Oakland Truck Accident Lawyers
Trucking accidents are a significant threat to passenger vehicle occupants. The weight of large trucks and tractor-trailers contributes significantly to the danger of the environment for passenger vehicle occupants on major roadways. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, 4,119 people died in large-truck crashes in 2019, and 67% were occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles. The number of truck accident fatalities in 2019 increased by 31% from 2009.
If you were a victim of a hit in a truck accident, you should reach out to experienced Oakland accident attorneys to determine how to handle your situation so that you can receive fair money compensation for your injuries.
Why are Truck Accidents so Dangerous?
Truck accidents pose more danger than normal accidents because of the disproportionate weight and height of the large trucks in comparison to standard passenger vehicles. Trucks often weigh twenty to thirty times as much as passenger vehicles. Given the additional pressure of sheer weight on their brakes, trucks aren’t able to stop as quickly as standard cars, and the force of trucks can end up crushing smaller vehicles. Moreover, trucks have a greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in serious crashes. Because of the weakness of a truck’s breaks, the danger of an accident is heightened in bad weather conditions.
Types of Truck Accidents in Oakland
There is a wide array of trucking accidents and commercial truck accidents that occur regularly. Some of the common instances involve:
- Large Commercial Vehicles, such as UPS, FedEx, Con-Way Transportation, ABR Freight Systems
- Construction Trucks
- Beer Trucks
- Dump Trucks
- Garbage Trucks
- Street Sweepers
- Oil Tankers
- Cement Trucks
- Logging Trucks
- Mid-Size Trucks
Some examples of common types of accidents that occur with large trucks include:
- Jackknife Accidents – this type of accident occurs when a truck driver loses control of the vehicle and the trailer swings out to form a 90-degree angle. As a result, the trailer swings into the path of other vehicles on the road, or the truck rolls over.
- Rear-End Crashes – a rear-end accident occurs when a large truck slams into the back of a passenger vehicle. This often results in serious injuries for the passenger of the smaller vehicle.
- Underride Collisions – this type of accident occurs when a smaller vehicle crashes into the rear or side of a large truck. The smaller vehicle gets stuck underneath the trailer due to the large truck’s greater ground clearance.
- Runaway Trailer Crashes – a runaway trailer occurs when the trailer’s speed exceeds the speed of the truck. Whenever this happens, there is a high risk of brake failure. There is also a risk that the trailer will detach from the cab, potentially resulting in a disastrous impact with smaller vehicles down the road.
- Blind Spot Accidents – a large truck has a significant amount of blind spots, so the driver may have a difficult time keeping track of other vehicles. Sometimes, a big rig will veer into a lane occupied by another vehicle, potentially causing a severe accident.
- Defective Equipment – in some instances, a tire blowout or brake failure can cause serious accidents because of the resulting loss of control by the driver.
Factors That Could Lead to a Truck Accident
There are many factors and driver behaviors that lead to the truck accidents described above. Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Speeding – if a truck driver is speeding while approaching congested traffic, the driver will be forced to slam on the brakes, which could cause the trailer to swing and, as a result, a jackknife accident could occur. If the trailer does not swing, a car could still hit the back of the larger truck if the car driver doesn’t slam on his brakes in time, resulting in an underride collision or rear-end collision. Speeding could also cause a runaway trailer crash if the trailer begins moving faster than the truck.
- Distracted driving – if a driver is distracted, they can sometimes rear-end the vehicle in front of them. Distracted driving could also cause the driver to enter traffic at a high speed, causing the driver to slam on the breaks and potentially cause an accident.
- Improper loading – if the driver does not evenly distribute the weight of what they are hauling, it could lead to an unbalanced trailer. This makes it more likely for the truck to inadvertently veer into other lanes. Other possible consequences of improper loading include the trailer tipping over or cargo spilling while the large truck is moving.
- Failing to use caution in inclement weather – as stated earlier, the weight of a large truck poses a significant problem for other drivers because it is much more difficult for a large truck to stop. If a truck driver doesn’t take the proper precautions when driving in inclement weather, the likelihood of an accident is much greater.
- Failure to maintain equipment – if the driver does not go through the proper inspections before getting on the road, everyone else on the road is at serious risk. Tire blowouts, brake failures, or other mechanical failures on a large truck can be catastrophic for other drivers on the road. A truck driver should inspect their vehicle first thing, before they get on the road.
- Fatigued driving – federal hours-of-service regulations allow truck drivers to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch. However, surveys indicate that many drivers violate these rules and work longer than permitted. Sometimes, a driver fails to take a break when they feel fatigued because they need to meet a specific deadline set by the hiring company. Fatigued driving could result in improper lane changes, speeding, falling asleep at the wheel, or other actions that threaten smaller vehicles on the road.
Types of Truck Accident Injuries
Some of the less severe injuries that a person can receive as a result of a large-truck accident include:
- Wrist injuries
- Minor back pain
Some of the more serious injuries that a person can receive as a result of a large-truck accident include:
- Broken bones
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Severe burns
- Loss of limbs
- Neck injuries
These catastrophic injuries can alter someone’s life forever. If you or a family member was injured in an auto accident involving a truck, it is vital that you contact experienced Oakland truck accident attorneys with years of experience to learn about your legal rights. You may also be entitled to receive compensation for property damage and other forms of recoveries. If you lost a family member in a traffic accident, you may also be able to file a wrongful death claim. This will depend on the circumstances of the case; however, it is crucial to contact an Oakland car accident attorney to learn about your rights in the legal process.
