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Trucker communication via open CB Channel.
Female trucker chatting on a CB radio.

Table of Contents:

Differences Between a Commercial Truck from a Tractor?

  • The word "truck" normally describes a tractor with an attached trailer.

Large trucks will have up to eighteen or more wheels and tires. Tractors will usually have fewer wheels since they tow trailers. But again, this changes if the tractor is towing a fully laden trailer. 

Most accidents we see involve fishtailing trailers. Multi-vehicle pile-ups get seen on the evening news all the time. Typically, the tractor alone with no load will rarely get into mass chain collisions. Tractor Contrasted with a Trailer. The "tractor," or "rig" pulls the trailer. So a tractor is any wheeled machine that pulls something. 

It can even be a farm vehicle. But if it hauls on the highways, it usually has two tires in the front and four or more in the rear. 

It includes ballast tractors. Heavy and medium duty military vehicles can be tractors too. Last, commercial rear-wheel drive "semi-tractors" get used for hauling semi-trailers. So we like to call commercial haulers like this "big rigs." 

Of particular interest, ports, and locomotive hubs act as shipping and receiving stations for the carriage of goods. In fact, many accidents take place when trucks enter and exit main transportation hubs.

Dangerous Truck Zones.

The Port of Long Beach along the 110 South and North San Pedro exemplifies a dangerous area for truck wrecks. So a tractor hauls the trailer. Big rigs will sometimes use trailers owned by the trucker. But many times, operators almost exclusively use the trailer brakes provided by the trailer's owner or leased by the shipper. By extension, if a carrier provides a trailer, and it contributes to the accident, the shipper may also be liable. This holds true whether Jake Braking or not. Get it?

  • Medium Sized Trucks.

Some trucks, like U-Haul type trucks, can be huge. Commercial trucks will require a professional driver. But most cargo trucks are so-called "mid-sized trucks." Because of their carrying capacity compared to a car, companies, and people rent all types of these cargo vehicles to move material items from place to place. 

Again, if the renter lent out a defective truck, they can be liable for your injuries if in an accident. Also, "dually" trucks have two extra tires in the rear. (Source.) This particular truck is excellent for hauling things like boats and horse trailers. We see a lot of ranchers owning these particular autos. If something becomes unhitched, an accident will soon follow.

  • Light Trucks.

Light, or "small" trucks mostly only require a non-commercial California driver's license. Depending on the configuration, they can seat one to eight people. The design of light trucks facilitates the movement of people, small items, and goods. 

Also, most small trucks have only four wheels. Painters and surfers alike love these vehicles. Someday to day items won't fit in a regular passenger car. 

Such things like surfboards get jammed behind car seats, etc. The same goes for a 50-gallon drum of paint when you need to do a blue-collar job. So these vehicles can be for utility and as just plain fun. These dual-use vehicles have become approved for all roads. 

All trucks differ in power, stature, and structure. As discussed, small trucks act commonly more like small cars. So these trucks remain more variable in use. However, many privately owned vehicles become utilized in the course and scope of employment. 

So this means that an employer can be liable for a truck crash, not just the driver. As for automakers, they too can be defendants if a part fails, for example.

  • Small Car Contrasted.

A car has four wheels. Also, it remains self-propelled. Usually, cars use gasoline motors. These vehicles will primarily get used for transport. Most of these autos come out of the automotive industry. They must meet specific safety and design standards to be sold to the public. 

Otherwise, they cannot become registered to travel the roads in California legally. Conversely, some grandfathered cars stay as "collectibles." So these older vehicles can be sold or purchased without retrofitting. So, for example, by law, they may not have to be equipped with seat belts.  

Of particular interest, most cars can get fitted with a trailer hitch. But small cars remain limited in what they can tow. Mainly cars sit low and cannot tow trailers with a higher center of gravity.

Things Most Trucks Have In Common.

All trucks stay capable of accepting a tow and hitch—diesel engines power most modern mid and large-sized trucks. Conversely, most small-sized trucks in the U.S. remain gas powered. But big rigs, with few exceptions, continue to be diesel-powered. Last, electric and driverless trucks persist as the modern trend.

Just How Dangerous Are Big Trucks?

It wouldn’t be wrong to count truck accidents among the most dangerous things taking place on the road. Trucks can be 18-wheelers or pickup trucks. Most of the time, they are many times heavier than the regular vehicles families use for transporting agricultural and other goods to warehouse docking bays across Los Angeles County and beyond.

The Dangers to Passenger Cars From Tractor Trailers.

