Santa Barbara Truck Accident Lawyers
Compensation After a Truck Accident
Big rigs are the biggest and heaviest motor vehicles on the nation's roads and are regulars on major U.S. highways. They travel through big metropolitan cities like Los Angeles, smaller resort cities like Santa Barbara, and even smaller towns in between. One of the most commonly used highways for commercial truck travel is U.S. Route 101, a major thoroughfare of Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, these trucks don't just take up space; when there is reckless driving by truck operators and negligent operations management by trucking companies, these vehicles are a danger to every motorist on the road.
At NordstrandBlack PC, our knowledgeable Santa Barbara auto accident attorneys have seen firsthand the devastating injuries a commercial truck crash can cause and are committed to helping each and every client get medical treatment and financial support. To learn more about how we can help, call us at (805) 962-2022 for a free consultation. There are no legal fees to pay unless we win.
Truck Accident Case Results
- $1,000,000 Policy Limit Offer
- $690,000 Settlement ($370,000 for man and $320,000 for woman.) - Big Rig Accident
∗ Selected cases listed. Every case is different. Past case results are not a guarantee, and similar results may not be obtained in your case. View more case results here.
When You Have a Legitimate Claim
If you were injured in a truck crash because of the negligent or reckless actions of a truck driver or company, you may be entitled to pursue the at-fault party for the damages you've suffered. Because commercial trucks are governed by strict regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it may not be as difficult to prove negligence in a truck accident as it is in a car crash.
Common examples of negligence that may cause a trucking accident include, but are not limited to:
- Overloading the Trailer: Trailers on trucks have strict limits with regard to the amount of weight that can be loaded onto them. When drivers or trucking companies ignore these limits and overload the trailer with too much weight, the trailer can become difficult to control and cause an accident. Jackknifing, for example, occurs when a truck's cab slows down but the trailer speeds up or continues moving at the same speed, causing the trailer to rotate outward and end up next to rather than behind the cab.
- Fatigued Driving: Truck drivers are no more immune to becoming tired or fatigued while driving than anyone else. While professional truckers might spend more hours on the road than other drivers, and therefore have more experience behind the wheel, they still need to take regular breaks to remain focused. As fatigue sets in, truck drivers become drowsy and their reaction times increase, making a serious accident more likely. Trucking companies must ensure their drivers act responsibly behind the wheel, including taking regular breaks and not driving while overly tired.
- Violating Hours-of-Service (HOS) Rules: Drivers are allowed to operate their trucks for a limited number of hours per day and week, with additional restrictions on how many days they can drive each week without a break. These limits are purposefully designed to make sure truck drivers remain fresh and alert behind the wheel. When a driver ignores these limits, that driver is more likely to make mistakes while driving. Trucking companies that encourage these violations to increase profits are negligent, and falsifying logbook hours is a serious offense.
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is just as illegal for truck drivers as it is for any other motorist. In fact, in California, drivers with a commercial driver's license have an even lower limit for the amount of alcohol they can have in their systems. Violations are taken very seriously and not only typically result in the suspension of a license, but termination of a truck driver's employment. Trucking companies are expected to oversee their drivers and make sure no one with a history of DUI is behind the wheel of their trucks.
- Poor Maintenance: Large trucks require a lot of maintenance, which trucking companies are expected to perform. Regulations are in place for how often trucks must be checked and the kinds of maintenance necessary. Any company that fails to perform this work is negligent and likely to be liable for damages or injuries that occur due to a vehicle malfunction.
- Speeding: Commercial trucks are large and take much longer than smaller vehicles to get moving and to slow down. Speeding makes it impossible for a commercial truck to stop within a reasonable space, which can cause accidents that inflict serious injuries to those involved. Truck drivers are expected to drive at safe speeds, and the companies that employ them must make realistic schedules that can be met while operating trucks safely.
- Unsafe Lane Changes: Large trucks have large blind spots, which can make it very dangerous for a truck to change lanes. Truck drivers must be aware of these blind spots and watch for drivers at all times, especially prior to a lane change. Changing lanes too quickly or at a sharp angle can also create the danger of the trailer swaying too much, which can result in a jackknife accident or a rollover.
- Improper Braking: Trucks take a long time to stop, so truck drivers learn how to control their vehicles at different speeds. This includes knowing how and when to apply the brakes in a responsible way, especially when driving downhill. Truck drivers who fail to brake properly can cause serious accidents and injure or kill unsuspecting drivers around them. This includes truck drivers who tailgate vehicles in front of them, not leaving enough time to react to sudden stops.
Who Else May Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
The truck driver almost always bears some responsibility for a collision. But does the driver share it with anyone else? That depends on the circumstances that led to the crash, and often requires a legal professional to investigate fully and demand answers. The responsible parties may include:
- The trucking company: Though many truckers are “independent contractors,” the trucking company is responsible for enforcing FMCSA regulations, such as the hours of service. However, we’ve found that trucking companies tend to do the opposite – they help falsify logbooks, and encourage truckers to stay on the road past the point of safety, in their quest to squeeze out more profit. These violation are not only worthy of civil action – they may criminal.
- A maintenance company: Assuming the trucking company did not have its own in-house maintenance staff, another business may be responsible for neglecting or failing to repair the rig. For example, truck tires wear out quickly and need to be replaced, or risk blowout. If the person contracted to maintain the truck deferred replacing the tires, even though the tread was worn down, and that tire blew out, forcing the cab to veer into another vehicle, the lack of maintenance was certainly to blame for the crash and the person who failed to properly maintain the vehicle may also be liable.
- A parts manufacturer: Perhaps maintenance wasn’t the problem with that tire. Perhaps the tire itself was defective, with a weak spot that exploded and caused the chain of events leading to the wreck. In that case, the tire manufacturer should be held accountable. The same is true for other vital components, like the steering system and the brakes.
- A shipment loader: Many truckers do load and secure their own cargo, but not always. A few people or a third-party subcontractor may be hired to get the shipment in the truck and back on the road. If this party did not load the truck evenly, or did not secure the load, and that contributed to the accident, they may also be liable to the victim.
Trucking companies are tough. They usually get to the accident scene first, have their own investigators, and have powerful insurance companies behind them. Since their commercial insurance liability policies are usually for $1 million or more, they have incentive to shift blame to the victim or other parties. The sooner you get your own lawyer to fight back, the better.
What Is Covered by a Personal Injury Claim?
Any injury-related damages or losses may be covered under a legitimate personal injury claim: medical treatment, loss of wages due to time missed from work, loss of future earning capacity, rehabilitative care, medical accommodations, and other medical care; as well as non-economic damages of humiliation, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, and emotional distress. To get the money you deserve, however, you need legal representation that is prepared to fight for your rights.
Getting the Money You Need to Recover
Truck crashes, including jackknife and underride accidents, usually result in very serious injuries, such as multiple broken bones, spinal cord injury, and brain injury. Such injuries require extensive and potentially invasive medical treatment after which the victim may be left with permanent disability or impairment. It is unfair that another's negligence should have such a drastic impact on a person's life. Renée Nordstrand and the legal team at NordstrandBlack PC are dedicated to helping injured victims in Santa Barbara get the compensation they need so that they can focus on physical and emotional healing. For a free consultation of your legal rights and options, call us at (805) 962-2022 today.
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