Since most truck accidents occur in rural areas, it makes sense that California is one of the top states for truck accidents every year. An accident involving a semi-truck has the potential to cause much more damage than in collisions with everyday sedans. Impacts by trucks are extremely forceful and its design is very different from that of cars, resulting in different parts colliding. For example, when two cars collide, that often means that bumpers and fenders are connecting. In the case of a collision between a car and a truck, the truck’s fender may be in line with the car’s windows, leading to more severe and dangerous damage and likely personal injury. If you have been involved in a car accident with a large semi-truck, speak with a truck accident lawyer in Sacramento to investigate what the cause was.
Several elements increase the danger of a collision with a truck, such as the following:
Improper truck maintenance is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, resulting in hundreds of incidents every year. Poor maintenance may lead to:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has very strict guidelines on truck maintenance. If a commercial truck is involved in an incident and is found to be in violation of any of the provisions covered by the FMCSA regulations (part 396), the trucking company could be held liable for financial damages to injured parties. The FMCSA requires regular inspections, maintenance, and repair each individual truck in the fleet. Each driver must inspect the commercial vehicle they drive before leaving the base. Drivers and trucking companies are also required to maintain records of inspections and maintenance of each truck for 30 consecutive days at the location maintenance is performed. If a company transfers, sells, or retires a vehicle, the company must keep inspection and maintenance records at the location of maintenance for at least 1½ years.
In the case of a collision with a commercial semi-truck, it is important to determine if poor truck maintenance resulted in the crash. Truck drivers themselves may be held liable for a collision if it is due to their personal negligence, for example if they were texting and driving. Even if the driver was individually at fault, the company for which he or she works may be held partially responsible, as employers are indirectly liable for the actions of their employees.
However, if a trucking company violated any of the FMCSA safety regulations for maintenance, the company may be held directly liable for damage and injury resulting from an incident. If a violation can be proved as the cause of the accident, the trucking company is considered negligent and the plaintiff doesn’t need to prove the negligence. The defendant can still try to prove that it was not negligent, but it is their burden of proof, not that of the plaintiff. Cases involving big-rig trucks can get complicated, speak with a truck accident lawyer in Sacramento pertaining to your specific case.
Trucking companies often move very quickly following an incident so as to eliminate as much of the blame and associated cost as possible. For this reason, it is very important to contact a knowledgeable and motivated Sacramento law office who can help you get the compensation you deserve from a potentially national and well-defended trucking company. It is also very important that you do not make a statement to the trucking company or their insurance provider. Doing so could severely limit your compensation.
Getting hit by a large truck can result in serious injuries and property damage. The Weinberger Law Firm has the knowledge and dedication that you need to deal with truck drivers, companies and insurance providers. Speak with our truck accident lawyer in Sacramento at (916) 357-6767.
Truck accidents are very serious and common incidences in California. Due to the state’s large latitudinal range, connection to Mexico and the presence of Los Angeles metro area, trucks barrel up and down California highways at higher rates than many other states. The nature of a trucker’s schedule as well as the size and weight of semis make them very dangerous in the case of a collision. When individuals are injured or incur material damage when involved in a case with a semi, they often think, “Who’s at fault?” Because every case is unique, it’s important to remember the other parties involved in trucking logistics. Speak with an injury attorney in Sacramento CA for more information.
Unlike a normal accident involving two individuals driving their own cars, ownership and liability is much more complicated when a commercial truck is involved. Some people or groups that are often considered responsible include:
One aspect of this complex situation that is often forgotten in cases of collision is the shipper. The shipper is the company that hires trucks and truck drivers to move goods from the point of origin to the destination. In some cases, shippers are also responsible for the loading of such goods and thus could be held responsible in the case of shifting cargo.
One major responsibility a shipper has is in choosing a responsible, high quality company to move their cargo. Choosing a company with high standards and sufficient experience is a part of the shipping company’s job. This is more important the more complicated a shipping company is. When a shipper makes a bad choice in carriers and that carrier behaves in a way that leads to an accident, the shipper may be held liable. This is called “negligent selection.”
