Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents claim the lives of hundreds of Californians each year and cause disabling and serious injuries to many more. Traffic fatality estimates released by the National Safety Council indicates 40,200 people died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2016, a 6 percent rise from the year before. According to the California Highway Patrol, 290 residents died in accidents involving commercial motor vehicles in 2015.
If you or a loved one have sustained life-changing physical or brain injuries in a truck versus automobile or truck versus pedestrian collision you need a skilled Sacramento truck accident lawyer at the Walkup Law Firm. If you or a family member suffered serious injuries from an accident involving a large truck, the truck accident attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, and Schoenberger can help.
Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation today. Let us hold the negligent parties accountable and help you receive fair compensation for your material and immaterial losses.
Do You Need a Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a truck accident, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve. However, these cases are very hard for individuals to take on by themselves. An attorney will provide the experience needed to understand how to tackle these cases. Importantly, an attorney will have the resources to take on truck companies and their aggressive insurance carriers.
One of the most important aspects of a truck accident case is determining liability. In these accidents, there may be multiple parties that can be held liable. By conducting extensive investigations, your attorney will work to determine who is liable for the incident.
Your attorney will also handle complex negotiations with all defendants in the case. Often, this involved the truck company legal teams and the insurers. You will have a much better chance of securing a fair settlement with an experienced Sacramento truck accident lawyer by your side.
Due to the severity of the injuries these truck crashes often cause, an attorney is imperative to help secure the compensation you need. It is not uncommon for our Sacramento truck accident lawyers to help clients suffering from the following:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
- Dismemberment or amputation
- Significant disfigurement
Not only do these injuries cause immense physical and emotional suffering, but they can also lead to lost income and major medical bills.
Where are Truck Accidents the Most Common in Sacramento?
As the capital of California, Sacramento is a bustling city that’s home to the intersection of multiple major state and interstate highways. Interstate 80, is one of the longest routes in the country, connects Sacramento to San Francisco and Reno, Denver, Salt Lake and the East Coast. Interstate 80 is the main roadway for long-haul and short-haul truckers. Other major highways that intersected Sacramento in connection trucking routes across the country include:
- Interstate 5, which connects truckers to destinations from Los Angeles through the Central Valley, to Sacramento, Reading, Red Bluff, Portland and Seattle
- Highway 99, which travels down the center of the state, and has heavy truck traffic, connecting Southern California with the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys
- S. Highway 50, which heads to South Lake Tahoe, and goes all the way to Ocean City, MD
- Business 80, which runs through the city and reconnects to the interstate on the western border.
Independent truck drivers and large trucking companies use all of Californians major freeways and state highways including I-80, I-50, Highway 99 and Interstate 5 to transport goods throughout the entire country. However, since California transports 88% of its total manufactured tonnage within the state, many owner-operators and other drivers often rely on smaller, statewide routes and freeways for travel. The high speeds of these roadways, coupled with a truck’s sheer size and weight, contributes to literally hundreds of injury-producing truck versus automobile accidents each year.
California Trucking and Tonnage Limits
California allows trucks with a gross weight of 80,000 pounds on many of the Sacramento Valley area roadways. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act dictates the largest trucks that can be in operation in California. Under these rules, a semi-trailer can be up to 53 feet long, but there is no overall length limit.
Consider that the average passenger vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds, and you can see why large truck crashes can be so devastating for everyone on the roadway.
Most Common Causes of Sacramento Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were approximately 148,000 people injured as a result of large truck accidents during the latest reporting year in the United States. These crashes also resulted in 4,761 fatalities. Some of the most common causes of these accidents, as reported by the FMCSA and the California Highway Patrol, include:
- Driver Fatigue
Drivers are required to follow strict FMCSA regulations concerning how many hours they can operate during a workday and workweek. Failing to follow these mandatory rules can result in driver fatigue, leading to serious crashes on the roadway. In many cases, truck companies pressure drivers to meet set deadlines, and this may conflict with FMCSA regulations.
- Alcohol and Drug Use
Truck drivers should never operate their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Impaired driving is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in the state of California. Whether a driver uses drugs or alcohol at rest stops or while driving, they place other people’s lives in danger. Many drivers use prescription drugs that can affect their driving abilities.
- Poor Driver Training
Truck drivers should all have their commercial driver’s licenses and undergo a certain threshold of training hours before they are allowed to operate a large truck. Not all drivers adhere to these guidelines, and not all trucking companies ensure their drivers are properly trained.
