San Diego Truck Accident Attorneys
Legal Representation for Tractor Trailer Accident Victims
Tractor trailers, also referred to "semi trucks" or "big rigs", are a ubiquitous presence on roadways throughout Southern California and all across the country. These vehicles transport the food we eat and the products we use every day. Yes, the trucking industry is a vital element in America's economy. Consider the following statistics:
- Over two million tractor trailers are in operation across the United States.
- Approximately 3.5 million tractor trailer operators are employed in this country.
- In 2006, the trucking industry logged about 432.9 billion miles in the U.S.
- An estimated 70 percent of all freight transported in the U.S. each year is delivered by tractor trailer.
- The trucking industry rakes in an estimated $255.5 billion in total revenue each year in America.
However, due to their colossal size and weight, tractor trailers are also a dangerous, sometimes even deadly presence for drivers of passenger vehicles. If you or a family member has been injured in an accident with a big rig, you or they could be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered. But getting a just settlement out of a trucking corporation is no simple matter. Trucking companies carry large insurance policies due to the dangers semi trucks pose to other vehicles and their passengers. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and they employ armies of lawyers who are highly skilled in getting injury victims to agree to settlements that are vastly inadequate. It is for this reason that we at Jurewitz Law Group urge you not to agree to any settlement until after you've consulted an experienced San Diego vehicle accident attorney. For over 15 years we have been successfully representing San Diego area residents who've been injured in accidents involving big rigs. To get a settlement worthy of your injuries, contact our seasoned legal team at (888) 233-5020. We offer you a free and comprehensive initial consultation. Call Jurewitz Law Group today.
Call a San Diego truck accident lawyer at (619) 233-5020 if you were hurt in a big rig collision.
Trucking Industry Rules and Regulations
We've all had the experience of being on the highway when one of these behemoth trucks passes us in our cars. The road literally shakes under their massive weight. That's not surprising when you consider that a fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Eighty-thousand pounds is the legal limit a semi truck is allowed to weigh by dictate of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the government agency that oversees the trucking industry. In addition to establishing weight limits for big rigs, the FMCSA also regulates how long a tractor trailer operator can drive without taking a rest break, how long an operator can drive during a shift, how many hours off an operator must have between shifts, and other regulations intended to keep our nation's roadways safe. While most tractor trailer operators are highly trained and licensed professionals, there are some in the industry who try to skirt the FMCSA's regulations to increase profit margins. Many trucking companies encourage or pressure their drivers to violate the industries rules, so as to shorten delivery times, deliver more goods per trip, etc. Big rig operators do this in a variety of ways, such as:
- Overloading trailers
- Driving too many hours without a break
- Not taking enough time off between shifts
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving in unsafe weather and road conditions
- Driving under the influence of amphetamines or other drugs
Injured in an Interstate 5 (I-5) Car or Trucking Accident?
Interstate 5 (also known as "the I-5" or "the 5") is the major north-south freeway running along the coastline of San Diego County, beginning at the San Ysidro Port of Entry from Mexico and continuing through Oceanside and Camp Pendleton in North San Diego County. I-5 intersects or connects with several freeways as it crosses through the San Diego metropolitan area, including I-805 which splits off and then rejoins the I-5, SR 905 which heads eastbound to the Otay Mesa Border Crossing, SR 75 which heads west to Coronado Island and Chula Vista, SR 54 which heads east to National City, SR 15 and I-15 which heads northbound along inland San Diego County up to Escondido and Temecula, SR 94 which heads east to Lemon Grove, SR 163 which heads north to join I-15, I-8 which heads west to Ocean Beach and Mission Bay and eastbound to La Mesa and El Cajon, SR 56 which heads east to Santee, and SR 78 which heads east through Oceanside, Vista, and San Marcos.
The I-5's Most Well-Known Intersection
The most well-known intersection along I-5 is "The Merge" where I-5 north and I-805 north merge just north of La Jolla and UTC and just south of Del Mar and Carmel Valley. At The Merge, the number of lanes decreases very quickly and traffic comes to a quick stop. This causes many rear end car accidents and multiple vehicle collisions.
Special Types of Commercial Truck Accidents - Proving Negligence
Compared to everyday passenger vehicles, large commercial trucks and tractor-trailers pose a special hazard to drivers. The following types of vehicle accidents can only occur if a large truck is present.
- Exceptionally large vehicle, particularly 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers, are often involved in jackknifing accidents. This type of accident occurs when the driver of a truck attempts to come to a sudden stop, causing the vehicle to turn and collide with another driver. Jackknifing primarily occurs during inclement weather, and if you are jackknifed by a commercial truck, you may not be able to hold the truck driver responsible for the crash. Since the driver could not have predicted a slippery road, he or she cannot be classified as "negligent" by law.
- Commercial trucks are considerably larger than passenger vehicles, and to make a complete turn, they are often forced to occupy two lanes when making right turns. If you are hit by a truck that is attempting to make a right turn, you may not have the option of filing a negligence claim.
