Truck Accident Attorneys
In 2021, 5,700 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash, an 18% increase from 2020 and a 49% increase in the last 10 years. More than 70% of those killed in truck accidents were drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
For many, driving alongside a massive 18-wheeler is a daunting task. With truck accidents on the rise, occupants of other vehicles face the most risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries under the weight of an 80,000 pound vehicle.
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck crash in Cerritos or Los Angeles County, contact our experienced truck accident attorneys at (562) 376-5595 for a free consultation to discuss your truck accident case.
California Trucking Laws
Driving a commercial truck in California requires skill, training, and responsibility. Not only must truck drivers follow both state and federal regulations, they have to deal with traffic congestion, road hazards, weather conditions, and fatigue.
Commercial Driver’s License
All truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate a commercial vehicle. To obtain a CDL, the driver must pass a vision test, medical exam, a written knowledge test, as well as complete 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training.
Hours of Service
Commercial trucks must both follow interstate and intrastate rules when it comes to hours of service. For trips in California, drivers cannot exceed more than 12 hours of driving, must stop driving for at least 10 hours, and are not permitted to drive after being on duty for 80 hours in a consecutive eight-day period.
Size and Weight Limits
There are various weight, height, and length restrictions for trucking companies in California. The maximum overall weight limit is 80,000 pounds. The California Vehicle Code also limits the maximum axle weight to 20,000 pounds on single axles and 34,000 pounds on tandem axles.
Vehicle Inspection and Driver Logs
Every commercial vehicle is regularly inspected and maintained. During an inspection, the driver must walk around the vehicle and check its windows, side mirrors, steps, lights, doors, reflectors, and license plates. They must also inspect the engine, brake system, and tires. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that all commercial truck drivers keep a log of their activities.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
The law requires CDL drivers to undergo random drug tests throughout the year. They can test a driver immediately if they appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In California, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for truck drivers is .04% or higher, which is lower than the 0.08% standard legal limit.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
A truck accident injury could be minor, severe, or fatal, depending on the speed of the vehicle and the point of impact. Some of the most common truck accident injuries are:
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a blow or jolt to the head or body causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth. It can be an open TBI, where an object penetrates the skull, or a closed TBI, where the victim suffers from blunt trauma. Brain injuries are some of the most life-threatening injuries because they often go undetected. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, and blurred vision.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury involves any kind of damage to the spinal cord or the nerves at the bottom of the spine. This type of injury can lead to loss of movement or change in touch and feel. The most serious spinal cord injuries may result in paraplegia or quadriplegia, or total loss of movement in the body.
Fractures, or broken bones, can be completely or partially fractured in a number of ways. In a truck accident, the force of the impact may be strong enough that the bone may shatter. Fractures take several weeks or months to heal, depending on the extent of the injury and how well treatment goes. Physical therapy may be required to regain muscle strength and mobility.
Truck accidents can cause vehicles to ignite, leading to serious burn injuries. Burn injuries can range from minor to severe, depending on the degree, depth, and extent of the skin damage. According to the American Burn Association, there are four degrees of burn injuries:
- First-degree burns
- Second-degree burns
- Third-degree burns
- Fourth-degree burns
Trauma, like a truck accident, can cause internal bleeding or damage to internal organs. In a blunt trauma situation, the force of the impact causes the blood vessels inside the body to tear or crush. When this occurs, a CT or ultrasound scan is required to identify the damage. Surgery may be needed to correct the problem.
One of the most life-changing injuries suffered in truck accidents is amputation, or the loss of a limb. Amputation can be either traumatic or surgical, and will result in an extensive recovery and rehabilitation process. Some amputees may opt for a prosthetic limb.
Tragically, some truck accident victims do not survive their injuries. In these cases, the surviving family members of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. This is a civil claim, not a criminal one, and results in financial compensation for the family for the losses they suffered due to the death.
How Do I Determine Who Is Liable for My Injuries?
Determining liability in truck accident claims can be complicated and challenging. Was it the truck driver’s error? A malfunction of the truck itself? To determine liability, you will need an experienced truck accident attorney to conduct a full and thorough investigation.
Some of the potential liable parties in a truck accident are:
The Truck Driver
If the truck driver was speeding over the limit, distracted, or driving under the influence, the truck driver would be considered negligent and therefore responsible for the accident.
The Truck Company
If the truck company failed to maintain, inspect, or repair the truck, or hired unqualified drivers, the truck company would be considered liable for the accident. Truck companies may also be vicariously liable for the actions of its employees, such as the truck driver.
The Truck Manufacturer
A truck manufacturer would be accountable for the accident if a defect or malfunction in the truck or any of its parts caused the accident. The truck manufacturer may be liable for design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to warn defects.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there may be other parties who share some responsibility for the accident. This includes other drivers, road contractors, cargo loaders, or government entities. These parties may have acted negligently or recklessly and contributed the accident.
A truck accident attorney can help you gather evidence, such as police reports, witness statements, accident reconstruction reports, black box data, log books, maintenance records, and more. A lawyer will also negotiate with the insurance companies for the best settlement for your truck accident claim.
Reach Out to Our Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one was harmed due to the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, you deserve answers. Our Cerritos personal injury law firm will make sure to get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. An experienced truck accident lawyer can provide you with clarity and solutions during this difficult time. Contact us for a no-obligation, free consultation at (562) 376-5595.