We share our California roads with commercial vehicles each day because the trucking industry is a vital element of our economy in the United States. Large trucks provide an affordable and efficient method of transporting goods from coast to coast. However, sharing the road with large trucks can be extremely dangerous. The Thompson Law Office fights to protect the rights of our clients injured in large truck accidents in California, so our California truck accident attorneys see firsthand the catastrophic injuries that large trucks can cause when they are involved in a traffic accident.
Whether you refer to these vehicles are large trucks, semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, or commercial trucks, one fact remains the same; accidents involving large trucks can be devastating for occupants of other vehicles. In 2017, the number of fatalities of occupants of other vehicles in large truck accidents increased by nine percent.
In this article, our California truck accident attorney discusses:
- The Rise in Large Truck Accident Deaths — Truck Accident Statistics
- Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents
- The Challenge of Filing a Large Truck Accident Claim
- What Should You Do After a California Large Truck Accident?
The Rise in Large Truck Accident Deaths — Truck Accident Statistics
Thousands of people are killed each year in large truck accidents. Additionally, accidents involving large trucks each year injure hundreds of people. One reason traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles are catastrophic is the size disparity between the vehicles involved in the crash.
A passenger vehicle cannot withstand the force of an impact with a large truck. In many cases, the weight of a large truck crushes the passenger vehicle. The size factor could be one of the leading reasons why fatalities in large truck accidents are much more common for passengers of other vehicles than for the drivers of the big rigs.
Some of the most recent large truck accident statistics reflect the danger for occupants of other vehicles and non-occupants in a large truck crash:
- Large truck accident fatalities increased by 9% in 2017 from 4,369 (2016) to 4,761 (2017).
- Since 2008, there has been a 12% increase in the number of individuals killed in large truck crashes.
- Occupants of other vehicles made of 72% of the deaths in large truck accidents.
- Ten percent (10%) of the deaths in crashes involving large trucks were people not in a vehicle, such as a pedestrian or a bicyclist.
- The number of other occupants killed in 2017 was the highest number since 2008.
- Large trucks accounted for 9% of the total traffic crashes during 2017, but only accounted for 4% of registered vehicles.
- Twenty-seven percent (27%) of fatal large truck accidents occurred on interstates, and 58% of fatal large truck crashes occurred in rural areas in 2017.
- 361 people died in large truck accidents in California in 2017, an increase from 322 fatalities in 2016 and 296 fatalities in 2015
Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents
There are many causes of large truck accidents. A recent article on Trucks.com alleges that truck drivers racing to beat a federally mandated rest break after eight hours of driving could be a contributing factor in the increase in the number of fatal truck crashes. According to the article, some truck drivers increase speed to make up the time they need to deliver freight from Point A to Point B. Information from the FMCSA may substantiate this claim.
A review of information from the FMCSA shows that the leading driver-related factor in fatal large truck accidents from 2015 through 2017 was speeding of any kind. The top five driver-related factors in large truck crashes involving fatalities are:
- Distraction / Inattention
- Failure to Yield the Right of Way
- Impairment (fatigue, alcohol, illness, etc.)
- Careless Driving
Driver error is one of the common causes of truck accidents. Other causes of large truck accidents include defective parts, other motorists, road conditions, and weather conditions.
Proofing Fault for a Large Truck Accident
Determining the cause of a large truck accident is a crucial step in the insurance claim process. A party cannot be held liable for damages if we cannot prove the party was not at fault for the cause of the truck crash. In other words, you cannot recover compensation from the insurance provider for the trucking company unless we can prove that the trucking company shared some liability for the cause of the truck accident. For example, the trucking company failed to maintain the truck, knowingly hired an inexperienced or reckless driver, or required drivers to operate the truck “off book.”
Therefore, it is important to contact a truck accident investigation as soon as possible after the crash. Our California truck accident lawyers immediately take steps to uncover and protect evidence that proves fault and liability so that you can recover full compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.
The Challenge of Filing a Large Truck Accident Claim
Large truck accident claims are different from claims involving passenger vehicles. We must act quickly to preserve key evidence that is necessary to prove fault. For instance, the information on the truck’s black box could be lost if we do not notify the owner of the truck to preserve this evidence. Physical evidence from the accident scene could be lost or destroyed. The memories of eyewitnesses may fade or contact information for eyewitnesses could be lost.
The insurance company for the truck driver and the trucking company, along with the trucking company, typically have teams of investigators that immediately begin processing the accident to review any potential liability. A truck accident victim should act quickly to protect his or her legal rights. A California large truck accident attorney handles the investigation and takes steps to build a strong case for fault and liability.
What Does A California Large Truck Accident Attorney Do?
When you retain The Thompson Law Office to handle your truck accident claim, some of the steps our legal team may take to prepare your case for settlement negotiations or a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Document the accident scene and preserve evidence
- Obtain and review the accident report and police report
- Send letters to various parties, including the trucking company, to preserve evidence such as the truck’s black box, physical evidence, logbooks, maintenance records, driver records, etc.
- Interview and depose eyewitnesses
- Obtain and review medical records
- Consult expert witnesses and industry experts
- Review and research federal laws and regulations related to the trucking industry
- Research all parties involved and identify all potential parties that may be liable for the claim (i.e. truck driver, trucking company, parts manufacturer, loaders, maintenance companies, repair shops, etc.)
- Research available sources of compensation, including insurance coverage
The Thompson Law Office legal team works diligently to uncover the truth and prove that another party caused your injuries because of a large truck accident. The legal team aggressively searches for the evidence required to prove fault and liability.
What Should You Do After a California Large Truck Accident?
Victims who are involved in a large truck accident need immediate medical attention. Injuries in large truck accidents are typically catastrophic and life-threatening. In most cases, victims are transported to the emergency room by an ambulance, so they do not have the opportunity to document the accident scene by taking photographs, making videos, or speaking to eyewitnesses. Therefore, once a victim’s injuries have stabilized, the victim or a family member should contact a California truck accident attorney to discuss the crash. An attorney can quickly begin investigating the accident to secure and preserve evidence.
It is important to continue under a doctor’s care and follow a treatment plan until the doctor states that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). If you are concerned that your doctor is not providing the correct treatment, you can seek a second opinion to ensure you are receiving the medical care you need to recover from your injuries.
Documenting your injuries, damages, and losses are also very important for your injury claim. You should keep copies of all documents related to your accident and injuries. It can also help to take photographs of your injuries during your recovery and keep a journal detailing your pain level and the challenges you face as you recover from the large truck accident. Our legal team will help you document your damages and losses to maximize the value of your accident claim and increase your chance to recover full compensation from the party or parties liable for your injuries.
The Lawyers of The Thompson Law Office Believe in Your Right to Receive Compensation for Your Large Truck Accident Claim
Being injured in a commercial truck accident is frightening. Even for accident victims who do not suffer life-threatening or debilitating injuries, dealing with insurance adjusters, attorneys, trucking companies, investigators, and other professionals who are working for the parties who caused the crash can be overwhelming and frustrating.
As you are struggling to recover from severe injuries and trying to make ends meet because you are out of work, insurance adjusters, investigators, and other professionals are pressuring you for information and a settlement figure. Do not allow an adjuster or another party to pressure you into a settlement without discussing your claim with a California personal injury lawyer.
Please contact our office by calling 1-650-513-6111 to schedule a free consultation with a California truck accident attorney.