What are Long Term Impacts of Truck Driving Accidents?
Some of the long-term effects of a large-truck accident include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of enjoyment for life
- Permanent disability
- Emotional distress
- Job loss
- Hospital bills
Oakland Truck Accident Statistics
In 2017, California had 361 crashes involving large trucks. In 2019, Oakland had 29 total fatal car accidents. Between 2012 and 2016, the amount of severe or fatal injuries in accident crashes increased by 76% in Oakland. More than one in four Oaklanders that died in accident crashes were involved in an accident where speeding was the primary cause of the crash.
Dangerous Oakland Roadways
The roads with the most fatal accidents in Oakland from 2005 to 2019 include:
- Nimitz Freeway
- MacArthur Blvd.
- International Blvd.
- MacArthur Freeway
These roads are notoriously dangerous because of the traffic jams, road hazards, bottlenecks, chronic collisions, dangerous road debris, potholes, poorly timed traffic signals, and aggressive drivers.
Are There Size Limits for Trucks Driving in Oakland?
The City of Oakland Municipal Code Section 10.52 restricts the size of vehicles that are allowed to go on major roads like MacArthur Freeway, and it restricts which roads commercial vehicles are permitted to travel on. No vehicle exceeding 4.5 tons is authorized, for any purpose, to use the MacArthur Freeway when in Oakland city limits. Instead, the code permits trucks of any size to use the Nimitz Freeway and other alternate trucking routes.
San Francisco, El Cerrito and other areas in the Bay Area enforce similar restrictions on trucks. An experienced truck accident lawyer will provide you with the legal advice and legal services you need to pursue your claim.
State and Federal Laws on Truck Accident
Under California law, injury victims typically have two years, or 24 months, after a trucking accident to file a claim for damages in civil court. California is also a comparative liability state. This means that a driver who is found partially at fault for the accident may potentially be entitled to pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover some damages. The individual degree of fault will play a role in determining compensation for damages. Higher degrees of individual driver negligence result in more liability being assigned to that individual driver, and thereby less entitlement to compensation. Fault can generally be assigned to the driver if the injured party can show that the driver’s failure was due to negligence. To establish negligence, the injured party needs to show:
- The truck driver owed the injured party a duty of care
- The truck driver breached their duty of care through negligence
- The truck driver’s breach was a significant factor in causing a victim’s losses.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also promulgates federal regulations that impact all aspects of truck driving. The federal regulations cover drug and alcohol testing, hours of service, vehicle marking, and maintenance.
- Drug and alcohol testing – all trucking employers must have a designated employer representative who is required to oversee employer compliance with the drug testing regulation. The primary testing occurs prior to employment and includes an extensive background check; however, testing may also occur throughout employment.
- Hours of service – commercial truck drivers hauling property can drive 11 hours each day only after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truck drivers can drive for a maximum of 70 hours within one week. If they drive 70 hours in a week, they must then rest for 34 consecutive hours. California does not allow drivers to drive more than 80 hours over an eight-day period.
- Structured logs – federal laws require that truckers keep records of relevant driving information in logbooks. These logs document information like when the driver took breaks and how long the driver waited before driving again.
- California Laws – California limits the routes available to truck drivers. The State regulations also limit the size of the vehicles and the age of engines.
What Type of Evidence Will I Need in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Some of the important evidence needed in a truck accident lawsuit includes:
- Truck inspection reports
- Black box information
- Truck driver’s logbooks
- Truck driver’s phone records
- Truck driver’s qualifications
- Dispatch instructions
- Witness reports
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Traffic camera footage
- Tire marks on the road
- Medical records
- Accident scene notes
- Expert testimonies
What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive After a Truck Accident?
The amount of compensation or dollars an accident victim can receive after a truck accident varies based on a variety of factors. The compensatory damages will depend on multiple factors, including but not limited to:
- Injuries sustained
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Loss of companionship (wrongful death lawsuit)
Who Can I Hold Responsible for a Truck Accident?
There are multiple parties that you can pursue in a large-truck accident. For instance, in an accident caused by defective equipment, the injured driver can hold the designers, manufacturers, and companies that played a role in the product’s chain of distribution responsible for the accident. This can happen where there are faulty tires, brakes, or accelerator pedals.
A truck driver can also be held responsible for the injured driver’s losses if the truck driver is found to have been in violation of safety regulations and caused an accident. In order to show that the truck driver was at fault, you typically have to show that the driver was negligent. This can be shown if there was distracted driving, speeding, bad lane changes, or poor following of a traffic signal or stop sign.
An injured driver can also hold the truck driver’s employer or affiliated trucking company responsible for the accident if the employer showed negligence during the hiring process by failing to conduct a thorough background check or failing to ensure that the driver had the proper skills to operate the truck.
What Should I do if I was Involved in a Truck Accident?
The issues involving truck accidents can be serious, intimidating, and challenging. The need to investigate quickly and secure evidence is critical to a truck accident case and often requires legal representation. After a truck accident, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Here at Cutter Law, we provide our clients with a free consultation to determine your rights after a truck accident. We are a legal team of Oakland truck accident lawyers with decades of experience to fight for your best interests and justice. We handle all communications with insurance companies, insurance adjusters, the truck company, and any other party to fight for your legal claim.