Thousands suffer serious injuries each year in crashes involving large trucks. Whenever a tractor-trailer strikes a vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist, there is the potential for life-changing injuries to occur. Very often, the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved in a truck accident are the ones who are seriously injured or killed. If you or a loved one has been injured in a big-rig crash, an experienced Long Beach truck accident lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
Truck Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,675 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States in the year 2010. That reflects an 8.7 percent increase from the previous year. In the year 2010, 529 truck occupants, 2,790 occupants of other vehicles and 356 others were killed.
The Legal Obligations of Truck Companies
There are many ways in which a truck company can prevent truck accidents from occurring. Whenever a Long Beach truck accident occurs, there are a number of significant questions that must be asked:
- Was the trucking company negligent in hiring the truck driver? It is the responsibility of the truck company to carefully examine the individual's driving history and background before hiring. Commercial drivers must be properly licensed and trained. Companies that hire drivers with a history of accidents or negligent driving can be held accountable by injured victims. Trucking companies are also required to randomly test their drivers for alcohol and drug use. When companies are lax when it comes to testing and enforcement, drivers are more likely to take advantage of the situation.
- Did the trucking company properly maintain the vehicle? Some truck accidents occur as the result of worn or damaged brakes, tires and other truck parts. It is the responsibility of every truck driver to perform an inspection of the vehicle before a long trip. At the same time, it is also the duty of truck owners or trucking companies to make sure that vehicle repairs and maintenance work are done in a timely manner. Truck companies that cut corners by refusing to maintain or repair their vehicles can be held accountable for their negligence.
- Was the trailer properly loaded? Improperly loading a trailer can cause a truck to veer out of control. If all the weight is to one side or at the front of the trailer, the truck may become difficult to handle. If the trailer is overloaded, it may become difficult to slow down. Some improperly loaded trailer incidents result in the trailer jackknifing or disconnecting from the truck resulting in devastating runaway trailer accidents.
- Are the truck drivers getting adequate rest between shifts? Truck drivers must keep a log of the hours they work. There are also federal laws that prevent them from working long hours and rules that require them to take adequate rest between shifts. Some companies do not actively monitor their drivers while others have no idea that their employees are putting people at risk by driving while fatigued. There are even companies that encourage drivers to work beyond the legally allowed hours of operation to make a deadline.
Holding Truck Companies Liable
Victims of Long Beach truck accidents can hold the at-fault party accountable for their losses. In some cases, the at-fault party may be a negligent truck driver. In other cases, there may be a number of other potentially liable parties including the truck driver's employer, trucking firm or the distribution company. Injured victims of truck accidents can seek compensation from the at-fault parties for damages including but not limited to medical expenses, loss of wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation and pain and suffering.
The experienced Long Beach truck accident lawyers at our law firm have a long history of helping injured victims and their families protect their rights, obtain just compensation and hold the wrongdoers accountable. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Long Beach truck accident, please contact us for a free consultation and a comprehensive case evaluation.