California’s lengthy stretches of highways are filled with large trucks hauling freight. Truck drivers must take the necessary precautions to prevent catastrophic incidents due to their vehicles’ greater size and weight.
Unfortunately, even the best truck drivers can wind up causing horrific crashes. Since trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when carrying cargo, they can leave behind a wake of devastation.
Personal injury attorneys know that while trucking accidents can happen in a variety of ways, there are five causes that seem to be the most common in California.
1. Truck Driver Error
Truck drivers are human, and as such, they can make mistakes. The mistakes they make behind the wheel can cause life-changing injuries or fatalities. There are rules and regulations at the federal and state level that forbid truckers from driving for too many hours. However, some trucking companies put a lot of pressure on drivers to make deadlines, which means some drivers get behind the wheel when they’re exhausted.
Other times, a truck driver may get distracted on the road, much like any other driver. They’re not supposed to use the phone or do certain tasks while driving. Some truck drivers drink or take drugs, while others engage in aggressive behaviors such as speeding or following too closely. Any of these truck driver errors can put everyone on the road at serious risk.
2. Poor Truck Maintenance
Like any vehicle on the road, a commercial truck needs to be properly maintained. The trucking company and truck drivers are responsible for maintaining the vehicle. Before hitting the road, a trucker must check to ensure the truck and its vital parts are working correctly. Maintenance records must also be kept to prove that the vehicle was serviced at proper intervals and ensure it’s safe to drive.
3. Mechanical Failure
Sometimes, the parts from the manufacturer are defective, and even with proper maintenance, they may cause a serious crash. Truck owners and operators must look out for anything that doesn’t seem to be working properly and have it repaired. However, not every problem is noticeable during these checks. If the trucker and trucking company did everything right and the truck crashed due to a defective part, the manufacturer could be liable.
4. Improperly Loaded Cargo
Cargo must be loaded onto a truck to keep it from shifting and creating a situation where the truck could roll over. It could be the trucker’s fault, but the trucking company, vendor, and warehouse workers may all have played a role. When cargo isn’t loaded properly, accidents are far more likely to occur.
5. Inclement Weather
No one can control the weather, but truckers need to deliver their goods, rain or shine. Poor weather conditions such as rain, snow, or ice can make it much more difficult for a truck driver to control their vehicle. While even experienced drivers can get into an accident in bad weather, those with the least experience and training will be far more likely to cause a wreck.
Serious Injuries from Truck Accidents
No matter what causes a truck accident, it’s bound to lead to serious injuries for those involved, and some might not survive.
Back and Neck Injuries
If you’re lucky, you’ll have only minor neck or back pain. But more often than not, truck accident victims suffer herniated discs and other severe injuries. Even worse, the injury may impact the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis.
Big trucks can cause a powerful impact that can lead to broken bones. The crash could cause broken hands, arms, legs, feet, or even fractured ribs.
Anytime someone suffers a blow to the head, it can lead to a brain injury. The severity of a traumatic brain injury could cause life-altering results. In mild cases, it may be a concussion, but in severe cases, the victim could lose motor and cognitive functions. Many people are never the same again after a head injury in a truck accident.
In a crash, blunt force trauma can lead to internal bleeding. Victims may feel shaken up but otherwise seem fine following the crash, but skipping medical treatment is a huge mistake. The injuries could become life-threatening if the liver, kidneys, spleen, or pancreas have been damaged.
Semi-trucks carrying hazardous loads can burst into flames in an accident. These types of fires spread quickly and can engulf a vehicle. Burns are traumatic and painful, and they can cause permanent disfigurement.
You could lose a limb because of the damage from a truck crash or burn. In short, a truck accident can turn your normal life into one full of pain, anguish, and misery.
Steps You Should Take After Being Involved in a Truck Accident
A San Jose truck accident attorney will tell you that the first thing you need to do in a truck accident is to get immediate medical attention. You likely will not realize the severity of your injuries while on the accident scene.
Afterward, you should document everything you can and exchange contact and insurance information with the truck driver. For many truck accident victims, this time is a blur. This is why you should contact a truck accident attorney after you have been treated for your injuries. They can begin investigating the case and identifying the liable parties.
They will also negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf, which most injury victims don’t have the energy or knowledge to do. Plus, settlements often don’t include all of the damages you have suffered. If you need lifelong medical treatments because of a truck accident you didn’t cause, then you shouldn’t be the one paying for it.