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18 Wheeler Accidents

18-Wheeler Accidents — Insight From Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Large trucks, semis, and 18-wheelers are a leading cause of many traffic-related deaths in the United States. These types of accidents are particularly disastrous given a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. Due to this, commercial trucks are dangerous and essentially guaranteed to crush smaller vehicles in an accident.

Truck accidents are different from car accidents because they’re complicated cases that will involve commercial trucking companies and insurance policies. It is crucial for a truck accident victim to take the right steps after a truck accident to ensure they receive fair compensation for their losses.

18-wheeler trucks are made in all shapes and sizes. These trucks usually carry cars, gasoline, and fresh produce. Its 18 wheels and tires are used to withhold over 40,000 pounds and gross weights of up to 80,000 pounds.

Many semi-trucks have devices installed on the engines that limit speed set between 62 and 68 mph. Trucks also have a huge turning radius and require at least 40 to 50 percent more distance in order to make a full stop.

What Causes an 18-Wheeler Accident?

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

All trucks are subject to state and federal laws and regulations to minimize accident risks. However, some truck drivers and commercial trucking companies will ignore safety laws in order to meet their deadlines and maximize profits.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed over 120,000 truck accidents within a two-year period. They came to a conclusion that driver error was the main cause of multiple vehicle crashes.

Some other causes of 18-wheeler truck accidents include:

  • Poor driver training and truck maintenance. Commercial trucking companies must maintain their trucks in reasonably good condition before they are allowed on the road. As trucking companies are primarily driven by profit, they may not always fully invest the time and money it takes to properly maintain their trucks. The result of cutting corners and failing to properly take care of a truck does not only determine a poorly trained driver, but a poorly trained driver who is driving a poorly maintained truck.
  • Fatigue. Most truck drivers become severely fatigued after driving for several hours over very long stretches of road, typically with little to no rest in between. The accumulated fatigue may easily cause them to fall asleep at the wheel or become distracted, causing a serious accident.
  • Distracted driving. It is not uncommon for a truck driver who has been driving for several hours to become bored or lose focus of the road. It often happens that a truck driver will start browsing the internet or respond to text messages on their phone. Another example of distracted truck driving is playing around with the stereo, causing a seemingly harmless distraction that can last a few seconds, but can result in serious harm.
  • Roadway design. Congestion, merging traffic, and limited capacity also play a part. In 1997, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) published a report stating that the solution to reduce 18-wheeler accidents was to separate the trucks from the automobile traffic by either building elevated truck lanes or additional bypass lanes.

Furthermore, there are many other factors that can contribute to an 18-wheeler accident. This includes:

  • Unfamiliarity with the road
  • Traffic flow interruptions
  • Traveling too fast under certain weather conditions
  • Prescription drug or alcohol consumption
  • Sudden stops due to traffic control devices

Because of the immense size of an 18-wheeler, the resulting injuries from big rig accidents are usually severe. These can include:

Who Is Liable?

In short, determining liability after a truck accident tends to become a logistical nightmare. Truck accidents are typically catastrophic from an injury perspective and they are highly complex from a legal standpoint. Further complicating matters is that multiple parties can be held liable.

Depending on the circumstances of your particular accident, the truck driver, trucking company, and truck manufacturer can all be held liable. An injured driver can also share some degree of responsibility. It is important to recognize that an injured driver who is found partly responsible for a truck accident may still recover some damages.

California is a comparative liability state. Even an at-fault driver may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit for some damages, regardless of whether or not he or she was partially at-fault for the truck accident.

Moreover, California negligence law states that any truck driver who is found guilty of negligence can be held liable for causing injuries and damages to another motorist. Any driver who was injured by a truck driver’s negligence is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit.

However, the injured driver needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the truck driver who hit him or her was negligent in causing the accident. In the state of California, there are three factors for demonstrating negligence in a collision:

  • The truck driver owed the accident victim a duty of care
  • The truck driver breached his or her duty of care through negligence
  • The truck driver’s breach was the significant factor in causing a victim’s losses

Furthermore, according to California strict liability law, designers, manufacturers, and any companies involved in a product’s chain of distribution can be held liable if a defective product contributes to a truck accident. In strict liability cases, negligence is not a factor when determining liability. Any of the above mentioned entities can all be held liable, whether or not they made any mistakes that resulted in the collision.

Strict liability claims can be based on faulty:

  • Accelerator pedals
  • Engine/transmission parts
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Cargo ties or straps

Available Damages
If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to and are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
Moreover, the third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages and are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. They are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts. Also, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of an 18-wheeler truck accident, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible. An experienced truck accident attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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