Truck Accident Lawyer Serving Riverside & San Bernardino
In collisions between large trucks and motor vehicles, trucks always win. Commercial trucks pose serious threats to passenger vehicles due to their immense size and weight. Trucks operate differently than cars, with special considerations regarding braking, turning, and merging lanes. Truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to federal and state laws to ensure the safety of big rigs on roads and highways. After a harmful truck accident in Riverside or San Bernardino, come to DeWitt Algorri + Algorri, PC. You may be eligible for significant compensation from one or more parties.
Facts About California’s Trucking Industry
Trucking is the dominant mode of freight transportation in California. More than 78% of all California communities rely exclusively on commercial trucks to transport goods. In one year alone, large trucks moved 88% of total manufactured tonnage in California – about 3,822,566 tons per day. The most recent record of registered commercial trucks showed 5,645,836 such vehicles in the state, along with 2,380,417 registered commercial trailers.
Trucks traveled 24.8 billion miles on California roads in a single year. Southern California is one of the regions that sees the greatest amount of truck travel, along with the Central Valley, Bay Area, and Border Region. Every day, four-or-more-axle trucks travel an average of 15,488,902 miles on California Interstate Routes. The top three counties for truck travel are San Bernardino (2,755,616 miles), Los Angeles (2,670,809 miles), and Riverside (2,177,154). With so many 18-wheelers on the roadways, it’s no surprise truck accidents happen often in Southern California.
State and Local Truck Accident Statistics
In 2016, 322 people died in California accidents involving large trucks. This was an increase from 305 people in 2015. Of the fatalities in 2016, 49 were the drivers of the large trucks. The majority were passengers in smaller vehicles. California trucks with freight can weigh up to 80,000 pounds by law. The average passenger car weighs just 4,000 pounds. It’s easy to see how a collision between these two vehicles would typically cause much more damage to the lighter vehicle and its passengers than the occupants of the large truck.
Riverside County came in the lower third (under 2.06) compared to the rate of all U.S. counties in 2016 for the number of fatal accidents involving large trucks per 100,000 population. San Bernardino County fell into the same category. California counties that fell into the upper third (5.54+) category for fatal truck accidents compared to national averages in 2016 were Plumas, Glenn, Colusa, and Alpine Counties. The county with the highest number of fatal truck accidents was Los Angeles County. If you are one of many people who have recently been injured in a truck crash in Southern California, get in touch with a lawyer to explore your rights.
Federal Regulation of Trucking Accidents
Large trucks must abide by federal traffic laws instead of just statewide statutes. Large trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles have to obey the rules as laid down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Trucking companies and their employees/independent contractors must follow FMCSA laws at all times while on California’s roads. Breaking an FMCSA law, resulting in an accident, is an act of negligence that may result in trucking company liability. Here is an overview of three of the most important federal trucking regulations:
- Hours of service (HOS) regulations. There is an 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off-duty for truckers carrying property. There is a 14-hour maximum per day. Drivers may only drive if eight hours or less have passed since the driver’s last off-duty period of at least half an hour. No driver may operate past 60 hours in seven consecutive days, or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Federal HOS regulations serve to minimize the number of drowsy truck drivers on the road.
- Substance use. Truck drivers are subject to pre-employment drug testing, random testing, post-accident testing, and reasonable suspicion testing to make sure drivers are not under the influence of illicit drugs. In California, commercial drivers have a lower legal blood alcohol concentration limit (0.04%) than non-commercial drivers (0.08%).
- Electronic logging. To create a safer work environment, the FMCSA mandates an electronic logging device (ELD) rule. The rules requires the use of ELDs to record driving time, monitor engine performance, track vehicle movement, collect miles driven, and give location information to traffic controllers. Drivers must use ELDs to track and record this important information.
There are hundreds of regulations in the FMCSA commercial trucking rulebook. There are rules for truck size and weight restrictions, cargo-loading specifications, vehicle maintenance requirements, hiring and training procedures, and much more. The truck accident attorneys at DeWitt Algorri + Algorri, PC have developed an in-depth understanding of federal trucking laws, as well as statewide regulations. We can help truck accident victims assign fault, gather important evidence (such as data from ELDs), and secure compensation for negligence-related accidents.
