Our San Francisco truck accident attorneys are expert in handling cases where negligent and careless truck drivers and trucking companies have caused injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, auto drivers and motorcyclists. We are members of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, an organization formed with the intention of making our highways safer and facilitating networking between lawyers who handle major truck injury collisions.
As APITLA members, we are working to help eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices. Through litigation, we are trying to help make our highways a safer place for our families, our clients and all Americans.
Devastating physical injury and often death due to unsafe trucking companies have become an epidemic on our nation’s highways. Walkup’s truck injury litigation team believes that we can bring about change by educating the general public, other lawyers, law students, legislators, truck lines, truck drivers, judges and juries about the hard facts surrounding common unsafe or illegal trucking practices.
Truck Accidents Are Often A Matter Of Size
The tremendous difference in size and weight between tractor-trailers and passenger cars usually spells disaster for motorists. It has been estimated that as many as 10 percent of all fatal accidents are caused by semi trucks.
A semi truck usually weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds and may be 65 to 75 feet long. Because of this tremendous difference in size and weight, big rigs produce distinct and peculiar issues in lawsuits: For instance, it takes a 40-ton 18-wheeler driving at 10 miles above the speed limit an additional 100 feet to stop. In many cases, this failure to brake correctly explains why big rigs are involved in rear-end collisions or overturns trying to avoid rear-end collisions.
Additionally, the size and configuration of semi trucks, when traveling on city streets, present unique and unusual risks to both pedestrians and motorists as the following trailer swings widely left or right, “squeezing” pedestrians, automobiles and bicyclists who are otherwise observing the legal right of way.
Walkup’s personal injury attorneys have experience resolving claims against big rig drivers and the companies that hire them. Semi-truck drivers and the companies they work for have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. Unsafe driving, loads that are too big or heavy, substandard equipment, dangerous tires and other unsafe practices put innocent motorists at risk.
Our San Francisco truck accident lawyers know what to look for when analyzing trucking accidents. We are familiar with the unique issues that arise, the federal regulations and commercial insurance issues that are involved, and the accident reconstruction problems that are unique to big rig accidents.
If you, a member of your family or someone else close to you has been injured in an accident involving a semi truck or tractor-trailer, you should call our California truck accident attorneys at (415) 981-7210 or contact us online.
5 Common Trucking Accident Factors in San Francisco
Every traffic accident is unique, but certain factors tend to arise more often than others in truck crashes. The size, shape, and weight of commercial trucks make them more prone to specific types of accidents, such as rollovers and jackknifing. Analyzing the common contributing factors in serious truck accidents can decrease your chances of becoming a victim.
Here’s a look at the statistics.
1. Truck Driver Error
The number one driving force behind truck accidents is human error. In 2015, 33% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents had contributed to the crash in some way. Speeding is the most frequent truck driver error, followed by distraction, inattention, and impairment. Most commercial drivers are patient, skilled, and experienced, but critical errors in judgment can lead to a serious accident.
Driving a big rig is a difficult job that comes with pressures from employers, tight deadlines, and long hours on the road. Truck drivers can make mistakes such as driving drowsy or texting and driving, as well as speeding to make it to destinations on time. All of these poor decisions and mistakes increase the risk of serious collisions. Inadequate training and unrealistic schedules also add to the problem.
2. Other Drivers’ Errors
Truck drivers aren’t the only ones who cause crashes. Passenger vehicle drivers often make mistakes around big rigs, resulting in catastrophic accidents. Driving in a truck’s blind spots, cutting a large truck off, making a left turn in front of a truck, unsafe passing, and driving between trucks are all dangerous driver habits that can be deadly. Commercial trucks, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, cannot always stop or maneuver quickly enough to avoid a dangerous driver.
3. Poor Truck Maintenance
Large trucks travel millions of miles around the country every year. It is the trucking company’s job to keep all fleet vehicles properly maintained, no matter how far they have to go. This requires daily maintenance checks of the tires, fluids, lights, and major systems. Failure to keep the truck in proper working condition can lead to tire blowouts and vehicle breakdowns at dangerous times. A truck’s electronic logging system or black box can often record maintenance failures involved in accidents.
