San Diego Truck Accident Lawyer
An accident involving an 18-wheeler or truck is not like a common car accident- it’s imperative those involved contact a San Diego truck accident attorney immediately. The damage a large semi truck can do in an accident is much greater than most highway accidents.
Semi-truck drivers owe a duty to fellow drivers to drive responsible; when this duty is broken, the drivers, their companies, or even manufacturers should be held accountable. Hire a San Diego personal injury attorney to ensure your family is not encumbered with medical bills.
A large truck traveling at a high speed among smaller vehicles is inherently dangerous, especially to a car’s driver and passengers. Truck accident cases often involve greater injuries and can pose legal problems and concerns not found in most car accident cases. Trucking accidents can leave victims with catastrophic injuries such as brain damage, paralysis or severe, disfiguring burns or even death.
Who May be Found Liable in Accidents With Semis?
Determining liability in a truck accident requires an experienced legal hand. The laws surrounding semi accident liability are complex, and these crashes often involve an intricate web of players. When you’re involved in an accident with a semi-truck, you might assume that the driver is to blame for your injuries, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, in many cases, multiple parties share the liability for your injuries.
Our San Diego truck accident lawyer will review your case and launch an investigation to hold all negligent parties responsible so you get just compensation and help prevent future crashes.
Here are some examples of who might be at fault for a semi-truck accident – and what you can do about it.
According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most trucking accidents are attributable to driver error. Semi-truck operators, especially long-haul drivers, spend hours upon hours traversing our nation’s roadways. This can lead to fatigue and boredom, which sets the stage for distracted driving. A semi-truck driver might cause an accident by texting, talking on a cellphone, or simply by being lost in their thoughts. Additionally, truck drivers might use over-the-counter or prescription drugs to help them stay awake or even to pass the time.
A truck driver might also be liable for an accident if they commit what’s called a “log book violation.” Owners and operators are required to follow a strict set of rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These rules include everything from mandated breaks, limits on duty hours, and even required maintenance checks. Failing to adhere to these rules or log appropriate hours provides the foundation for establishing liability.
The Driver’s Employer
If a truck driver was operating impaired or committed a logbook violation, they’re likely partially liable for an accident. However, it’s also important to look at their motivation for doing so. For example, their employer might hold them to strict shipping deadlines and threaten their jobs or pay if they’re delayed. This could cause truck drivers to fudge their logbooks or spend longer hours on the road then they should.
An employer might also be liable for an accident if they neglected to run a background check on a driver. For example, if a driver was operating under the influence at the time of the crash and had previous DUIs on his or her record, the employer might be liable for negligent hiring.
The owner of a semi-truck might also be liable if they failed to properly maintain the truck. Tampering with the brakes or neglecting to maintain a truck’s tires can lead to serious accidents – for which the owner of the truck might be responsible.
The Manufacturer of the Truck
At times, a truck malfunctions and causes an accident. The manufacturer of a truck or its parts might be liable for a semi crash if the crash resulted from a dangerous condition or defect.
Examples of product defects include:
- Tires with uneven treads that make the truck more difficult to operate
- Brakes that malfunction or fail to engage
- Cab with oddly positioned mirrors that don’t provide an adequate view of a driver’s surroundings
A dangerous or defective condition in the truck itself could give rise to a product liability claim.
The Shipping Company
Last, a shipper or loader could be liable for accidents caused by improper loading. A truck’s cargo must have even distribution of weight so the driver can handle the truck with ease. Improper loading can lead to jackknifing and other dangerous practices that could cause an accident.
As you can see, there could be many elements at play in a truck accident. If you sustained injury in a trucking wreck, contact a San Diego truck accident attorney who can conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf and determine the parties responsible.
Types of Truck Accidents on San Diego Freeways
Trucking accidents happen mainly due to driver negligence, poor vehicle maintenance, or another drivers’ failure to navigate around large trucks. Some of the most common types of trucking accident scenarios involve:
- Truck driver DUI. Truck drivers have demanding schedules and some take unsafe measures to cope with stress and meet their deadlines. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous in any vehicle, but truck drivers are capable of inflicting more catastrophic damage than smaller passenger cars.
- Road construction. Construction sites on or near the highway may lead to lane closures or other detours. Truck drivers must carefully navigate these areas to avoid injury to other drivers or the people working on the road.
- Improper braking. A truck driver cannot simply slam on the brakes to come to a halt. Truck drivers receive proper braking training and must exercise these techniques to stop their vehicles safely. A truck driver who fails to do so can lead to a runaway truck accident, potentially injuring many drivers in the lanes ahead of the truck.
