Commonly Asked Questions About Los Angeles Truck Accident Cases
California personal injury laws are complex. Don't let intimidating legalese discourage you from exploring your legal rights after a truck accident. Visit our collection of frequently asked questions for reliable answers, presented in an easy-to-understand format.
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I was injured in a truck accident caused by poor maintenance. Is the trucking company liable?
Accidents involving large trucks can leave victims facing substantial financial strain, devastating injuries, and property damage. There are many potential causes of truck accidents, including improper maintenance of a vehicle. When an accident occurs as a result of improper maintenance, the trucking company that owns the vehicle may be liable for a victim’s losses.
6 Situations Where a Trucking Company Is Liable for an Accident Caused By Poor Maintenance
What are some examples of how a trucking company might be liable for a victim’s injuries and property damage when the crash was caused by poor maintenance? The following is an overview:
- The trucking company failed to have the vehicle inspected by a qualified inspector at least once per year.
- The trucking company failed to remove a truck from the road for repair after discovering defects during inspection.
- The trucking company failed to systematically inspect, repair, and maintain all of the trucks under the company’s control.
- The trucking company failed to inspect the truck’s push out windows and emergency doors every 90 days.
- The trucking company failed to keep the frame, suspension systems, axles, wheels, and steering systems in safe and proper operating condition.
- The trucking company failed to keep maintenance records for at least one year.
Recognizing when a trucking company might be liable for an accident requires guidance from an experienced professional. We have assisted many clients in obtaining the compensation they deserve. It is important to act quickly, however, since time limitations apply to your ability to pursue a claim. To learn more, we encourage you to contact us today at 800-989-6385.
Does the truck that hit me have a black box that could help prove my case?
Since the 1990’s, most trucks manufactured in the United States have an Electronic Control Module (ECM)—also called a black box—installed in their motor components. These black boxes are similar to those found in airplanes and could be useful in helping prove that the trucker was the cause of an accident.
Data Preserved in a Black Box That Could Be Useful in Proving a Trucker’s Negligence
Truck manufacturers originally began installing black boxes in their truck engine components to help defeat engine warranty claims. However, they also contain valuable information that could help prove a trucker caused a crash, such as:
- Speed the truck was going
- RPM (Rotations per minute)
- Acceleration rate
- Number of hard stops
- Length of time the trucker was driving
- Amount of time the truck was going over 65 miles per hour and the highest speed driven
- Driver identification information
- Idle time of the truck
- How much fuel was consumed
- Whether a seat belt was used
- Whether the airbag was deployed
Black box information is preserved for 30 days on most trucks, although older models could record data for a much shorter period of time. After that, it begins recording over the previous data, erasing it.
In addition, some truck companies install a cab electronic module, which records dispatching or delivery information. This data could also provide useful information in proving a trucker’s fault in causing an accident.
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident, so the attorney can take necessary steps to preserve the data in the black box of the truck that caused your accident. This information could be invaluable in proving the trucker’s and trucking company’s liability in causing your accident and help get you the compensation you deserve. If you were injured in an accident with a trucker, fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.
Are truckers allowed to talk on their cellphones while driving on Southern California roads?
The last thing you saw before the truck crashed into you on a Southern California road was the trucker talking on his cell phone. Now you’re in the hospital recovering from a hip replacement and you’re wondering if it was legal for the trucker to talk on his cellphone while driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule bans the use of cellphones by truckers while driving. The was implemented in response to FMCSA research showing that truckers dialing on their cellphones were six times more likely to either crash, almost crash, or veer into another lane than drivers not using a cellphone. When a trucker dials a phone, his eyes are off the road for an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, the truck would have traveled 306 feet, or the length of a football field, while the driver wasn’t watching the road or traffic conditions. That’s pretty scary.
The Definition of Using a Cellphone
What is considered using a cellphone is broad. It includes:
- Using one hand to hold the phone to make a call.
- Dialing the cellphone by pressing more than one button.
- Reaching for a cellphone in a manner which results in the driver not being in a seated position with his seatbelt restraining him.
These rules apply to truckers operating a commercial motor vehicle on a roadway. Cellphone usage is also banned when the trucker is temporarily stationary due to traffic, stoplights, or traffic jams. Hands-free cellphone usage is permitted. Penalties for violating this rule include a trucker fine of up to $2,750 and a company fine of $11,000. A driver can also be barred from driving commercial vehicles for violating the cellphone ban.
The purpose of this regulation is to reduce trucker accidents caused by distracted driving, but not all truckers follow this rule. And it is questionable whether hand-free cellphone usage is safe either.
Motor vehicle accidents involving trucks can lead to horrible and sometimes fatal injuries. If you were hurt or your family member was killed in an accident where a trucker was at fault, you shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for your losses. You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Call us at (800) 989-6385 for a free consultation.
