Glendale Truck Accident Lawyers
Over 360 people were killed in truck accidents across California in a single recent year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Unfortunately, that number is in line with a marked trend of increasing large truck accident fatality rates in California. And, in addition to fatal accidents, semi-trucks are involved in numerous collisions every year that result in severe bodily injury.
At Aghabegian & Associates, PC, we represent individuals who have been seriously injured in auto collisions with large semi-trucks, delivery trucks, and other commercial vehicles. Our Glendale truck accident attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience and have recovered $125 million on behalf of injured clients in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles County. We are committed to fighting for you and your recovery.
Call us at (818) 507-4311 or submit an online request form for a free initial consultation.
“After being involved in an unfortunate auto accident I reached out to Aghabegian & Associates. They are competent and professional and did a great job handling my case. I cannot recommend them enough.”
- Alexander R.
Trucking companies must follow strict federal and state regulations while operating in California. These rules are designed to ensure drivers are operating their vehicles as safely as possible, but most see them as an inconvenience. Most trucking accidents can be linked back to a driver or company violating one of these laws.
The most important FMCSA federal regulations include:
- Hours of Service (HOS): Commercial truck drivers are expected to take 30-minute rest breaks after eight consecutive hours of driving, to stop driving after driving up to 11 hours, and cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period and 70 hours in an eight-day period. While there are some exceptions to these rules, they are designed to keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.
- Regular Drug and Alcohol Screenings: Commercial drivers have a legal limit of 0.04% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and can lose their CDL if they drive while over that limit, either while driving commercially or in their personal time. To combat DUI trucking accidents, the FMCSA requires drivers to be regularly screened for drug and alcohol use. Any driver with a history of DUIs or drug abuse is barred from operating commercial vehicles, and companies can be found liable if they hire an unqualified driver.
- Hazardous Materials: The FMCSA has specific laws for hazardous materials, including how to transport chemicals, oil, gasoline, biofuels, and other dangerous materials. Drivers and trucking companies must apply for safety permits and clearly display that they are transporting hazardous materials. Tankers should always be regularly inspected for weak valves, leaks, and mechanical failures to prevent a tanker truck accident.
In addition to following all federal laws, drivers are expected to abide by both California’s laws and Los Angeles County’s municipal codes, which include:
- Size and Weight Limitations: California has general limits on how big a truck can be, including the length, width, height, and weight of the truck and its trailer. There are some exceptions, and drivers can get permits to go beyond the regular limits, but in general a semi-truck can be no longer than 65 feet, wider than 102 inches, taller than 14 feet, and heavier than 80,000 lbs. Any vehicle that goes beyond these limits must have a permit and signal to other drivers that the vehicle is overloaded or oversized.
- Truck Routes: Based on the weight and size of a semi-truck, its driver can only operate the vehicle on specific roads in California. Referred to as local truck routes, these rules vary from county to county and city to city. L.A. County and its various neighborhoods restrict trucks from traveling along certain roads that may be too tight, steep, or rural for large trucks. If a trucker operates on one of these roads, he is in violation of local laws.
- Public Scales: Drivers are expected to stop at public scales throughout California to ensure their vehicles are not overloaded, that they are following safety requirements, and that their vehicles are well-maintained. Many are managed by California Highway Patrol (CHP), but there are also private scales throughout L.A. County that drivers should refer to for inspections. Failing to have the vehicle inspected can make a driver liable if the vehicle then causes a collision.
Altogether, these laws are designed to prevent serious accidents in our communities, but there are complicated to understand completely. If you were injured by a negligent truck driver, then you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The team at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, can research the company that caused your injuries and determine if they violated a federal or state regulation.
Los Angeles is one of the densest cities in the world, with nearly 2.5 million vehicles registered in the county alone. Among these vehicles are commercial trucks that handle a variety of tasks throughout the city. In addition to big rigs involved in interstate shipping, trucking accidents can involve:
- Tanker trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Garbage trucks
- On-demand hauling trucks
- Car carrier trailers
- Flatbed trucks
- Heavy haulers
- Cement mixers
- Refrigerator trucks
- Moving trucks
These vehicles should only be operated by experienced and certified drivers who understand how to handle LA’s complex roads. They should be able to respond to any dangerous road condition, including rain, heavy traffic, fog, or tight roads. Also, failing to maintain a vehicle can make a driver liable if he causes a truck accident.
