California Truck Rollover Accidents
Few things are as terrifying as a rolling truck on a crowded highway. Sadly, many people die or suffer severe injuries in truck rollover crashes in California each year.
Large trucks are less stable than cars and more difficult to maneuver. When you consider that the drivers are often traveling for many hours at a time, you end up in a potentially disastrous situation.
If you or a loved one sustained an injury in a crash involving a truck, contact the California truck rollover accident lawyers at Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates to discuss your claim. With multiple offices located
The United States Has Over Fifteen Million Trucks on the Road
The American trucking industry is worth $700 billion. There are millions of trucks transporting goods across the country. Those fifteen million plus trucks are sharing the road with drivers in passenger cars and motorcyclists.
Trucks can create an intimidating presence. Not surprisingly, when trucks and passenger cars collide, the people in the smaller vehicle will often fare worse. When these horrific crashes occur, the victims should consult with a truck accident lawyer.
Truck Crash and Rollover Causes
There are many causes of truck rollovers, including some that the roads themselves create. For example, some highways have sharp curves on their offramps. While truck sizes and weights increased over the decades, many roads are still the same as they were in the 1950s. Trucks take a long time to slow down, and reaching one of these older and curvy ramps at high speeds puts the truck at risk of overturning.
Truck design is also part of the issue. These vehicles can be top-heavy, which presents a severe risk of overturning. Here are some of the common reasons trucks rollover:
- Abrupt maneuvers, such as lane changes
- Turning at too high of a speed
- Improperly loading the trailer leading to shifts in the cargo
- Poorly maintained tires
- Objects or road hazards that trip the truck
Driver errors account for many truck rollover accidents. Once a truck begins to roll, the driver will be helpless to stop the vehicle from overturning. Trucking companies also lead to many tragic wrecks by failing to maintain their trucks. Some studies indicate that inspectors place about one in five trucks out of service for safety flaws.
Truck Rollovers are a Danger for Others on the Road in California
In 2019, 4,119 people in the United States lost their lives in crashes involving large trucks. Out of that total, 67 percent of victims were in passenger cars. When reviewing crashes involving large trucks and passenger cars, the victims were people in the passenger vehicle 97 percent of the time.
Single-vehicle crashes, including rollovers, account for many of the large truck occupants who died in collisions. The numbers indicate that other people will often face the worst consequences when a truck driver makes a mistake.
The risk to people in smaller vehicles is not surprising, considering that trucks weigh between twenty and 30 times as much as passenger vehicles. Also, trucks take around twenty to 40 times longer to come to a stop than passenger cars. The time needed to come to a stop means that in an emergency scenario, there is a significant risk of a truck not being capable of slowing down fast enough to avoid an accident.
Common Causes of Truck Crashes
Most truck crashes are the fault of a driver’s mistake. The driver at fault could be the trucker or another motorist on the road. Below are some ways that drivers cause collisions.
– Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is hazardous. Many people now associate distracted driving with looking at a smartphone or texting while behind the wheel. Certainly, smartphones cause many car accidents, and truck accidents and rollovers are no exception. Distracted driving can also include daydreaming, eating, or other activities that many motorists likely do not consider dangerous.
When it comes to truckers, the law allows them to spend up to eleven hours behind the wheel in one stretch. Those long hours of driving can increase the driver’s chances of not being as alert as they need to be when controlling tens of thousands of pounds of truck and cargo.
– Driver Fatigue: There are some indications that an especially tired motorist is about as much of a risk as drunk drivers. Fatigue can mean that a driver will not respond quickly enough in an emergency, miss traffic signals, or fall asleep behind the wheel. The long hours that truckers drive make these motorists likely to suffer from fatigue.
– Driving Under the Influence: Commercial truck drivers face stricter drunk driving regulations than the average motorist. Drivers in California must comply with a drunk driving limit of .08 percent alcohol per volume. Commercial drivers violate the state’s drunk driving laws with a BAC of .04 percent. Driving while drunk is a massive risk for any motorist, but the idea of a drunk driver operating a massive 18-wheeler while drunk is even more terrifying.
While drunk driving is rare among commercial drivers, there are more cases of truck drivers using drugs, especially those intended to help them stay awake for long periods to complete their routes. Drivers under the influence of substances like cocaine can be aggressive and reckless, both of which are a problem when operating a large truck.
– Bad Decisions: Drivers do not need to be on drugs, tired, or distracted to decide to speed or tailgate. Many crashes take place because of drivers making decisions that put themselves and others in danger.
Any of these behaviors can create a danger of truck rollover crashes. However, trucks are also at risk when the owner does not maintain the vehicle. Worn tires, poor breaks, and other flaws in a truck itself can lead to a risk of a truck rolling over. In California, attorneys for truck rollover crash victims may look at these maintenance records when building cases against the owners.
Proving Fault in a California Truck Rollover Accident
Most personal injury cases will require that the victim prove that the person who caused the crash was negligent. A driver is negligent when they neglect to meet the standard of a reasonably prudent motorist. Proving fault in a truck rollover crash is not that different from proving fault in any other type of car accident.
If a truck driver violated the law by driving under the influence, that could serve as solid evidence that the driver behaved negligently. Showing that a driver was speeding or otherwise violating traffic safety laws will also help the victim prove that the driver is at fault for the crash.
If the driver violated their hours of service regulations, this could also provide evidence of negligence. Evidence that the motorist was on the phone or otherwise distracted will help the victim build their case as well.
If a driver were speeding and rolled over because they could not slow down with traffic flow, that would be a strong negligence case. A rollover-related to a driver veering off the road and trying to overcorrect would be another example. In any of these cases, a California truck rollover accident attorney could look for evidence of negligence to build a strong case for their client.
Who Can Collect Damages in a California Truck Rollover
One issue that often impacts truck crash cases is that the victim might be partly at fault. In a truck rollover, a driver who entered the truck’s lane without ample space might be partly at fault for causing the driver to lose control of their vehicle and rollover. The trucker may also have been traveling too fast for the conditions of the road.
In this scenario, a California court may assign a share of fault to the drivers. Fortunately for victims of truck rollover crashes, the state law allows plaintiffs to recover as long as another driver is at least one percent at fault. The court will reduce the damages based on the victim’s share of fault.
In the above example of a truck driver and a passenger car driver who both caused the collision, the court could hypothetically state that the passenger car’s driver is 40 percent at fault and the truck driver is 60 percent responsible for the rollover. In that case, if the victim suffered one million dollars in damages, they could recover $600,000. The 40 percent discount reflects the plaintiff’s share of fault.
Of course, if the truck driver suffered injuries in a similar crash, that driver may be able to recover damages from the passenger car’s operator. Rollover crashes, in particular, can be treacherous for truckers.
What Damages Can Victims Recover
When a person suffers damages in a car crash, they can recover compensation from the person who causes their injuries.
The damages will include the following:
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Compensation for lowered earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
The damages in a truck crash can be significant because the injuries are often severe. Sometimes, the plaintiff can also recover punitive damages, which punish defendants for malicious or egregious behavior.
Speak to a Dedicated California Rollover Crash Attorney Today
When you suffer injuries in a crash, you have a limited amount of time to file your claim. The state law allows you to file your claim for up to two years following the injury. If you do not file in that period, you will not be able to pursue legal action against the driver who hurt you.
The longer you wait, the more challenging it may be to collect evidence related to your claim, so you should reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates today to speak to an experienced California truck rollover accident lawyer.