- Truck Maintenance Problems
Truck owners and companies are required by FMCSA regulations to regularly inspect and maintain all trucks in their fleet. These vehicles must be in top condition before they are allowed to hit the road. Poorly maintained trucks can fail while on the roadway and cause serious harm.
- Distracted Drivers
Distracted driving is a major problem for everyone on the roadway. Truck drivers must not operate large vehicles while distracted by their phones or any other devices. Unfortunately, many truck drivers check and send text messages, make phone calls, browse social media, and even watch movies while they are operating their vehicles. Any time a truck driver takes their eyes off the roadway, they are putting other people’s lives in danger.
Truck drivers have an obligation to follow all traffic laws, including speed limits (which are often different for large trucks). However, there are times when truck drivers are pressured to meet delivery deadlines, and they make the choice to travel at unsafe speeds. At increased speeds, truck drivers have less time to react to the conditions on the roadway around them.
How Do You Determine Liability in a Truck Accident?
Determining liability in a truck crash can be incredibly difficult. As opposed to a traditional passenger vehicle crash, incidents involving large trucks can involve many different parties. Your Sacramento truck accident lawyer will work to determine whether any of the following parties is liable:
- Truck driver’s employer
- Truck’s owner
- Truck’s manufacturer
- Company which loaded cargo onto the truck
- Government entities
- Freight forwarding companies
- The owner of the cab
- The owner of the trailer
- The entity that leased the truck
- Repair shop that works on the truck
- The company that manufactured the trailer
- The company that leased the trailer
Determining who is liable will involve considerable investigation on the part of your attorney. Even if the truck driver appears to be completely at fault, that does not absolve any of the other parties from liability. For example, if a truck company allows an undertrained driver to operate their vehicle, then the company could be held liable. Your lawyer will obtain:
- All accident reports
- Video and photo evidence from the scene
- Eyewitness statements
- Company maintenance and training logs
- Driver hours of service logs
- And more
Your attorney is looking for negligence. That could be negligence on the part of any of the parties listed above. Each of these parties has its own insurance policies that could be responsible for providing compensation for your injuries.
California operates on a “pure comparative negligence” basis. This means that the amount of money you receive can be reduced if it is determined that you were responsible for part of the incident that caused your injuries. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 by a jury in damages for your injuries, but the jury determines that you were 10% at fault for the crash, you would receive $90,000 in total damages. Because the other side will likely try to blame you for as much of the accident as possible, it is vital to have an attorney who will work to prove the defendant’s liability.
What is the Statute of Limitations on a Truck Accident in California?
Every state applies a certain statute of limitations for personal injury cases. There are time limits in which a case must be filed. In California, the statute of limitations for truck accident injury cases is two years from the date the injury occurred. Failing to file a personal injury lawsuit within the two-year time limit will result in the court dismissing your case.
Various Factors Involved in Sacramento Truck Accidents
Truck accidents in the state of California have certain contributing factors that are consistently found by police and highway patrolman according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):
- Driver error and driver fatigue are at the top of the list for major serious injury and fatal truck accidents. Driver fatigue and driver error account for the majority of trucking accidents. Distracted driving, speeding, inattention, driving outside of permitted hours, driving without adequate sleep, and driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol had the list of causes.
- Improper loading. Overloading long and short-haul trucks, or loading rigs in a way which causes them to be out of balance and difficult to steer or control regularly produces major collisions and rollovers. Due to their sheer weight and size, loaders of commercial motor vehicles must exercise diligence and distribute the weight of the load properly. Failure to do so can cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle.
- Poor tires, poor breaks, vehicles out of adjustment and out of specifications as the result of a failure to undertake required maintenance is also a frequent cause of major truck related injury collisions. Federal law requires truck drivers and their employers to complete comprehensive checks of a truck’s equipment – brakes, tires, and other important safety features must undergo routine maintenance to prevent a malfunction. Failure to complete these checks can result in a devastating accident.
What Are My Next Steps After a Truck Accident in Sacramento?
Victims of Sacramento area truck accidents often sustain serious, permanently disabling, and life-threatening injuries. The aftermath of an accident can prove devastating – victims often are disabled for life, or if they are able to return to work, miss long periods of work, or may be unable to return to their profession at all. The financial consequences of medical bills and lost wages take their toll and cause families to lose homes, property, and savings.
If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a truck accident, your next steps will have a huge impact on your future. Contact the Sacramento truck accident attorneys at Walkup Melodia, Kelly, and Schoenberger to schedule a free initial consultation with our firm. We hold trucking companies accountable and demand fair compensation for the full extent of your injuries, pain, and suffering. Call us to review your legal options today.