How Do Truck Accidents Happen in San Diego? The Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba Has Your Answers
At the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba, we see the results of truck accidents on hurting families day after day. We know firsthand how devastating the impact of a lifelong injury or the loss of a loved one can be, and we understand the temptation to try to handle a truck accident claim on one's own or to simply accept the first settlement offer a truck or insurance company presents. However, we also understand how difficult it is for someone without legal expertise to win a fair compensation amount in court or to obtain a fair offer from the liable parties.
If you or a loved one have been in an accident involving a big-rig truck, it is critical that you reach out to an experienced truck accident lawyer for help. California and federal tort-action laws are far too complex to be navigated by the inexperienced. Ron Laba has been helping hurting families in San Diego recover maximum compensation for their losses for over 30 years, and you can count on him to handle your claim as well.
Truck drivers sometimes act as if they "own the road" and, due to their far greater size and weight, do not need to respect the rights of drivers of ordinary passenger vehicles. In reality, however, drivers of big trucks have to share the highway with others like everyone else and have an obligation to obey all traffic laws and exercise all due caution as they drive.
Trucking companies also have an obligation to the public safety. They are legally bound to inspect all of their trucks and keep them in good working condition at all times. They also are required to monitor their drivers to ensure they can safely operate their vehicles. Overworking truck drivers to boost profits can lead to driver drowsiness and fatal head-on collisions. Cutting corners on truck repairs/maintenance or refusing to promptly replace defective parts can also cause accidents and injuries.
Below, we look at five of the most common causes of truck accidents in San Diego and the surrounding areas, concerning all five of which (and more) Ronald B. Laba is skilled to secure the victims full compensation for. The most common reasons that truck accidents happen in San Diego are:
- Fatigued drivers
- Drug/alcohol impaired drivers
- Overloaded trailers
- Poorly maintained trucks
- Trucking company negligence
An 18-wheel, 80,000-pound big rig rolling down a busy highway while a badly fatigued driver sits behind the steering wheel is a danger to everyone on the road. In fact, it transforms the truck into a "deadly weapon," and the risk of the driver actually falling asleep at the wheel is an ever-present danger. One should not underestimate fatigued driving—it is a form of impaired driving that slows down trucker reaction times to levels on a par with drunk/drugged drivers.
Despite the fact that the extraordinary dangers posed to occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians by sleepy eyed truck drivers is common knowledge, and in spite of federal Hours of Service regulations designed to limit fatigue by limiting hours spent on the road, San Diego County has thousands of truck accidents and hundreds of truck-related fatalities every year. Truckers may want to earn extra cash since they get paid on a per-mile basis. Truckers may also push on while fatigued because they feel pressured by trucking companies that care more about keeping deadlines than keeping the law and keeping people safe.
When struck by a truck driven by a fatigued trucker, it can be exceedingly difficult to prove the trucker's condition apart from the legal skills brought to the table by an experienced truck accident lawyer. Truck drivers may deny they did anything wrong, while the truck company "misplaces" hours of service records and other pertinent evidence. Ronald B. Laba has intricate knowledge of Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations and is well acquainted with the tactics often used to get out of paying victims' claims. He knows how to go about proving a driver was fatigued behind the wheel and knows how to obtain the necessary trucking documentation.
Driver Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol
In California, San Diego, and throughout the nation, drug and alcohol use ranks among the leading causes of truck accidents. One problem is that some truckers choose to drink and drive a big rig—an unbelievably irresponsible combination. Or, it may be use of illegal drugs or abuse of prescription/over-the-counter medications. However, in many cases, it is actually a matter of a fatigued driver using stay-awake drugs to help him/her work an unnatural number of hours without stopping for a rest.
When you combine drugs or alcohol with driving an 18-wheeler, it is only a matter of time before very serious consequences result. Engaging in drug-impaired truck driving is much like playing Russian roulette with the lives of others with whom you share the road. Averaged-sized cars and trucks simply cannot endure a collision with a fully-loaded big rig. Some signs that a trucker may be driving under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating drug include:
- Swerving back and forth between lanes
- Randomly changing speeds
- Braking in an erratic, stop-and-start manner
- Ignoring speed limits and traffic lights
- Following too close behind other vehicles
The truth is that drivers of big trucks and the companies that employ them are expected to adhere to higher safety standards than are ordinary drivers. Considering the greater danger an ill-operated truck poses to others on the highway, it only makes sense that this should be so. For example, truckers' BAC limits are set at half that of everyone else (.04% instead of .08%). Trucking companies are also expected to run background checks and conduct randomized drug testing on their employees.
Unfortunately, even when it is obvious that a trucker was intoxicated just before getting into an accident, both trucker and truck company will often still try to avoid paying your claim. In some cases, they may even attempt to paint you as the at-fault party. Ron Laba and his experienced legal team know what to do if this happens. They can hire forensic specialists to investigate the scene of the accident. They can scrutinize the trucker's driving record and the truck company's record of keeping/not keeping federal regulations. If there has been negligence, Ron Laba can find it. If it is possible to prove driver intoxication, he will prove it.
