Commercial Truck Driver Negligence
Some of the most devastating types of motor vehicle collisions are those that involve commercial trucks. These vehicles outmatch the size of passenger vehicle by far, making a collision between the two potentially devastating for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. To put this in perspective, a fully-loaded commercial truck can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds while the average passenger vehicle only weighs about 4,000 pounds. While accidents can be the fault of either party, rampant negligence in the trucking industry is often the cause. If this describes an accident you were involved in, then you may be able to secure representation from a Los Angeles trucking accident lawyer from our firm. Contact us today for a free case consultation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Truck Accident in Los Angeles?
If you’re involved in a truck accident in California, you may be wondering if you need a lawyer. While it’s ultimately up to you to decide if legal representation is necessary, there are certainly some benefits to pursuing legal action. One of the biggest advantages of hiring a lawyer is that they can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our Los Angeles trucking accident lawyers can also help you gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and litigate your case if necessary. Additionally, having a lawyer on your side can provide peace of mind and help alleviate some of the stress associated with an accident. Overall, while it’s not required to have a lawyer after a truck accident, it’s certainly worth considering if you want to protect your rights and get the best outcome possible.
Contacting an experienced truck accident attorney in Los Angeles as soon as possible can ensure that your rights are protected and your case is handled with the attention and care it deserves.
Common Causes of Los Angeles Truck Accidents
Truck accidents in Los Angeles are a common occurrence due to the city’s notorious traffic congestion, extensive highway system, and significant commercial trucking activity. The dense traffic can lead to impatience and aggressive driving, and given that trucks need extra space and time to maneuver, this environment increases the risk of accidents. Truck drivers in Los Angeles often work long hours, leading to fatigue that can impair their reaction times and decision-making on the road. Speeding is another contributing factor, with drivers, including those operating trucks, often exceeding speed limits to make up for lost time due to the city’s frequent traffic delays.
Distractions from cell phones and other electronic devices are prevalent among all drivers, posing a severe risk when it comes to truck driving due to the vehicles’ size and weight. Impaired driving from alcohol, drugs, or medication further exacerbates the risk of accidents, as it significantly diminishes a driver’s ability to navigate safely. Adding to these issues, many accidents result from poorly maintained trucks experiencing mechanical failures, brake problems, or tire blowouts. Improperly loaded cargo, which can render trucks unstable, and inadequately trained drivers lacking the requisite skills to operate large trucks safely, also significantly contribute to the incidence of accidents.
Road conditions in Los Angeles can be perilous for large trucks. The city’s roads and highways are often uneven, under construction, or lack adequate markings, presenting hazards for truck drivers. While the climate in Los Angeles is generally mild, occasional adverse weather conditions like rain, fog, or wildfires can also create risky driving conditions, further increasing the likelihood of truck accidents.
Federal Trucking Regulations: FMCSA
In order to decrease the amount of accidents that occur on U.S. roads and highways, the Department of Transportation enacted laws through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One major requirement of this legislation was that, in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), one would have to pass the test (written and hands-on) to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is just one way that the DOT can help ensure safety. Unfortunately, many trucking companies and drivers fail to adhere to these rules, and many accidents are caused as a result.
California Trucking Regulations
California has also implemented rigorous trucking regulations to promote road safety. The Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, as stated in Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 13, § 1212 are a prime example, as they limit truck drivers to a maximum of 11 hours of driving following 10 consecutive hours off duty, mirroring federal HOS rules. Furthermore, trucks in California are typically subjected to an 80,000-pound weight limit, although specific restrictions may vary depending on factors like the truck type, number of axles, and axle distance. The state also enforces stringent emissions standards for trucks to mitigate air pollution, requiring all operating trucks to comply with these robust emission reduction requirements.