How do I find out how long a big-rig truck driver drove without taking a break before causing my car crash?
If you were hit by a big-rig truck, you may suspect the driver was too tired to drive because he didn’t take his required breaks. Truck drivers are only allowed to drive 11 hours during a 14-hour period. But how do you prove he was driving longer?
Federal regulations require truckers to keep a driver’s daily log. It must cover all days of the week, even if the trucker isn’t driving.
Driver’s daily logs are kept in two ways:
- A written log that must include a 24 hour graph grid.
- An automatic on-board recording device. Many truck carriers are now using these.
The automatic on-board recording device records some of the required information electronically and avoids trucker errors, but the trucker still has to manually record the information it doesn’t track. If a truck doesn’t have an electronic device, the driver must manually record all the required information. This includes the date, the driver (and co-driver, if applicable), and the total number of hours driven. The driver must sign the log to certify it is an accurate account. It also must include the 24-hour graph grid documenting all the driving and breaks and a remark section documenting where the trucker stopped.
The driver’s daily log could help your attorney prove your case in a big-rig accident in Southern Califronia by showing the trucker drove too many hours and that he likely suffered from fatigue at the time he caused your accident. Our accident attorneys are experienced in obtaining the documents necessary to prove and win your case.
To learn more about your legal rights after a big-rig accident, call our friendly legal team at (800) 989-6385. We’re here for you any time of day or night, every day of the year.
Are there any laws in San Bernardino pertaining to the proper loading of trucks in order to prevent a crash?
Most large trucks traveling the highways in and around San Bernardino are transporting a significant amount of cargo. When this cargo is improperly loaded, there is a higher risk of an accident occurring. The vehicle’s weight may cause problems with balance, cargo may fall into the road, and the uneven weight distribution may make it difficult for a truck to stop if necessary. When accidents do occur, the results are often significant injuries, property damage, and sometimes even death. For these reasons, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented specific laws and regulations that govern how cargo must be loaded on a truck.
Federal Regulations Relating to the Safe and Proper Loading of Large Trucks
What are some of the regulations that truck drivers must follow? The following is an overview:
- If the truck is transporting cargo that is likely to roll, it must be restrained by wedges, chocks, or cradles.
- If the truck is transporting commodity-specific cargo, such as logs, metal coils, concrete pipe, heavy vehicles, and automobiles, the driver must abide by specific securement requirements outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- All cargo within the truck must be firmly secured by structures that are equipped to hold it. This includes using materials for cargo protection or inflatable bags used to fill space and prevent the cargo from shifting, as well as tie downs and shoring bars. This requirement also applies to cargo that is on top of a vehicle.
- Truck drivers must comply with minimum requirements for tie-down restraints as outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Truck drivers operating special-purpose vehicles must meet additional requirements. Special-purpose vehicles are those that carry items such as heavy machinery, steel or concrete beams, crane booms, and other objects that require special restraining systems.
If you were injured by a truck that was improperly loaded, we can help. We encourage you to check out our client testimonials page today to learn more about how we have helped countless other clients obtain the compensation that they deserve.
Can I sue after a Santa Monica semi-truck accident if the truck driver was eating behind the wheel?
While eating and driving isn’t illegal in Santa Monica, distracted driving causes hundreds of semi-truck accidents per year—and if the truck driver took his hands off the wheel (or his eyes off the road), you may be able to file a claim against him for negligent driving.
Here are a few ways eating and driving can lead to a truck crash:
- Wrappers. Nearly every fast food item will come wrapped in paper, requiring two hands to unwrap and eat. Even if the trucker takes the precaution of unwrapping foods before setting off, he may begin to “fish around” in the bag for fries, sauces, utensils, or napkins, taking more of his attention away from the road.
- Spills. Many “reaction” crashes are caused by a driver’s sudden response to something inside the car, such as a bee flying in the window, a stone cracking the windshield—or liquid from a beverage spilling onto him or her.
- Dropped objects. Not only can food items spill in the cab of a big rig, they can also become lodged under the brake or gas pedal, affecting the driver’s ability to stop before causing a crash. These dangers of loose items becoming lodged in the footwell or obstructing a driver’s view increase as empty food and drink containers are allowed to build up in the cab.
- Mechanics. Even when a driver is able to successfully eat a meal while driving, his concentration on the road ahead is still compromised. He may be able to eat without looking at his food, but eating without using at least one hand is nearly impossible, affecting both the driver’s control and reaction time.
If the trucker who hit you was distracted, you should have the incident investigated as soon as possible to find out what you may be owed. Order our free guide, 7 BIGGEST MISTAKES That Can Ruin Your California Injury Case, or click the contact link on this page to find our office location nearest to you.
