truck accident in california

California has about 3,000 truck accidents each year involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). These accidents kill between 200 and 300 people and injure thousands more. In Los Angeles County alone, roughly 500 truck accidents kill about 20 people and injure over 600 people in an average year.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the fault for truck accidents is assigned to the CMV about 55% of the time, with reasons ranging from mechanical failures to speeding.

Read our ultimate guide to truck accidents in California to learn about these crashes and how your truck accident attorney can win compensation for the injuries you suffer in them.

How Truck Accidents Happen

The FMCSA includes several types of vehicles in its definition of CMV, including:

  • Semi-trucks with or without trailers
  • Delivery trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, including their payloads
  • Buses that charge a fare and carry at least eight passengers plus a driver
  • Buses that carry at least 14 passengers plus a driver, regardless of fare charges

To operate a CMV, a driver must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which the California DMV issues. CDL holders must undergo medical examinations and drug and alcohol tests.

Driver-Related Causes

Despite the care taken to vet CMV drivers, driver errors cause about 48% of all truck crashes.

Some common truck driver errors include:

  • Speeding
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway
  • Improper lookout
  • Driver fatigue
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drug use

Importantly, factors common in car accidents, like intoxication, distracted driving, and aggressive tendencies, don’t play a large role in most truck accidents.

Mechanical Causes

Trucking companies and independent drivers must maintain their vehicles. The FMCSA can fine or shut down operators using unsafe CMVs.

Some common mechanical causes include:

  • Brake failure
  • Wheel and tire failure
  • Steering problems
  • Engine or transmission breakdowns

Mechanical problems only cause about 5.5% of all truck accidents.

Environmental Causes

Road, weather, and traffic conditions can also lead to truck accidents. Truck drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles in adverse conditions.

The top environmental causes of truck accidents include:

  • Traffic congestion
  • Slick road surfaces
  • Weather-related loss of visibility, such as fog or whiteouts
  • Wind

Only about 1.3% of truck crashes result from environmental causes.

Other Causes

Truck crashes can also happen due to:

  • Shifting loads
  • Unsecured loads
  • Driver illness

However, these causes only account for 0.2% of truck crashes.

Injuries and Fatalities from Truck Accidents

Of those injured in truck accidents, about 3% will suffer fatal injuries and 97% will suffer non-fatal injuries.

Among the injured, 10% will have incapacitating injuries requiring an ambulance. Almost 29% will suffer non-incapacitating injuries, which are visible but don’t require an ambulance.

The remaining 61% will have possible injuries. Someone with possible injuries experiences symptoms like pain or dizziness but has no visible wounds.

Proving Liability for Truck Accidents in California

Your truck accident attorney can establish a trucking company’s liability for:

  • Hiring and retaining unqualified drivers
  • Scheduling drivers and the number of hours they drive
  • Loading or securing loads
  • Maintaining and repairing CMVs

More importantly, under the doctrine of vicarious liability, a truck accident attorney can prove a trucking company is liable for the negligence of its employee drivers.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries. Fortunately, federal law requires trucking companies to carry large insurance policies or bonds for accidents.
Contact Steinberg Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your truck accident injuries and the compensation you can pursue.


Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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