The Ernst Law Group is investigating a fatal bicycle accident including an Amerifreight truck and a bicyclist that occurred at 7:20 am on June 25, 2021 in San Luis Obispo, California.
The collision occurred between Suburban Road and Higuera Street. The bicycle was trapped under the semi-truck resulting in the bicyclist’s death.
The cause of the collision, at this point, is unknown. But The Ernst Law Group has been filing lawsuits against semi-trucks for more than 40 years and there are a few things that we are investigating with this incident.
The first factor is whether fatigue was a factor in the collision. Fatigue is a common factor in truck accidents as truck drivers are pressed to deliver their cargo faster and faster. There are strict regulations on truck driver rest and driver time.
The second is whether or not the logbooks were up to date, and if the driver was operating at the normal hours that are regulated under the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Regulations (FMSCR). This is known as 49 CFR Parts 300-399. These are federal laws that mandate rules and truck driver regulations on semi-trucks to help keep pedestrians and vehicles safe. These regulations include allowed drive time, driving breaks, and more.
The most important part of the FMSCR is part is drug testing. While we have no information at this time to support or claim the driver of the Amerifreight was under the influence of drugs, this is something that must be ruled out, especially with the truck causing the death of the bicyclist.
Drug and alcohol testing are required by part 382 of the FMSCR and are a mandatory part of any truck driver who holds a commercial driver’s license.
We will be providing updates as our firm learns more from our ongoing investigation about this fatal bicycle accident.
There is, unfortunately, no clear-cut answer to this question. However, several factors influence the predicted length of your truck accident case.
Get Answers About Your Truck Accident Case
A trustworthy attorney will speak of case length in general terms. Typically, the larger the claim, the longer the case. The more difficult the investigation, the longer the case.
On the other hand, some cases are easy to settle because the details are extremely clear and the insurance company is willing to accept the amount of liability in question.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in San Luis Obispo, call Ernst Law Group today at (805) 678-0272. Or, contact us online to discuss your incident with one of our expert attorneys at no cost to you.
In the meantime, continue reading to discover the factors that contribute to the length of a truck accident case.
In some wrecks, your injuries are immediately obvious. In others, you aren’t aware of the full extent of your injuries for weeks or months.
An accident victim will not know how much their case may be worth until they are well into the recovery process. Your injuries may require a single medical visit or years of therapy. This variance can have an impact on the length of your case. The severity of your injuries and cost to stabilize and heal them will also influence the amount of your award.
The Necessary Steps
Every court case must move through certain steps. If you and your attorney determine that going to trial is your best course of action, your case will take longer than it would if you simply settle with the insurance company.
Every step in the civil litigation process has a specific time limit. If the steps are completed quickly and one falls right after the next, your case will be shorter.
When you and your lawyer discuss your accident, you can ask how long your case should reasonably take. Find out how long each step could take at a maximum, and estimate from there. Ask about the worst-case scenario regarding the timeline for your case.
Don’t expect an insurance company or defense attorney to accept your request and settle immediately. There are actions that either party can take to delay the case. It’s a tactic used in many personal injury cases. The longer the insurance company or defense attorney can stall, the more likely they believe the plaintiff will be to accept a settlement offer that is lower than what a court would award.
It’s not uncommon for the opposing party to attempt to delay your case. They want to frustrate you into accepting a low offer. Never accept any type of settlement without speaking with your attorney. Remember that you hired an expert advocate for a reason.
Complexity of Your Case
Your case could take longer if your attorney calls more witnesses than average, needs to petition large volumes of evidence, or holds more than one party liable at a time. The length of the investigation, amount of paperwork, and scheduling meetings with people who will testify on your behalf are all time-consuming.
Of course you intend to cooperate with your attorney. However, you can inadvertently cause delays.
Changing your contact information and not providing your attorney with your new email or phone number could delay your case. Failing to provide the information your attorney asks for could delay your case.
Always remain in contact with your attorney and periodically check to see if your case is on schedule.
Ernst Law Group Is Your Advocate
While some personal injury lawsuits are settled quickly, others can take years to come to an end. No attorney can give you an exact end date, but they can give you an estimated timeline based on their experience.
We understand that you want this to be over. You have been under enough stress since your accident, and you don’t need more. We also understand that you and your family may be facing financial distress. The team at Ernst Law Group is here for you.
Ernst is a premier truck accident law firm that knows what it takes to secure compensation for your accident losses. While we cannot guarantee results, our history of past client successes can give you confidence.
Call us today at (805) 678-0272 to discuss the details of your case. You can also contact us online at your convenience. We look forward to speaking with you and advocating on your behalf. An initial consultation is free and you are under no obligation to continue working with us once you speak with an attorney.
The aftermath of a truck accident is overwhelming. The injuries you sustain can have devastating, lifelong consequences and astronomical medical bills. Whether you have insurance or not, you could be paying tens of thousands to cover the cost of medical care during a time when you should be able to focus on your recovery.