Why do accident legal cases involving a big-rig take longer than car accident legal cases?
- Litigation testing – Usually applied to products liability cases, this process can be used in trucking cases to prove standard of care of professional drivers and trucking companies.
- Investigation – Trucking companies usually have emergency responders throughout the country who can be at the scene of a crash immediately to work on behalf of the trucking company.
- Discovery – Expert witnesses, long-haul truckers and corporate representatives often require out-of-state depositions.
- Technology – Trucking cases require forensics, examination of GPS data, safety standards research, review of violations and carrier history, recreation of crash specifics and more.
If you have been involved in an injury accident, or a loved one has been killed by an accident involving a semi-truck, you need to hire an attorney with special knowledge in the rules that apply to these types of cases. Here at Steinberg Injury Lawyers, we have been handling cases for hundreds of clients affected by an accident with a big-rig truck.
Call us now for a free, no obligation, consultation. We can tell you if you have a case and what it might be worth right over the phone. The trucking company is already investigating the accident...don't delay.
When should I return to work after a truck accident?
When you start thinking about returning to work after a truck accident, it really boils down to whether or not you can do the work without experiencing pain or making your injury worse. However, there are some key steps you will need to make to determine the right time to make the transition. Before you decide, you should seek out the opinion of:
- Yourself – Although you may be feeling pressure to return to work, you know yourself better than anyone else—and you know your limitations. When making the decision to return to work, it’s important that you think about how you really feel and what you think you can handle at work.
- Your doctor – Your doctor is the only person who can tell you if you are physically ready to return to work, and you’ll need to work together during your transition back to work. No matter how “ready” you feel, your doctor is the expert monitoring your recovery and protecting your wellbeing. Be honest with your doctor, and follow his or her recommendations for your recovery.
- Your attorney – While your attorney can’t tell you if you’re ready to return to work, he or she can make sure that you know what your options are, what your rights are when returning to work, how to document the transition, and how it might affect your personal injury claim.
What You Shouldn’t Base Your Decision On
In the real world, accident victims don’t always feel free to make their own decisions about returning to work. It may seem like everyone they know has an opinion about when they should go back to work or when they shouldn’t, even if they don’t really understand the injuries or what happened.
As victims recover, the push and pull of these many opinions can complicate the transition back to work. Instead of making decisions based on medical facts, many victims feel that they have to base their decisions on:
- The opinion of family and friends. Whether your wife is convinced you need more time or your brother is starting to give you disapproving looks, the pressure from your loved ones can carry a lot of emotional weight.
- Pressure from work. As you take longer and longer to recover, you may be feeling the pressure from supervisors, higher-ups, and even coworkers. But, just because they want you to work, it doesn’t mean that you physically can or should.
- Concerns about finances. Losing your regular income, especially as the breadwinner of your family, can create an extreme financial burden, and some victims are tempted to return to work before they are fully recovered just to start covering their day-to-day expenses.
While we understand that these pressures are very real and can be very difficult to ignore, remember that the priority is making sure that you don’t reinjure yourself or complicate your recovery after the accident. Make sure that you’re making your health the priority—and that you’re returning to work for the right reasons.
If you need help with an injury claim after a truck accident, our experienced San Bernardino legal team is standing by to assist you. Reach out to by phone or email for immediate help, or visit us on Facebook to learn more about who we are and what we do for truck accident victims in California.
I was seriously injured in a semi-truck accident that was not my fault. Whom can I hold responsible for the damages?
Being involved in a car accident is bad enough. Being hit by a semi-truck weighing 80,000 pounds is terrifying and the resulting injuries can be catastrophic. Many semi-truck accident victims find themselves left with a totaled vehicle and permanent, disabling injuries.
The medical bills associated with an accident can quickly add up to a substantial amount. Add in the cost of lost time at work and other damages caused by the accident and you may be left overwhelmed, angry, and unsure of what to do next.
It is important to understand that you have a legal right to compensation for the damages you suffered. When filing a claim there are a number of parties that may be named in the lawsuit including:
- The driver – The truck driver who hit your vehicle may be responsible for your damages if the accident occurred because of an error on his part.
- The owner – Trucking companies are required to abide by federal laws that regulate every aspect of the trucking operation. For example, they are required to perform periodic maintenance on their trucks. If the accident was caused by a failure to follow current regulations, the truck owner or trucking company can be held responsible for your damages.
- The maker – The truck manufacturer may be liable for the damages if the accident was a result of a defect in the truck or any of its parts.
- The shipper – Many trucks carry loads containing hazardous materials, which must be handled and shipped in a specific way. Failing to do so may make the shipper liable for damages that you suffered.
Please contact us to seek compensation for damages resulting from your accident. Your case evaluation is complimentary and there is no obligation.