Jesse J. Bañuelos, A Los Angeles Truck/Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney
FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS OF INJURED TRUCK/TRACTOR-TRAILER ACCIDENT VICTIMS
According to the Federal Motor carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2002, 4,939 individuals died and 130,000 people were injured in crashes that involved a large truck. Even though large trucks are only responsible for 3% of injury-causing motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents typically cause much greater damage and much more serious injuries than ordinary traffic accidents due to the large size and heavy weight of most trucks.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
When it comes to truck accidents, there is a web of players who may be responsible for a victim’s injuries, including the truck driver, the owner of the truck or trailer, the person or company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner, the manufacturer of the vehicle, tires, or other parts that may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident, and the shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo (in cases involving improper loading). In the past, trucking companies often tried to avoid liability for trucking accidents by creating distance between themselves and the driver, the vehicle, and the equipment.
Here’s how they would do it: the trucking company would obtain the necessary permits to operate the truck. However, the company often did not own the tractor, trailer, or equipment. Instead it would lease the equipment, tractors, and trailers from the “owner/operator.” The trucking company also did not directly employ the drivers. It would hire them as independent contractors from the owner/operator. The trucking company would give the owner/operator a “placard,” which would include the name of the trucking company and its permit numbers. The placard was then affixed to the door of the tractor–which made it seem like the truck was owned by the named trucking company and the driver was an employee of the named trucking company. If the truck was in an accident, and the trucking company was sued, it would argue that the driver was not the trucking company’s employee. Therefore, the trucking company was not liable for driver error, or the trucking company did not own the equipment. Luckily, federal law has put an end to these arguments. Under federal law, any company owning a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its placard or name displayed on the vehicle. It doesn’t matter what the lease says with the owner/operator, or whether the driver is an employee or independent contractor.
COMMON CAUSES OF TRUCK/TRACTOR-TRAILER ACCIDENTS
The most common causes of truck accidents are driver error, mechanical failures, weather conditions, road design, and traffic signal failures.
The most common cause of truck accidents is driver error. In fact, drivers of large trucks are ten times more likely to be the cause of the crash than other factors, acording to a recent study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA found that the action or inaction by drivers was the critical reason for 88 percent of crashes. Factors such as the use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, speeding, fatigue, inattention, distractions (such as cell phone usage), work environment, and unfamiliarity with the road all can contribute to driver error. But by far the most common causes of trucking accidents are driver fatigue and sleep deprivation.
The next most common cause of truck accidents is equipment failure. This includes manufacturing mistakes (defective tires) or design errors (failure to provide backing warning or object detection systems). However, most mechanical causes of truck accidents are caused by a failure to properly maintain the equipment, including removing or depowering the front brakes, which can cause a truck to jackknife, brake failure due to inadequate adjustments, tire blowouts due to wear, improper securing or load distribution which can contribute to truck rollover, defective steering, improper trailer attachment, defective side or rear lighting, and transmission failure.
If You are Injured in a Truck/Tractor-Trailer Accident, Get the Right Kind of Help
To cut through this tangled web to find the person(s) and/or entitity(ies) responsible for a truck accident, you will need to have the representation of an experienced and tenacious personal injury lawyer, such as Mr. Bañuelos. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, please call our office immediately and we’ll provide you with free advice regarding all your rights. If it’s more convenient for you, we’ll send one of our representatives to your home/hospital at any time/day, including nights/weekends. As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, Mr. Bañuelos has helped thousands of accident victims to obtain the maximum compensation that they deserve. With over 25 years of experience in handling personal injury claims, he has the tenacity and experience to make a difference in your case.