4. Bad Weather
While no one can control the weather, drivers should know safe best practices when there is rain, fog, snow, or high winds. Truck drivers should pull into rest stops if the weather is too dangerous to drive, or at least practice special braking techniques on slick roads. Unsafe driving such as speeding in poor weather is a recipe for disaster. Loss of vehicle control because of bad weather can be fatal.
5. Roadway Defect
Large trucks are not impervious to roadway defects such as bumps, potholes, and debris. Trying to maneuver around a defect in the road or a hazard such as a construction zone in a big rig is difficult. Truckers should do their best to avoid roadway defects, but in the event that one causes an accident, the city in charge of road maintenance may be liable for damages. Identifying the main cause of a trucking accident is the first step in assigning liability.
Identifying Negligent Truck Drivers and/or Trucking Companies
Big rig and semi-truck accidents can have many causes: bad driving, faulty equipment, wet roads, fatigue, violation of federal weight limits, inadequate training or licensure, road hazards, and truck driver negligence and recklessness. Thousands of untrained and unskilled commercial truck drivers are on interstates after getting fraudulent commercial licenses, according to government investigators. So far, fraudulent licensing schemes have been uncovered in 24 states, and there are 21 ongoing investigations in 13 other states, according to the Department of Transportation.
The schemes normally involve third parties offering to provide fraudulent documentation for money, and many target immigrants, officials say. “As a result, unskilled drivers could be operating commercial vehicles on the nation’s highways, creating significant risks for death, injury and property damage,” said a report last February from the U.S. Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General.
Driver fatigue may be a major factor in up to 40 percent of all heavy truck accidents. The risk of an accident dramatically increases after 10 hours of driving, causing deaths, injuries and accident-caused congestion. The Department of Transportation states that fatigue is a direct cause of 15 percent of truck accident fatalities and injuries, resulting in more than 750 deaths and nearly 20,000 injuries each year. Polls show that more than 80 percent of the public believes that fatigued drivers pose a serious danger to others on the highway and that their hours should not be increased.
Transportation experts estimate that as many as 30 percent of all commercial trucks on the road today exceed federal weight limits. Not only is this damaging to the nation’s highway and bridge infrastructure, but it’s also dangerous. Studies show that overweight trucks are more likely to be in accidents. They also roll over more easily and need more time and distance to stop. A truck weighing 120,000 pounds needs 50 percent more space and time to stop than a truck weighing the legal 80,000 pounds.
If a truck driver’s or trucking company’s carelessness caused your loved one’s traumatic brain injury or spinal cord trauma, we can help.
We have extensive experience handling semi-truck accident claims and lawsuits involving:
- Overloaded trucks
- Failure to keep adequate records of driver training and licensure
- Semi-truck rollovers
- Jackknife accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Unbalanced or shifting loads
- Underride accidents
- Inadequate tractor and trailer visibility
- Semi trucks merging into cars
- Truck driver fatigue
- Violations of federal trucking regulations
- Failure to repair and maintain trucks and equipment
- Truck driver DUI or drug use
We have more than five decades of success helping truck accident victims and their families receive the fair compensation they need for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, future care and surgery, attendant care, and accommodations so they can live as full and fulfilling lives as possible after their accidents. We are skilled in trial, mediation and settlement negotiations with trucking companies.
Negligent truck drivers and trucking companies must be held accountable for the accidents and injuries they cause. If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury in a semi-truck accident or paralysis after a commercial truck accident, contact our firm.
An Injury Firm Specializing In Catastrophic Truck Accident Injuries
Walkup lawyers belong to the APITLA, a national association of truck injury collision lawyers who share information and experts to bring justice to truck accident victims. A semi truck, tractor-trailer or other commercial truck combination can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while a passenger car may weigh only 3,000 pounds. This weight difference alone is one of the reasons why accidents involving semi trucks often result in serious internal injuries, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our Bay Area injury attorneys work with clients who have suffered spinal cord or brain injury, dealing aggressively with negligent truck drivers, trucking companies and transportation companies that cause semi-truck accidents.
