Truck Driver Negligence
Many truck accidents are due to negligence by the truck driver, which makes them, their insurance companies, and their carriers liable for any damages sustained by others. However, in order to offset the amount of damages they must pay, it is common for drivers and other responsible parties to look for ways to shift at least part of the blame to the victim. The reason for this is because California is a comparative negligence state. The California statute defining negligence and comparative negligence says, “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.” What this means is that when a trucking accident is caused by a negligent truck driver, the amount of damages owed to the victim may be offset if the victim contributed to the accident or the resulting injury themselves.
There are numerous ways in which a truck driver can be negligent; however, some are more common than others.
The most prevalent examples of impaired driving include driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Spending long hours on the road in order to meet strict deadlines causes many truck drivers to turn to amphetamines or other stimulants to keep them alert. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the United States Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act which requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees. This includes truck drivers. Truck drivers found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol when they cause a crash will face criminal as well as civil charges and penalties.
When a large truck must make a left turn, they require considerable space and skilled maneuvering. A driver must properly judge the amount of space he has to make the turn, as well as the speed of any oncoming traffic. Failure to accurately calculate either of these can lead to a devastating truck accident.
Many truck drivers, especially those driving commercially, are under pressure to log as much time as possible on the road so that they do not miss strict deadlines. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §395.3 establishes the maximum number of hours a truck driver may be on duty. Even with firm regulations in place, fatigued driving is a well-established problem throughout the trucking industry.
With firm timelines, strict deadlines, and regulated hours in place, it is no surprise that many truck drivers turn to speeding in order to meet their obligations. Unfortunately, the possibility of a large truck operating at excessive speeds being in an accident is significantly higher than if the truck were operating within the speed limit, especially when bad weather is a factor. California Vehicle Code §22406 states that none of the following vehicles are allowed to travel at speeds in excess of 55 mile per hour.
California Vehicle Code §21703 states that the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than reasonable or prudent, “having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.” Failure to comply with the Code leads to tailgating, which is when one vehicle follows another vehicle too closely. It can result in the following vehicle not having enough room to stop suddenly should the need arise and is a leading cause of rear-end collisions and multiple vehicle pileups.
Truck drivers are under significant pressure to adhere to strict schedules and make deliveries within a limited amount of time. Such expectations cause some truck drivers to falsify log books and violate the regulations which limit the amount of hours they are allowed to drive per day and per week. Under California Law:
A semi-trailer can reach up to 80 feet in length while the average car is just 14 to 15 feet. This additional length, combined with significant blind spots and high rates of speed, means that an improper lane change can have catastrophic consequences. This is yet another reason why it is imperative that truck drivers are not engaged in distracted driving.
Our California truck driver negligence attorneys have the experience needed to ensure you receive the compensation you are owed. We have developed winning strategies that result in our clients receiving superior representation and the legal solutions they need. Our firm can handle every step of the process for you and our assistance never costs you anything unless our representation results in you receiving the compensation you are owed. Contact us at 310-273-7300 or on our contact page for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and se habla espanol.