Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyer

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Los Angeles Truck Accident Attorney

A truck accident can be absolutely devastating. Injuries are often catastrophic, and death is not a rare occurrence. It takes less than a split second for a truck accident to happen. If you live in Los Angeles and you have been involved in an accident with a truck, reach out to a Los Angeles truck accident lawyer today to find out if you are eligible for any sort of compensation.

Any number of things can be responsible for a truck accident, from driver negligence to equipment failure and even acts of God. Regardless, in the end, any road accident involving a truck is considerably bigger and scarier than a car accident.

Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyer

What Can Cause a Truck Accident?

Truck drivers are not infallible. They are people just like the rest of us. People make mistakes, get tired, and have lapses in judgment. It happens all the time. The difference is trucks are substantially larger and far more dangerous than cars. The causes of truck accidents are similar to the causes of car accidents, just with a bigger result:

  • Fatigued driver: Long haul truckers can spend entire days driving without stopping. Driving while you are tired is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your body is impaired and unfocused on the task at hand, resulting in a potentially lethal situation for you and everyone else on the road. If you are feeling drowsy behind the wheel, pull over to the nearest rest stop or motel. Continuing the drive is not worth your life or the lives of other drivers.
  • Overloaded vehicles: Overloading a truck is very dangerous. A truck can only hold so much cargo before it starts to buckle under pressure. Overload can lead to a reduction in vehicle stability, which increases the risk of rollovers and other kinds of accidents. The tires are considerably strained, the brakes do not react as fast as they should, the suspension is damaged, and the truck itself is operating at limited capacity due to the excessive weight.
  • Inadequate training: Driving a truck is not like driving a car. It requires specialized training to handle a vehicle of that size. If a driver is not trained properly, it can lead to equipment failure or a bad accident. Every truck driver should enter into a comprehensive training program to ensure they know what they are doing at all times. Untrained drivers can also misload the truck, fail to secure cargo properly, and neglect the standard maintenance of their vehicle.
  • Distracted driving: Regardless of the vehicle at hand, the number one cause of roadway accidents remains distracted driving. Most of us have short attention spans. More so, we grow comfortable in our routines and forget how potentially dangerous driving can become if we are not careful. Your primary focus should always be on the road. Using your phone, texting while driving, having discussions with other passengers, eating and drinking, and playing with your navigation system can all distract you and lead to accidents. Distracted driving is usually categorized into three separate types:
    • Visual – Taking your eyes off the road
    • Manual – Taking your hands off the steering wheel
    • Cognitive – Preoccupied with your thoughts or absentminded driving. Be consistently aware of your vehicle and do whatever it takes to limit distractions. Otherwise, you could seriously hurt someone or even kill them.
  • Road rage: Some people drive incompetently, and that can really irritate the other drivers. Road rage is a problem that sometimes leads to accidents. Truck drivers are driving gigantic vehicles capable of inflicting serious harm on cars that might cut them off in traffic. Stay calm and do not engage in such behavior. Remain civilized and take the high road whenever a road rage situation presents itself.
  • Driving under the influence: It is always a terrible decision to drive under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. It is highly illegal and punishable by substantial fines, prison time, and a loss of your driver’s license. Even more so, it puts everybody you encounter on the road in serious danger. If you find yourself drunk or high, do not get behind the wheel of your truck. Sleep it off somewhere and resume driving when your cognitive functions have fully returned to you. You do not want to be the cause of a horrible tragedy you could have easily prevented by not driving under the influence.
  • Defective equipment: An 18-wheeler truck has a lot of moving parts. All of them have to be working in perfect sync for the truck to transport cargo across the country effectively. Most truck accidents that involve defective equipment occur thanks to improper maintenance of the truck’s brakes or tires. When normal wear and tear is ignored and becomes a substantial degradation of equipment, the driver is at fault for not reporting it.
  • Tire blowouts: The tires of any vehicle often get the most mileage. It is very important to maintain tire health. If the tires fail, the entire vehicle fails. We often see large strips of tire pieces on the side of the highway. This is the aftermath of a destructive tire blowout that was caused by a number of possibilities:
    • Incorrect tire size.
    • Low tread or even no tread due to overuse.
    • Dry rot on the spare tires.
    • Poor inflation. Not enough air or too much air.
    • Possible manufacturing issue.
    • High speeds.
    • Hot temperatures.

    A tire blowout on an 18-wheeler truck can cause the vehicle to spin out of control, roll, or crash into other vehicles. The devastation of this happening on a crowded, busy highway can be immense.