In cases of negligent selection, the courts look into how complicated or sophisticated the shipping company is. The more complicated a shipper is, the more responsible they are for choosing a responsible carrier. How sophisticated a shipper is usually is based on the frequency and size of shipments. In current times, individual contracts are negotiated between each shipper and carrier. This makes proving liability more complicated and may confuse responsibility for transportation incidents, as each incident is catered individually to the companies involved. Due to these complexities, it’s best to seek legal advice and expertise of an injury attorney in Sacramento CA.
After it is shown that the shipper is sufficiently complicated and that the carrier is negligent, it must be determined that the shipper knew of this shortcoming in the carrier. So to summarize, attorneys working on cases regarding negligent selection try to prove:
Always speak with an injury attorney in Sacramento CA who can evaluate your case and prove such negligence. Another problem that increases confusion on the responsibility of shipping companies is that there is some confusion in the guidance literature set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA). The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) and Safety Measurement System (SMS) programs are meant to guide shippers, but changes in content often serve to confuse shippers. Does this limit their liability? If so, who is to be held responsible?
Of course, any entity being sued for damages will say almost anything to avoid being found guilty. Often, shipping companies will argue that they fulfilled their duty to hire a responsible carrier. Shippers may argue that the only indicator they are required to take into account is the score given to a carrier by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. If a carrier is rated as “satisfactory,” a shipper may argue, that indicates that the company is sufficient enough to do business with.
Have you or a loved one been involved in a motor accident involving a truck? Trucking companies are often very well-funded and will do anything to avoiding paying in court. The complicated situations, laws, and many moving parts makes it easy for big companies to confuse an accident victim and blame other groups involved. The best way to defend yourself in your case against a big trucking company or some other organization involved in the movement of cargo through California is to seek advice from an injury attorney in Sacramento CA
According to the news reports, the collision occurred just after 4:00 p.m. in the westbound lanes of traffic of Highway 50, in Rancho Cordova near Sunrise Avenue. The big rig struck the vehicles and burst into flames, and engulfing another vehicle. The responding emergency personnel shut down all westbound lanes of traffic, including the eastbound fast lane of Highway 50. Firefighters put out the fire by 4:30, but the lanes continued to be closed for clean up late into evening hours.
No major injuries were reported.
All lanes of traffic have since been reopened
Motorists in California know all about struggling through heavy traffic clogged with semi-trucks. The American Transportation Research Institute has concluded that regulatory changes that took full effect in 2014 could be contributing to a rise in property damage and injuries. The federal rules have had the effect of having more trucks on the road during morning rush hours rather than in the middle of the night.
Data published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration appears to validate the findings of the research institute. Although fatalities in truck accidents decreased by 5 percent between 2013 and 2014, injuries reported in wrecks with commercial trucks rose 21 percent in the period. A spokesman for the FMCSA, however, attributed the decline in fatalities to the increasing presence of technologies like electronic stability control and automatic braking systems. These safety improvements make a crash less likely to cause death but injuries still happen, he said.
Even so, a representative from the American Transportation Research Institute preferred to blame the increase in injuries on the fact that trucks were occupying highways during peak rush hours instead of late at night. In congested traffic, trucks move at slower speeds. Accidents with injuries remain a possibility, but the slower speeds could be limiting the number of fatalities.
Because of their overwhelming weight and size, big rigs that are involved in truck accidents can cause serious injuries to occupants of other vehicles that are involved in the collision. Many such accidents are caused by distracted truck drivers or truck driver fatigue, and in such a case, an injured victim may want to find out from an attorney whether both the driver as well as the company itself could be held financially responsible for medical expenses and other losses.
