80,000 accidents were reported involved oversized trucks in North America. These statistics also included numbers related to death: nearly 4,000 people died in 2015 because of accidents involving big rigs or oversized trucks. Because these accidents often involve small numbers of people, they are not widely publicized, but the number of deaths related to trucking accidents is as many as a large-scale war incident, such as Pearl Harbour. When you put the number of deaths into perspective, it becomes very clear that this is a real problem that continues to plague our roads year after year.
Leading Causes of Trucking Accidents
This list is in no way meant to point fingers at the hard-working truck drivers in America; however, it is important to understand the risks associated with sharing the road with big rig vehicles. Here is a short list of some of the leading causes of accidents related to big rigs.
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Old brakes
- Faulty brakes
- Not following driving rules
- Issues with yielding the right away
- Loss of control
- Poorly secured load
- Illegal maneuvers
- And more
Trucking Regulations Overview
Safety is everyone’s priority in the trucking industry, but depending on where you live, the rules and regulations may be administered at the state level with significant interest from the federal levels. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees all regulations throughout the United States.
Federal law states that all commercial truck drivers must obtain a special license for the operation of big rigs. While the federal law does play a role in the determination of fault and accident investigation, for the most part, rules that are found at the state level take precedence over the federal laws in some cases.
To avoid misunderstanding aspects of the law related to trucking in America, contact the expert team at Wilshire Law Firm. As experienced truck accident lawyers, we can help you determine the right path to follow related to accident or injury involving a semi-truck.
Rights and Responsibilities of Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents are very different than ordinary car/car accidents. For starters, truck drivers often belong to large trucking companies, unions, or are independent contractors. All of which can increase the difficulty of pursuing a case in a court of law. The good news is that these multiple channels of responsibility means that there is plenty of opportunity to receive damages if you have been the victim of a trucking accident on the roads in California. With the right lawyer, like the team at Wilshire Law Firm, multiple parties can be sued at once.
There are several parties that may be liable where a trucking accident is concerned. These can include such parties as the truck driver, the trucking company, the crew that loaded the truck, the manufacturer of security ties, the city or town in which the accident occurred, the trucking manufacturer, the truck owner if different from the truck driver, and more. There is a lot to consider when you’ve been involved in a trucking accident. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Wilshire Law Firm if you’ve been involved in a trucking accident.
Damages and Claim Options
The last thing you might be thinking about following a trucking accident is how much money can you get as a result of the accident. While accidents of this nature tend to be devastating, survivors and family members of those who have been lost as a result of trucking accidents have many options for pursuing a court case to recoup damages related to the accident.
In many cases, all damages eligible in a trucking accident are recouped. This is because of the numerous channels and parties that can be held responsible for such an accident. In traditional accidents, one party and perhaps their insurance company is liable, but in the trucking industry so many parties are potentially liable that payments can come from multiple sources; although, we should point out that victims or their families are never awarded more than the damages submitted.
Personal injury law can be difficult to navigate, but when you work with the experienced team at Wilshire Law Firm, you can rest easy knowing that we have your best interest at heart and know how difficult the situation is for you and your family. We can present you with all your options and ensure you have the best chance of recovering damages related to a trucking accident in California.
What You Should Know as an Independent Contractor in the Trucking Industry
It’s important to understand the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. In California, employees are hired and work for one company. Independent contractors are hired by a company to haul loads using their own trucks. When accidents occur involving independent contractors, it is often more difficult to recoup damages because insurance and liability are limited.
What to Do if You’ve Been in a Trucking Accident in Los Angeles
As with any accident, shock and horror tend to set in fast, and it can be difficult to think straight during dire times. The sheer size of a semi truck accident can create another level of disbelief and make it even more difficult to process what has happened. Taking the time to consider your options is important when it comes to pursuing a trucking accident case, but there are a number of things you should and shouldn’t do following an accident. We’ve outlined them here for your consideration and to help you navigate the first few days following an accident with a big rig in California.
The first priority following an accident is to ensure everyone involved is okay. Call 911 and try to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. If the driver of the truck has left the scene, be sure to take an accurate description of the truck – hit and runs do happen! Gather insurance information but don’t call the insurance company until you’ve spoken to one of our lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm. Sometimes insurance companies will try to get you to take a cash settlement, and then you waive all right to collect further damages. In addition, it may feel like the right thing to do to offer an apology to those involved in the accident but doing so could be interpreted as an admission of guilt and then it will be very difficult to prove otherwise.
Be sure to preserve as much evidence as possible when it comes to the scene of the accident. This means not washing clothes you were wearing at the time, not cleaning your car or other vehicle, not disposing of anything from the car before the police have had a chance to process it. It also means being honest with the police and your lawyers in order to gather all of the information properly. No detail is too small when it comes to trying your case in court, and we can help you determine the most important aspects of the accident.
Even if no one is hurt at the time of the accident, it is important to call the police and take insurance information in case information needs to be referenced later. What’s more, many people do not complain of the injury immediately following an accident, but in some instances, injuries or other issues can arise as a result of the accident. Cases and damages may be brought about in the future if such an incident occurs. Having preserved the evidence and having a proper accident report will ensure a much more successful case if the need arises. In addition, visiting a doctor following the accident, even if you don’t have any obvious injuries, is another good way of preserving the evidence. You never know what could become an issue as a result of your accident with a commercial truck.
Always speak to a lawyer before talking to anyone else – except the police – when it comes to a trucking accident. Record your version of the accident as soon as possible with the police and be sure to get the facts written down. Not all police reports are created equal, and we’ll work with you to ensure that the reports have been properly filed and addressed so that the vital information is there.
One thing that is often difficult to determine is the liability related to the accident. Again, don’t admit fault in any way. We’ll work with you to determine the best course of action so that you can make the most of your case in court.
Contact Wilshire Law Firm for the Support and Guidance You Need
For more information regarding truck driving accidents in California, or to talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer, call Wilshire Law Firm today. We can help you understand your options and put together a case that has the greatest chance of success to recoup damages related to a trucking accident in California. There’s a lot to consider and understand when it comes to trucking accidents so don’t leave your fate up to chance. Contact us today to get started.
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