Roadway accidents are frightening, and victims often face life-altering injuries following a collision. When two cars travel at the same speed and come in contact with each other, there is no doubt that each vehicle will suffer damage, and the passengers and drivers in both cars risk serious injury.
Records on California truck accident statistics are outdated. Still, an overall review of truck accidents across the United States shows truck accidents injured more than 110,000 in one recent year. Unfortunately, in that same year, 4,479 people lost their lives in fatal truck accidents.
Size Increases Truck Accident Dangers
One of the reasons why truck accidents are so dangerous for victims is because of their size. Vehicle size comparisons can shock those who do not often think about the people with whom they share the road. On average, a car weighs between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds and a pickup truck between 3,200 and 6,400. A large truck weighs between 33,001 and 80,000. Unsurprisingly, these behemoths can cause serious damage in an accident.
Types of Common Truck Accidents
Regardless of the type of truck accident, there will be serious damages and likely serious injuries.
However, some truck accidents are more common than others, including:
- Jackknife Accidents – These accidents can only occur when a truck carries a trailer. Drivers lose control of their vehicle, and the truck goes in one direction while the trailer does not go in the same direction. One of the reasons these accidents can be serious is the potential of the truck turning over either during or immediately after the accident. In many cases, trucks cause these accidents by traveling too fast or attempting to avoid another vehicle.
- Underride Accidents – The smaller the vehicle involved in a truck accident, the more significant potential for an underride accident. These accidents result in nearly one-quarter of fatal truck accidents and can occur at any speed. These accidents generally occur when a truck backs up or goes too fast to slow down to avoid striking a car.
- Wide-Turn Accidents – These accidents nearly always occur when a truck is attempting a right-hand turn and a car is navigating the same turn from the next lane. Trucks need extra room to ensure the trailer does not swing out from the tractor portion of the truck. The vehicles can collide if a truck fails to see a car turning simultaneously.
- Blind Spot Accidents – These occur when a truck fails to see another vehicle in another lane and makes a lane change. There are four large blind spots in a truck in the front, back, and on each side. Cars in these areas are at serious risk of being involved in a collision.
Tire blowouts, brake failure, head-on collisions, and broadside collisions are other truck accidents on California roadways.
Establishing Fault Following a California Truck Accident
To prove a personal injury claim following a truck accident, the victim must show fault is well-established. When one of the involved vehicles is a truck, this can be more complicated than establishing fault following a car accident.
When a truck is involved, you can hold some of the following parties liable for the accident:
- Truck driver
- The driver of another vehicle on the roadway
- Truck driver’s employer
- Maintenance crew responsible for the truck
- Manufacturer of brakes or tires on the truck
Trucking accidents are complicated, so it is usually a good idea to speak with an established truck accident attorney in California before filing a claim. Contacting an attorney can help truck accident victims avoid many pitfalls they are likely to encounter when they place a claim.
Factors Which Contribute to Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study involving 78,000 truck accidents that were either fatal or resulted in an injury.
They categorized the accidents using four factors:
- Non-performance – A physically impaired driver caused the crash. The impairment resulted from a driver falling asleep or having a medical emergency.
- Recognition – Accidents of this type result from the driver not paying attention to the road or others on the road.
- Decision making – This means the driver failed to handle the truck appropriately for road conditions, judge the speed of others on the roadway, or maintain a safe distance.
- Performance – Refers to the fact that a driver took an action they shouldn’t have. Examples of this were the driver overcompensated or otherwise panicked.
Statistics show that drivers could have prevented a good number of these accidents.
- 12 percent of all accidents were a result of non-performance
- 66 percent of accidents were the result of recognition or decision
- 9 percent were accidents due to performance
The remaining 13 percent cited environment or problems with the vehicle as a major factor in the accident. These numbers indicate that in most truck accidents, the truck driver caused the collision.
Traumatic Injuries After a Truck Accident
According to the website Injury Facts, 107,000 truck accidents across the United States resulted in injury in one recent year. When reading statistical data, it is always important to remember that these numbers represent human lives. It is very easy to lose sight of that fact.