There are special regulations on the books that limit how much a big rig truck can legally weigh while traveling the highways. In California, trucks pulling tractor trailers are allowed a weight of 80,000 pounds. There are good reasons for these cargo-limiting rules. The more a big truck weighs, the more dangerous it becomes. Furthermore, trailers are only designed to carry a limited amount of weight—going over the limit is a grave safety hazard. Overloaded trailers tend to cause more serious injury and more fatalities than properly loaded trailers in an equivalent accident.
Some of the most common problems overloading a truck trailer creates include:
- Greater distance is needed to stop the truck
- It is easy for the truck to speed out of control going downhill
- It is harder to steer overloaded trucks, especially when turning corners
- The center of gravity is higher, upping risk of a roll-over
- Safety equipment can get damaged and make the trailer jack-knife
- The excessive weight can blow out tires and even damage highways
Although truckers and truck companies know full well that the limit is 80,000 pounds, they sometimes choose to ignore that limit in the interest of moving more cargo faster and making more money. This is putting profits ahead of people's safety. Such negligence merits victims substantial compensation for their losses, but without a good truck accident lawyer like Ron Laba fighting for you against the big trucking and insurance companies, there is little chance of gaining a fair settlement. Ron Laba knows how to demonstrate that weight limits were ignored, leading to an accident with dire consequences. You can trust Ron Laba to dig deep for the evidence needed to win your claim.
Poorly Maintained Trucks
Truck companies are legally required to maintain all of their vehicles in good working order at all times. This means regular inspections and quick repairs or putting a truck temporarily off duty until needful safety repairs can be made. Again, the law makes perfect sense here. A poorly maintained truck is an "accident waiting to happen" and a peril to everyone else on and near the road.
Poor upkeep can lead to a long list of possible mechanical failures—too many to name them all here. However, some of the most common problems resulting from poor truck maintenance are:
- Partial or complete brake failure
- Badly worn or defective tires
- Non-functioning headlights
- Malfunctioning turn signals
Tire blow-outs and slow breaking time can sometimes stem from an overloaded tractor trailer. They can also be caused, however, by mechanical break-downs following long neglected maintenance tasks. It is possible for defectively manufactured parts to cause an accident, but trucking companies are far too fond of passing the buck. It is usually poor maintenance that is the culprit.
Ronald B. Laba understands how poor truck maintenance causes accidents and knows how to use the law to hold truck companies accountable for their negligence. He has learned, over the course of his three decades of legal representation, how to utilize experts to gain access to the information he needs to win your claim. This may include such things as truck inspection records, police reports, and tell-tale black boxes. You can rest assured that whatever evidence is necessary to prove truck maintenance neglect (if it exists), Ron Laba will do everything possible to obtain it and use it to secure you a maximized settlement.
Trucking Company Negligence
General company negligence can also lead to trucking accidents. This class of negligence can come in many forms, but any one of them can result in serious injuries or fatalities. Some of the main types of negligence are:
- Hiring irresponsible drivers without screening them with a background check
- Not periodically verifying that drivers already hired still meet the qualifications
- Not adequately training new recruits in regard to safety procedures
- Falsifying hours of service logs and driving records
One might suppose that companies engaged is such gross negligence and dishonesty would be easy to extract just compensation from. This is not always the case, however. Many truck companies are headquartered in other states, making it challenging to track them down. Big truck companies and their insurers will often rush to the scene of the accident to immediately strategize a defense. Regardless of the facts, they will seek to deny every claim, to blame others, or at best, to offer a low-ball settlement in the hopes of your quickly accepting it.
In extreme cases, truck companies may even hide or destroy evidence (obstruct justice) and lie in open court (perjure themselves) to get out of the severe financial and legal consequences of accepting fault for an accident. Even then, however, the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba have seen it all before. We know how to play hard ball with those play hard ball with you. We believe those who have suffered severely due to the negligent behavior of others should be given their due compensation, and in full.
Contact Us for Help Today
We at the Law Office of Ronald B. Laba have deep experience in handling every type of San Diego truck accident case. We are diligent to explore every legal option in pursuing the maximum possible compensation under state and federal law. We know how to dig into the details of truck accident law and apply it to particular types of claims, and we know who to hire expert investigators to collect the evidence we need to win. This may include such things as truckers' driving records and backgrounds, cell phone records, truck maintenance records, trucker time logs, and truck company hiring and training practices. We know where to look to prove what we need to prove to win you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba toll-free and 24/7 by calling us at 844-439-8969. Or, you can visit us in person at our comfortable San Diego or Vista, CA, office. We will be happy to answer all of your questions and to give you a free, hour-long, no obligation case evaluation.