Big-Rigs & California Injury Law: Considering Accident Law Following Fatal Bay Area Accident

Even with years of experience behind the wheel, many drivers hold their breath when passing a big rig truck. The sheer size is frightening. Our San Francisco truck accident lawyer knows from experience that big rig crashes can have serious consequences for both the truck driver and fellow travelers. These cases can raise interesting and complex legal issues and all too often a company or insurer takes advantage of a victim who is looking to move forward from one of the most tragic days of their live. This is why victims of big-rig truck accidents must employ experienced legal counsel in order to obtain the full award to which they are entitled.

Bay Area Truck Driver Dies When Big-Rig Plummets Off Overpass Following Collision
A frightening big rig crash filled local headlines, including in the San Francisco Chronicle, on Thursday morning at around 6:45 a.m. A big rig truck, operating for Ace Hardware, was travelling west on Highway 37 when it collided with a pick-up truck. The big rig swerved, plunging off a highway overpass, and falling about thirty feet before bursting into flames. Witnesses, located on Highway 29, rushed to give aid. They found the truck driver hanging upside down, tangled in his safety belt. He was extricated from the truck and taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries at around 7:10 AM (less than 30 minutes after the initial swerve). Authorities have identified the big rig’s driver as forty-four year old William Ballard of Citrus Heights. Firefighters allowed the fire to burn because they were not sure of its contents. The accident shut down a portion of Highway 37 westbound for nearly three hours and closed part of 29 North for five hours. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

Trucking Industry Statistics
bigrig.jpgTrucking is a major sector of our economy. According to Truckinfo.net, a self-described “online portal for the trucking industry,” the private sector includes 8.9 million people employed in trucking-related jobs, including nearly 3.5 million drivers. These drivers operate an estimated 15.5 million trucks nationwide, including two million tractor trailers. In 2006, the transportation industry covered 432.9 billion miles, which included 139.3 billion miles logged by Class 8 trucks, the largest tractor-trailers weighing above 33,000 pounds.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 500,000 trucking accidents occur in an average year. Truckinginfo.net estimates that fewer than nine percent of the traffic deaths in the U.S. each year involve commercial vehicles. The site adds that of the nearly 5,000 people killed in truck accidents annually, nearly 98% of the fatalities involve the driver of the other vehicle. A majority of truck accidents occur during day time hours and 68% of the crashes occur in rural areas. California is among the five states with the highest number of truck-related accidents, with the state reporting 332 fatal truck accidents in 2003 (out of a total 5,725 fatal vehicle accidents).

Personal Injury Considerations in Big-Rig Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents can raise complicated legal issues. As in other cases, truck accident litigation may require the help of accident reconstruction experts who can help determine the factors that led to the collision. This can include driver error, company negligence (i.e. irresponsible hiring or dangerous policies), improper loading, and defective or poorly-maintained equipment. In addition to general principles of injury law, truck accident claims may call into play detailed rules and regulations that govern the trucking industry. Employment law concepts are often relevant in determining whether and to what extent the trucking company is liable for a driver’s actions.

Attorney Greg Brod is an experienced Northern California trucking accident attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a truck in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, or the surrounding areas, please call to schedule a free consultation. Our firm has particular experience helping victims with severe injuries recover the compensation that is crucial to people confronting a life-long injury that may require long-term medical care, specialized medical equipment, and personal care services.

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(Photo by Mark Holloway)