Truck accidents include all the common car accidents plus a few specific to them. Due to their size, weight, and limited mobility, they can cause:
- Jackknifing: Accidents like jackknifes can occur when a big rig brakes too suddenly, causing the trailer to press against the cab of the truck and turning it 90 degrees like an "L." This can result in the whole truck overturning, which can be difficult for other vehicles to avoid, or the trailer can swing wide and strike nearby vehicles.
- Rollovers: Most big rigs are top-heavy, meaning the vehicle can tip to the side at high speeds or during sharp turns. This is especially true if the vehicle is overloaded or improperly loaded, causing it to lose balance. If a driver loses control of their truck, the cab and trailer could tip over, colliding with other vehicles.
- Underrides: Because of the size of 18-wheelers, smaller vehicles can easily be caught underneath the trailer. This often occurs when a truck driver brakes too hard, making it difficult for other vehicles to slow down or avoid the rear end of the trailer.
- Wide Turns: Most drivers are aware that large trucks require wide turns and will often swing into other lanes. However, if the trucker is not careful, the truck may strike pedestrians or trap rear traffic in its blind spots.
- Runaway Trailers: During scenarios like jackknifing, trailers can become dislodged from the cab. These runaway trailers become uncontrollable hazards, crashing into other vehicles or nearby objects such as powerlines or buildings, or blocking roadways for oncoming traffic. Due to their size and weight, runaway trailers are a major risk associated with truck accidents, especially if they were not properly secured to the truck’s cab.
- Lost Loads: Similar to runaway trailers, lost loads occur when a truck’s cargo becomes dislodged from the vehicle. Depending on how heavy the objects are, this can cause a range of damages and injuries, from a broken windshield to fatal accidents.
- Spills: The most dangerous vehicles on the road are tanker trucks, which transport oil, gas, toxic chemicals, and other hazardous materials. A collision can cause the tanker to leak, possibly leading to toxic exposure, fires, and explosions; or the vehicle could be poorly maintained, allowing the materials to spill out.
When you pursue compensation after a truck accident, the first step is to establish how the accident occurred and who’s responsible for the accident. Some of the common causes of trucking accidents include:
- Distracted Driving: Was the truck driver eating, drinking, or texting while operating the vehicle? Was he or she distracted by something on the side of the highway or another motorist?
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs/Alcohol: Was the truck driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.04% for commercial driver’s license holders?
- Fatigued Driving: Did the truck driver fall asleep at the wheel? Did he or she fail to take mandatory hours-of-service breaks, including breaks in the sleeper berth?
- Overloaded Trucks: Was the truck overloaded or improperly loaded at the time of the accident? If the truck driver lost control of the vehicle, did improper loading contribute to this?
- Improper Truck Maintenance: Did the truck driver or another responsible party conduct the proper truck maintenance? Were any issues correctly reported?
- Unsafe/Illegal Driving Behaviors: Did speeding play a role in the accident? Did the truck driver run a red light or stop sign? Did he/she make an illegal turn?
- Hours-of-Service Violations: Did the trucking company pressure its drivers to meet unrealistic quotas? Did the truck driver take all his/her mandatory breaks and rest periods?
- Negligent Hiring: Did the trucking company conduct adequate background checks on its drivers? Was the truck driver in question properly supervised?
- Unsafe Road Conditions: Was the road, street, or highway properly maintained? Was the accident caused by a pothole, insufficient lighting, obscured sign, or other unsafe road condition?
- Other Drivers: Was another driver, other than the truck driver, acting irresponsibly? Did another driver swerve into the truck? Was the truck driver given enough time to respond safely to another vehicle?
Truck accident claims are often much more complex than other types of automobile accident cases. This is largely due to the number of parties involved, especially when the accident involves several vehicles. Depending on the nature of your accident, any of the following parties—or a combination—may be liable:
- The truck driver: The majority of truck accidents can be attributed to some form of trucker negligence, including fatigue, inattention, intoxication, or a lack of experience. If it is determined that the driver caused the accident, then you could file a claim under his commercial insurance policy.
