Vacaville Trucking Accident Lawyer
Sitting at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 505, many large commercial trucks travel through Vacaville every day to transport produce and other freight from Sacramento to San Francisco. The several thousand commercial trucks, often called big rigs, share the road with a multitude of other commuters. As such, accidents involving these large trucks and other vehicles or pedestrians are a common occurrence. These accidents, because of the size of the trucks involved, often cause serious, or even life-threatening, injuries.
The trucking industry is massive, with thousands of small and large companies transporting an estimated 10.49 billion tons of freight each year. The logistics of this massive operation means that safety precautions are frequently overlooked. Consequently, truck driver and trucking company negligence often cause devastating accidents involving trucks, despite extensive industry regulation.
A Vacaville trucking accident lawyer must, therefore, have detailed knowledge of the issues specific to trucking litigation. This massive industry is known for distorting and hiding evidence critical to proving driver negligence. Additionally, the trucking industry is governed by a complicated web of state and federal regulations that an attorney must know how to navigate.Common Injuries in Trucking Accidents
Accidents involving big rigs are often especially devastating because of the large size difference between commercial trucks and many of the vehicles surrounding them. Commercial trucks can weigh anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 pounds, while most vehicles on the road weigh only 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. Therefore, when a big rig strikes another vehicle, the force is often great enough to total the opposing car, threatening the life of people within the car.
Common injuries in these accidents include the following:
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and other head trauma
- Extremity injuries, including large-scale leg fractures and even traumatic amputation
- Extensive abdominal and chest injuries, with potential for serious organ damage
- Second and third-degree burns
- Facial trauma and scarring
These severe injuries then often lead to long-term hospitalization and prolonged rehabilitation after the accident. This prevents those injured from returning to work, while also placing a tremendous burden on family members left caring for the injured victims. Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can help victims and their families relieve some of this burden.
The video below discusses the types of injuries in a truck accident:Deaths in Trucking Accidents
While the injuries described above are certainly devastating, many victims in semi-truck accidents also tragically lose their lives. In fact, semi-trucks are responsible for more than 3,000 fatalities in car accidents every year. These fatal big rig accidents forever change families. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit may help reduce costs faced by the family while also ensuring those who caused the accident is held responsible.Causes of Trucking Accidents
The vast majority of trucks transporting freight throughout the US do not get into accidents. The accidents that do happen, though, are often due to either driver or trucking company negligence.Commercial Driver Negligence as a Cause of Accidents
In accidents caused by driver negligence, the circumstances can be highly diverse. These circumstances are described below.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is one of the most common forms of negligence that causes trucking accidents. This includes drivers eating while driving, using their cell phones while driving, and examining maps or GPS while driving. Anything that takes a driver’s eyes from the road is considered distracted driving and can be seen as negligence.
- Aggressive driving: Road rage is a common driving problem, but especially dangerous with drivers of semi-trucks.
- Excessive speed: Time is literally money in the trucking industry, pushing many drivers to exceed the legal speed limits. This excessive speed can cause especially horrific accidents.
- Improperly secured cargo: Failing to secure cargo or overloading cargo can also cause accidents as the weight shifts may remove a vehicle from a driver’s control.
- Improperly maintained vehicle: A driver has a responsibility to make sure a truck is in proper working condition to ensure brake failure or other mechanical malfunction does not cause an accident. Failure to do so may result in a serious accident.
- Driving while intoxicated: Drug and alcohol use can cause accidents, especially if they are used to drive for longer hours.
- Fatigued driving: Many drivers violate federal and state hours-of-service regulations and drive well over the 10 to 11-hour maximum defined in the law. Many accidents are then caused by these drivers falling asleep while driving.
- Violations of state and federal regulations: Violations of hours-of-service regulations above are the most common violations that cause accidents, but other violations may also cause accidents.
Trucking company actions can also cause accidents, although typically it is a combination of a trucking company and driver negligence. Here are some common forms of commercial trucking company negligence:
- Improperly trained drivers: Trucking companies have a legal obligation to only employ trained drivers with commercial driver’s licenses. Failure to do so can cause serious accidents.
- Poorly maintained vehicles: Trucking companies, like truck drivers, have a responsibility to ensure their fleet of vehicles is in proper working condition.
- Dangerous scheduling: Every minute a driver or truck is not on the road, a trucking company is losing money. This drives many drivers to exceed their federally mandated hours-of-service and endanger lives while driving fatigued.
- Violations of State and Federal Regulations: Just as drivers violate state and federal regulations governing the trucking industry, so, too, do trucking companies. This can include ordering drivers into dangerous weather, authorizing unsafe cargo, and employing drivers without a commercial license.
The negligence described above certainly causes many accidents, but proving negligence in court can be challenging due to certain trucking industry practices. Because time is money, many trucks involved in accidents are rapidly repaired, destroying critical evidence of negligence. Additionally, a truck’s return to service may overwrite the on-board data recorder that holds vital evidence for proving negligence. Having an attorney experienced in truck driving accidents can help you navigate these issues to ensure those responsible are held accountable.Cost of Semi-Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucking accidents result in more than $100 billion in damages each year. Much of this $100 billion burden then falls on victims of trucking accidents. Victims can relieve this burden by pursuing legal action.
I’m Ed Smith, a Vacaville Trucking Accident Lawyer. If you or someone you love has been severely injured or passed away in a trucking collision, please call me today at (707) 564-1900 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
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Photo by Jairph on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 11.5.19]