Truck accidents are among the most dangerous kinds of accidents on the roads, particularly to the vehicles in which the truck has collided. The reason, of course, is that the size and weight of a large commercial truck dwarf that of any other vehicle on the road. That means a truck accident is capable of causing far more destruction than an accident involving regular motor vehicles. The victims of a truck accident could face serious injuries as well as the near-total destruction of their vehicle, both of which require high costs to fix. However, if the accident was the fault of the truck driver, then they do not have to pay any of those expenses themselves.
The reason is that they are entitled to compensation from the insurance company of the trucking company responsible for the commercial truck involved in the accident. However, they will need the help of a truck accident attorney to get that compensation. Timothy J. Ryan is the truck accident lawyer who will help anyone in Orange County who was involved in a truck crash.
He has been helping California residents with their truck accident cases for over forty years so he has the knowledge, experience, and expertise needed to get people the compensation that they need. He is not afraid to take on trucking companies or insurance companies on behalf of his clients. So if you need an Orange County truck accident attorney, then contact Timothy J. Ryan and Associates to get the help you need.
The Causes of Trucking Accidents
There are many reasons why a truck accident can occur; in some cases, truck drivers are to blame, and in other cases, a third party could be at fault. But no matter who is to blame for the truck accident, it is likely to cause a lot of damage.
Driver Fatigue – Truck drivers tend to work long hours without a break, which naturally leads to them getting tired. And when a driver gets tired, they lose their concentration, which could cause them to drift out of their lane or not react in time to an emergency situation. Even though the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) mandates that drivers of large trucks take regular rest stops, not all truckers comply with those regulations and end up driving while tired.
Distracted Driving – This is a common problem on the roads and truck drivers are not immune to it. When a driver takes their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off the task of driving, they are more likely to cause an accident. And if that accident involves a semi-truck, then the consequences can be devastating.
Intoxicated Driving – Some truck crashes are caused by the driver being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI/DWI is a big problem with drivers of regular vehicles, but with a large truck an intoxicated driver could end up causing far more damage.
Poorly Loaded Cargo – All trucks have a limit on the amount of weight that they can carry. If that weight is exceeded, or if the cargo is loaded badly, then that could make the vehicle more difficult to handle. A semi-truck needs to be carefully maneuvered, and if something negatively affects its handling or balance, then that could cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident.
Equipment Failure – Sometimes, the driver is not at fault for the trucking accident because a vital part of the vehicle failed at an inopportune moment. All commercial vehicles need to undergo regular inspections before they are deemed roadworthy. The driver should conduct an inspection before they drive, but it is up to the trucking company to perform more detailed inspections on the tires, brakes, and other important parts of the vehicle.
If they fail to do so and a part malfunctions, then the trucking company is responsible for the accident. However, there can also be cases where an equipment failure is the fault of the manufacturer.
Inclement Weather – Bad weather can affect any driver, and truckers are no exception. Snow, rain, sleet, and fog can create slippery and low visibility conditions, which are a dangerous combination that could lead to truck crashes.
Types of Truck Accidents in Orange County
There are many kinds of accidents that a truck can get into, some of which are similar to other car accidents and some of which are unique to trucks.
Rear-End Collision – This is a common kind of car accident and also a common kind of truck accident. As the name implies, it occurs when the truck runs into the back of the vehicle ahead of it. A rear-end collision between two cars is one of the less dangerous kinds of car accidents, but the size and weight of a truck compared to a car means that a rear-end collision could be incredibly dangerous when a large truck is involved.
Underride Accident – This is also a rear-end collision, only it is a regular vehicle that collides with the rear of the trailer being towed by the truck. Since the trailer sits high off the road, a vehicle that runs into it could get wedged under the trailer. This kind of accident could cause severe head and neck trauma to the people in the car.
Jackknife Accident – These types of truck accidents are unique to trucks because they occur when the trailer being towed swings around towards the truck. This usually happens because of an unsafe braking maneuver or because the driver loses control of their vehicle. No matter the cause, a jackknife accident can be very dangerous because both the truck and the trailer could hit several other vehicles.
Rollover Accident – The way that a truck and trailer are balanced makes them more prone to truck crashes where both the tractor and the trailer end up on their sides. These types of truck accidents can happen if the driver takes a turn too sharply or if the cargo is poorly balanced.
Head-On Collision – This type of truck accident is relatively rare, which is good because it can be extremely destructive. That is because the heavier size and weight of the truck and trailer would severely damage any vehicle they collided with. This can happen when the driver drifts out of their lane because they are distracted, inebriated, or they fell asleep behind the wheel.