- The trucking company: Trucking companies are responsible for all of the logistics of a truck, including maintenance, hiring and training drivers, loading vehicles, coordinating with distribution centers, and planning routes. When a truck driver causes an accident, liability can be shared with the trucking company if he was a full-time employee. However, even if the company was working with a contractor, it can still be found liable if management negligently hired the driver or failed to maintain the vehicle.
- The truck maintenance crew: In some cases, trucking accidents are due to a lack of maintenance. This can include faulty brakes, damaged tires, poor suspensions, or other maintenance issues. If a mechanic or repair shop failed to identify one of these issues during routine repairs, or carelessly repaired the truck, then you could file a claim against the maintenance crew.
- The truck manufacturer: Trucks are incredibly complex vehicles that utilize a variety of moving parts. If the vehicle was improperly manufactured or poorly designed, and one of those issues caused an accident, then you could file an auto product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Local agencies responsible for roadway maintenance: L.A. County’s roads and highways are overseen by CalTrans, the Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA), and L.A.’s Department of Public Works. If one of these departments poorly designed a road or failed to fix a known issue, such as a pothole, and that road defect caused a trucking accident, then you could file a government tort claim against the at-fault agency. However, you only have six months to file a claim, so you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
When conducting our investigation into your claim, we look at all the factors that may have contributed to the accident, ranging from the trucker’s driving history to the truck’s maintenance records. Once we determine who caused your accident, we will utilize all of our resources to hold them accountable. It is important to understand that even if you are partially at fault for the accident, you can still receive compensation under California’s comparative negligence laws. These laws may limit the amount you receive in a jury trial, but we may be able to secure you compensation in settlement negotiations.
Truck accidents can cause untold devastation, especially on the packed streets and freeways around Los Angeles. Accident victims can suffer severe injuries or be killed. Generally, truck drivers and companies are the ones to blame for these tragic events, but even when fault seems obvious, it can still be difficult to receive compensation.
Trucking companies have insurance policies that can range in the millions of dollars to cover their vehicles in an accident, and those policies are often backed by teams of insurance adjusters and lawyers. When an accident victim goes to file a claim, those lawyers and adjusters act swiftly to protect the company’s interests so that they pay out as little as possible in a claim. They may try to minimize your injuries, deny your claim, or even place the blame on you.
However, if you work with an experienced attorney at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, we can fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We have more than 40 years of combined experience representing accident victims and understand the claims process inside and out. Reaching out to our firm may be your best chance at receiving proper coverage for your injuries.
To begin with, we can sit down with you and review the circumstances around your accident in a free consultation. There is no obligation to work with us, and we can answer all of your questions, free of charge. If we do take you on as a client, we can launch an in-depth investigation into your case. This can involve:
- Reviewing your accident report
- Speaking to witnesses
- Discussing your case with an accident reconstructionist
- Collecting accident photos and surveillance footage
- Reviewing the damage to your vehicle
- Retrieving the truck’s black box data
- Calculating the costs of your injuries
Throughout this process, your only responsibility is getting medical care and attending all of your doctor’s appointments. By following through on your treatment plan, you prove to the at-fault insurance company that your injuries are serious and that you deserve compensation for your accident.
Once you are mostly healed and we have completed our investigation, we can begin negotiating with the truck driver’s insurance company. We will keep you up-to-date during the process and inform you immediately of any new settlement offers. Nine out of 10 accident claims are settled out of court, but if your case does go to trial, we will utilize all of our expertise, knowledge, and skill to advocate on your behalf.
All too often, truck accidents result in catastrophic injuries—such as spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries—and death. The road to recovery can be long and grueling for victims and their loved ones. While financial compensation cannot undo what you and your family have been through, it can ease the burdens of medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning ability, allowing you the space to heal and move forward.
At Aghabegian & Associates, PC, we can help you work to hold the negligent parties accountable. We have successfully secured hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of severely injured individuals and their loved ones. Our Glendale personal injury attorneys understand how to navigate the legal system and can help you at every stage of the process.
Get in touch with us today for a free consultation; call (818) 507-4311 or contact us online.
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- Trucking and Motorcoaches - U.S. Department of Transportation
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