Truck Accident Lawyer Los Angeles
According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, truck crashes are involved in about one-quarter of vehicle collisions resulting in death. Every year, truck crashes kill over 5,000 people and injure nearly 150,000 more. When truck drivers or the companies that employ them cause serious personal injury or wrongful death, The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg can provide a truck accident attorney in Los Angeles to step forward and hold them accountable for their conduct.
Due to their immense size and weight, a semi-truck or tractor-trailer can impact another vehicle with tremendous force, even at relatively low speeds. Their weight also requires increased reaction time and stopping distance, compared to other vehicles. Finally, their size and shape can limit the driver’s visibility of his or her surroundings. An inexperienced or untrained driver can cause an auto accident in Los Angeles by not heeding these limitations, as can another motor vehicle driver who does not appreciate the risk involved in navigating around a large truck.
The profitability of the trucking industry is based on the movement of goods from one point to another as quickly as possible. The only way this can be accomplished is for the driver to drive as much as possible and as fast as he or she can.
Truck drivers are under pressure to get to their destination as fast as they can. To that end, they may speed or drive aggressively rather than defensively. A driver who speeds or drives recklessly given the conditions on the road and the neighboring traffic patterns is risking a dangerous collision.
Time Behind the Wheel
Our truck accident attorney in Los Angeles understands the federal laws and regulations that dictate how long a driver may spend behind the wheel at any one stretch, and within a 24-hour period. A trucker’s workday can extend up to 14 hours, with up to 11 hours of cumulative driving in that period, and only 10 hours off-duty between such shifts. Truckers are further allowed to drive 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period. Following 7 or 8 days of consecutive driving, a driver is expected to receive at least 34 hours off-duty. Further, there are a host of exceptions and exemptions which would make these laws not apply to certain drivers.
Even when acting in compliance with federal regulations, a driver can still experience fatigue and loss of alertness during a long shift, or from the cumulative effect of driving many hours a day several days in a row. Sometimes, drivers utilize over-the-counter stimulants or illegal methamphetamines in order to avoid fatigue, but these drugs can actually decrease alertness, focus, and concentration. The after-effects of the drug are also capable of bringing on sudden drowsiness or overwhelming fatigue.
The Trucking Company
Trucks spend a great deal of time in service, therefore requiring frequent and intensive maintenance. Brake systems and tires are especially critical components that can cause a serious Los Angeles truck accidents if they fail. Other mechanical systems are equally important to preventing emergency breakdowns that could create a dangerous situation. Regular maintenance schedules must be followed by properly-trained mechanics to avoid or minimize these problems.
Trucks should be equipped with safety equipment, including fire extinguishers and flares, in order to deal with an emergency. This equipment must be routinely inspected, maintained, and periodically replaced to ensure it will work properly when needed.
Loading the truck may be the responsibility of the driver in conjunction with other trucking company employees. A load must be properly balanced and secured in order to ensure safe handling and performance of the truck on the road. If a load shifts in transit, it is the responsibility of the driver to stop and rebalance the cargo.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation charged with reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. To that end, FMCSA issues a comprehensive set of regulations covering drivers, vehicles, and trucking companies. Driver regulations govern the allowable hours of service of drivers, as well as driver’s license standards, special training requirements, and drug and alcohol testing. Vehicle regulations include length, width, and weight limitations; necessary parts and accessories for safe operation; and inspection, repair, and maintenance. Regulations on the trucking company reinforce the driver and vehicle rules by placing many responsibilities for compliance with the company.
In order to ensure compliance with regulations, FMCSA requires drivers and trucking companies to maintain detailed logbooks and records of their activity. Evidence of noncompliance with safety regulations may help to show that the negligence of the driver, company, or other employee was responsible for the accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will obtain these records after an accident and have them reviewed by an industry expert, including if necessary a forensic documents expert who can determine if the records were altered to make the driver or company appear to be in compliance when they in fact were not.
Howard Kornberg has over thirty years of experience investigating automobile and truck accidents, determining the responsible parties, and seeking justice for the injured. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck accident, consult with The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg today. Contact us online or call (877) 835-7377 for a free initial consultation.