- Brake failure. Tractor-trailers travel longer distances more frequently than other cars. As such, they require careful maintenance, and the braking system is one of the most critical components of a safe tractor-trailer. Brake failures can lead to multi-car crashes across several lanes.
- “Squeeze Play” for turns. Some truck drivers must make sharp turns or turn onto narrow streets. To do so, they must sometimes swing in the opposite direction first so the trailer has room to clear the turn. When turning out, the truck driver may “squeeze” other drivers into a dangerous situation.
- Rollovers. A rollover accident is one in which the trailer attached to the truck tips over on its side. Steep inclines, sharp turns, or driving too fast can all lead to rollover accidents. Truck drivers may also unintentionally cause rollovers by oversteering or attempting to correct a drifting trailer.
- Jackknifing. A “jackknife” describes a tractor-trailer whose truck cab turns to one side while the trailer continues forward, creating a 90-degree angle. The trailer cannot stop in this situation and the driver will have little to no control. Jackknifing often leads to rollover accidents.
- Rear-end collisions. Large trucks require much more stopping distance than smaller vehicles. If a car in front of a truck stops very suddenly, or the truck driver is traveling too close to the car in front without paying attention, the truck is likely to slam into the back of the car. At high speeds, a tractor-trailer can completely demolish a smaller car when striking it from behind, seriously injuring or likely killing the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
- “Underride” accidents. The gap between the bottom of a truck’s trailer and the road is often large enough for some cars to pass under, while others may not fit entirely. If a truck driver speeds through an intersection, a driver passing in the other direction may slam into the side of the trailer, pinning the car beneath it if the top of the car is about the same height as the bottom of the trailer.
Common Truck Accident Injuries in San Diego County
Semi truck accident fatalities have increased by up to 10% in the past year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in crashes involving large trucks and other vehicles, 98% of the fatalities occur to the people in passenger vehicles. In the past 50 years thousands of motorists and truck drivers have been killed and injured in large trucking accidents primarily resulting from driver error and negligent maintenance by trucking companies. These reasons and the following are some of the many reasons for semi truck accidents:
- Driver fatigue
- Unsafe vehicle operations
- Large, unstable loads or defective equipment
- Driver error
- Failure to maintain current inspection standards
- Inadequate truck driver training
- Bad weather conditions
- Improper load weight
Driving Safely Around Large Trucks to Avoid Accidents
Sharing the road means just that- sharing. While driving behind a slow 18-wheeler can be annoying, speeding up and cutting them off can quickly turn into a dangerous scenario- if not deadly. With great size comes great limitations; large trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles have larger blind spots, limited mobility, and take longer to come to a complete stop than the average car. To avoid a truck accident, it’s imperative drivers always exercise caution when sharing the road with one (or many).
Here are a few basic but important safety tips all drivers should follow:
- Stay Out of “No Zones” (Blind Spots): The rule of thumb is if you can’t see the truck driver in the mirror, the driver can’t see you. Drivers should stay at least 30 feet behind and try to avoid driving alongside the truck’s carrier. For a closer look at “no zones”, visit the FMCSA.
- Don’t Cut Trucks Off: This is an all-around driving rule that is often ignored. Buses take 40 percent longer to stop, according to the FMCSA. When merging from either side, you’ll likely start in their blind spot making it impossible for them to know they need to slow down. And even if they do see you, cutting them off may not give them enough time to hit the brakes.
- Anticipate Wide, Right Turns: Truck drivers often use the middle turning lane as opposed to the right because they need at least a 55 foot turning radius. If their blinker is on, never wait in their blind spot, fit between them and the curb, or try to beat them to the turn. For more details on how trucks turn, click here.
What to Do After a San Diego Truck Accident
Immediately after being involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler semi truck it is important to follow these steps:
- Obtain proper medical attention
- Save any evidence from the accident, including pictures of all parties vehicles involved, as well as the scene
- Contact an experienced San Diego truck accident attorney at the Liljegren Law Group
Hiring a San Diego Truck Accident Attorney
Given the information above, truck accidents are almost never “minor” and typically complex cases. A knowledgable accident attorney should ask details question to pinpoint your unique circumstances and thoroughly explain your various options. In more severe accidents, they may seek the advice of local experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists, to ensure you receive the maximum and deserved compensation.
At the Liljegren Law Group, our extensive experience in handling semi tractor trailer accidents in San Diego means we know what to look for when conducting an investigation, and what is fair compensation for your injuries including lost wages, hospital bills, pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been been injured in a trucking accident contact our office today at 866-613-9906 or by filling out our online contact form.