Types of Truck Accidents
In our almost 40 years of personal injury law experience, we’ve represented clients in a number of types of large truck crashes. We know that no two wrecks are the same. Many, however, share common factors, such as how the truck crashed and why this might have been the case. Often, the type of accident reveals what probably caused the crash. Here are a few of the most common types of truck accidents we see in Southern California:
- Jackknife. A jackknife truck accident describes when the trailer of a large truck swings out at an angle from the cab, locking the vehicle up and making it impossible to brake or maneuver. Jackknifed trucks are liable to roll over. Jackknifing often occurs when the truck driver uses improper braking techniques down hills or around curves.
- Rollover. If a truck rolls over, it may crush small vehicles in its path. Large trucks are especially prone to turnovers if the cargo has an uneven distribution. If a driver loses control of the truck, it may roll over and slide.
- Tire blowout. Truck tire blowouts can happen because of improper vehicle maintenance, tire defects, or if the truck drives over something that damages the tire. Tire blowouts are dangerous because they can lead to loss of control of the truck.
- Rear-end collisions. Trucks do not have the same stopping power as smaller, lighter vehicles. Truck drivers must take this into consideration and leave more following distance between their vehicles and others. Drivers who fail to do so, or fail to brake properly, may rear-end other vehicles.
- Lost load. If employees do not secure a truck’s cargo load properly, it can result in catastrophic lost load crashes. A truck losing its load can cause massive damage to multiple vehicles as the cargo strikes other cars. It is up to the cargo loaders to follow all federal, state, and company rules to ensure safe loading procedures.
There are things truck drivers and trucking companies can do to help prevent accidents. Proper fleet vehicle maintenance, safe driving habits, and obeying the rules of the road are duties of care all truckers and companies owe to other drivers. After a collision with a commercial truck, you may discover that someone else’s negligence caused the crash. If you believe this is the case, contact an attorney from DeWitt Algorri + Algorri, PC right away.
About Trucking Accident Claims in California
As the victim of a truck accident, you are probably dealing with serious injuries, hefty medical bills, temporary or permanent disability, expensive property damage, pain and suffering, or the grief of losing a loved one. It is possible to recover financial compensation for all of these losses and more. If someone else’s act of negligence, recklessness, or wanton disregard for the safety of others caused your crash, you may be eligible for compensation from the truck company’s insurer and/or another party. There is often more than one defendant responsible for contributing to a crash, such as:
- Vehicle part manufacturer. If the truck or other vehicle had a defective part that contributed to the accident or the plaintiff’s injuries, the part manufacturer or distributor may share fault.
- Third-party driver. If a third-party driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian caused you and the truck driver to crash, you may hold the third party accountable. You can pursue compensation through the other driver’s insurance company.
- The government. Sometimes, the city is partially at fault for truck accidents. For example, if a pothole, broken street light, or other roadway defect caused the wreck, the city in charge of maintaining the area may become a defendant.
In most truck accident claims, the trucking company is a defendant. In the past, trucking companies escaped liability for many accidents by leasing its vehicles and hiring independent contractors instead of employees. Today, however, federal laws hold truck companies liable for accidents that involve their trucks or drivers, regardless of ownership/employment. Talk to our lawyers today to learn who may be liable for your damages.
Call (855) 946-6464 for Legal Help with Your Truck Accident Case
DeWitt Algorri + Algorri, PC is a trusted source of legal assistance and negotiation/trial representation after vehicle collisions in Riverside and San Bernardino. We’ve recovered impressive verdicts and settlements for truck accident clients in the past, and may be able to do the same for you. First, we will meet with you during a complimentary, 100% confidential consultation. We’ll listen to your side of the crash and let you know if we think you have grounds to pursue a claim against one or more parties. If we offer to represent you, we’ll move forward with the appropriate legal action without delay.
Let our team make the aftermath of a damaging truck accident easier on you and your family. We’ll help you choose the best local physicians, keep track of important evidence and documentation, hire key experts to testify on your behalf, handle complex negotiations with trucking insurance companies, and secure a better, brighter financial future. No matter how catastrophic your losses, we want to hear from you. Call (855) 946-6464 or go online to schedule your free initial truck accident evaluation.