Large Commercial Vehicle
San Bernardino Attorneys Representing Victims Of Large Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Riverside Large Commercial Vehicle Accidents Lawyers
When a car collides with a large commercial vehicle such as a semi-truck, the results can be absolutely devastating. Compared to an average passenger car weighing approximately 4,000 pounds, a semi-truck can exceed 80,000 pounds. Hence, it is critical that truck drivers drive safely and protect other motorists sharing the road. When they neglect this responsibility, accidents can and do happen – and the occupants of the smaller vehicle are usually the ones experiencing the most severe injuries.
As a result, victims of large commercial vehicle accidents may be eligible to recover significant compensation for serious damages. Learn more about these accidents by reviewing the information below, then contact an experienced San Bernardino commercial vehicle accident lawyer immediately to discuss your personal injury case. At Kampf, Schiavone & Associates, our team of expert attorneys protect the rights of victims and helps them seek compensation so they can focus on healing and moving forward with their lives.
Commercial Vehicle Accident Law
Commercial vehicle accident law refers to the area of personal injury law concerned with recovering damages for victims of collisions with commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles include semi-trucks, flatbed trucks, delivery vehicles, refrigerator trucks, garbage trucks, construction vehicles, buses, and any other vehicle used for the primary purpose of transporting property or individuals in exchange for payment.
Because of the potential for catastrophic damage during an accident, commercial vehicle drivers are held to higher legal and safety standards than regular motorists. Drivers must adhere to specific rules and regulations regarding the proper operation and maintenance of their vehicles. They are required to provide their driving record over the previous ten years and obtain a physical from a doctor to establish their health and fitness for the duties they must complete.
Commercial Truck Driver Responsibility
Drivers must also apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which requires passing two tests. First, drivers complete a written test that assesses the individual’s general knowledge of the vehicle and all its components, as well as the safety guidelines they must follow while inspecting, loading, and driving the vehicle. Next, drivers complete a skills test that evaluates their ability to inspect the vehicle and its cargo before travel, control the vehicle, and drive in a variety of traffic conditions.
In addition to federal regulations, commercial drivers are responsible for knowing and obeying state laws in their state of registration and any states they will travel through while transporting their cargo. Drivers who violate federal or state laws are subject to civil and criminal penalties and revocation of their license.
Commercial Vehicle Accidents vs. Passenger Vehicle Accidents
Personal injury and wrongful death cases resulting from commercial vehicle accidents differ from cases concerning passenger vehicles in several significant ways. First, the immense size and weight of these vehicles means that collisions cause more substantial property damage and result in more serious injuries and fatalities. Because the operation of these vehicles involves numerous state and federal entities, commercial vehicle accident cases require specialized knowledge of the trucking industry and experience negotiating with the insurance providers whose policies cover these vehicles.
Causes and Contributing Factors of Accidents
Large commercial vehicle accidents often include one or more of the following factors:
- Mechanical failure. Mechanical failure results from broken, faulty, defective, improperly installed, or missing parts essential to the safe operation of the vehicle, especially tires and braking systems.
- Improper maintenance. Truck drivers must complete regular maintenance of their vehicle to ensure it remains in good working condition. Drivers are also responsible for keeping maintenance records of all inspections and repairs.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving occurs when a driver operates a vehicle while their vision, concentration, or hands focus on any tasks other than driving. Distraction can come in many forms, such as drinking, eating, talking, using a cell phone, entering an address into a GPS, changing the radio station, or engaging in any other activities that divert attention from safe operation of the vehicle.
- Driver fatigue. Truck drivers must often adhere to strict delivery schedules that require them to drive great distances in short periods of time. Some drivers receive compensation based on the number of miles they travel, creating an incentive for completing further distances over shorter periods. Federal regulations limit the number of hours a driver can spend behind the wheel, but driver fatigue remains a factor in many large commercial vehicle accidents.
- Driver inexperience. Employee turnover rate in the trucking industry is exceptionally high. This can result in inexperienced drivers who may be underqualified for their position. Even with proper training and certification, safe operation of large commercial vehicles requires extensive experience to ensure drivers can navigate all traffic and weather conditions.
- Improper cargo loading. Proper cargo loading involves precisely arranging items to evenly distribute weight throughout the vehicle. Improperly loaded cargo can easily move and shift within a commercial vehicle, increasing the chances of certain types of accidents. For example, jack-knifing accidents, in which the cab and trailer become folded at their point of connection to form a ninety-degree angle, are a common result of unevenly distributed cargo.
- Failure to follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately, sometimes truck drivers simply take actions that fail to follow the rules of the road. These behaviors can include driving aggressively, excessive speeding, failure to stop or yield at the appropriate spot, merging too quickly, making wide turns, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Common Injuries in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Injuries sustained during a large commercial vehicle accident often mirror typical motor vehicle accident injuries. However, they are often more severe due to the nature of the large vehicle involved. The most sustained injuries in large commercial vehicle accidents include:
- Broken bones and lacerations
- Head, neck, and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
Holding Commercial Truck Drivers and Companies Responsible
To establish liability for damages incurred in a commercial vehicle truck accident case, your attorney must identify each individual, business entity, or government agency responsible for causing the accident. While the vehicle’s driver clearly played a key role in the accident, other parties may hold legal liability, as well. Responsible parties may include the trucking company, the manufacturer of the truck or its parts, maintenance companies, mechanics, cargo shipping and loading companies, and anyone else involved in the assembly, management, or operation of the vehicle.
After the identification of the responsible parties, your San Bernardino commercial vehicle accident lawyer can move forward with the case by confirming that the accident resulted from the negligence of these parties. Establishing negligence requires proving the following components:
- The driver owes you the duty to exercise reasonable care to operate their vehicle in a way that prevents causing injury to other motorists or pedestrians.
- The driver violated this duty of care by neglecting to operate their vehicle in a manner that would be expected from a trained, experienced driver operating the same vehicle under similar conditions. This includes obeying traffic laws, adhering to safety regulations, and following the rules of the road.
- This violation directly caused the accident and the injuries you sustained.
To prove essential components of your case, your San Bernardino large commercial vehicle accident attorney will gather evidence, including video footage, medical records, and expert witness testimony, as well as potentially hiring an expert accident reconstructionist who can recreate the accident for the court. Proving negligence is necessary to recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages you incurred due to your injuries. Economic damages include the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle or other property, past and current medical expenses, expenses for future medical treatment, loss of employment or career opportunities, and loss of future earning capacity. Non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement, disability, and loss of affection, consortium, or companionship.
Contact a Large Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney in San Bernardino Today
If you have experienced serious injuries due to a large commercial truck accident or a loved one has died from injuries sustained in such an accident, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today. For over three decades, our expert team of San Bernardino commercial vehicle accident lawyers has aggressively pursued personal injury cases on behalf of our clients. When you hire us for legal representation, you can rest assured that we will thoroughly investigate your claim, prepare your case with the strongest evidence, and protect your rights through negotiations with the insurance company or representation in court.
To schedule a free consultation with our team, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today by using our contact form. Our impressive record features over $250 million in settlements and verdicts collected for clients just like you. We accept all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so you owe nothing unless we win your case. If your injuries make it difficult to get around, we can meet you at the hospital or in your home to discuss your options for legal recourse. Se habla Español.