To further enhance safety, California has prohibited the use of handheld cell phones and texting for all drivers, including those driving trucks. Additionally, anyone intending to operate a commercial vehicle must possess a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), obtainable through passing requisite written and skills tests, with additional endorsements needed for driving particular vehicle types. Trucking companies are mandated to have specific levels of insurance coverage to address potential damages or injuries resulting from accidents. This coverage is crucial for compensating parties affected by truck-related accidents adequately.
Additionally, drivers are subjected to stringent alcohol and drug testing protocols, including testing before employment, randomly while employed, after accidents, and when there is reasonable suspicion of substance use. Regular vehicle inspections are also compulsory, ensuring trucks are in optimal condition and adhere to all safety standards. Each driver must conduct pre-trip and post-trip inspections daily as part of this regulation. Trucks that exceed the state’s legal size and weight limits must obtain special permits, often accompanied by distinct routing and time travel restrictions. Lastly, California law mandates employers to offer truck drivers designated meal and rest breaks, which are in addition to the federally mandated HOS rest breaks.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
Being involved in a truck accident can be a traumatic experience that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of what to do next. The first step is to seek medical attention for any injuries you or any passengers may have sustained. It’s crucial to collect information from the truck driver, including their name, contact information, insurance details, and license plate number. Take photos of the damages and the accident scene, and contact the police to file a report. It’s also essential to contact your insurance company as soon as possible and avoid giving any statements to the other driver’s insurance company until you have legal representation. By following these steps, you can protect your rights and ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation for your damages and injuries.
California Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in California, it’s important to know the statute of limitations for filing a claim. The state imposes a two-year time limit from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim, and a three-year time limit from the date of the accident to file a property damage claim. It’s crucial to act quickly if you want to pursue legal action, as failing to file within the statute of limitations could result in the forfeiture of your right to compensation.
Common Types of Trucking Accidents
Some of the most common causes of trucking accidents include the following:
Fatigued Drivers (HOS Failure to Comply)
Shocking numbers of truck drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel while operating their CMVs. To remedy this problem the FMCSA has enacted Hours of Service (HOS) legislation in hopes of lessening the occurrence of tired drivers. Although drivers have mandated resting breaks and “off time” periods, many do not take them. One reason could be that a driver needs to get his cargo to its destination on time, so they skip their break. For whatever reason it occurs, fatigued driving is dangerous and against the law.
CMVs must be in good working order if they are operating on roads and highways. To enforce this, DOT and state highway patrol have implemented truck scales or “weigh stations” that inspect trucks. If a truck is in violation and needs repair, the driver may be issued a citation. Unfortunately, many drivers continue to drive despite these citations and warnings. Common mechanical failures include tire blowout and underride accidents.
To drive a CMV, an individual must possess a CDL that is not otherwise suspended or revoked. Some drivers commit something known as license fraud in order to obtain a CDL without actually taking or passing the examination. License fraud is actually incredibly prevalent, and investigations are pending in multiple states.
Driving while texting, eating, changing the radio station and the like can prove incredibly dangerous. Although changing the radio station is not illegal, it can take a driver’s eyes and attention off of the road and cause an accident. Texting and driving is also illegal for commercial truckers.
Damages Available for Truck Accident Claims
If you have been involved in a truck accident in California, it is important to understand the damages and compensation available to you. In general, truck accident claims can result in both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include things like:
- cost of medical treatment
This includes expenses related to immediate medical care, ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, and any future medical costs associated with the accident. These could range from emergency room visits, surgeries, prescription medication, physical therapy, and other necessary medical services and equipment.
- lost wages due to missed work or disability
Victims often miss work due to injuries sustained in truck accidents. Economic damages cover the income lost during the recovery period. In cases where victims suffer disabilities that prevent them from returning to their previous employment, damages for lost earning capacity may also be claimed.
- property damage
This refers to the cost of repairing or replacing personal property damaged in the accident, including the victim’s vehicle and any other possessions that were in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
Non-economic damages may include:
- pain and suffering
This accounts for the physical pain and discomfort that a victim endures as a result of the accident and their injuries. Compensation for pain and suffering is meant to acknowledge and provide some reparation for the victim’s ordeal.