A proposed federal rule that would require certain trucks to have speed limiters installed on them has been delayed by the Office of Management and Budget. The implementation of a rule that would create a database of truck drivers in California and around the country who have failed a drug or alcohol test has also been delayed. This database was named the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
Instead of sending the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget on April 18, the rule will instead be sent to that office on May 6. The official publication date has been pushed back from July 28 to Aug. 6. This information would have to be provided to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by carriers at least once a year, and it would have to be reviewed before any driver could be hired.
There is no definitive date as to when the rule regarding speed limiters could be published. It is merely listed as Spring 2016 in the DOT’s latest report whereas the March report listed a publication date of April 28. The rule would require governors that limit a truck’s top speed be placed on any vehicle weighing more than 27,000 pounds. That rule was first sent to the OMB in May 2015.
Unfortunately, drunk truck drivers cause many injury accidents every year. If and when implemented, the new database will at least be an attempt to keep some of them off of the road. A person who is injured in such an accident may want to have legal help in filing a lawsuit that would seek compensation from the impaired driver and, in some cases, the trucking company itself as well.
California residents may recall that in June 2014, a Wal-Mart truck driver caused a crash that led to the death of comedian James McNair and severely injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver has since been charged with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault and is facing substantial prison time if convicted.
Wal-Mart was also sued by Morgan over the crash on the basis that the driver had not slept in over 28 hours while making deliveries for the company. The retailer settled the civil case for an undisclosed amount.
According to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board, the driver’s lack of sleep and failure to follow traffic signs contributed to the accident. The Wal-Mart delivery truck slammed into a limo bus carrying Morgan and other passengers causing it to flip. The passengers in the limo bus were not wearing seat belts, which may have contributed to the severity of their injuries.
As a result of the crash, Morgan suffered a brain injury, broken ribs and a broken leg. He was in a coma for several weeks. After undergoing intensive physical therapy, he is now able to walk with assistance.
A person who has been injured in a commercial vehicle accident caused by a truck driver’s negligence may often face permanent disability that will require lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. The financial consequences can include high medical expenses and in some cases lost wages due to an inability to return to work. Such a victim might want to meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss the advisability of seeking compensation through a lawsuit filed against the negligent driver as well as the trucking company itself.
Commercial vehicle drivers in California and around the country will soon be required to use electronic logging devices to track their driving hours instead of using the paper logbooks that have been used since 1938. The new requirement, which will be effective in February 2016 and which must be implemented fully within two years, comes in an effort to prevent drivers and carriers from evading federal regulations.
The rule, announced in December 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will require the installation of the devices on all trucks newer than those manufactured before 2000. Dump trucks will also be exempted from the law’s requirements. The devices work by automatically logging hours according to when the engine is running, the movement of the truck, the actual miles traveled and other such factors.
The trucking industry was opposed to the new rule and attempted to block it. Some small carriers and owner-operators argue that companies will use the law to take advantage of them if the companies can see they have driven less than the weekly allowed limit. The federal government believes the automatic logging will prevent truck drivers from keeping double books or altering their logged hours. The FMCSA indicated that the new rule has the potential to prevent 562 injuries and 26 deaths each year.
Hours and service regulations are in place to prevent truck drivers from driving while fatigued. When drivers do so, they risk seriously injuring or killing others on the road around them. Truck accidents have a much greater chance of causing fatalities and lifelong disabilities to people who are struck. When a truck driver is negligent and drives while fatigued, injured victims might choose to seek recompense by filing lawsuits against both the driver and their employer. An attorney can assist an injured victim in seeking damages for medical expenses and other applicable damages.
Just over a year ago, a truck accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan became a high-profile example of a problem on U.S. highways that is too often overlooked. Most truck accidents are preventable, yet they occur regularly and result in about 4,000 traffic deaths per year, on average.