Injuries common in truck accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Bruises and abrasions
- Back and shoulder injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
When a car is in an accident with a truck, the car’s occupants will take most of the force of the accident.
Recovering from the injuries suffered in a truck accident can take weeks, months, or even years. For some victims, a traumatic injury could result in a lifetime disability. Every victim should seek guidance from a lawyer experienced in California truck accidents to understand their legal rights after an injury.
Factors Affecting Extent of Truck Accident Injuries
Every accident is unique, and every truck accident victim is unique. No two accidents are the same because of the many factors that affect the accident and its impact on victims.
Some of the factors which change the nature of the accident include:
- The speed at which each vehicle is traveling
- What the weight is of each vehicle
- What direction each vehicle was traveling upon impact
- Road conditions at the time of the collision
- Other vehicles on the roadway at the time of the collision
- How the driver applies or fails to apply breaks before the collision
These can change the impact of the collision, including how much damage each vehicle suffers.
Victims are also unique.
Some factors that affect a collision’s impact on victims include:
- The age of the victim
- The height and weight of the victim
- The position the victim was in at the time of the collision
- The overall health of the victim
- The victim’s current physical condition
Each set of factors ultimately determines the injury’s severity, the victim’s recovery time, and the chance the victim’s injuries will be fatal.
Following Regulations Should Minimize the Risk of Truck Accidents
Trucking regulations restrict how long a driver can travel, set speed limits, and allow trucks only on certain California roadway lanes. Cars can use these truck-only lanes, but truckers generally can only travel in those designated trucking lanes.
While the federal government has regulations on service hours, California has rules for driver hours of service. Drivers and their employers can face serious penalties if drivers violate these service hours and a driver gets in an accident.
Driver training is a necessity as well. Drivers should have a thorough understanding of the blind spots in their vehicles. Drivers of large trucks should also be aware that a truck requires nearly twice as much time to stop than a car. Employers who fail to ensure their drivers are thoroughly qualified to travel the roads safely are putting everyone on the roadway at risk.
Insurance Company Adjusters and California Truck Accidents
Dealing with an insurance adjuster after being injured in a truck accident is not easy. Every truck on California roads assigned a USDOT or CA state serial number must carry significant insurance. Typically semi-trucks need policies that cover up to $750,000 in damages. While this is good for a victim, make no mistake that securing reimbursement for losses is no easy task.
Some of the compensation a California truck accident victim may demand include:
- Current and future lost wages
- Medical expenses paid out of pocket
- Damage to the vehicle
- Rehabilitation costs
- Cost of medical equipment
- Costs associated with home adaptations
These are just some of the damages a victim may seek when they have suffered an injury in a California truck accident. However, getting the insurance company to pay those damages may require a victim to work with an attorney.
Here is why:
- Insurers loathe paying big claims – Any claim payments an insurer makes impact their bottom line. While the insurance company has a contract with their client, paying a claim against that contract means they are losing profits.
- Insurers often deny claims – Insurance companies will attempt to deflect responsibility by claiming another party is responsible for the accident. They may also say the policy does not cover the accident.
- Insurers may try to settle quickly – Sometimes, an insurance adjuster will make a fast offer after an accident. This settlement offer is usually significantly lower than what would be required to make the victim financially whole. Generally, a fast settlement is good for the insurer because it eliminates future liability and allows them to settle the matter before an attorney gets involved.
These are some reasons a victim should hire an attorney as quickly as possible, regardless of the type of truck accident they suffer on California roadways. Having someone advocating for the victim is imperative because the adjuster will not advise anyone of their rights, nor are they under any obligation to do so.
Finding the Right Legal Team
When someone is in a truck accident, they should make physical recovery their primary focus. The days, weeks, and months following an accident are stressful enough for those who suffer an injury. Hiring the right legal team can make all the difference as the lawyer can handle inquiries from the insurance company, help victims understand their legal rights and options, and hold the right parties accountable for their negligent behavior.
No truck accident victim should have to accept less compensation than necessary to protect their family’s financial future. Regardless of the type of California truck accident someone is involved in, ensure they understand the protections offered by California truck accident laws. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer and let them get you the compensation you deserve.