  • Driver error: Most times, a simple driver error can lead to a truck accident. We all make mistakes. But those mistakes can have serious, lasting consequences if made at the worst possible time. Failure to obey traffic signals, not seeing a stop sign, not noticing a car in the passing lane when you attempt to merge, or braking too quickly can all cause terrible accidents. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

How to Prevent Truck Accidents

Preventing car and truck accidents is largely just common sense. But sometimes, people do not think about taking preventative measures until it is too late. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared. It could mean the difference between life and death if something terrible were to happen. There are a few steps you can take to ensure you are not the cause of a truck accident:

  • Drive carefully: This one may seem obvious, but there are enough accidents on the roads every year to prove that there are people not doing it. Obey speed limits. They are put in place for a reason. Exceeding the speed limit, especially in a truck, puts everyone on the road at risk. Adjust accordingly if you are driving through rough weather or a construction zone. Focus on getting your cargo where it needs to go safely.
  • Communicate: Keep your customers and your employers in the loop while driving. If delivery is going to take longer than anticipated, let them know to expect you at a later time. Do not skip rest times or speed to ensure prompt delivery. Nobody benefits if your truck ends up in a catastrophic accident because you did not want to be late. Also, you may need some sort of guidance through local, smaller roads once you exit the highway. Asking about any potential road hazards, construction zones, or other issues can prepare you for the worst ahead.
  • Plan your route: Highways were built for drivers’ convenience, but they are not always the most optimum route for delivery. Be familiar with the route to your destination. A GPS is a great navigation tool, but sometimes it cannot take into account backroads, new roads, or alternate routes. It is good to have that information before you start driving your route. Bridge heights, road closures, other accidents, and construction can hamper your drive and cause you sudden shocks if you are not prepared for them.
  • Rest up: There are strict rules in place about how many consecutive hours you can drive a truck, including how many breaks you need to take and how many hours you need to sleep. Do not ignore these rules. An argument can be made that resting is the most important thing you can do as a truck driver. If you are well-rested, you make fewer mistakes behind the wheel. We all want to be efficient at our jobs, and truck drivers are no different. But efficiency is not worth your life and the lives of others. If you need more rest, take it. Understand your vehicle: Know how your vehicle is supposed to operate. Know how it is supposed to feel so that when something is wrong with it, you can recognize the problem quickly and get it resolved. Maintenance issues are one of the more common causes of truck accidents. A suspicious noise or a new rattle can be the beginning of a much larger problem. Realize the problem, solve it, and document it for later.
  • Understand your cargo: You should know what kind of cargo you are carrying. If you are hauling food, clothing, furniture, or something else innocuous, you likely will not deal with any major problems regarding the cargo. But, if you are hauling hazardous materials like chemicals, gasoline, or biological substances, the risk of causing harm increases drastically if an accident occurs. Know and understand what you are carrying so you can take additional precautions if it is something dangerous.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nearly 6,000 trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2021, which was an 18% increase from 2020. By taking these precautions and implementing some of your own, you can help reduce these numbers bit by bit. Long-haul trucking is a dangerous job, but it does not have to be deadly.

Types of Truck Accidents

Every type of truck accident is dangerous, and all of them are common. To prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario, here are some of the different types of truck accidents you may encounter or be involved in:

  • Rear-end collisions: When the front end of the truck crashes into the rear end of the vehicle in front of it, it is a rear-end collision. These crashes are particularly deadly to passengers in the backseat of the rear-ended vehicle. These often occur when the road is slick, like after a rainstorm, or if the crashing vehicle is speeding and distracted.
  • Head-on collisions: Arguably the most dangerous kind, these occur when two vehicles’ front ends collide. These are mostly caused by driver fatigue, which can cause a driver to drift into oncoming traffic if they are drowsy and unfocused. Due to the amount of force involved, these crashes are often fatal.
  • Jackknifes: A jackknife accident occurs when the cab and the trailer of a truck fold into itself at the point of separation, resulting in a jackknife movement. The trailer can slide into traffic, covering a lot of ground and putting a lot of people in danger. Many things can cause a jackknife, such as bad weather, sudden turns, or speeding.
  • Rollovers: Rollovers are especially destructive and wildly unpredictable. Sometimes, when an accident occurs, the trailer of a truck can become detached and roll into oncoming traffic. Once it has detached and started rolling, it cannot be stopped until it loses momentum. This can be caused by speeding, losing control of the truck, or unsafe road conditions, among other factors.
  • Underrides: Underrides can be especially terrifying, as they occur when a smaller vehicle actually ends up underneath the truck. In this case, the roof of the smaller vehicle is often torn off in the crash. This accident is often caused by drivers who fail to notice a truck driver’s blind spot. They account for almost half of all truck-related accident fatalities.
  • Spills: If the truck is carrying toxic cargo and the driver loses control of the vehicle, the toxic cargo can spill onto the road and create a very hazardous situation. Even if the cargo is not toxic, it is still very dangerous to other drivers to have cargo come loose from a truck and fall into oncoming traffic at high speeds. Securing cargo is imperative every time.