Are you faced with financial difficulties because of someone’s negligence? Hold them accountable and recover the money you’re owed.
How do you prove that the truck driver who caused your accident was negligent? With the help of an experienced truck accident attorney.
Your attorney will work to prove that either the driver or trucking company was negligent in some way. Maybe the fleet wasn’t properly maintained. Perhaps the driver was distracted. An experienced truck accident lawyer in San Luis Obispo will get to the heart of the matter.
Ernst Law Group is here if you have any questions about your truck accident injury claim or need assistance building a strong case. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation now when you call (805)-541-0300 or contact us online.
Negligence isn’t the only thing you will have to prove in court. You will also have to show that your injuries were a direct result of the accident. Your attorney understands what evidence is necessary to build a solid case. While you can certainly file a lawsuit on your own, having an expert advocate in your corner improves your chances of a positive outcome tenfold.
Four Elements of a Successful Case
You know that your attorney must prove that the other driver was negligent, but what exactly does that look like? There are four elements needed to prove the legal concept of negligence. These elements are:
Duty of Care. The truck driver must have had a duty of care. In other words, when they slipped into the driver’s seat and started their rig, they automatically accepted the responsibility in driving in such a way that no one would be harmed. Likewise, their employer has a duty to train the driver, vet their capabilities, and ensure they follow industry regulations.
Breach of Duty. Next, your attorney will have to prove that the driver or the company failed to perform their work in a safe way. This occurs when the defendant breaks specific regulations or otherwise fails to exercise “ordinary care” in the way that a “reasonable person” might.
Injury. The breach of duty must have caused your injuries. This means that you couldn’t have had a back injury before your accident. The accident must have directly led to your injuries.
Damages. Many people are unaware that injuries must have led to damages. What this means is that you must have incurred medical bills or other losses as a result of your injuries.
Establishing Breach of Duty
In truck accident cases like yours, attorneys must work to prove that someone breached their duty of care.
In a truck accident, the breach of duty of care could have been on the part of the driver, the owner of the fleet, or even the manufacturer of the truck. There are a significant number of rules that drivers and fleet owners must follow, typically because of the sheer danger that trucks can pose on the roadways.
Common types of neglect in truck accidents include:
1. Hours of Service
Truck drivers are only permitted to drive for so many hours per day and week. Truckers must keep a logbook as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Truckers are also expected to take breaks after a certain number of hours are driven. If the driver in your accident failed to comply with these regulations, they are negligent.
2. Weight Limits
Each type and size of truck is limited to the weight of the load it can carry safely. When a company or driver decides to forgo this required maximum weight and overload their trailer, they are negligent.
3. Maintenance Issues
It may be up to the driver to maintain their rig, or it could be up to the owner of the company to have routine maintenance performed across their fleet. No matter whose responsibility this is, when vehicles are not maintained properly, it is negligence.
Prove Fault with a San Luis Obispo Truck Accident Lawyer
How can we determine who is at fault in truck accidents? Through careful and precise investigative work.
At Ernst Law Group, we have been representing victims of San Luis Obispo truck accidents for years. We know what it takes to prove your case, and we are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Whether you are wondering if the settlement offer made to you by an insurance company is fair or you are already planning on pursuing a case, your Ernst legal advocate can assist you in taking the appropriate next steps. We believe that knowledge is power, so call today to schedule your free case evaluation at (805) 678-0272.
Sysco Central California is based in Modesto, Ca. and reports having 104 drivers covering 2,818,652 miles per year in 2018.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are very strict concerning a driver’s behavior.
The limit for the presence of alcohol in the system is lower than a standard passenger vehicle. According to FMRS § 392.5, a driver cannot have more than a 0.04% blood alcohol level in his system while driving a commercial motor vehicle. This is one-half of the limit for the driver of a passenger vehicle.
Drugs are even a bigger problem with big-rig drivers. Of course, there are some drivers who use illicit drugs simply for the high. However, there is a huge problem with big-rig drivers using stimulants to keep them awake on long drives. A driver arrested for alcohol or drug use so early in the morning lends one to believe that this is a stimulant drug case.
Amphetamines and cocaine may help drivers stay awake, but these drugs can cause vertigo, agitation, hallucinations and change perceptions and reactions, which are critical areas for a truck driver.
Whenever a truck driver is involved in a wreck there are several factors that must be immediately evaluated.
First, a driver must be tested immediately after a wreck for alcohol or drugs, even if he is not suspected of being under the influence. Here, clearly, the police have suspicion so the driver has already been tested.