Big rig truck depicted
Ehline, and a Big Rig

Watch out! Any accident on the road can be a severe one. Those that involve the large vehicles discussed here can become deadly quickly. With thousands of semis traveling across California daily, accidents are inevitable. Often, truck drivers are well trained but demanded upon.

They get asked to make impossible deadlines, often while tired. And sometimes that leads to severe accidents. But there are other cases where the truck mechanics do a bad job. Also, sometimes the trucks are not well maintained or manufactured. In other words, trucks can be a catastrophic accident waiting to happen.

What are the Immediate Effects of a Tractor-Trailer Truck Accident with a Smaller Car?

Regardless of the type of accident the tractor-trailer has caused, there are many immediate effects. Severe injury or death is a likely result for anyone unfortunate enough to be in a struck car. Victims often suffer permanent injuries, including paralysis, brain damage, and amputations. The death of a loved one could cause severe stress for family members that shatters a lifestyle.

It's important to remember that you are not alone. When facing the aftermath of such a horrible accident, there are many factors to consider. These include actions taken by the other driver and the truck company in keeping the roadways safe. Similarly, did the state or local agency not correctly maintain the roads or streets, allowing for such an accident to occur in the first place.

Do 18 Wheelers Take Longer to Stop?

big rig pulled overYes, they take longer to stop than passenger cars. Eighteen wheeler accidents also include factors not typically seen in smaller vehicle accidents. For example, this consists of the freighted material, much longer stopping distance, and sheer weight and size of the vehicle and trailer. But all of these factors can make a scary combination.

  • Why Is It So Important to Have the Help of a Lawyer for a Tractor-Trailer Crash?

When faced with medical or funeral expenses after such an accident, it is vital to have a specially trained attorney who could assist in rebuilding your life. The medical bills and the need for treatment may grow. And the insurance companies may try to get out of paying for your needs. But you might need to negotiate with worker's comp or get onto disability.

You may need to recover back pay, and a means to sustain your family. You may have gruesome scarring that makes it difficult to travel outside and the effects of long-term pain. 

  • Trucks Need Way More Time To Slow Down!
Trucks colliding
Delivery truck

At almost 100,000 pounds fully laden, a fishtailing semi requires an increased stopping distance than a small car. On a winding freeway like the Interstate 110 in the 90711 zip code, a single truck could easily careen into a bus, motorcycle, or bystander. And this remains true even with the advantages of Jake Braking.

Obviously, a highly skilled lawyer is key to winning in the local Los Angeles Superior Courts. The great news is that since our attorneys drive in the 90712-90899 zip codes daily, they know the risks of commuting, and how to argue for winning results in and out of court. Also, there are nuances for truck accident law.

Tired Truckers Can Kill?

You bet they can and do! For example, truckers are required to take rest breaks, tired or not. And they must keep accurate, regularly updated maintenance logs, and even be commercially licensed. Unfortunately, trucking laws are not always easy to abide by when truckers are in such a hurry to drop and pick up cargo. Because of this, some drivers will cut corners and miss breaks, or only use the trailer brakes to save on the tractor maintenance.

Some truckers will take illegal and legal stimulus drugs just to remain awake. All of this increases the possibility of distraction, danger, or inattentiveness.

Impacting With a Truck Can Mean Serious Injury or Death?

You had better believe it. The momentum of these light, medium, and heavy trucks on the roads is tremendous. And when they hit a smaller vehicle or person on the street or sidewalk, the accidents are dreadful. And many poorly trained, non commercially licensed commuters use them for the same purposes as a commercial vehicle.

Many of these truck rules are enforced by the Department of Transportation, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Department of Homeland Security, and in some cases by the the LA City Council.

What About Truck Accidents Involving Mechanical Malfunctions?

Determining who to hold responsible for a severe trucking cataclysm is not simple. For instance, sometimes it can be one hundred percent the fault of the errant trucker.

But other wrecks can be from:

  • Bad parts or.
  • Recalled products.

So the injury-causing defect may be from the construction process of the big rig itself. We sue bad actors who have put junk trucks and components to market.

The driver who is also an owner-operator and the product maker can jointly be at fault. Usually, that will happen if the wreck is due to a malfunction. The driver may have acted unreasonably despite the product failure.

Is L.A. at Particular Risk for Trucking Wrecks?

Ehline Law Firm DTLA personal injury law building. Motorcycle accident specialists.
The Los Angeles commercial building where Ehline Law Firm at (213) 596-9642 is located.

Yes, it is. In the Los Angeles area codes like 562, 323, 424, and 657, we see scores of transportation collisions. The Ports and shipping mean an abundance of large, commercial 18 wheelers mixing with cars and cycles. Naturally, big rig truck accidents carry with them the increased risk of mass casualties.