What Do You Do if a Truck Accident Happens?

If you have been involved in a truck accident of any kind in Los Angeles, California, there is a list of steps you should undertake immediately to ensure a claim is possible to obtain:

  • Call 911: As soon as you can, call 911. Failing to report an accident can land you in a lot of legal trouble. You and the other driver cannot leave the scene of the accident either.
  • Get help: Seek medical attention as soon as the police have cleared you to leave. Even if you do not feel you are severely injured, it is good to let a medical professional make that call. You may be in shock, or you may have a delayed reaction. Your medical records will also serve as documentation for the claim.
  • Document the scene: Make sure you take plenty of photos and videos of the accident scene if you are able to. This includes your vehicle and any other vehicles involved, your injuries, any property damage, or anything else you feel may be relevant. Speak to any witnesses. Get their contact information and their names. You will likely need this later.
  • Contact an attorney: Once you have protected yourself with evidence and documentation, reach out to a truck accident attorney to begin the process of filing a truck accident claim.

Determining Fault

If a truck accident does happen, it can be tricky to determine who is really at fault. When you have been involved in a truck accident, retaining the services of an experienced truck accident attorney can help protect you against any oncoming litigation. In a truck accident, fault can rest with many different parties.

Trucks owned by large corporations may try to rush a settlement to avoid a messy battle in court that could tarnish their company’s reputation. No company wants its brand to be associated with a horrible tragedy. They will bring in their own attorneys to protect themselves, so it is important for you to have someone in your corner who can represent your interests. If you want to file a claim for personal injury, you can file it against the following parties:

  • The driver of the truck.
  • The company that hired the driver.
  • The company that ordered the truck.
  • The owner of the vehicle, which can be different from the company that did the hiring.
  • Whoever is responsible for the loading or unloading of cargo.
  • The shipping company that ordered the cargo.
  • The company that manufactured the truck.

A thorough investigation from the insurance company and the attorneys representing each party will determine who is ultimately at fault for the accident. Trucking companies are reluctant to take any blame for a trucking accident, as it reflects very poorly on them and the way they do business. They will likely attempt to blame the driver, the manufacturing company, and even you before they accept responsibility.

Many drivers in an accident will deflect blame and try to blame someone else. That is to be expected. It is up to the investigators to assign who was at fault and prove it with evidence from the crash.

FAQs

Q: How Much Are Most Truck Accident Settlements?

A: The payout for a truck accident settlement in California depends entirely on the case at hand, the investigation, the severity of the injuries, and the agreement reached between attorneys and the court. Each case is unique, and the amount awarded can vary widely. It is advised to gain the support of an accident attorney who can help you get the settlement you need to cover all of your costs from the accident.

Q: How Much Do Accident Attorneys Charge in California?

A: Personal injury attorneys in California operate on a contingency fee basis, which means that they do not get paid unless they win your case. They do not charge upfront fees either. If they are successful and you win your claim, their fee can range anywhere between 25% and 40% of the total amount received. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. Typically, you and your attorney will agree on a percentage before they agree to take on your case.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for a Truck Accident in California?

A: Considering the often-catastrophic fallout from truck accidents, it is wise that you retain a lawyer if you are filing for a personal injury claim. You may be going up against a large trucking company with a prepared legal team ready to argue against any culpability. They will have experience arguing these types of cases with the goal of paying out as little as possible. Having an experienced attorney in your corner can make you feel more secure about getting a fair settlement.

Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Truck Accident in California?

A: In California, the statute of limitations for filing a truck accident claim is two years from the date of the actual accident. This statute of limitations is in place to protect everyone from frivolous lawsuits and to prioritize real, serious injuries that people need immediate financial help to deal with. This ensures witnesses’ memories remain accurate and important evidence does not degrade over time or get misplaced.

Get the Legal Help You Need

Being involved in a truck accident is terrifying. Your whole world can change in an instant. That is why it is important to have someone in your corner who knows how to navigate the complicated legal system and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today to schedule a free consultation.

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