Secondly, it is important to examine the log books of the driver. A big-rig driver must keep very careful records detailing every minute of his day. The driver must note whether he is Driving, Off-Duty, On Duty Not Driving or Sleeper Birth. A driver has a limited number of hours that he can be on duty and an even more limited time that he can drive in a defined period of time. Typically a driver cannot be On Duty for more than 60 hours in 7 days, or 80 hours in 8 days. In any given 24-hour period a driver cannot drive more than 11-hours. After driving 11 hours the driver must be Off-Duty before restarting his driving time.
A driver’s record of duty status, in duplicate, must be kept by each driver and each co-driver while driving, on duty but not driving, or resting in a sleeper berth. The record of duty status must be presentedfor inspection immedilltely upon request by any authorized CHP employee, any regularly employed and salaried police officer, or deputy sheriff. There may be instances when you do not need to maintain a record of duty status.
Every driver involved in a collision which results in death, injury, or property damage over $750 must report the collision on a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) to DMY. The report forms are available at www.dmv. ca.gov, or by calling 1-800-777-0133, or at CHP and DMV offices.
You (or your authorized representative) must submit the report within 10 days of the collision whether you caused the collision or not and even if the collision occurred on private property. This form is required in addition to any other report made to or by the police, CHP, or your insurance company if the collision resulted in any damage over $750 and/or an injury or death. If you do not report the collision to DMY, your driving privilege will be suspended.
NoTE:CDLholders may downgrade to a noncom mercial license during any mandatory suspension period to be eligible to obtain a restricted license. All tests and fees will be required to upgrade when eligible.
Failure to keep logbooks, or driving over hours is a separate theory of liability against a truck driver.
The next question that must be answered when evaluating a trucking case is the role of an employer. Some drivers run as “Owner-Operators”, which means they own and maintain their own trucks, while others work for trucking companies. Either way, the trucking company has obligations to ensure the driver is fit to drive. The driver must be properly trained. The drive must pass random drug tests. The company must have a system in place to review and maintain custody of log books for at least 6-months.
Finally, it is important to determine the amount of insurance coverage available. The FMCSR mandate that a big-rig carry at least $1,000,000 in coverage, but many companies carry more. It is also important to determine if the trailer was separately owned and played some role in the wreck. It is even possible under some circumstances to obtain coverage from the shipper.
If you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed in a big-rig crash it is important to get your attorney involved right away. The insurance companies for the trucking company have “rapid response teams”, which consist of lawyers and investigators who respond to crash scene within hours.
At Ernst Law Group our lawyers are highly skilled and experienced in handling trucking cases in Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, and throughout the state.
We are available for a no cost, no-obligation consultation when you call us at (805) 541-300. Choosing the right lawyer is key. Be sure you feel comfortable with your lawyer and that you are not pressured. Be wary of lawyers who contact you without your consent, often times with glossy presentations about their firm. At Ernst Law Group we believe that a client should evaluate his or her own situation without pressure or questionable direct solicitation.
Further Update to This Story From 2/11/19
The names of the two men killed in this tragic wreck have been identified as Rick Motley, age 60, and Jesse Gluyas, age 24. Both men worked for VTC Enterprises.
The CHP has identified the driver of the big-rig involved in this morning’s fatal crash on Union Valley Parkway in Orcutt. The driver is allegedly 56 year old Gilbert Pena of Santa Maria.
The 8 injured people are reportedly all from the Santa Maria area.
Commercial vehicles cover about 30 million miles per day in California. Because there are so many semi trucks and other commercial vehicles on our state’s roads, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has established specific laws and regulations that drivers must follow.
Unfortunately, many of these rules aren’t followed, whether that’s out of ignorance of the law or because drivers are trying to get where they’re going as quickly as possible. When these trucking regulations aren’t followed, accidents are much more likely to happen.
At Ernst Law Group, our San Luis Obispo truck accident lawyers have seen the effects of these incidents firsthand. Trucking accidents can cause devastating — and often fatal — injuries due to the sheer fact that semi trucks are so much bigger than passenger vehicles.
If you’re a trucker, it’s important for you to understand California’s trucking regulations so you are less likely to cause an accident. And if you’re a regular driver, it’s important for you to know what you should do after a truck accident, and what your legal rights are.
California Regulations Truckers Must Follow
Before we dive into commercial vehicle regulations, we should first mention that, while these rules do apply to semi trucks, they also apply to other vehicles as well. Essentially, if you’re driving a vehicle “in combination,” or towing another vehicle, you must follow commercial vehicle regulations.
These vehicles include:
Any vehicle (car, truck, rental vehicle, RV, etc.) towing a trailer
Any vehicle towing another vehicle
Any vehicle towing a pull, semi-trailer or fifth wheel
Any vehicle with three or more axles
One of the most important regulations you must follow is the speed restrictions. Under Vehicle Code 22406, if you are driving a vehicle that falls under one of the above descriptions, you are forbidden from going above 55 miles per hour. This restriction also applies to school buses carrying students, farm labor vehicles transporting passengers, and vehicles transporting explosives.
