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Temecula Truck Accident Attorneys

California is a major site for international trade and shipping, which means a huge volume of goods are transported via commercial trucks on the state’s roadways. According to the American Trucking Association, trucks moved 11.49 billion tons of freight in one recent year, representing more than 71 percent of the nation’s total weight of freight.

Unfortunately, increased commercial trucks on Temecula’s roadways results in increased accidents. In the most recent year for which data is available, 4,986 fatal crashes involved large trucks in our state, and large trucks are a common sight throughout the Temecula area. While all motor vehicle collisions can cause dangerous injuries, the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks can cause catastrophic damage in an accident. After a truck accident injury, victims may experience devastating personal and financial consequences.

The experienced and compassionate Temecula personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. Call us now to find out how we can help you.

What Are Common Causes of Temecula Truck Accidents?

Large trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles, and the vehicle sits much higher above the ground than the average passenger vehicle. Damage and injuries resulting from accidents involving large commercial trucks tend to be extensive and severe. Drivers may cause a rollover accident if they lose control of a large truck. Federal regulations have recently been amended, requiring commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic stability controls, which are intended to reduce the risk of rollover.

The performance and capability of a truck’s braking system commonly contribute to truck accidents. Generally, commercial trucks are more difficult to maneuver, which may lead to an accident. For example, a loaded tractor-trailer requires more distance than a car to safely come to a complete stop. When brakes are poorly maintained or road conditions are hazardous, trucks may require even more distance to stop safely.

Additional causes of truck accidents may include:

  • Driver fatigue. The most common cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue, which is prevalent among overworked drivers. Truck drivers are often under pressure to deliver goods within a short period of time. If drivers cannot get adequate rest, they may tend to become distracted or fall asleep while driving. Federal regulations require drivers to take breaks after driving for set periods of time. However, some employer’s expectations prevent drivers from strictly following driver guidelines. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that truck drivers who have been behind the wheel for more than eight hours are twice as likely to cause an accident. Recently enacted federal regulations require commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic devices intended to ensure compliance with time limits.
  • Alcohol and drug use. Driver impairment is a common factor in all types of motor vehicle collisions. As a result of the employer’s expectations, drivers may use substances to stay awake or fail to wait long enough after drinking to drive. Illicit drug use is not the only culprit that causes driver impairment. In some circumstances, prescription drugs may also impair the driver’s coordination and judgment, leading to accidents.
  • Distracted driving. Driving around Temecula, how often have you seen another motorist talking on their cell phone, eating or drinking, or otherwise not paying attention to the vehicles around them? Unfortunately, large truck drivers are no exception. Truck drivers are on the road for many hours, traveling long distances, so it is not uncommon for drivers to become bored. Any activity that diverts attention from driving may lead to an accident. Commonly, drivers are distracted when using their cell phones to make or receive calls, read or reply to text messages, or visit social media sites. An accident can occur when a driver’s attention is diverted from the road for even a fraction of second.
  • Speeding. Speeding is a primary contributor to all motor vehicle crashes. Driving a vehicle at excessive speeds is dangerous for several reasons. Accidents are always unexpected, and a driver’s ability to react to upcoming danger is decreased when traveling at excessive speeds. When reaction time slows, the resulting crashes create a more forceful impact. In addition, speeding affects a driver’s ability to control their vehicle, particularly in bad weather.
  • Defective trucks or components. Defective truck parts and improper or inadequate repairs can lead to accidents. Even if the truck itself is not defective, truck owners are legally required to ensure that the trucks in their fleet are properly maintained before hitting the road. However, employers and truck owners frequently fail to adequately maintain their trucks due to limited time and resources for repair expenses.
  • Poorly trained drivers. Before truck drivers may operate commercial vehicles on public roads, they must complete extensive training and meet specific requirements for qualification. However, not all truck drivers or trucking companies adhere to these guidelines. As a result, poorly trained truck drivers, lacking the required experience may be operating commercial vehicles.
  • Improperly loaded cargo. When cargo is incorrectly loaded or inadequately secured, it can shift and fall onto the roadway or cause an imbalance in weight distribution that leads to an accident.
  • Blind spots. The design of commercial trucks makes them efficient for transporting cargo, but also creates large blind spots for drivers. Truck drivers must be aware of the risks posed by their large blind spots, located towards the front of the cab, behind the trailer, and on either side of the vehicle.

Truck Accident Injuries

When large commercial trucks collide with smaller vehicles, the accident frequently causes severe injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 2.5 million catastrophic brain injuries happen in the United States every year. Brain injuries are difficult to diagnose and have lasting impacts that are different from many other injuries. A broken bone may limit your mobility, but a brain injury often affects your mental capacity, personality, and ability to perform the activities of daily living. Symptoms of head and brain injuries may be immediate or may not become apparent for days, weeks, or even months after an accident.
  • Back and neck injuries. Severe back and neck injuries can have a long-term effect on the victim’s life.
  • Internal injuries. A truck accident can cause dangerous internal bleeding of organs, including the bladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and spleen.
  • Rib and torso injuries. The ribs enclose the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Injuries to an individual’s ribs or torso can endanger a victim’s life.
  • Cuts and burns. Individuals experiencing cuts and burns may be left with extensive scarring and/or permanent disfigurement.
  • Broken Bones. The powerful impact of a truck crash oftentimes leads to multiple broken bones and fractures.
  • Seat belt injuries. Seat belts do save lives, but in some cases, a seatbelt may cause internal injuries or neck injuries, like whiplash.
  • Wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit is a subset of a personal injury claim that may be brought by surviving family members if the injuries sustained in an accident are ultimately fatal.

