Hurt in an 18 Wheeler Accident? An Attorney Can Help

Los Angeles, California is notorious for its heavy traffic volume and convergence of 18 wheelers and passenger vehicles on overcrowded highways. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. Freak accidents do occur from time to time, but in our experience, negligence can often be assigned to one or more parties.

Driver error, roadway design and maintenance, and trucking company oversight are just a few of the issues that come up in trials or settlement talks. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a crash, call 888-259-4060 to explore your legal options with an experienced 18 wheeler accident attorney at Salamati Law. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

18-wheeler accident statistics

There are four stretches of highway with extremely high concentrations of 18 wheeler accidents each year:

  • The 710 at the 60 in East Los Angeles Interchange (7.2)
  • The 5 between the 710 and the 10 in East LA (6.6)
  • The convergence of the 60 and the 57 (6)
  • The 710 between the 105 and the 91 (5.8)

Nationally, 4 percent of all registered vehicles are considered big commercial trucks, but these vehicles account for 9 percent of all fatal crashes and 3 percent of all property damage crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 3,903 people died in truck-related accidents in 2014.

Common 18 wheeler crash injuries

Due to the sheer size of 18 wheelers, the injuries in big rig accidents are typically quite severe, such as:

18 wheeler truck accident causes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked at more than 120,000 large truck accidents over a two-year period. They concluded that driver error was the most obvious cause of most crashes.

  • Human Error: “Human error is the leading cause of traffic accidents,” reports the LA Times. “Motorists need to respect trucks, give them the proper space, avoid erratic lane changes and make themselves visible,” said Officer Edgar Figueroa from the California Highway Patrol. He added: “In a crash, the big rig is going to win.”
  • Trucking Company Liability: Big rig drivers may lack the highly specialized training to safely navigate such a large vehicle or drive overtired due to over scheduling. Furthermore, their cargo loaders may not have properly weighed and secured their loads, which creates an imbalance that can impact turns and lane changes. A state highway plan to reduce big rig accidents includes safety inspections, developed rest areas, training classes, and driver license checks.
  • Roadway Design: The California Department of Transportation notes that congestion, merging traffic, and limited capacity also play a part. Consider, for instance, that the 710 handles over 43,000 daily 18 wheeler trips, the 60 up to 27,000, and the 5 about 21,500. Regional planners from the Southern California Association of Governments say the only way to truly reduce 18 wheeler accidents is to separate the cars from the trucks by constructing “truckways” – either through elevated truck lanes or additional bypass lanes.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration broke down crashes into four driver factors:

  • Non-performance: Drivers had a heart attack or seizure at the wheel or fell asleep.
  • Recognition: Drivers were inattentive or distracted
  • Decision: Drivers traveled too fast, misjudged the speed of others, or followed too closely.
  • Performance: Drivers panicked, overcompensated, did not use their blinkers, or completed swinging turns.

In addition, they found 10 percent of crashes were caused by to vehicle issues — cargo shift, faulty brakes or tire defects – and 3 percent of large truck crashes were related to environmental factors like weather, loose gravel, or poorly designed construction zones.

Most accidents had multiple factors involved. They found that 18 wheeler accidents often included:

  • Traffic flow interruptions due to other accidents or congestion
  • Traveling too fast for the conditions
  • Truck driver fatigue
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway
  • Prescription drug use, and
  • Sudden stops due to traffic control devices.

Passenger vehicle drivers were often at-fault when illegal drug use, alcohol consumption, illness, or fatigue were factors.

Car accident with an 18-wheeler truck: who is liable?

Blowing a tire on an unavoidable object or sudden weather events can cause truly blameless crashes, so it’s important for 18 wheeler accident lawyers to build a substantial case for liability. Since California does not allow the collection of compensation for drivers who are partially at fault, it is especially crucial to establish negligence. At Salamati Law Firm, we bring in crash reconstruction experts, medical professionals, truck driving safety instructors, and other industry professionals to bolster a case.

It is not always a passenger vehicle driver or an 18 wheeler driver who is at fault. Sometimes trucking company owners, vehicle maintenance personnel or auto parts manufacturers can be held liable for negligence. Trucking firms are at least partially accountable if they have scheduled drivers for more hours than the law allows. They may fail to train drivers, ignore repeated code violations, or fail to perform background checks. Subcontractors responsible for securing safe loads may fail in their duties, causing dangerous conditions beyond the driver’s control.

Local municipalities may be liable for failing to fix broken signs, clear brush from blind turns, maintain pot holes, lower speed limits, or design reasonably safe construction zones. Failure to address a known traffic safety hazard where multiple accidents have occurred is often grounds for settlement. The City of Los Angeles may also end up paying a settlement if one of their city workers causes a crash.

Multiple parties could be on the line for compensating injured victims or decedent family members for medical bills, lost income, funeral expenses, or emotional pain and suffering.

Legal settlements after a serious 18 wheeler accident

There are many factors affecting how much settlement money you are offered, including:

  • How strong is the case proving the defendants’ negligence?
  • Did you pay a substantial amount of money out-of-pocket?
  • Were your injuries debilitating and long-lasting? Did you need surgery?
  • Was there a death involved that caused tremendous pain and suffering?
  • Has the defendant been involved in similar lawsuits?
  • Was 9-1-1 called and were you rushed to the hospital immediately?
  • Are you married, with a number of dependents relying upon your income to survive?
  • Do you have to pay lawyer contingency fees?
  • Can it be established that you were following the rules of the road and attentive when the accident occurred?

Talk to an 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Los Angeles

So much depends upon strength of argument in big rig accidents. You want a law firm that has successfully litigated complex accident cases and won. Salamati Law has a long track record of securing millions of dollars for truck accident victims in the state of California. Call 888-259-4060 for a free legal consultation. Our legal services are provided at no charge to you – unless we take on your case and win! You have up to two years following the accident (or, in some cases, after the discovery of serious injury) to collect compensation, so call today.

Additional resources regarding 18 wheeler wrecks