California also limits the lanes that are usable by trucks and in combination vehicles:
If there are three or fewer lanes in each direction of travel, not including the carpool/HOV lane, you must stay in the far right lane.
If there are at least four lanes in each direction of travel, you may use the two rightmost lanes, unless there are signs specifically allowing usage of lanes further to the left.
If there are “truck-only” lanes available, large trucks must use them.
There are very few exceptions to these lane regulations. The most common is passing a slower vehicle. If you are behind another vehicle that is driving slowly, and you don’t have to exceed 55 miles per hour to pass them, you may do so in a left lane. However, you must move back into the right lane as soon as possible.
Of course, semi truck drivers must always follow all state and federal licensing and log book regulations.
What to Do If You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
No matter how hard you try to be safe on California’s roads, there’s always the chance that you’ll be in a wreck with a big truck. When that happens, it’s important to talk to a semi truck accident lawyer in San Luis Obispo as soon as you can.
But before you make that call, there are a few steps you should take to make sure you’re safe and the incident is documented properly:
1. Stay Calm
Yes, being in an accident with a semi truck is a stressful, difficult experience. But do your best to remain calm. Check yourself for injuries, then check on the passengers in your vehicle. If possible, check on the truck driver as well.
If no one is seriously injured, do your best to get out of harm’s way. If your car is still operable, move it to the shoulder if the road. If it can’t be moved, CAREFULLY walk to the shoulder of the road to get out of traffic.
2. Call 9-1-1
As soon as it’s safe to do so, call 9-1-1. Even if you don’t think there are any major injuries, ask for an ambulance. Being evaluated at the scene of the accident is not only important for your health, but also for any future lawsuit you decide to file.
After a wreck, your adrenaline may cause you to overlook any injuries you might have. A medical professional can fully evaluate you to determine if you do have any injuries. Having this evaluation at the scene of the wreck means the truck driver or their company can’t come back later and say you sustained your injuries sometime after the accident.
While you’re on the scene, you’ll be asked to give a statement to the police. Keep your emotions out of the statement. Instead, focus on the facts of what happened. Never admit fault or apologize for the wreck, either to the officer or to anyone at the scene.
3. Trade Information With the Truck Driver
When it’s safe to do so, exchange information with the trucker. At the minimum, this includes names, phone numbers, and insurance information. You should also ask to see the truck driver’s license to make sure they have a commercial license. Take a picture of the license, if possible.
You should also gather information about the truck itself. Be sure to note:
License plate state and number
Information of the truck owner, if it’s not the driver
The trucking company
The truck number
Information about the cargo in the truck
4. Gather and Keep Evidence
At the scene, you should take photos of the accident. This includes damage to your vehicle and the truck, road conditions, any skid marks, identifying information of the location (if possible), weather conditions, and more. Of course, if you aren’t well enough to gather this evidence safely, don’t do it!
If you’re told to seek further medical treatment, do so. Always keep up with any treatment regimen prescribed, and document your treatment and its costs. This can help your lawyer put a more solid dollar amount on compensation if you choose to file a lawsuit.
5. Call Your Insurer
Just like with any kind of accident, you will need to make a claim with your insurance provider. When you call, keep the details you provide to a minimum. Provide identifying information and the time and location of the accident. They will ask probing questions, but you don’t have to answer them.
Your insurer will be looking for ways to not pay you a fair settlement. Even innocent-sounding questions like, “Are you okay?” can have an impact on how much you receive from them (after all, if you’re okay, you obviously aren’t injured!). If you feel uncomfortable answering their questions, let them know that you’d like to speak with an attorney before saying anything else.
6. Call a Semi Truck Accident Lawyer in San Luis Obispo
There’s a good chance your insurance company will send you a low-ball offer after the wreck. After all, the less money they can get away with giving you, the better their profits will be. Before you accept their offer and effectively end your case, discuss the matter with an experienced truck accident attorney.
Many lawyers offer free consultations, during which they will review your case and the settlement offer you received. If they believe you received a fair settlement, they’ll let you know. But if they can get you a greater amount of compensation, they’ll let you know that, too.
One of the main reasons you may be able to get greater compensation is if the truck driver is at fault. But how is that proven?
One word: Negligence.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Case
In nearly every type of personal injury case, you must be able to prove negligence in order to hold the other party liable. Truck accidents are no different. If the truck driver acted negligently, they are responsible for your injuries.
Let’s look at each one of these individually. First, a truck driver has a duty of care to drive carefully, ensure their truck is working properly, and follow all state and federal driving regulations. This includes keeping proper logs, getting the right amount of rest, doing maintenance on their rig, and more.
If they fail to uphold their duty of care and cause an accident, it’s considered a breach of duty. Essentially, if a “reasonably prudent person” would’ve done something different under the same circumstances, the truck driver has breached their duty of care. For example, if you’re driving next to a semi truck, and a sudden, strong gust of wind causes them to hit you, that may not be considered a breach of duty, since that was an unforeseeable incident.
