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California Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney
California has some of the most beautiful roadways in the nation, but the volume of truck traffic in California is the highest of all the states. This is significant because truck accidents are among the deadliest traffic accidents. With more truck traffic, come more truck and commercial vehicle accidents. Commercial drivers are professional drivers, and this means that they are held to much higher safety standards. Nevertheless, accidents involving large trucks, buses, and other kinds of commercial vehicles are extremely dangerous accidents that make up a significant percentage of traffic fatalities.
The fact is that our bustling national economy is fueled by consumer demands. These demands increasingly call for commercial vehicles. For instance, as more and more consumers turn to online shopping to fulfill their every wish and need, more and more delivery trucks are necessary to keep up with all those prompt deliveries. And prompt deliveries are the name of the online shopping game.
As competition heats up and demand continues to skyrocket, the industry is under considerable strain to maintain safe fleets of commercial vehicles that are driven by safe, experienced commercial drivers. When companies resort to cutting safety corners as they apply to commercial vehicles, they endanger everyone who travels on our highways and byways.
If you or your loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, retain the professional legal counsel of a California commercial vehicle accident attorney today. The dedicated legal team at Arash Law is standing by to help. We have experienced California vehicle accident attorneys available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to ensure that you get the legal guidance you need when you need it.
California Commercial Vehicle Accidents are Often Deadly Accidents
According to the Congressional Research Service’s Commercial Truck: Overview (2017), nearly 4,000 people hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and more than 11 million large trucks travel our nation’s roadways. In 2015, there were more than 400,000 traffic crashes involving large trucks, and nearly 100,000 of these crashes were injury causing. Finally, about 3,600 ended in fatalities. Injury-causing commercial vehicle accidents have been on the rise since 2009, and the Congressional Research Service supposes that this could be due to greater numbers of inexperienced or marginally skilled commercial drivers or to the increased workloads and higher stress levels of veteran commercial drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also weighs in with its own statistics related to commercial motor vehicles (CMV):
- From 2015 to 2016, fatal accidents involving large trucks or buses increased by 6 percent.
- The occupants of large trucks or buses accounted for 16 percent of all large truck and bus accident fatalities in 2016 (a 4 percent increase over 2015).
- Large trucks and buses are involved in 12 percent of all traffic fatalities.
- California was ranked among the ten states with the highest average of large truck and bus accident fatalities (for 2014 – 2016).
These statistics highlight how immediate the dangers associated with California commercial vehicle accidents actually are.
California Commercial Vehicles
In the State of California, a commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle that is used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit, or a vehicle that is designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property. There is a wide assortment of vehicles included:
- Shipping trucks
- Commercial trucks
- Utility trucks
- Delivery vans and trucks
- Company vehicles
- Taxis and limos
- Food trucks
- Tow trucks
- Water well drilling rigs
- Cement mixers
- Vehicles carrying more than 10 to 15 people for profit
Commercial Vehicle Accidents and Responsibility
Anytime a commercial vehicle causes an accident, determining fault is complicated. The fact is that the commercial driver likely played a role, but there are other contributing factors that it’s important to take into consideration. In fact, the business that employs the commercial driver has a significant responsibility to hire safe, experienced drivers with clean driving records and with appropriate training to drive the specific types of vehicles they man. Further, the business is responsible for keeping its commercial vehicles in safe working order, including all necessary maintenance and regularly scheduled inspections.
As the demand for commercial vehicles continues to increase, some businesses are not above cutting safety corners to increase profit margins. Such businesses are responsible for any accidents that are caused by their scrimping. If a negligent commercial driver leaves you injured in an accident, the driver’s employer may be liable for the accident – or may share in the fault. It’s important to recognize that such businesses often have deep pockets, which can cut both ways. This means that, although they are likely able to afford a larger settlement, they are also likely willing to spare no expense in avoiding such a payout.
The fact is that California is home to many, many agricultural businesses that provide goods to people all over the United States. In addition, we house many, many different kinds of factories. As a result, our highways are fairly humming with the movement of commercial freight.
