Stockton Truck Accident Lawyer
Because it is impossible to live in Stockton without spending a fair amount of time on I-5, local residents see a fair number of tractor-trailer crashes and backups caused by collisions involving large trucks.
Whether the truck is transporting produce for processing or pallets of merchandise destined for a Stockton Walmart or Weberstown Mall, these massive motor vehicles present unprecedented risks to other vehicle occupants traveling the streets and highways of San Joaquin County.Stockton Trucking Accident Lawyer
As a Stockton truck accident lawyer, I have been representing those seriously injured by negligent truck drivers and commercial carriers since 1982. This experience is invaluable when taking on large trucking companies and their national insurance carriers.
A Stockton truck accident attorney must have extensive knowledge of the special issues involved in trucking litigation. Trucking accidents often constitute the most deadly of all motor vehicle collisions because of the size and weight disparity between a massive commercial truck and a passenger car. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 26 times more than a typical economy car.
There are other factors that make trucking accident lawsuits unique, including the need to possess comprehensive knowledge of the extensive matrix of state and federal regulations that govern the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the primary regulatory agency for commercial carriers and truck drivers engaged in interstate trucking (i.e. trucking across state lines). For trucking companies that operate exclusively within California (intrastate), the California Department of Transportation is the primary regulatory agency. Trucking accident lawsuits also are complicated by the widespread trucking industry practice of distorting or hiding critical evidence.Truck Crash Litigation Poses Special Challenges for Injury Victims
When selecting a Stockton truck accident lawyer to handle a tractor-trailer accident, it is important that you work with a law firm that has extensive experience in handling trucking litigation. My law firm routinely works with trucking experts. I’ve had extensive experience dealing with commercial carriers that attempt to avoid liability by hastily repairing commercial trucks, doctoring driver logbooks, and “losing” data stored in the truck’s “black box” data recorder. This evidence can be essential to proving issues, such as safety violations by the driver or trucking company, as well as the role of driver or trucking company negligence in causing your injuries.Preserving Critical Evidence
I recognize the importance of moving promptly to make sure that the commercial truck involved in your accident is not put back into service so that critical evidence disappears. If damage to the truck is repaired, these changes to the condition of the vehicle can impair the efforts of accident reconstruction experts. Further, the onboard data recorder that functions as the “black box” in a commercial flight might record over previously-stored data when the truck is placed back in service.Common Forms of Negligence Committed by Truck Drivers
While most truck drivers are conscientious, unrealistic shipping schedules that result from economic pressure or carriers trying to increase profits can result in drivers making critical driving errors. An experienced Stockton trucking accident lawyer knows that the majority of big-rig accidents are caused by avoidable mistakes that include:
- Speeding to deliver a load more rapidly
- Exceeding maximum time behind the wheel without adequate rest
- Failure to check blind spots
- Lack of maintenance of tires, brakes, and other safety features
- Lack of screening of driving records when hiring
- Use of drugs and alcohol
- Poor route selection, including those with steep grades
- Failing to conduct vehicle inspections
- Inadequate supervision and training of truck drivers
Because I have extensive experience representing trucking accident victims, I recognize the importance of proactive steps to preserve and gather evidence in trucking litigation. While truck drivers are required to keep logbooks that track hours of service (HOS) to reduce the risk of fatigue-related tractor-trailer crashes, drivers often manipulate the entries or keep two sets of books. I analyze fuel receipts, “black box” data, lodging records, GPS data, and other information to expose falsified logbooks.
I also routinely send a “spoliation” notice to the trucking company advising that the big-rig and “black box” data are the subject of litigation. This notice warns the commercial carrier that alteration or destruction of the indicated evidence will expose the carrier to the risk of sanctions. These sanctions can amount to an attorney fee award or the court entering rulings that impair the defense’s position on specific issues or with regard to certain evidence. In some cases, I will even seek temporary restraining orders from a judge to prevent the loss or alteration of valuable evidence.Trucking Accidents Can Often Cause Debilitating Injuries
A collision between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle often results in horrific injuries or wrongful death. Because of the substantial difference in mass between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, it is almost always the case that the passenger vehicle occupants are the ones who suffer devastating injuries. A trucking accident can result in the inability to provide for one’s family or enjoy simple life experiences free of pain. Some of the serious injuries that may be suffered in a large truck collision include the following:
- Spinal cord injuries (paraplegia, quadriplegia)
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Injury to Internal Organs
- Loss of Extremities
- Bone Crush Injuries
- Extensive Burns
- Wrongful Death
How common are accidents involving big rigs?
Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks account for about 8% of all deadly accidents, and 3% of all injury crashes. While this may not seem like a huge percentage, it's important to know that 3,921 people were killed in truck crashes in 2012, while 104,000 people were injured. To put it in perspective, that's about 29 truck accidents for every 100,000 vehicles on the road.
Are accidents involving large trucks more likely to cause serious injuries?
Yes. That's because a large truck carrying a full load can weigh over 70,000 pounds, while the average passenger car only weighs about 3,000 pounds. The size and weight difference mean that an accident with a big rig will more likely cause severe or fatal injuries.
Are there rules and regulations that truck drivers need to follow?
Yes, truck drivers must abide by many federal and state regulations. These include civil and traffic laws such as speed limits and weight and height requirements. Truck drivers must also abide by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Department of Transportation rules, which state how many hours a trucker should be driving on the road, licensing and training. Following an accident with a large truck, an experienced truck accident lawyer may be able to find out what regulations the truck driver has violated.
Representing Stockton Clients
I understand the life-altering impact of debilitating injuries suffered in a tractor-trailer collision. I’m committed to representing clients with the zealousness, empathy, and dedication that my clients need and deserve. I might be able to seek compensation for lost income, medical and hospital expenses, pain and suffering, loss of services and companionship of your spouse, and other out of pocket expenses, depending on the specifics of your case. If the life of someone you love is tragically taken from you in a collision involving an 18-wheeler, you may also seek burial and funeral expenses in a wrongful death lawsuit. When a truck driver or trucking company engages in particularly reprehensible conduct, such as driving while under the influence of drugs, you might also have a right to seek punitive damages.
Watch the video below for more information on when to get in touch with a truck accident lawyer.Stockton Truck Accident Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Truck Accident Lawyer. If you or a member of your family have been seriously injured or was tragically killed in a trucking collision, please call me today at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.4.20]