If you drive a Honda Civic, your car weighs just over 2,770 pounds. If you drive a Honda Civic, your car weighs just over 3,360 pounds. If you drive a mid-size SUV, which is a great option if you need extra space when traveling around California, your vehicle weighs roughly 5,000 pounds. By contrast, a semi-truck cab hooked onto an empty trailer weighs a staggering 35,000 pounds. When fully loaded, semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds under U.S. law. When compared to cars, semis are – in terms of length, width, and weight – absolutely massive vehicles.
For obvious reasons, massive commercial trucks don’t maneuver as precisely as smaller vehicles do, nor do they have the ability to come to a full stop as quickly. It is, therefore, perhaps unsurprising that truck accidents occur so frequently. And because of their size and weight, when large commercial trucks crash, the damage resulting from these accidents tends to be serious, if not outright catastrophic.
Driving a large commercial truck is an awesome responsibility, given the potentially life-or-death consequences associated with a collision involving one of these machines. Unfortunately, those responsible for training truck operators do not always approach this task with the seriousness of purpose that the situation demands. When efforts to properly train drivers of large commercial trucks fall short, the results can be devastating.
How Often Do Truck Accidents Occur?
According to federal data, approximately half a million large commercial truck accidents occur on U.S. roads each year. As a result of these crashes, each year, roughly 5,000 people lose their lives and hundreds of thousands of people suffer non-fatal (though potentially devastating) injuries that require medical attention.
Research suggests that up to 90 percent of trucking accidents involve some sort of driver error. This isn’t surprising, given that every moment spent on the road provides an opportunity to make a potentially catastrophic mistake. This is why it is critically important that professional truck drivers are adequately trained. Without proper training, the likelihood that a truck operator will be involved in an injurious crash is staggering.
Can Trucking Companies Be Held Accountable for Inadequate Training?
When accident victims seek legal counsel in the wake of suffering harm as a result of an injurious crash, lawyers initiate investigations into the causation of the crashes in question. Understanding what causes a crash to occur helps to determine which party or parties may be held legally and financially responsible for the harm resulting from the collision. These investigative efforts generally include evaluation and analysis of the training, equipment maintenance, and employment practices of any trucking companies that employ drivers involved in the crash.
All too often, trucking companies fail to train their new drivers for more than a few weeks at a time. Inadequate training practices, violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, improper truck maintenance, etc. can all lead to a determination that one or more of these companies should be held partially or totally responsible for the harm caused by a specific crash.
Note, however, that truck drivers themselves often have a difficult time holding their employers liable for negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous conduct. Truck drivers who are classified as employees (full-time or part-time) of a specific trucking company generally can’t sue that company in the wake of a work-related crash. This is because the truck operators’ eligibility for workers’ compensation entitles them to workers’ comp benefits post-crash but shields their employers from liability in civil court. With very few exceptions, only those who are not formally employed by a trucking company may sue that company via the personal injury claims process.
California Law – The Rights of Accident Victims
California is among the few states in the union that embrace a legal theory known as “pure comparative negligence.” This legal theory allows accident victims to hold others responsible for their negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous – and ultimately harmful – conduct, even if those accident victims ultimately contributed to the cause(s) of their collisions as well. For example, if you were texting and driving when a semi-truck crashed into your SUV, you may be held partially responsible for the harm resulting from the crash. However, if the truck driver and/or trucking company that employs the driver may also be held legally responsible for a fraction of the accident-related fault in question, you can hold them accountable for financial damages.
As a result of California’s broad protections afforded to accident victims – of which a pure comparative negligence theory is one – it is important to speak with an attorney about your legal options in the wake of a trucking crash. Once an investigation into the circumstances surrounding your accident is complete, you may learn that you were far less responsible for the harm you have suffered than you may have initially been led to believe.
If you have been injured in a crash involving a large commercial truck, please connect with our experienced legal team today in order to explore your options. Regardless of the exact circumstances that led to your crash, chances are good that you have strong grounds upon which to file legal action. Even if you were partially responsible for the series of events that led to your collision, as a California accident victim, you remain entitled to hold others involved (potentially including the employer of any truck drivers involved) legally and financially responsible for their contribution to the cause(s) of the harm you have suffered.
Once you meet with our experienced legal team, we will provide you with an objective analysis of your legal rights and any opportunities for recourse available to you at this time. Don’t wait until costs associated with your accident have begun to impact your family’s financial situation to begin exercising your rights as an accident victim. As seeking justice takes time, it is important to act quickly in order to avoid unnecessary stress and disruptions to your life. We look forward to assisting you with your legal needs during this challenging time.