Commercial trucks like eighteen-wheeler and delivery trucks present distinctive dangers to smaller vehicles and their passengers. Not only do truck drivers need to be mindful of the dangers presented by their large and bulky vehicles, but other drivers also need to be careful when driving near a large truck. Often, slight driving mistakes, like failing to signal before passing, can result in disaster when a big-rig is involved, especially at high speeds. Sadly, occupants in cars and other small vehicles make up the majority of injuries and fatalities occurring in a commercial truck accidents. Collisions frequently occur because the enormous truck has limited visibility and braking distance and drivers of passenger cars are often unaware of the time it takes for a big-rig to slow down or stop, or even see them.
Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in crashes. —Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute
A fully loaded tractor-trailer, or, semi-truck carrying load capacity require a distance of 20 to 40 times greater than a passenger vehicle to come to a stop, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute. In poor weather conditions, such as rain, snow, ice, and on wet roads, trucks require even a greater amount of distance to come to a stop. In addition, lack of proper maintenance on brakes can have an adverse impact on stopping power for large trucks.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Irvine or Orange County, contact an Irvine Personal Injury Attorney today.
Commercial Truck Liability Statistics
Established federal regulations permit commercial truck operators to drive up to 11 hours at a time, or, as many as 77 hours over the course of a week, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute. However, surveys conducted on the industry reveal it is common for truck drivers to operate these massive commercial payload vehicles for longer periods of time, despite regulations. There are high expectations associated with truck driving and impractical schedules and/or bonus compensation encourage longer driving hours and at faster speeds to make up time and disregard safety. With such violations, it’s little wonder why 1 out of every 10 highway deaths involve large trucks. In the latest figures available from the IIHSHLDI reveals just over 3,600 people died in auto collisions involving large trucks. Of these fatalities, the majority, 67 percent, were in private passenger vehicles while 15 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, the same data shows an upward trend of road deaths involving large trucks, increasing 14 percent from 2009 to 2013.
Determining Liability in a Truck Accident in Irvine
The trucking industry is governed by the Code of Federal Regulations Title 49. In addition, regulations are enforced by two federal agencies: U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Like private passenger vehicle drivers, truck drivers and carrier companies must adhere to certain rules, including licensing, insurance, vehicle weight, driver rest, truck maintenance, and proper transport of hazardous materials. Passenger vehicle and large truck accidents can be caused by the following:
- Driver fault, including operating a truck for longer periods than legally allowed, or, distracted driving.
- Accidents caused, in-part or by unsafe road conditions, including bad weather and poorly maintained streets or highways.
- Collisions caused by unexpected mechanical failures, such as brake failure, tire damage, or other mechanical breakdowns.
- Drivers with a demonstrable history of bad driving or not having proper training to operate commercial vehicles.
In the event of a passenger vehicle-truck accident, there are typically one or more parties which may well be held liable. Liable parties could include the truck driver, who operated the vehicle recklessly; a trucking company which over-scheduled a driver; a cargo company that improperly loaded a truck, and/or, the truck and/or truck-part manufacturer. Injured passengers and drivers could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, companionship loss, and, specific damages. If you are involved in a large, commercial truck accident, it is imperative you seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible. You might be entitled to compensation and a licensed attorney can help you in determine liability and shoulder the burden of litigation while you concentrate on getting well. Visit our Irvine Office Location for a free consultation.