And although there are several common causes of truck accidents, the Tracy Morgan crash highlighted one of the most dangerous: truck driver fatigue. The National Transportation Safety Board recently announced the results of its investigation into the June 2014 crash that ended in one death and at least eight injuries. As expected, the NTSB determined that the chief cause of the truck accident was fatigued driving by a truck driver who had been awake for more than 28 straight hours.
In many motor vehicle accidents, other factors can come into play, and this crash was no exception. The limousine van Morgan and his friends were riding in had been modified, and many passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts, the NTSB said. These factors exacerbated injuries and made it harder for emergency crews to rescue victims.
Still, these were exacerbating factors in an accident primarily caused by driver fatigue. According to news sources, the Wal-Mart truck driver lived in Georgia, but drove all night prior to the accident just to start his shift in Delaware. It is not difficult to see how an 800-mile commute for a truck driving job would pose a safety risk. To some observers, Wal-Mart’s decision to settle a lawsuit filed by Morgan could be seen as a tacit admission of its own negligence in hiring and training practices for its truck drivers.
Until or unless lawmakers and regulators consistently crack down on practices that lead to fatigued driving, truck accidents will remain an all-too-common hazard. Hopefully, the tragic truck accident involving Tracy Morgan will help raise awareness about this important issue
Because schools are still on summer break, school bus safety is probably not on the minds of many California parents right now. But it remains a topic of concern and discussion among traffic safety regulators and groups focusing on student safety. Indeed, bus safety – and seat belt requirements in particular – were topics of conversation last month between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and groups like the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).
Seat belts have long been a mandatory feature on newly manufactured automobiles for average consumers. But for a variety of reasons, buses of nearly all types have managed to continue operating with no requirement that seat belts be installed, much less worn by passengers. The NHTSA wants to change that.
In one sense, the argument for seat belt requirements is a no-brainer. In smaller vehicles, these simple devices have saved countless lives and made car accidents far less injurious and fatal.
Critics point out, however, that school buses already tend to be safer than cars because they are much larger and passengers are seated higher off the road. Seat belts, they argue, would add extra costs without adding a substantial safety benefit.
These arguments, while common, are not supported by facts and research. Indeed, seat belts on buses seem to have safety benefits beyond just the restraint they provide during a crash. Some school districts have already switched to buses with seat belts, and these districts have seen dramatic improvements in student behavior on buses. This allows the bus driver to pay more attention to the road. It also reduces the likelihood that students will be in the aisles or turned around and out of their seats during a crash.
Admittedly, traffic safety regulation is a topic that few people care about. That is, of course, until a preventable disaster strikes. Instead of waiting for yet more preventable bus accidents, we must hope that the NHTSA and school transportation groups can reach a consensus on common-sense safety reforms.
Sacramento readers no doubt remember the fatal crash between a bus and a FedEx truck that occurred in the spring of last year. On April 10, 2014, a motor coach filled with high school students was traveling on Interstate 5 near Orland, California. As the bus headed north, a FedEx tractor-trailer traveling south crossed over the 15-foot-wide median and struck the bus head-on.
Ten people lost their lives in the fiery crash, including five students, the bus driver and the truck driver. Dozens more suffered injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating the fiery bus and truck accident for about 15 months and still cannot determine why the truck driver veered across the median as he did. The NTSB did confirm, however, that the accident would have likely been far less deadly had certain safety standards been in place for motor coaches.
According to the NTSB’s investigation, the deaths not related to impact forces were mostly related to fire and smoke. In short, changes need to be made to slow down the spread of fires and to speed evacuation. To that end, the NTSB recommended that:
The NTSB is a respected government agency tasked with investigating most civil transportation accidents and making safety recommendations based on those investigations. Unfortunately, the agency has no regulatory authority of its own. Therefore, its recommendations too often go unheeded.
We may not be able to completely prevent truck and bus accidents, but we can make them less fatal. It’s time to implement these common-sense safety measures.
Source: USA Today, “NTSB urges second doors in wake of fiery bus crash that killed 10,” Bart Jansen, July 14, 2015