Lancaster Truck Accident Lawyers
Trucking Accident Claims in Antelope Valley
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident, come to Accident Attorneys for help from our team of Lancaster truck accident attorneys.
Our two lawyers have more than 75 years of combined experience to help you file a lawsuit against:
- A negligent trucker
- The truck manufacturer of a defective auto part
- The trucking company, based on violation of industry safety regulations
Common Trucking Accidents
Commercial truck drivers work in an environment that can sometimes encourage dangerous driving behavior. To meet strict deadlines a driver may engage in negligent actions, such as driving longer than allowed or through hazardous conditions. Although not every accident involves these conditions, our attorneys will investigate all options in order to discover the true cause of a collision.
Trucking accidents generally occur due to a combination of factors including:
- Driver fatigue: Driving while tired is among the most common cause of truck accidents. A fatigued driver may be unable to make the required caliber of decisions necessary for driving. Hours-of-operation laws exist to help stop crashes due to a tired driver. A violation of these regulations can be grounds for negligence on the part of the truck driver.
- Failure to maintain equipment: The trucking industry in California is highly regulated and drivers must perform regular vehicle inspections to ensure their truck and equipment are properly maintained. If one system fails, the driver may not be able to properly control the vehicle and an accident can result. If you need a truck accident attorney for lack of inspection or maintenance in Lancaster, contact Accident Attorneys immediately!
- Driving under the influence: Truck drivers are held to a different standard when it comes to drinking and driving. A commercial driver cannot have a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher or have consumed alcohol within several hours of a working shift. Despite the danger and legality, use of alcohol and methamphetamine are common causes of trucking accidents
- Speeding: Driving faster than is necessary presents a special danger for truck drivers on the road. The massive weight of a commercial truck can mean that driving even a few mph over the speed limit can lead to a massive increase in stopping distance. Any decrease in control from speeding can be further exacerbated by hazardous weather conditions.
Federal Hours-of-Service Rules
Fatigue typically happens because of long shifts and monotonous journeys on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set forth regulations which limit the number of hours driven on the road in order to lessen the chances of accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving massive commercial trucks. In addition, trucking companies and their drivers are required to keep track of logs to record hours worked.
Federal hours-of-service rules include the following:
- Commercial truck drivers are allowed to work a maximum 14 hours a day.
- Commercial truck drivers can drive up to 11 hours out of the 14-hour day.
- Commercial truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break at some point after the first seven hours of a shift.
- Commercial truck drivers are allowed to drive a maximum 70 hours a week.
- Commercial truck drivers are required to take 24 hours of rest to continue working after achieving the weekly limit.
Truck drivers are not the only party who can incur liability for an accident. In certain cases, the trucking company can share responsibility or be entirely at fault for damages due to an accident. For example, if a company knowingly hired a driver with a history of alcohol abuse and that driver causes an accident, the employer may be held liable.
A trucking company can also fail to maintain their fleet. If the breaks fail, or the hydraulic system is compromised on a vehicle and an accident occurs, the company may again be held responsible.
Commercial trucks are massive machines that can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. Because crash risks increase the heavier a truck or tractor-trailer becomes, state and federal regulators enforce a number of rules when it comes to cargo, including cargo securement regulations and strict weight limits. Under current regulations, commercial trucks and tractor trailers cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. That gross weight limit includes both vehicle weight and the weight of any cargo on board. For single unit trucks, including box trucks, the federal weight limit is 57,000 pounds.
- EOBR/ELD records: Electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) and electronic logging devices are installed directly in a truck and automatically record information regarding its operation, such as speed, distance traveled, and hours of operation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that most trucks carry some form of these devices. The information stored on these devices can be used to help your case.
- Accident site investigation: Just as important as testimony from those directly involved is the investigation of the accident site itself. Pictures, videos, and witness testimony, as well as physical evidence such as property damage and tire marks, can make a significant contribution to your case.
- Vehicle inspections: Drivers are required by law to perform regular inspections and maintain their vehicles in accordance with mandated specifications. A driver’s log book, EORB/ELD data, and visual inspections can turn up evidence regarding the status of the truck. If a driver failed to maintain his vehicle or equipment, they can become liable for resulting damages.
- Company records: Along with drivers themselves, trucking companies are also required to keep detailed records on their fleet of trucks. This information can include records of driver qualifications and safety, truck maintenance, and inspections, as well as hours worked by a driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces hundreds of rules governing every aspect of the commercial trucking industry. In regards to maintenance, FMCSA regulations cover the subject of inspection, repair, and maintenance of commercial vehicles, including inspection reports and qualifications of inspectors.
It is mandatory for truckers to perform their own inspection prior to driving the vehicle to ensure that the truck is in safe operating condition. If any defects are discovered, the driver must report and perform any necessary repairs before getting back on the road. If the vehicle is found to have an unsafe condition while on the road, the trucker must go to the nearest place to get the proper repairs.
Trucking companies can be held legally liable when accidents are caused by their failure to maintain equipment.
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