California Truck Accident Laws

A truck accident case may involve multiple areas of the law—personal injury, workers’ compensation, employment law, or criminal law. California has adopted an “at fault” system for determining liability in a motor vehicle accident. An injured victim may be entitled to seek compensation by proving that another’s negligence caused an accident that resulted in the injuries. Negligence refers to “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

Therefore, to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person must show that:

  • The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff;
  • The defendant breached that duty;
  • The plaintiff was injured; and
  • The defendant’s breach caused the injury.

The trucking industry is heavily regulated by a complex network of state and federal regulations created to ensure the safety of truck drivers and others on the roadways. All commercial trucking companies must abide by the rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In California, truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other motorists due to the nature of the industry and skill required for safely operating large commercial vehicles.

Drivers must go through extensive training to obtain a commercial driver’s license and to conform to a variety of safety regulations. All drivers have a duty to use ordinary care while driving. The duty of care involves obeying all signs, signals, and rules of the road, as well as driving in a manner that allows a driver to maintain consistent control of the vehicle.

When an accident results in injury or death, drivers must report the accident to the California Highway Patrol or a local police department within 24 hours of the accident. The statute of limitations provides time limits within which individuals may file a personal injury claim. Experienced attorneys regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they deserve. An attorney may advise injured victims of the applicable deadlines for filing their claim, so they are not barred from seeking compensation.

Who May Cause a Truck Accident?

Just as an accident may be caused by multiple factors, there may be multiple parties who share responsibility for accident injuries. Injured victims should identify all responsible parties before filing a claim.

Potentially responsible parties may include:

  • Drivers.
  • Trucking companies. The trucking company may be liable for the driver’s negligence if the accident occurred while the driver was acting within the course and scope of employment. A trucking company’s failure to act may also deem the company liable if the failure contributes to causing an accident. For example, federal regulations require companies to perform background checks on each driver-applicant before deciding to hire them. Employers must supervise drivers to ensure their compliance with safety regulations. Trucking companies may also be responsible for an accident caused by their failure to ensure adequate inspection and maintenance of their fleet. In addition, they may be liable for an accident if they set unreasonable delivery deadlines or negligently load cargo.
  • Truck manufacturers. The manufacturer of a truck or truck parts, as well as the distributor and/or retailer, may be liable if the accident involved equipment or truck malfunctions. Malfunctions may include brake failure, tire blowouts, or defective steering mechanisms.
  • Other parties who may be at fault. The negligence of parties such as mechanics or warehouse workers may contribute to the crash. When mechanics or warehouse workers fail to provide adequate maintenance, they may be responsible for accident damages.

Compensation for a Truck Accident

Truck accidents tend to have larger settlements than accidents involving any other type of vehicle. Compensation may be larger for a variety of reasons, including strict insurance requirements for commercial trucks and the ability to sue parties other than the driver. Additionally, truck accidents usually cause serious injuries with extensive medical expenses. Injured victims may also be entitled to compensation for non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering.

Depending on the circumstances, an injured victim may recover damages, including:

  1. Medical expenses: Costs of medical care may include emergency room treatment, surgeries, hospital stays, prescription costs, and rehabilitation, among others.
  2. Lost wages: Truck accident victims are entitled to compensation for current and future lost wages as well as losses associated with diminished earning capacity.
  3. Pain and suffering: Injured victims may be entitled to seek compensation for pain and suffering they have experienced as a result of the accident. Pain and suffering may include emotional or psychological suffering, including depression and anxiety. Damages for pain and suffering may also include loss of enjoyment of life when a victim’s injuries prevent them from participating in activities they enjoyed before the accident.
  4. Loss of consortium: Spouses of injured victims may be entitled to pursue compensation for the loss of family relationships and companionship resulting from accident injuries.

In cases where the conduct of the wrongdoer was particularly egregious, the court may award additional damages, or punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to act as a punishment to deter similarly egregious behavior in the future.

What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?

After a Temecula truck accident, injured victims may want to follow a few steps to increase their chances of success. Of course, after suffering an injury, a victim must seek immediate medical attention. Even for those who feel they have only suffered minor injuries, seeking a medical evaluation is important. As mentioned, some injuries do not display symptoms for hours, days, or even weeks after an accident.

Failing to seek immediate treatment may worsen injuries or delay recovery. Professional documentation of a victim’s injuries and the medical care they require are important for calculating damages for a personal injury claim.

In addition, injured victims should:

  • Preserve evidence from the accident. If you are able, take photographs of the damaged vehicles, the surrounding area, any nearby traffic control devices, and your injuries. Some evidence tends to disappear, so try to preserve evidence at the scene of the accident if possible or hire a Temecula truck accident lawyer to do it for you.
  • Gather information from the scene of the accident. Witnesses may be difficult to locate after the accident. If you are able, obtain contact information or a statement from any individuals who witnessed the accident. Eye-witness testimony can help fill in the gaps to support allegations of fault.
  • Contact the police. The truck driver or his or her superiors will probably contact the police following an accident. However, if the police do not respond to the scene within a reasonable time, you should contact them.
  • Don’t share too much information. In the wake of a traumatic incident, many people become anxious and want to talk about what happened. For some people, their first impulse is to post comments or photos about the accident on social media. However, remember that information shared on social media may be misconstrued and used against you in a lawsuit later. Injured victims should avoid accepting blame or blaming others for the accident.
  • Contacting an experienced truck accident lawyer before discussing the accident with other parties or signing any release forms.

Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Gomez Trial Attorneys are here to help. Contact an experienced Temecula personal injury attorney or call (619) 237-3490 to discuss your options for moving forward.

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