Next, that breach of duty must have caused injury. To use a simple example, if a truck accident happens two lanes over from you, and you are unscathed by the accident, you can’t sue the trucker or their company for the accident.
Finally, you must prove that the accident caused some kind of monetary damage. This may be medical bills, damage to your car, lost wages or some other “economic” loss. In truck accidents, this is often the easiest element to prove — being hit by a truck will almost certainly cause damage.
California’s Comparative Fault Laws
Once negligence has been established, you and your lawyer will next need to consider California’s “pure comparative negligence” laws. This means that, even if you’re partially responsible for your injuries, you may still be able to get compensation. However, the amount you receive will depend on how much at fault you are.
For instance, if your tail lights aren’t working, and you get rear-ended by a truck on a moonless night, you may be held 40% liable for your injuries. If the total compensation is $100,000, you would only get $60,000.
In some states, if you are 50% or 51% at fault for your injuries, you can’t receive any compensation. But in California, even if you are 99% at fault for your injuries, you can still recover that 1% of compensation.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer in San Luis Obispo Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
Two of the most challenging aspects of truck accident lawsuits is figuring out who can be held liable (the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, etc.) and fighting against their insurance company.
At Ernst Law Group, we’ve been representing victims of truck accidents since 1980. We know all the tricks that insurance companies use, and we know how to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our San Luis Obispo truck accident lawyers today at (805) 541-0300 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.
The most common time for these accidents was between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Semi trucks travel through and around San Luis Obispo every day, delivering goods to stores and consumers. While they are generally safe, there are factors that can make driving around semi trucks quite dangerous. One such factor is an overloaded truck.
Overloaded trucks are dangerous for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, they’re one of the leading causes of truck-related accidents. As San Luis Obispo truck accident lawyers, we’ve seen the devastation of overloaded trucks firsthand.
It’s important for both truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers to understand the dangers of overloaded trucks, and the rules that are implemented to prevent this issue from happening in the first place.
1. Reduced Stopping Time
In optimal conditions, semi trucks traveling just 65 miles per hour need about 200 yards to come to a stop — that takes about 4 seconds. Of course, if it’s raining, if the truck is going down a hill or is otherwise in non-optimal driving conditions, that stopping time and distance increases dramatically.
Trucks take so long to stop because they have so much weight and momentum behind them. If trucks are overloaded, there is even more momentum and weight. On top of that, trucks are designed to only carry a certain amount of cargo, and exceeding that weight can lead to too much stress on brakes, especially in emergency situations when the truck needs to stop immediately.
2. Greater Risk of Mechanical Failure
When too much weight is loaded in a truck, the stress put on brakes is much greater. This can cause the brakes to burn out more quickly — or catastrophically fail altogether. What’s more, too much weight puts undue stress on the truck’s tires. This can cause blowouts and other tire failures, causing the driver to lose control, jackknife and/or overturn.
Beyond the tires and brakes, too much weight can cause the axles to snap. When an axle snaps, the truck becomes unbalanced, which can lead, again, to the jackknifing and possibly overturning of the truck. At the very least, the loss of balance could cause the cargo to fall from the truck, spilling onto the road.
3. Collapsed Roads and Bridges
This risk isn’t nearly as common as the others, but it’s still important to note. Certain roads and bridges are certified to withstand a specific amount of weight. Because of these restrictions, you may see signs that say “No Truck Over 5 Tons” or something similar. The engineers that designed the roadways took other cars into account to decide the heaviest trucks that should be on that road.
If an overloaded truck goes onto one of these roads or bridges, it’s probably not going to automatically collapse. But over time, the foundation for the roadway will start to weaken. If enough overweight trucks use the roadway, there is a great chance that a collapse will happen, which could have devastating ramifications.
How Heavy Are Trucks Allowed to Be?
Limitations on semi truck weight are set my state and federal laws. In general, federal law states that semi trucks can weigh no more than 18,000 pounds, including cargo. Truck chassis manufacturers also set limits on the maximum weight of the truck itself plus cargo the chassis can handle. This limit is called the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
Though these are in place, they’re often ignored. Trucking companies want to be able to move as much cargo as possible at once. Often, this means cheating a little and adding in more cargo than the truck is licensed to carry. When this happens, the driver and others on the road are put at risk, all because a trucking company was selfish — or just negligent — when it came to the weight of their trucks.
Why Aren’t Some Trucking Companies Caught Breaking the Law?
When a truck accident happens in San Luis Obispo due to an overloaded trailer, there are a few different parties that may be held reliable. The truck driver themselves may be held liable, but because the company usually owns the truck and employs the driver, they may also be held responsible.