We have secured millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients injured by truckers’ negligence.
Our track record in all types of cases speaks for itself. To put our experience to work for your family, contact a San Francisco semi-truck accident lawyer at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for a free consultation. Call us at (415) 981-7210 or contact the Walkup firm online.
Walkup Truck Injury Verdicts And Settlements
18-Wheeler Sideswipes Bicyclist — $15 Million Settlement
We represented a young woman who was sideswiped while cycling on her way to work in Berkeley, California. The rear dual wheels of the tractor-trailer rolled over her, causing severe injuries to both of her lower extremities. She required months of hospitalization and more than 10 surgeries to help save her legs from amputation. Our lawyers showed that the commercial truck driver had been driving too long and was not paying attention to the right lane of traffic when he made a right turn, driving over our client. The truck driver claimed that our client was in his “blind spot.” Walkup liability lawyers showed through an accident reconstruction and visual read creation that the cyclist could have been seen if the driver had been paying attention.
Unsafe Merge By 16-Wheeler — $7.75 Million Settlement
Our big rig liability team obtained this multimillion-dollar settlement in a combined wrongful death and injury case for a Stockton couple forced off the road by a fatigued and improperly licensed big rig driver. The Bay Area couple was forced to correct their SUV toward the soft dirt shoulder on the left side of the roadway, where it overturned, when the big rig driver made an unsafe lane change into their lane. The couple was traveling next to the semi when it began to merge into their lane. The wife who was riding as a passenger lost her leg in the tragedy.
Oil Truck Strikes Motorcycle — $4.5 Million Settlement
Walkup vehicle liability lawyers negotiated a settlement in the amount of $4.5 million on behalf of a 50-year-old attorney who suffered a left leg below-the-knee amputation when he was struck by a left-turning semi truck. The plaintiff was amnesiac regarding the accident. He had been traveling straight on a downtown street approaching a busy intersection. The defendant truck driver stopped for a red light and was in the process of turning left when the collision occurred. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff was speeding without his lights on and had been drinking as evidenced by a blood alcohol content in excess of .12. Paul and Mike demonstrated through the testimony of both experts and nonparty witnesses that the headlight of the motorcycle was on at the time of the accident, the defendant’s view of the street on which the plaintiff was approaching was unobstructed, and the post-impact trajectory of the plaintiff’s motorcycle conclusively proved that he was not speeding. Medical expenses exceeded $450,000.
Crane Truck Hits Senior Citizen — $2 Million Settlement
Walkup truck litigation attorneys settled a wrongful death claim on behalf of the heirs of a vibrant 72-year-old woman who was walking to work in the SOMA district when she was struck by a large industrial truck. A vigorous woman for her age, the decedent helped support her daughter and two grandchildren. The operator of the rig failed to yield as the decedent crossed the street with the right of way. Without substantial economic loss, the focus in the case was on establishing and proving the unique, close bond the adult plaintiff shared with her mother. At mediation our attorneys offered extensive interviews with co-workers and friends of the decedent, describing the tight-knit family relationship.
Big Rig Head-On — $2 Million Settlement
Our truck accident team negotiated a settlement in the amount of $2 million on behalf of the surviving wife and two children of a 42-year-old man who died when his automobile was struck head on by a semi truck on State Route 65 outside of Lincoln, California. Our clients sought recovery for future and lost earnings as well as for the loss of love, comfort and society of their husband and father. As part of the settlement, our attorneys also worked with the workers’ compensation carrier for the decedent. The case was settled after being filed in Sacramento County Superior Court.
Dump Truck Brake Failure — $1,575,000 Settlement
We settled a wrongful death case on behalf of the two adult children of an 80-year-old University of California-Berkeley professor who was killed when a runaway dump truck careened down a hill and struck her while she was on her way to work. The decedent, a nationally known educator, had a particularly close relationship with her adult children. They continued to receive financial support from her and looked to her for guidance and inspiration. The defendants claimed that because the children were fully emancipated, their loss was modest. Further, given their mother’s advanced age, the defendants claimed that her shortened life expectancy would have resulted in her death from natural causes in a relatively short time.