The Seven Most Common Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents
While any number of causes can contribute to a commercial vehicle accident, there are several that associate most closely:
- Commercial Driver Error
As mentioned, commercial drivers are professional drivers, and they are, therefore, held to more careful driving standards. Yet, commercial drivers are subject to many of the same dangerous driving habits that noncommercial drivers are.
- Fatigued Commercial Drivers
There are strict regulations in place regarding the number of consecutive driving hours that a commercial driver can log in any given stretch of time. These regulations are put in place for one very good reason – to help keep everyone on our roadways safer. Fatigued drivers are dangerous drivers. When a fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a massive commercial vehicle, the level of danger is that much more significant.
- Distracted Commercial Drivers
Now that smartphones rule the world, distracted driving has reached nearly epidemic proportions. Again, commercial drivers are held to far greater restrictions when it comes to smartphone usage, but this doesn’t mean that commercial drivers always strictly adhere to such restrictions. Anytime a commercial driver is distracted by anything other than driving safely, he or she poses a significant safety hazard.
- Impaired Commercial Drivers
It’s 2019, and we are all well aware that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is always exceedingly dangerous. When the driver is a commercial driver who is responsible for transporting other people safely or for moving massive cargos across the country, the situation is that much more dire. For this very reason, commercial drivers face much more restrictive blood alcohol content limitations than do noncommercial drivers.
- Inexperienced Commercial Drivers
As mentioned, commercial drivers are in great demand. Some unscrupulous businesses, however, aren’t above putting commercial drivers on the road before they have enough experience with their specific commercial vehicles to maneuver them safely and confidently through busy California traffic. When California businesses choose to put profits ahead of adequately training their commercial drivers, they endanger everyone on our roads.
- Commercial Drivers who Fail to Accommodate for Bad Road Conditions
Part of being a safe commercial driver is accommodating for any dangerous road conditions. Sometimes, commercial drivers are too inexperienced to make necessary accommodations, including reducing one’s speed. Sometimes, however, commercial drivers cut safety corners in an effort to increase take-home pay. Whatever the reason, commercial drivers who fail to make necessary accommodations to safely maneuver on inferior roads – including roads made dangerous by inclement weather – endanger everyone with whom they share those roadways.
- Commercial Drivers with Unrealistic Schedules
Commercial drivers make their livelihoods and support their families by getting behind the wheels of their commercial vehicles. In the process, they often find themselves facing unrealistic schedules that are set by profit-motivated business owners. In other words, commercial drivers often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. This means that they are busy attempting to keep their jobs while also adhering to the industry’s tough safety regulations. Companies that push their commercial drivers beyond the bounds of safe driving can be held accountable for any resulting accidents.
The Company and Fault
While we’ve mentioned various ways that companies can be found at fault for dangerous accidents that involve commercial vehicles, it’s important to carefully consider their potential liability. A company that employs commercial drivers is ultimately responsible for the infrastructure of their business. This includes all the details related to the business’s fleet of commercial vehicles:
- Keeping a safe fleet that’s maintained by experienced and reliable mechanics who work with quality parts and tools
- Ensuring that each commercial vehicle’s cargo is safely and appropriately secured
In other words, a company can be linked to nearly any accident involving one of its commercial vehicles – unless the commercial driver has truly gone unexpectedly rogue.
When it comes to California commercial vehicle accidents, it’s critical that both the commercial driver and the company be taken into careful consideration. If you or your loved one has been injured in such an accident, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated legal team at Arash Law. Our experienced commercial vehicle attorneys are here to aggressively advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled and need to reach your fullest recovery post-accident.
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Accidents Which Are Specific to Commercial Vehicles Inlcude:
Commercial vehicles can be involved in any number of different kinds of accidents, but there are several types of dangerous accidents that are most commonly associated with commercial vehicles (especially large trucks and buses):
- Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents are especially dangerous accidents that occur when the back end of a tractor-trailer suddenly swings on its coupling device and folds in upon its own cab – much like the action of a closing jackknife. The ensuing potential danger for every vehicle in the commercial truck’s path is self-evident.
- Underride Accidents
Underride accidents can occur from either the back or the side of a truck, and they involve a car sliding, being pushed, or driving directly into the much higher underside of the commercial truck. Such accidents are exceedingly dangerous because the entire top of the damaged vehicle is often sheared off in the impact. Big rigs are required to sport safety bars at the back that are known as Mansfield bars (after the rear-end underride accident that killed Jane Mansfield, a Hollywood bombshell, and that sparked a crusade to mandate safety bars). While there has been plenty of clamoring for mandated side safety bars on semis, this has not yet taken hold – despite the fact that they would save lives.
- Truck Rollovers
Massive commercial trucks typically have a high center of gravity that makes them susceptible to rollovers. Factors like experiencing high winds, traveling at speeds that are unsafe for the conditions of the road, braking suddenly, and taking turns and curves too steeply can all lead to dangerous rollover accidents. When a tractor-trailer rolls over on a busy roadway, it’s difficult to overstate how dangerous it can be.
- Tire Blowouts
Not for nothing are 18-wheelers called 18-wheelers. Each of those 18 wheels provides another opportunity for a dangerous blowout. When a tire blows out while a large truck is traveling at highway speeds, it can be difficult for the truck driver to maintain control while attempting to come to a safe stop out of the line of traffic. The debris left by a blowout, alone, can be enough to cause dangerous accidents – as vehicles swerve in an out of lanes to avoid the dangerous chunks of rubber left behind on the roadway.
The accidents common to large commercial trucks are not only exceedingly dangerous but are also extremely terrifying.
Five Simple Tips for Driving Defensively Around Larger Commercial Vehicles
When it comes to sharing California’s roads with commercial vehicles, it’s in your best interest to follow the first rule of every Driver’s Education class everywhere – drive defensively. Fortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shares a number of ways to do just that:
- Remain Mindful of Large Truck’s Many Blind Spots
Commercial drivers of large trucks experience giant blind spots on every side of their rigs. If you must pass through these blind spots, do so only when you have a clear path ipforward. Never linger in a truck’s blind spot. A good rule of thumb to remember is that, if you can’t see the trucker in the truck’s side mirror, it’s very likely that he or she can’t see you either.
- Use Caution When Passing
When you pass a large truck or bus on the interstate, you’re going to have to pass through it’s blind spots. Always use caution when passing and don’t proceed forward until you have a clear shot. Once you’ve gotten around the commercial vehicle, don’t pull back into its lane until you can see its entire cab in your rearview mirror. Finally, don’t even consider passing a truck on the right.
- Don’t Tailgate
Tailgating is always a dangerous idea, but if you tailgate a much larger commercial vehicle, you run the risk of being involved in a back underride accident (see above). Always allow large trucks and buses in your midst as much room on the road as you can possibly afford.
- Allow Commercial Vehicles the Room They Need to Make Turns
The larger the vehicle, the more room it needs to make safe turns. Remain mindful of commercial vehicles’ turn signals, and slow down to allow them all the space they need to make their turns or lane changes. Never try to dart past a semi before it heads into a turn, and don’t even consider getting in between a truck’s righthand side and the curb when it’s turning.
- Mind Your Driving Manners
It’s always in the best interest of everyone’s safety to drive as courteously and patiently as you can. We share California’s beautiful roadways with large commercial vehicles, and they are hindered by certain laws of physics that can’t be avoided. Allow these vehicles the space they need to maneuver safely among traffic. When you focus on your patience – rather than your aggression – as you drive, you help keep our highways safer for all who travel on them.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Commercial Driver, Consult with an Experienced California Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney Today
Accidents involving commercial vehicles are dangerous accidents. If a commercial driver’s negligence has left you injured, you need the professional legal counsel of a dedicated California commercial vehicle accident attorney. The experienced California legal team at Arash Law is here to help. Our skilled and compassionate commercial vehicle attorneys are committed to fighting for your rights and for the compensation to which you are entitled.
While the aftereffects of commercial vehicle accidents are often daunting, your full recovery is far too important to leave to chance or to the discretion of the insurance company involved. We care about you and your claim, and we’re standing by to help – 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. For more information, please give us a call us at 888-488-1391 today.