Do Insurers Fight to Avoid Paying on Valid Claims?

Plus, cases involve significant insurance policy coverage. As such, the insurance defense attorneys are outstanding and willing to take the case to trial if you have a crummy lawyer. Even with a good lawyer, the insurers face losing millions of dollars. Many businesses in Greater Los Angeles and others use SUVs and light pickup trucks.

Most law experts agree that truck accident law remains lax. And this is true under federal and California rules. But many factors come into play to prove a party’s wrongful act.

Because of this, victims will need to contact a trucking injury attorney. And this must be done rapidly. So after an accident, a suffering victim must get help.

Ehline Law Firm - Truck Accident Lawyers in Los Angeles County and Beyond.

An automobile is a wheeled, self-propelled motorized vehicle. So it includes both mall and light vehicles. This article covers big rig type trucks and light trucks and various causes of accidents. We will also discuss safety, the law, and how to sue in case of an automobile accident.

Truck Defined.

  • Big Rigs & Other Commercial Trucks.

Big rigs are commercial motors used for transporting goods and products in the U.S. These trucks are designed to run primarily on approved roads. Also, these huge and powerful beasts can be modified. For example, some can mount specialized machinery.

For example, dump trucks get fitted with hydraulics. This machinery lifts the load at a 45-degree angle. As the angle increases, the trash, or load "dumps" onto the ground. We have helped many victims of accidents from waste and dump trucks. Other examples of modified trucks include fire trucks, suction excavators, and concrete trucks.

Everyone has seen a cement-mixer truck dump its load. But what not many people know is that these can cause terrible freeway accidents. If laden, these vehicles don't slow down fast. Sometimes this makes an accident fated. Even more obscure will be military vehicles.

For example, the MRAP. Or it could be a HUMVEE or Prime Mover. Yes, even military personnel can sue the manufacturer of a vehicle in some instances. Suing requires a vast knowledge of these vehicles.

Discover the Ehline Law Trucking Accident Attorney Difference.

Based in LA County, our firm has litigated many complicated cases. And these cases include truck caused personal injuries. Our lawyers are second to none based on the testimony and reviews of our past clients. And we have the experience to win the maximum dollars under the law.

Also, we will assist you across the state. And we have achieved many landmark victories for a firm with our time in grade. We invite you to read more and understand what makes us so special.

What Are Some Important Semi-Truck Regulations?

Semi-truck laws and regulations have their basis in California, U.S. codes, and statutory requirements. These rules expressly relate to trucks. And as discussed, these include 18 wheeler rigs.

  • The Many Enforcement Agencies.

Multiple agencies can make and enforce rules. These include the Department of Transportation, the Public Utilities Commission. Also, the Department of Homeland Security has a say so. And in some cases, rules for large trucks get set forth by the LA City Council. Of particular interest, the City is always seeking as needed haulers. Also, there is a sign that has a sign-up form here for truckers.

  • The Width and Breadth of Local, State, and Federal Trucking Regulations.

These trucking regulations decide how much a fully laden commercial truck may weigh. They even cover who may drive big rig trucks. And they also cover how many hours an operator can operate a truck before pulling over for a nap.

Last, they cover the type of training drivers must maintain. If these rules get violated, injured victims time after time seek advice. But the smart victims turn to experts in negligence law.

The violations of these human-made laws, at times, become the legal cause of many accidents. So an excellent truck accident attorney should be able to piece together the law with the facts. And that remains a great way to build a winning case.

  • Commercial Trucker Defined.

As noted at the outset, non-commercial drivers not seldom use lighter trucks for commercial purposes. But larger trucks must be driven by real truckers. These people earn their livings by driving these powerful vehicles. (these include semi, dump, trash, or box trucks).

These road transport drivers remain subject to all of the above-stated rules and regulations.

How Do Common Truck Accidents Take Place?

No matter how heavy and big trucks frequent the roads. So they can have accidents like other vehicles too. However, the reasons for crashes in different machines can be various.

A truck driver might be driving under the influence. But it could be he might not be adequately trained even to drive a truck. Or he could have lost control of the truck for some reason. Causes like slippery roads come to mind. But speeding and reduced vision endure as a common cause of truck accidents.

On many occasions, the truck drivers might put the lives of other drivers at risk. And many times, this comes from pressure by pushy bosses. Truckers, again and again, get pushed hard to meet deadlines. Reaching a particular destination can become a race against time.

How Can you Stay Safe by Staying Out of the Truck's “Danger Sector?”

