San Francisco Truck Accident Attorney
We've Recovered Millions of Dollars for the Seriously Injured in California
Large trucks, commonly referred to as “big rigs,” “semi-trucks” or "tractor-trailer” trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds and range from approximately 67 to 75 feet in length. Despite that large trucks represent only 3% of all registered vehicles on the road, they account for over 25% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple vehicle accidents.
The tremendous difference in size and weight between passenger vehicles and large trucks make visualization of catastrophic injury easy. However, the difference in size and weight between passenger vehicles and large trucks are at issue. For example, it will take a 40 ton 18-wheeler driving at 65 miles an hour an additional 100 feet to stop than were it traveling at 55 miles an hour. Given this, it is not surprising that typical big rig accidents usually involve rear-end collisions. Jack-knifed trailers, right hand squeeze, and brake failure are also common accidents involving large trucks.
Contact Scarlett Law Group today at (415) 688-2176 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced truck accident attorneys.
The Role of Bio-Mechanical Evidence and Recreation in Injury Trials
In the past 50 years, thousands of motorists and truck drivers have been killed and/or injured in large trucking accidents primarily resulting from driver error and negligent maintenance by trucking companies. Unsafe driving, over-sized loads and other acts of negligence have put the public, as well as, truck operators in danger.
California is one of approximately 10 states which impose a slower speed limit for large trucks and commercial vehicles. Approximately 7% of all of the vehicle miles driven in the nation are done so by large truck drivers. Federal crash statistics have shown that at least 20% of large trucking accidents are due to excessive speed. This is especially so when coupled with problems resulting from excessive speed and braking.
Nonetheless, while mechanical failures, reckless driving and improper driver training account for many of the crashes, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) reports that driver fatigue is responsible for between 30% and 40% of all big rig crashes and is the probable cause in over 30% of the crashes that resulted in the truck driver’s death.
Much like the tragic frequency of traumatic brain injury in this country, every 16 minutes, each day, another person in the United States will be injured or killed in a trucking-related accident. It is not surprising that at least one-third of the injured suffer catastrophic harm and damage. In 2003 alone, over 450,000 large trucks were involved in crashes. In a survey done that year, almost 20% of truckers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the previous three-month period.
However, each year about 600 large truck occupants are killed and about 30,000 are injured in highway crashes according to data collected by NHTSA. (This compares to approximately 5000 deaths resulting to passengers in smaller vehicles involved with large trucks and over 140,000 injuries per year to individuals operating smaller vehicles involved with large truck accidents).
If you've suffered severe injuries in a truck crash in San Francisco, call our experienced team of attorneys today to pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Clearly, in multiple vehicle crashes, smaller vehicles and their occupants are at a vast disadvantage when a large truck is involved. Nonetheless, large truck safety should involve safety to big rig drivers and their occupants as well as safety to smaller vehicles.
In 2004 alone, an estimated 200,000 new trucks had been registered to operate on United States roads. One would hope that the registration of “newer” vehicles would result in safer trucks. This is not necessarily the case however. In many instances, the cabs of large trucks are designed to do little more than keep out wind and rain. Relatively minor crashes, especially those not involving other vehicles, can and do often result in catastrophic injuries to truck operators and passengers. There is a dearth of federal regulation or efforts by truck manufacturers or trucker trade unions to provide rudimentary safety measures to protect truck drivers. Doors should stay shut, windshields should not pop out, and some type of safety cage, ought to be, but isn’t normally available.
Newly registered trucks and ever expanding fleets of trucks results in greater competition. Drivers are under increased pressure to deliver faster in order to remain competitive. While regulations state that a big-rig operator can only “drive” for 10 hours per day, and must have 8 hours off for each 10 hours of driving, there is also load/unload time, often involving hours of physical labor. It is no wonder that truckers admit to falling asleep at the wheel. Many times the truckers’ 10 hours of driving begins after hours of physical labor getting the load ready to go.
Unfortunately, when a 2000 pound automobile is involved in an accident with an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer, even the best of passenger vehicle design may not prevent catastrophic injury from resulting.
Truck Accident Settlements - What to Expect & How to Maximize Your Compensation
After a truck accident, a thorough investigation will be conducted. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and police will gather evidence to determine what caused the crash. This may include pictures of the scene, witness statements, and other documentation. There may be many different parties who are responsible for the accident, including the truck driver, trucking company, maintenance crew, or truck manufacturer. It is important to obtain experienced legal services to uphold your right to a settlement after a truck wreck.
In order to try to maximize the amount of compensation you will be entitled to, you should:
- Obtain copies of your medical records
- Speak with your doctor to understand your prognosis
- Wait to settle until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI)
- Keep a journal to document your emotional trauma after the accident
- Get a quote on the cost of vehicle repairs or replacement from a qualified mechanic
- Get copies of your employment records and documentation
Depending on the situation, you may be able to receive a settlement for past, present, and future expected medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages. The insurance company will likely offer you an initial settlement, but this is usually lower than what you need. It is important to avoid signing an insurance release form until you have spoken with knowledgeable legal representation.
Why You Need an Experienced Legal Advocate
The Scarlett Law Group has been involved in big rig accidents resulting from improper maintenance, braking problems, driver error, jack-knife, lane change error/blind spot, as well as fatigue. Despite that the resulting harm to passenger vehicles and occupants is easily seen, the Scarlett Law Group routinely utilizes the services of biomechanical engineers and accident reconstructionists, as well as safety specialists, mechanics and others in order to convincingly establish their clients’ cases.
Given the dramatic proportional difference between passenger vehicle and big-rig, accidents involving alleged operator error, or mechanical error in semi-tractor-trailers, generally these are vigorously defended. It is not uncommon for the defense to point to driver error on the part of the passenger vehicle operator. Did he or she cut in front of the truck? Did he or she operate their passenger vehicle in a blind spot for an inordinate amount of time? Was an improper passing technique utilized by the passenger vehicle?
If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a tractor trailer or a large truck, our San Francisco trucking accident attorneys have the expertise to assist you through your difficult times. Call now.