Northern California Truck Accident Lawyer
Whenever two vehicles crash into each other, at least one driver or passenger is likely to be injured. When one of those vehicles is a heavy truck, the injuries are likely to be devastating.
The laws of physics explain why truck accidents are so serious. When two vehicles meet in a head-to-head collision, the heavier vehicle transfers momentum to the lighter vehicle. In other words, the heavier vehicle is slowed by the crash, but the lighter vehicle is pushed backward. The occupant of a car that was moving forward but is suddenly moving in reverse will rarely escape injury.
As the difference in the relative size of the vehicles increases, so does the amount of momentum that is transferred to the lighter vehicle. The most serious truck accidents usually involve heavy trucks, those weighing more than 26,000 pounds. Cement trucks, dump trucks, and garbage trucks are typically heavy trucks. A tractor-trailer, also known as a semi or an 18-wheeler, is also a heavy truck. Head-on crashes with heavy trucks are often fatal.
Medium trucks, including most delivery trucks, flatbeds, and recreational vehicles, also outweigh typical passenger cars. Crashes with medium trucks are more survivable than crashes with heavy trucks, thanks to airbags and crumple zones that are built into passenger cars.
Medium and heavy trucks are collectively classified as large trucks. Crashes with any large truck can produce serious injuries, even if the car occupant survives.
If you have been the victim of a Bay Area truck accident, a personal injury lawyer at KKG Law can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our truck accident team represents injury victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.
California Truck Accident Statistics
The Bay Area is a bustling transportation hub in California. Trucks load and unload cargo at the Port of Oakland and other seaports and rail terminals, and at two of the most active air cargo airports in the Western United States. It isn’t surprising that Bay Area highways carry some of the highest volumes of trucks in California.
In the most recent year for which statistics are available, more than 4,400 fatal accidents involving large trucks occurred in California. Large trucks represent about 3% of the vehicles that travel on California roads, but they are involved in 6.6% of California’s fatal traffic accidents.
About 10% of truck accident victims are pedestrians or bicyclists. Almost all other victims are occupants of other passenger vehicles, including motorcyclists. Truck occupants are much less likely to be injured in a collision.
Head-On Collisions with Trucks
About 45% of fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck are head-on collisions. The fatality rate is so high because the momentum of a large truck moving at highway speeds is likely to overcome the safety features built into passenger cars. While airbags and crumple zones enhance the survivability of head-on collisions between two passenger cars of similar size, no safety features can protect against death in a head-on collision with a heavy truck.
Head-on collisions with truck drivers often occur when a truck driver strays across the centerline. That might happen when an inexperienced driver enters a curve too fast and cannot stay within his own traffic lane. Falling asleep at the wheel and fatigue caused by long days of driving also contribute to head-on collisions.
Other California Truck Accidents
While head-on collisions account for the highest percentage of fatal truck accidents, they are not the most common crashes involving trucks. About a quarter of all accidents caused by truck drivers are rear-end collisions. Even at a low speed, a heavy truck that collides with the rear of a passenger car can produce shear forces that cause devastating neck and back injuries to passenger car occupants.
When traffic is gridlocked, a rear-end collision caused by a heavy truck will often cause a chain reaction, forcing multiple vehicles to collide with each other. “Pileup” collisions sometimes push a car out of a traffic lane and into a lane of oncoming traffic, producing an additional series of collisions.
Other California truck accidents include:
- T-bone collisions at intersections.
- Rollover accidents (sometimes caused by T-bone collisions).
- Sideswipes during lane changes.
- Freeway entrance ramp accidents.
- Jackknifed trucks that cut across multiple traffic lanes.
- Cargo spills that create road hazards.
- Equipment failures (such as shredded tires) that create road hazards.
Any Bay Area driver who is injured in a truck accident is entitled to seek compensation from the truck owner.
Bay Area Truck Accident Injuries
While some truck accidents cause the death of passenger car occupants, people who survive truck accidents often have serious injuries. They include:
- Crushed organs (caused by vehicle rollovers)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal damage (including paralyzing injuries)
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Facial disfigurement (caused by broken glass)
- Burn injuries
- Knee injuries
- Neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Back pain
- Shoulder injuries
- Ruptured disks
- Torn or stretched muscles, ligaments, and tendons
Any injury may entitle an accident victim to compensation if the truck driver was at least partially at fault in causing the accident.
Bay Area Truck Accident Compensation
In California, a trucking company may be required to compensate an injury victim even if the injury victim’s own carelessness contributed to the accident. Compensation is proportional to fault, so if a truck driver bears 80% of the responsibility for an accident, the trucking company must pay 80% of the accident victim’s damages.
Compensation generally covers:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning ability
- Vocational training if a disability precludes a return to work
- The expense of coping with a disability (such as hiring a home health aide or widening doors to accommodate a wheelchair)
- Wages paid to workers to perform tasks that the injury victim is no longer able to do (such as cooking or cleaning)
- Pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life
Compensation depends upon a number of factors. An experienced truck accident lawyer at KKG Law can evaluate those factors and help injury victims or their family arrive at a fair settlement. When insurance companies refuse to be reasonable, KKG Law isn’t afraid to take them to court.
Bay Area Wrongful Death Compensation
When an injury causes the accident victim’s death, certain family members are entitled to recover:
- The value of lost financial contributions they would have received from the victim (including half the victim’s salary in the case of a California spouse)
- The value of lost services (such as meal preparation or home maintenance) the victim would have contributed to the family members
- The loss of companionship and guidance the victim would have provided
If the accident victim does not die immediately, any person who will inherit from the victim’s estate may be entitled to share in compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering.
Bay Area Truck Accident Advice
To learn how KKG Law can help you receive fair compensation if you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident, call us at 707-898-8125 or use our online contact form to send us a message. KKG Law represents victims of truck accidents in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.