Establishing Liability in California Trucking Accidents Caused by Roadway Hazards in Southern California

Roadway hazards are responsible for a significant number of trucking accidents; when you consider that a truck traveling at 60 mph requires a full football field length to come to a complete stop, you can see how an unexpected roadway hazard could be responsible for a serious or fatal trucking accident. Many commercial vehicles also drive too fast for current roadway conditions. Even a few miles of excess speed above the posted speed limit can result in a serious truck accident since most trucks (due to their size and weight) cannot stop in time to avoid certain roadway hazards. The most common roadway hazards include the following:

  • Inclement weather conditions such as wet or icy roads can cause a truck to be involved in a serious accident, particularly when the driver does not take the weather and road conditions into account, decreasing the speed accordingly.
  • Debris on the road, including the sand used on snowy and icy roads or road litter can threaten the truck driver’s ability to safely navigate the large truck.
  • Uneven roadways or potholes in the road can trigger a truck accident, particularly in an overloaded truck or one being driven by an inexperienced truck driver.
  • Pedestrians who cross the street unexpectedly in front of a large truck can cause the trucker to hit the brakes hard, resulting in a potential jackknife or rollover. Children are also extremely unpredictable, and in city conditions can dart across the road, leaving the truck driver few good options.
  • On more rural roads animals on the roadways are a distinct hazard. Should the truck driver swerve to avoid hitting the animal, a severe collision can occur.

Determining Liability in Trucking Accidents

California trucking accident cases are often complex since they may involve a number of responsible parties, including:

  • The Truck Driver – The determination of liability following a trucking collision whether caused by roadway hazards or other issues can be difficult because of the number of potential defendants. Perhaps the truck driver was the liable party. The driver could have been distracted, fatigued from driving too many hours, inexperienced, or could be driving under the influence. Since the trucker’s livelihood is totally dependent upon the speed with which he or she delivers the loads, many truck drivers continue to drive long after federal regulations mandate they stop and rest. Truck drivers who routinely keep two sets of logbooks are fairly common; the trucking companies are aware of this practice, but have little interest in stopping it as the quicker loads are delivered, the more money they make.
  • The Trucking Company – The vast majority of truck drivers work for large trucking companies who have a responsibility to the other drivers on the road to only hire experienced drivers with a clean driving record. Background checks should be mandatory, and a trucking company should never allow an inexperienced truck driver to get behind the wheel of a large commercial truck. The truck driver must be thoroughly trained in regular truck maintenance and must have the mental and physical strength to be a safe driver.
  • A Third Party – Depending on the circumstances, it could be that an outside company is liable for a trucking accident. Most trucking companies employ third-parties to load trucks, secure cargo and perform routine maintenance. If an accident is the result of poorly secured cargo, then the company who was responsible for loading the truck may be liable for the accident. If the accident is the result of faulty brakes or tires, then the company responsible for truck maintenance could be held liable. Even the manufacturer of the truck could be held responsible for a trucking accident if it is found that a part on the truck was defective and caused the accident.

Contact the Skolnick Law Group Now for Superior Personal Injury Representation!

At the Skolnick Law Group, Attorney Skolnick will fight tirelessly for the compensation you deserve. She will also take the time necessary to answer all of your questions, guide you through the legal process, and assist you in making informed decisions about your case. Attorney Skolnick serves clients in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside, San Marcos and throughout North County San Diego. To learn more about the firm’s comprehensive legal services, contact Skolnick Law Group at (760) 585-7092, or, feel free to visit us online to schedule your free and completely confidential initial consultation. Suzanne Skolnick also offers evening and weekend appointments available, and will also visit you at home in the event you can’t come to her office. For the personal attention and aggressive representation you need, contact Attorney Skolnick today.

California Trucking Accident Laws Explained

Being in an accident involving a truck can be devastating, and may result in a litany of serious, if not fatal, injuries.  According to a 2011 report generated by the California Highway Patrol, there were more than 5,100 accidents involving injuries, and nearly 250 that resulted in death.  Most of these accidents in California however, they primarily stem from driver negligence.  Meaning, they typically arise due to the fault of the truck driver, and could range anywhere from distracted driving to poor maneuvering in traffic.  In the event that you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is crucial to know your rights and, the laws that apply to your case.  Consider the following primer on California accident laws:

An Overview of California’s Accident Laws

If you have been injured in a trucking accident in California due to a truck driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to damages to compensate you for the following:

  • Medical bills to treat your injuries
  • The expenses associated with having to hire someone to help you complete household chores and other tasks
  • Pain and suffering
  • The costs associated with repairing your vehicle
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional trauma
  • Long term disability
  • Maiming or Disfigurement

In the event that someone was killed in a truck related crash, the State of California allows family members to sue the responsible party in a wrongful death action.  Whether a trucking accident case involves injuries or death, California law requires victims or family members to prove driver negligence.  This is accomplished by showing that the truck driver who caused one’s injuries breached his or her duty to exercise reasonable case and caution while driving, that there is a significant nexus between the party’s breach of duty and the cause of a person’s injuries, and that the person suffered damages, including financial loss, due to the trucking accident.   In the event that an individual is found partially responsible for the trucking accident, one’s damage award may be reduced.

Additionally, California law limits the timeframe in which a trucking accident can be brought.  Specifically, the statute of limitations, or legal timeframe, for filing a truck related law suit is two years from the date of the crash.  If a person is unable to reach a settlement with the responsible party, they should strongly consider filing a lawsuit before the limitations period runs out.  If you don’t file a suit within the 2 years, you may not be able to recover for your injuries.

For parties that seek to file a lawsuit, the State of California requires truck injury claims worth more than $7,500 to be brought in the appropriate Superior Court located within the individual’s jurisdiction.   If a trucking accident claim is worth less than $7,500, then a party must file their lawsuit in the Small Claims Court of their jurisdiction.

Were You Injured in a Trucking Accident?  Contact the Skolnick Law Group Now!

In order to learn more about the laws governing trucking accidents in California, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney experienced in handling these types of accidents.  At the Skolnick Law Group we will advise you of all your legal options and, help maximize your chances of recovering the money you deserve for your injuries.  We serve clients in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside, San Marcos and throughout North County San Diego.  Contact us today at (760) 405-4397, or, feel free to visit us online to schedule your free and completely confidential initial consultation. We have evening and weekend appointments available, and will also visit you at home in the event you can’t come to us.  We look forward to providing you with superior legal representation.