Warning Sign - Children Present

Danger Kids Crossing

The “Danger Sector” is that area where driving near a tractor-trailer in the spot where the driver cannot see your vehicle. Mostly, without cameras, this is a large blind spot, which the mirrors do not cover and a place where you do not want to stay for any amount of time. And these are located on the back and sides of big rigs. And this is called the “Danger Sector” for passenger vehicles. Often, the truck driver has to change lanes because of another vehicle or road construction. But sometimes they will not see the passenger vehicle in this blind spot.

ALERT: Stay Away From The Sides of Trucks When You Are Sharing the Road.

  • Traveling on the sides of the truck is another dangerous place to be since big rigs often have recap tires on them. And these can come apart. Most of all, this can cause damage to cars around them, becoming a dangerous object in the roadway. But there is another danger, which is the brakes on the big rig overheating. Of particular concern, brakes can come apart under intense heat and pressure of slowing down an 18 wheeler. And when this happens, there is a danger of vehicles traveling near them being struck by chunks of flying metal.

Being safe traveling near these large trucks on the roadway depends on offense driving:

  • Passing a Big Rig: If you intend to pass a large truck, it is essential to get past it as quickly as possible, while driving at a safe speed.
  • Do Not Pull Directly In Front of a Big Rig: This is crucial to staying safe on the road, never pull directly in front of a tractor-trailer, they take longer to slow down than a passenger vehicle. If you need to slow down after passing one of these trucks immediately, it puts you at a high risk of being rear-ended by the massive, heavy diesel truck.
  • Do Not Drive in the Danger Sector: Do not remain in the blind spot of the truck driver, any longer than necessary. So this puts the passenger vehicle at risk when the truck driver does not know there is a vehicle and needs to change lanes quickly.
  • Drive defensively, when on the roadway with tractor-trailers, to avoid being involved in a big rig accident.

Don’t let a drive home turn into a drive to the funeral parlor. Be safe when driving around large vehicles.

What Are Some Examples of Natural and Unexpected Accidents?

Many reasons exist for natural or unexpected truck accidents. So, in that case, a driver could be aloof or mostly unaware of them. For example, it might not always be the fault of the truck driver if the brakes fail on the way.

  • Why is Maintenance Problems So Dangerous?

But it could be a maintenance problem. In that case, the trucker and his bosses have constructive notice of potential danger. So this can attach to them as liable parties in a wreck when someone sues.

  • What are Some Multiple Defendant Problems?

And many times, the maintenance will be left in the hands of the company that owns the truck. Sometimes it may be serviced by a third party company. But what matters most may be the many potential people to sue. And if you fail to sue the right people, you can lose your shirt.

What are the Many Different Types Of Truck Accidents?

Regardless of the reason for a truck accident, many of these extremely dangerous mishaps persist as fatalities.

Here below continue as common truck accident types:

  • Under-Ride. (occurs as vehicles coming from behind travel under the truck from the back).
  • Jackknife. (brakes are applied, and the trailer of the truck lashes out just like a jackknife).
  • T-Bone. (Go here).
  • Unchecked Load. (drivers must check the load on the truck at regular intervals).
  • The blowout of tires happens if a tire bursts. Here, it is nearly impossible to control the speeding truck.
  • Failure of brakes.
  • Rollovers. (trucks must have tires with a secure grip on the road because, without it, they can roll over even if traveling at just 5MPH).
  • Blind spots. (areas that truck drivers aren’t able to see while driving).

These are the most common types of accidents with trucks. And their results can be appalling since trucks mostly travel on bigger roads and highways. So since higher speeds accompany freeway travel, the force of impact will be destructive beyond words.

What are Some Steps a Greenhorn Should Take After a Truck Accident?

If faced with injuries after an accident with an 18 wheeler, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Collect Evidence – Evidence that supports your version of events stands vital in the courts. You or a party on your behalf must obtain names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses. And you must also get ID and insurance info. You need to obtain this for the defendant and trucking company. Also, get formal proof of road conditions, the weather, time of day. And take pictures of the roadway itself. Photograph faulty road repairs, damaged asphalt, broken or missing traffic signals. It will always be handy to keep a disposable camera around. But you could also use an iPhone or personal camera.
  • Obtain Copies of the Traffic Collision Investigation Report – Get the official copy from the police. If you find a dunning type report, with factually false info, track down the officer. After that, demand they correct the inconsistencies.
  • Never Admit Liability to Anyone – Abe Lincoln said it best: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” So don’t be a dupe. Keep your mouth shut. You're not an expert. Don’t hurt your case by making uncertain assumptions.

What are Some Not So Obvious Injuries?

Anyone involved in a crash knows the adrenaline levels spike and block the immediate sensation of pain. You can see stars and not realize that you have a severe head injury, ruptured spine, or hairline fractures.