If you’re injured in a wreck and talk to an attorney, they will likely try to get every relevant record of maintenance, inspections, manifests, and other evidence they can. These records will show whether the truck has been kept in good condition, if there was too much cargo in the trailer, and other vital information.
Though many truck companies will eventually hand over this evidence, especially after a judge gets involved, others may try to manipulate or even destroy the evidence. This is called spoliation, and is obviously illegal. It’s important to speak to a San Luis Obispo truck accident attorney as soon as you can so they can try to get a hold of this evidence before it gets altered or destroyed.
Talk to a San Luis Obispo Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, whether because the truck was overloaded or for some other reason, you have legal options. At Ernst Law Group, we have decades of experience helping victims get the compensation they deserve.
Semi trucks travel around 15.5 million miles a day in CA
There were 361 fatalities from semi truck crashes in CA in 2017
A semi truck needs 525 ft to come to a complete stop from 65 mph
With the fifth biggest economy on the planet, the state of California depends on semi trucks and other large commercial vehicles in order to sustain its communities. Because of the dependence on large trucks, drivers on California’s roads and highways often have the unpleasant lot of sharing the road with a vehicle many times their size.
What these drivers may not realize is that the behemoth vehicles can pose unique risks to their safety. Ignoring these risks — along with the driving skills needed to mitigate them — can lead to a devastating truck accident likely to cause serious injury or death.
On the other hand, our San Luis Obispo trucking accident lawyers have seen more than their fair share of accidents caused predominantly or entirely by truck driver neglect. If you have been in a large truck accident, even one declared partially your fault, you may be eligible for a personal injury claim to recover some or all of your medical costs as well as lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Regardless of whether or not a truck driver is operating their vehicle negligently, you can take smart steps to reduce your risk of getting wrapped up in an accident with a huge semi. Use the following statistics and tips to learn more about how truck accidents are caused and you can hopefully avoid them.
All of these factors make semi trucks and other large commercial a regular sight on the nation’s highways and streets. According to California’s DOT and DMV, the state registered over 5.6 million commercial trucks in 2011 as well as over 2.3 million commercial trailers. Truckers travelled an estimated 24.8 billion miles on public roads in 2008 alone.
Fortunately, San Luis Obispo sits at the lower end of both overall truck accident fatalities and the rate of such fatalities per 100,000 population.
Even still, area residents should be aware of why large commercial trucks are so very dangerous.
The Risks of Semi Truck Accidents in California
Drivers must realize what makes semi truck accidents so dangerous and so likely to happen under certain conditions by learning about why they are unique compared to the average vehicle on the road.
First, semi trucks need much more time to stop their mass from a speed of 10 mph or greater compared to a typical passenger car, light truck, or SUV. While a medium-sized sedan would take around 316 feet to stop from 65 mph, it would take a semi truck around 525 feet or more to come to a complete stop. That’s over 66% more time, which someone may not expect if they weren’t made aware.
Another huge risk of semi trucks comes from their substantial size. A standard trailer measures 14 feet high and can be up to 53 feet long. The truck and trailer combined can measure more than 65 feet long and weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds!
These factors make a semi truck more difficult to maneuver and see around, in addition to affecting things like turning radius.
Their large size also means that semi trucks can cause some serious damage in a truck crash. Looking to Isaac Newton’s simple formula for impact force, Force = Mass x Acceleration, the difference in forces between a relatively small passenger vehicle and a fully loaded tractor trailer would mean that the smaller vehicle would experience a tremendous amount of force upon impact.
Heavy forces get transferred onto the smaller vehicle in a crash as well as inside of it. The car could become crushed, or it could go flying into other traffic or roadside hazards.
Safety Tips for Driving Around Semi Trucks Near San Luis Obispo
Whether you’re on the 1, the 101, the 41, or any number of major highways near San Luis Obispo, you can take the following measures to reduce your risk of getting in a collision with a semi truck:
Don’t ride in a semi truck’s blind spots, which can be quite large, especially when a long trailer is attached. Try to pass the vehicle safely or merge at least 30 ft behind it rather than cruising alongside.
Give trucks room in general, particularly in front and behind. Never merge quickly in front of a semi, since it may not be able to brake in time. Also never tailgate closely since your vehicle can easily get caught under the trailer’s rear axle.
Avoid all distractions while driving. This rule is always important, but semi trucks make it even more dire. Turn down your radio volume, keep your hands free, make constant visual checks on the road around you, and generally stay focused on how you’re driving when near large trucks.
Don’t test or antagonize truck drivers. Semi truck drivers log thousands of miles each week and need to stay focused on their driving. Others on the road driving erratically or trying to get a rise out of them can create a serious distraction. Try to remain calm and rational at all times.
