Delivery trucks, shipping trucks and heavy-duty construction trucks remain an integral part of American commerce and transportation. But while trucks are a daily necessity, they also cause a huge number of fatalities and injuries on the road. Trucks are larger than passenger vehicles, with some semi-trucks reaching 20 to 30 times the weight of the average car. This makes them a deadly but necessary part of the road.
We see them daily on our nation's highways and byways, quietly rolling along as they perform their trade. Seldom do we stop and give thought to the devastating results of being involved in a collision with one of these giants. However, every year thousands of Americans are the victims of commercial truck-related accidents. Weighing as much as 40 tons, the sheer size of semi-trucks can cause catastrophic damage and injuries when involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle.
Federal safety regulations that are in place are designed to prevent truck accidents from occurring in California and the 49 other states. Unfortunately, they fail to prevent truck accidents when drivers and companies act negligently by ignoring the regulations. Fortunately, when an accident victim suffers injuries due to a driver or company's failure to adhere to these regulations, legal recourse is available in the form of personal injury compensation. If you sustained an injury in a truck accident, an understanding of safety regulations may help you determine if a personal injury suit is an option.
To understand how truck accidents are so prolific is to understand the entire big picture behind and beyond a behemoth diesel-powered cargo container on wheels attempting to stay in the lines and share the roads with cars they may not even see. While that may be the most obvious contributing factor to a truck accident, what else is there? Investigating this goes far in determining possible scenarios of causation and pursuit of compensation.
We previously wrote about the role truck driver fatigue may play as a contributing factor in a truck accident. This is particularly the case in situation in which an 18-wheeler accident occurs when the driver fails to stop for traffic congestion and plows into the rear of other vehicles.
There is a reason why federal trucking regulations limit the number of hours that a commercial truck driver can spend behind the wheel each day. A fully loaded tractor-trailer traveling at highway speeds can quickly become an instrument of death and destruction when truck driver fatigue allows it to slam into the rear of another vehicle or have a head-on collision after crossing a center median.
Accidents that involve commercial trucks can be catastrophic. Given the size and weight of commercial trucks, these accidents can result in very serious injuries or even fatalities. If you or a family member was involved in a truck accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim. To collect the maximum amount of compensation, you should identify as many defendants as you can in your claim.
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, the question may come up as to how the truck driver's employer might be liable for the actions of that driver. Among the legal theories that a plaintiff can consider in this regard are vicarious liability, and negligent hiring. Although it can be tempting to allege both, in California it can amount to an "either-or" situation.
Semi-truck drivers in California are often the best trained and most experienced drivers on the roads. One might ask, "If this is so, why are they involved in some of the most horrific accidents throughout the year?" An obvious factor is the sheer size difference between large tractor trailers and smaller passenger vehicles. Even a minor accident that involves a semi-truck can have major consequences. Small cars and even SUVs are no match for a vehicle that is the size of a semi.
There was a saying once that "No good little man ever beat a good big man." Which is another way, of course, of expressing the more well known truism that "Size does matter." If you are ever in an accident involving your passenger car and a commercial truck, you may discover that these sayings have more applicability to your circumstances than just a double-entendre meaning. You will likely come out on the losing end in such a confrontation, at least in the short term. But if you choose your legal representation carefully, that need not be the case when it comes to seeking compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle.