Truck accidents are all too common in the San Fernando Valley. With the number of semi-trailers, garbage trucks, and crane trucks heading to and from construction jobs, it is hard to travel on our highways without seeing one. Unfortunately, sometimes these large vehicles can cause serious accidents that leave innocent victims catastrophically injured and scared. A trucking accident happens when a truck collides with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and/or objects. Trucks can be particularly dangerous when involved in an accident because of their massive size and weight.
How Many Truck Accidents Occur Each Year?
In 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 317,000 large trucks were involved in truck crashes in the United States. There were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. Of the trucking accident-related fatalities in 2012, 73% were occupants of other vehicles. Of the injuries in 2012, 73% were occupants of other vehicles. If you or a loved one was injured in a trucking accident in the San Fernando Valley area, reach out to a skilled auto accident lawyer to discuss your rights.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents are often attributed to driver error (either of the trucker or another driver), but there may be many other contributing factors including fatigue, intoxication, inexperience, inattention, distraction, poor truck maintenance, or mechanical failure. Because there are many potential parties and factors involved, it may be much more difficult to determine who is at fault and what has actually happened in the truck accident than in a simple traffic accident. An experienced truck accident lawyer in Woodland Hills can walk you through the process.
Laws Governing Truck Accidents
Federal, state, and local laws heavily regulate large trucking operations and establish certain standards and may even determine who is responsible for the trucking accident. In addition to the agencies at the federal level, every state also has a department of transportation with its own trucking laws.
Is the Trucking Company Liable?
Even if a trucking company was responsible for the crash, there are two main ways they attempt to avoid liability: 1) Trucking companies often do not actually own the trucks themselves, but rather they lease or rent the required equipment from the truck owner, and 2) Trucking companies also do not hire drivers as employees, but rather they hire them as independent contractors from the truck owner. Fortunately, federal rules and regulations have determined that any company with a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its name displayed on the vehicle, and no deference is given to the rental agreement or the independent contractor agreement.