Truck Accident Statistics
As you would expect, the statistics provided by the US Department of Transportation show that the occupants of vehicles that get hit by trucks suffer higher rates of fatalities compared to the truck drivers. Even though the number of truck accidents per year is trending downwards, accidents still happen. It is usually the occupants of the regular vehicles who are in the most danger. In 2019, there were 4,119 fatal truck accidents, and 67% of those deaths were people who were in cars or other vehicles. Only 16% of truck drivers died in those accidents. The remainder of the fatalities were pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
One would think that most truck accidents happen on highways, but only 32% of them took place there in 2019; in that year, the majority of truck accidents took place on major roads at 52%. These statistics show that not only are truck accidents highly dangerous but that they can occur practically anywhere.
How an Orange County Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Trucking accidents can leave the victims with serious injuries and heavy damage to their vehicle, both of which are likely to cost a lot of money to fix. But if the trucking company or some other third party was at fault, then the accident victim can receive compensation to pay for all of the expenses caused by the truck accident. They will need the help of a truck accident attorney because the process can be complicated, especially with a large company involved.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
The victim of the accident will have both economic and non-economic damages to worry about, and the way that they are calculated is different from each other. The calculation for economic damages is straightforward since the attorney will add up the various bills and expenses caused by the truck accident injuries. Non-economic damages do not have a dollar amount but are usually worth more than the economic damages and are usually calculated by multiplying the economic damages by a certain amount.
Economic Damages – Medical bills, repair or replacement bills for the damaged vehicle, repair or replacement costs for damaged property, lost wages if the truck accident injuries prevent the victim from being able to work.
Non-Economic Damages – Pain and suffering, emotional and psychological trauma like PTSD, and the inability to perform or enjoy certain activities.
Why You Need an Orange County Truck Accident Lawyer
The lawyer will identify who was at fault for the truck accident so that they know to whom they should send the injury claim. The responsible party is usually the trucking company, but it could also be the company that loaded the cargo into the trailer or a manufacturer that was responsible for a defective part. The attorney will then gather the evidence that proves the fault of the responsible party and help to calculate the total amount of damages caused by the accident. The attorney will then send a demand letter to the insurance company of the party responsible for the accident.
The insurance company can choose to accept the truck accident claim and pay the victim the compensation, which will conclude the case. The insurance comany can also choose to renegotiate the claim and if they offer a reasonable amount, then the truck accident case ends here. However, if the insurance company rejects the claim or offers a settlement that is too low, then the victim will need to file a lawsuit against the responsible party if they want to get the compensation that they need.
If that becomes necessary, then the accident victim will definitely need an attorney since the responsible party is likely to have their own high-powered attorney and the accident victim will need their own experienced lawyer to level the playing field.
Truck Accident FAQs
Q. How is an Orange County truck accident investigation conducted?
If the trucking company is responsible, then the lawyer will request the driver’s DQF (Driver Qualification File) from the trucking company. The DQF contains information about the trucker’s driving history, records, and medical history. The attorney will also review the truck’s black box to learn more about the status of the truck before the accident. They will also collect eyewitness testimony, examine the crash scene, collect surveillance footage if it exists, and review police reports.
Q. How is fault determined?
After the crash, an investigation is conducted to determine what caused the accident. If it is driver error, then the attorney will find out why the driver made a mistake and whether the trucking company was complicit. If the cargo was badly loaded, then the lawyer will find out who was responsible for loading the trailer. But if a defective part is to blame, then the attorney needs to find out where the defective part came from and wherein the manufacturing process the defect occurred.
Q. Are there special laws that only apply to trucks and their drivers?
Yes, the FMCSA has special regulations for commercial vehicles and there are federal and state regulations as well. These laws govern driver qualifications, hours of operation, speed limits, cargo weight limits, height limits, and more.
Contact Us If You Have Been Injured in an Orange County Truck Accident
A truck accident can be a devastating and harrowing incident, which is why the victims of those accidents deserve to be fully compensated for the expenses they cause. Those expenses can be very high because a truck crash can cause a tremendous amount of damage that can leave the victim with serious injuries and severe damage to their vehicle that could warrant costly repairs or a complete replacement. That is even before you factor in the pain and suffering and mental anguish caused by the accident.
Those are the reasons why anyone who was in an Orange County truck accident should contact Timothy J. Ryan and Associates to get the help they need. He will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who was at fault for the accident and will gather evidence to prove their culpability. He will help accident victims file their injury claims and will negotiate with the insurance companies to make sure that they offer a fair settlement. If they do not, then he is not afraid to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.
So get in touch with Timothy J. Ryan if you were in a truck accident in Orange County. He will fight to get you the compensation that you need and deserve.