Remember trucks brake early and make wide turns. Our final bit of advice is to never underestimate the amount of space a truck needs to slow down or turn. The truck may begin braking well before an intersection, or they may have trouble responding in time to sudden traffic stoppages. Likewise, a semi will need a wide berth when turning right, so give them space rather than risk colliding with their trailers.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in San Luis Obispo If You Have Been Injured
Truck accidents are often devastating, leading to expensive medical costs and other significant damages.
If you have been in a truck accident where you suspect someone else’s neglect may have created the situation, do not hesitate to contact a truck accident attorney today. You can potentially file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against all at-fault parties, which can include truck drivers, their employers, contracting companies, truck maintenance companies, or others.
Don’t face a mountain of medical bills and crash-related costs alone. You can schedule a free, no obligation consultation from an attorney at Ernst Law Group when you contact us now using our online form or by calling (805) 541-0300.
The reality of being a trucker is that there are going to be long stretches of boredom, since it’s just the driver alone in the truck. This allows for some strange things to occur during their downtime, both good and bad. While it can be fun to listen to some of the silly things that go on at a truck stop, there’s also a darker side that should be noted.
An October 2013 study from the University of Amsterdam notes there is a good chance that some of the truckers on the road have imbibed in alcohol or illicit drugs before getting behind the wheel. The Amsterdam study collated similar studies that were done with truckers in Australia, Chile and the United States. It’s important to make a distinction between what the studies covered and what they didn’t.
Truckers and Drug Use
The studies asked truckers whether or not they’d ever driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not checking with the companies how many employees had failed a drug test. The methodology of the various responses certainly brought up a wide range of results to consider. Drivers admitted to having used alcohol and cocaine at places like truck stops and gas stations.
With such varied responses, a company would have many different routes to take. First of all, if someone who’s been known to use such drugs before gets involved in an accident, then a company would probably have grounds for a suspension pending an investigation.
They’ll be able to figure out what to do after the investigation is finished. But if the accident is serious, the driver could be terminated if they’re found guilty. This doesn’t even touch on the possibility of being fined and the driver losing the chance to work.
Of course, all of the apocalyptic scenarios are just that, scenarios. It’s up to the companies to properly police their employees with consistent testing and making the consequences of those actions very clear. Along similar lines, workers need to understand that driving under the influence, no matter how small, can lead to some major consequences.
If the driver develops a reputation as someone who can’t be trusted, then they’re out of luck. The world of trucking can be very difficult and spots are limited, so it makes sense that a driver who can stay clean will benefit financially from others’ misfortune.
What’s more, in about 5 percent of all fatal truck accidents, the truck driver was under the influence of drugs. It’s hard to say those accidents wouldn’t have still happened if the trucker was sober, but it’s safe to say the drugs did play a role.
Reasons Truckers Give for Drug Use
When the numbers are made more clear, the average citizen has only one question: Why? Truckers aren’t ignorant of the dangers of drugs and alcohol use. They know the risks they are posing to themselves and others. Why, then, would they choose to get high before getting behind the wheel? Reasons vary, but the need to stay awake often tops the list.
Some of the most common reasons cited for illegal drug use include:
1. Long Shifts: Truckers aren’t supposed to be driving for days without taking a break, but the push to deliver a load on time can cause these men and women to stretch the limits. Some report turning to drugs like amphetamines to stay awake for longer periods at a time. Truckers also say that they use cocaine for the same reason.
2. Depression: Some drivers are lucky enough to be home every night while others are away for weeks at a time. For these truckers, loneliness takes a toll. Some have reported taking drugs to cope with the loneliness they feel while on the road. It’s never a good idea, as many drugs actually worsen depression instead of alleviating it.
3. Boredom: Let’s be honest, spending long stretches on the road can be boring, especially while traveling down long stretches of highway that all end up looking the same. Marijuana use among truckers may be a way to cure some of that boredom they feel.
4. Overnight Driving: The human body is meant to sleep at night, not drive. Even truckers who are used to driving overnight routes can need help staying awake. For these drivers, drugs seem to be the answer. Some substances can make a person feel like they are more alert when, in reality, they are putting a driver at higher risk of causing an accident.
5. Addiction: In some cases, there are truckers who become addicted to the drugs they choose to experiment with. The reason they continue to take drugs is because they can’t stop. In other instances, a trucker experiences physical problems and ends up becoming addicted to prescription pain medication.
Drug use behind the wheel is not okay, no matter the reason. Truckers who choose to partake in drugs and alcohol before slipping into their cabs are urged to get the help they need. People’s lives are in danger when a driver operates their rig while impaired. Not only are they taking their own lives in their hands, but the lives of everyone else on the road.
Our San Luis Obispo Truck Accident Attorneys are Here for You
If you are involved in an accident, you need one of our San Luis Obispo truck accident attorneys. We are here for you and will fight vigorously to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under California law.
Reach out to our office today to schedule your free case evaluation or contact us online. You do not deserve to be placed under financial strain because a trucker made a poor choice.