- Tractor-trailers, as their name suggests, transport trailers to and from various destinations. Trailers are extremely wide, and often, you will see these trucks followed by another vehicle warning drivers to remain at a safe distance. It is the responsibility of the trucking or shipping company to secure these trailers safely, but trailers can become unhitched from the cab of the truck and crash into other vehicles. These crashes can also be caused by hazardous road conditions, and if you are injured by a runaway trailer, you will need to go to special lengths to prove that the responsible party engaged in negligent behavior.
- Due to their size, weight, and design, tractor trailers pose some unique dangers to other vehicles on the road. One such danger is the possibility of an underride collision. Underride collisions occur because the trailer of a big rig sits higher off the ground than the main body of an automobile. When a car collides with a trailer, it can slide underneath it sheering off the upper half of the passenger compartment and possibly decapitating the occupants. Federal law mandates that all trailers have underride guards to prevent such accidents. However, tests have shown that many underride guards are not strong enough and can collapse upon impact. Underride guards also do no good when a car crashes into the side of the trailer.
If you are involved in either of the truck accident types above, you will need a lawyer who understands the finer intricacies of the law.
The situations above can become complicated, and more than likely, you will need to hire legal representation to win your case. To prove that an individual, company or organization behaved negligently, you must show the court that:
- The defendant failed to exercise a reasonable degree of care when driving.
- It was the defendant’s responsibility to exercise a reasonable degree of caution and care to keep other drivers and pedestrians safe from harm.
- Your injury is the direct result of the defendant’s failure, refusal, or inability to exercise a reasonable degree of caution.
If the truck driver claims that he or she exercised reasonable care and that the accident was not preventable, you could have a difficult time in court.
Who is Responsible for the Crash?
When determining responsibility in a trucking case, you may be able to hold multiple parties responsible. In addition to the truck driver, some collision victims can hold the following individuals or companies responsible for their pain and suffering.
- Trucking company
- Owner of the truck
- Maker of the truck
- Truck inspectors/examiners/maintenance companies
- Loading company
The more parties you hold responsible, the higher your chances of receiving compensation will be. Remember, it is the responsibility of the trucking company to ensure that their employees are properly trained to operate large trucks.
Work With an Experienced Law Firm
You will probably need the aid of one or more San Diego personal injury attorneys after you are involved in a commercial truck accident. More than likely, the trucking company will have a plethora of lawyers, legal advisors, and other experts on their team, and it is imperative that you choose an experienced firm like Jurewitz Law Group if you want to win. Call us today at (619) 233-5020 to discuss your accident case.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Tractor Trailer Accidents
Is an attorney really necessary when filing a tractor trailer accident claim or a wrongful death claim?
A: In addition to the rule violations mentioned above, the following are also frequent causes of big rig accidents:
- Improperly loaded trailers
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Reckless driving
- The large blind spots tractor trailers have
- Not following safety procedures (such as employing the safety brake when parking on an incline, etc.)
- High winds
- Driver falling asleep
- Defective vehicle parts or equipment
- Driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol
A: You can seek compensation for any of the following damages:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical bills related to the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a limb
- Permanent injury or disability
- Costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Household and vehicle modification to accommodate your injuries
- Property loss and damage
- Lost wages from missed work
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Reduced earning capacity
- Mental anguish and emotional duress
- Hedonic damages for loss of joy of life
- Punitive damages
A: Yes, if the tractor trailer is liable for the accident.
A: Your family can be awarded compensation for any of the following damages in a wrongful death claim:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before they died
- Property loss and damage
- Loss of future income
- Loss of future benefits (such as medical benefits and retirement benefits)
- Loss of love, affection, comfort, guidance, marital consortium, etc.
- Loss of household duties the deceased regularly performed (such as childcare, accounting, vehicle and property maintenance, chores, etc.)
- Punitive damages
Q: Is an attorney really necessary when filing a tractor trailer accident claim or a wrongful death claim?
A: Is representation by an attorney mandatory? No. Is it necessary? ABSOLUTELY. Unless you or a family member has spent at least a decade in the trenches, doing battle with powerful insurance conglomerates and consistently coming out on top, you won't stand a chance. Personal injury and truck accident wrongful death claims are complicated endeavors that require experience, knowledge, a strong will, and the ability not to blink.
Contact an Experienced San Diego Trucking Accident Lawyer
Jurewitz Law Group can provide you the experience and tenacity to secure the settlement you and your family deserves. Call our Southern California offices today at (888) 233-5020 for a free case evaluation with a Carlsbad lawyer.
Truck Accident Case Results
- Awarded: $97,500 - Poway Car Truck Accident
- Awarded: $30,000 (Policy Limits) - San Diego Woman Suffers Back and Knee Injury When Truck Pulls in Front of Her Car
DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that the case results described above are not intended to be representative of usual results and not every result is typical or expected of every case. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Please contact our office to discuss your case and the range of reasonable case values for your personal injury case.
TERMS: By viewing and reading the case values on this website, you are agreeing not to disseminate and distribute the case results described herein. The Jurewitz Law Group retains any and all rights with respect to the use and enforcement of copywrite and trademark violations with respect to any use which violated state or federal law.
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Call the Jurewitz Law Group at (619) 233-5020 and begin your path to recovery with a no-cost consultation today.