These trigger parts of the fight or flight response. If running around after an accident, police or onlookers could believe that the victim sustained no major injuries.

It would be better to wait to move around until seeing a medical professional. A hurt victim can hurt their case by failing to seek help. Defendants always argue it was a latent injury and that plaintiff "faked it."

Making sure that an accident attorney helps you build your case will stand firm as a vital part of recovery. Let them do the worrying– you have enough on your plate already.

Who is Responsible For Truck Accidents?

Finding fault for the accident seems easy enough, right? We assume the trucker is the one who caused the wreck. But there are many reasons a truck can crash, and many people who could be legally liable to pay. And in truck accidents, critical items can become lost forever.

So you simply must quickly investigate the matters. First, you must find the actual and main cause of the accident. Once the significant cause of the accident becomes clear, a particular party can be held responsible for the accident. Below are some of the parties who may be liable to pay you for your injuries.

  • Truck Driver: In most cases, the truck drivers become responsible for the accident because he has control of the vehicle in his hand. This irresponsible behavior, or “negligence,” mostly remain the cause of truck accidents in this country.
  • The Company: The company that has hired the driver can get held responsible for these accidents. Of particular interest, the record of the driver shows that he’s been negligent at driving in the past too. The company may find itself sued because the driver was hired in the first place.
  • The Repairing Company: If the accident was caused due to the failure of brakes or other components on the truck, the repairing and maintenance contractors get held responsible.
  • Governments: Governments and local ruling bodies can also be sued. Usually, that happens after failing to do their job correctly. (i.e., missed out on putting the right signs on the road or not repairing dangerous road conditions).
  • Manufacturers of Vehicles: Vehicle makers can be held responsible for the vehicle's construction. And if components prove faulty, a claim may also lie.
  • Others: People driving recklessly on the road and cause accidents can also be sued.

These things get investigated and scrutinized by your accident attorneys and their teams. Contact a reputable law firm like Ehline Law for help on time.

What Can You Be Compensated For After a Truck Accident?

All damage to you, small or big, can be compensated after an accident. The obvious injuries need obvious compensation. But many other injuries can impact your life. Many of these afflictions might not be seen at the spot.

It is the job of your accident attorney to take everything into account and build a case strong enough to get compensation for every loss and damage done to you as a result of the truck accident.

You should let your attorney do the assessment work and find out the damages incurred from the accident. Do this rather than making your assumptions. A statement that sounds utterly harmless to you could hurt your case entirely and put your compensation at risk.

Some post accident damages and losses that you can get the compensation for:

  • Loss of wages and earnings, at present and in the future.
  • Mental anguish, suffering, and pain due to the accident and injuries.
  • Reduction in income resulting from effects on your working capacities due to injuries.
  • Expenses on your medical treatment at the hospital and that you might need permanently.

Whether you can get any of this compensation or not depends on your choice of your legal representative – your personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.

“Contingency Fee” Means No Recovery No Fee.

If you get faced with such a severe injury, our jurists aim to get you the maximum recovery possible. And this will include both general and extraordinary claims. Also, since we have polished skills, we have the bankroll to win your case. Because of this, we cover all your fees and costs up-front. Most important, we don’t charge you a red cent unless we win, as per our contingency fee.

What is an Example of an Ehline Law Truck Accident Case Success?

  • Robert Stein v. City of Los Angeles. This was a case involving severe medical loss. Here, the victim got broadsided while driving in a light Nissan truck. The City of L.A. created a dangerous condition on public property. Here, the Venice Beach traffic light signal phasing allowed vehicles in both directions to enter the intersection. So now two vehicles had a green light in opposite directions. The injuries included severe spine issues. Ultimately, Plaintiff Stein was forced to undergo surgery as a result of the accident. And this cost him his livelihood. Result, $1,000,000.00.

Ehline Law Will Represent Your Los Angeles Truck Accident Case

This article discussed big rig type trucks and light trucks. We also touched on the various causes of truck accidents. Then we went over safety, the law, and how to sue wrongdoers after a collision.

But most of all, it’s not easy to know who to sue for the accident. And how to prove the fault of the negligent party means having the right attorneys standing on your side. With more than 30 years of experience, Ehline Law lawyers have known the ins and outs of truck and other vehicle accident cases.

They have been serving Los Angeles and the entire State of California for decades. And this time in practice is just about enough to fight these cases with success. If you or someone you love has lost a lot due to a truck accident, we want to know. Why not let Ehline Law's professionals obtain fully deserved and just compensation on your behalf? Call us today at (213) 596-9642.