82% of those victims were people other than the driver of the truck.
11% of all road fatalities in 2016 involved semi trucks.
Semi trucks are multi-ton, monstrous behemoths that have come to dominate California’s highways and byways. From the ways some truck drivers operate their vehicles, it may seem like they do whatever they have to in order to get their freight delivered on time.
Sure, there are federal and state laws that have to be followed, but it’s not illegal if no one reports them, right?
Luckily, there are safety procedures and protocols set in place that trucks drivers and their companies alike cannot ignore. These features are integrated into the truck’s technology. That’s a relief when you consider the fact that there is currently a shortage of truck drivers across the nation, so less-experienced drivers are being put behind the wheel without extensive training.
Here are some of the safety protocols in place for trucks drivers, rookies and veterans alike.
In the earlier days of 18-wheelers, new drivers would sit in a classroom and learn all about their new rigs before going out and getting hands-on experience. Nowadays, learning is done mostly online.
Using a variety of different technologically-advanced tools, new drivers learn all about truck driver safety, electronic logging, road mapping and other essential skills to drive well. A combination of digital lessons, as well as instructor-led lessons, help teach new truckers how to drive with the safety of others in mind.
During this time, drivers also learn the skills needed to operate a small business. This includes fuel management, expense tracking and more. By doing so, drivers are taught that they are responsible for their own truck. That includes driving safely and avoiding accidents that could put a serious damper on their own profit margins.
Truck Safety Features
Though truck driving is still one of the most dangerous jobs in America, it can come a long way since the early days. This is a blessing for both truck drivers and other motorists who share the road with them.
For instance, the new Detroit Assurance system makes it much easier for truckers to get a sense of what’s around them, even though they have massive blind spots. Some trucks now have a radar system that senses other vehicles around them, and there is also an optional camera system that helps truckers stay in their lanes.
Truck Driver Safety Tips
No matter what type of features are on a truck, human error plays into almost every accident on the road. When someone is negligent or reckless in their driving, lives are put at risk.
The radar system works much like safety systems in new cars. If there is a vehicle too close to front of the truck, an automatic brake system activates. Though it may not completely prevent the accident from happening, it can help minimize the damage done.
Also similar to newer cars, the camera system alerts the truck driver if they are crossing lanes without their blinker on. That helps prevent truckers from inadvertently drifting into the lanes beside them. Modern truck safety features help to ensure that everyone on the road is in less danger.
Other Safety Protocols
Every trucking company has its own training program. That can become complicated if a driver moves from company to company. New systems help truckers learn exactly what they need to. For instance, a new driver will need to learn the basics, but having the same requirements for a veteran can be a waste of time and resources.
In addition, trying to force veterans to completely relearn everything can lead to major safety issues, as they may forget different parts of the new system.
Finally, technology has made keeping a log much easier. Truck drivers are expected to keep a record of just about everything that goes on in their vehicle. Electronic logging systems can keep track of some of the more intricate details, such as engine issues. As such, these systems can have a major impact on any accident cases.
At Ernst Law Group, we have seen the difference safe driving practices can make. Truck driver accident procedures have to be followed after an accident, but what about before the accident occurs. Drivers can do the following to help prevent crashes:
Distracted driving is a problem among drivers of any vehicle type. People try to do more behind the wheel than they should. Any driver behind the wheel needs to pay attention to the road ahead and stay focused on their task.
2. Stay Awake
Truckers work long hours and drive hundreds of miles a day. Even if a trucker is hanging up their hat exactly when they should, it’s a tiring job. A driver who feels that they are too tired to drive safely should pull over and get some rest of stop driving for the day and pick it up again the next.
3. Stay Sober
Think about the devastation caused when two cars collide because of an impaired driver. Now imagine if one of those vehicles had been a semi truck. The power behind these vehicles makes accidents they are involved in catastrophic. Any truck driver needs to be sober behind the wheel at all times.
4. Follow Maintenance Routines
When a component of a truck fails, accidents can result. Routine inspections and maintenance are absolutely necessary for any rig and any driver would be negligent if they didn’t complete these tasks.
5. Make Repairs
An inspection won’t make a difference if any noticed issues are not repaired as soon as possible. While a driver may not have the authorization to schedule repairs on their own, issues should be reported through the proper channels.
Our San Luis Obispo Truck Accident Attorneys are Here to Help
Even with all of these safety features in place, truck accidents will happen. When they do, you need to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been involved in a semi truck accident in San Luis Obispo, contact the attorneys at Ernst Law Group for a free consultation.
We represent only the injured parties against insurance companies or large corporations. We never do defense work. We never will. The defense wants to minimize the amount of money given to our clients, even when they are responsible.
The materials in this website have been provided only for general information purposes and are not legal advice. None of the information on this website is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute legal advice nor create any type of relationship between the Ernst Law Group and the recipient.