- emotional distress
Victims of truck accidents often experience significant mental and emotional trauma, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotional distress damages aim to compensate victims for the psychological impact of their experiences.
- loss of enjoyment of life
After a severe truck accident, victims may be unable to participate in or enjoy activities that were once a part of their daily lives and brought them joy. Loss of enjoyment of life compensates for the diminished quality of life experienced by victims.
- other similar losses
This can encompass various other non-economic damages not explicitly listed, such as loss of consortium, which compensates a victim’s spouse for the loss of companionship and intimacy following a severe injury.
Additionally, in certain cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the responsible party for particularly egregious behavior. To navigate these complex legal issues and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, it is essential to work with a skilled and experienced Los Angeles trucking accident attorney who will fight for your rights.
Key Evidence in Los Angeles Truck Accidents
Strong pieces of evidence play a crucial role in proving your claim. The police report serves as an official record, offering insights into injuries, damages, and any traffic law violations that occurred during the accident. Driver’s logbooks, which document hours worked and rested, are invaluable for identifying any fatigue or Hours of Service violations. Vehicle inspection reports can unveil mechanical issues or neglect that might have contributed to the incident. Photos and videos from the accident scene visually document damages and injuries, providing a tangible depiction of the crash’s severity and context. Eyewitness testimonies offer additional perspectives, supporting the victim’s claims, while medical records substantiate claims for compensation by detailing injuries, treatments, and expenses.
Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) or “black boxes” found in many commercial trucks record vital operational data leading up to the crash, including speed and brake usage, providing an objective account of the truck’s actions. Employment and training records of the truck driver can further tell about a driver’s qualifications, competency, and potential liability. Information about the cargo loaded onto the truck is pivotal, especially if there are suspicions that improper loading or overweight cargo played a role in the accident. Lastly, footage from traffic and surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the accident can provide a clearer understanding of how the incident unfolded.
Why You Should Choose Martinian Lawyers
Choosing Martinian Lawyers for your legal representation means selecting a firm that stands out in dedication, proficiency, and client-focused advocacy. Our team brings together seasoned legal professionals with a proven track record of success, ensuring that every case is approached with the utmost expertise. We prioritize a personalized strategy, understanding that each client’s circumstances are unique, and tailor our approach to best suit your specific needs. Our compassionate approach ensures that we not only address the legal aspects of your situation but also understand and empathize with the emotional and personal challenges you face. Furthermore, our vast network of connections in the legal community and with various experts helps in constructing a robust case, providing you an edge in the courtroom. At Martinian Lawyers, we are not just lawyers; we are your dedicated partners in seeking justice and achieving the best possible outcome.
Experience. Compassion. Expertise. Connections. Trust Martinian Lawyers to give you the justice that you deserve.
Enlist Our Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident that involved a commercial truck, you may be suffering from incredibly serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment. Martinian Lawyers is here to see that you get the compensation you deserve. If you were not responsible for the accident, then we will fight to see that liability doesn’t wrongfully get shifted on to you.
Navigating the aftermath of a truck accident can be a daunting and emotionally taxing process, especially when dealing with medical recovery and financial uncertainties. At Martinian Lawyers, we understand the gravity of your situation and extend our legal expertise to alleviate your burden. With a dedicated team of Los Angeles truck accident attorneys, will navigate the commercial truck accidents laws to diligently represent your interests. We meticulously investigate each case, ensuring no stone is left unturned in establishing the facts and holding the responsible parties accountable. You can trust us to pursue justice relentlessly on your behalf while you focus on healing and rebuilding your life. Allow us to be your advocate in securing the rightful compensation that will aid in covering your medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured. Your path to recovery deserves a steady and supportive legal ally, and Martinian Lawyers is here to stand firmly with you every step of the way.