While driving on the San Jose freeway or around town, you are probably aware that commercial trucks are ever-present. Because of their immense size, professional truck drivers must undergo extensive training and licensing to handle these large rigs. As a result, commercial truck accidents occur every day. If you were injured by a negligent truck driver or trucking company, you are entitled to damages.
The personal injury attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP represent San Jose truck accident victims on a contingency basis. That means that our legal team will represent you for free until you receive a settlement or court award. Call today to speak to one of our San Jose truck accident attorneys about your case.
Special Hazards Involving Semi-Trucks
Under the law, semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. Even when a large commercial truck complies with this weight restriction, it can weigh up to 20 times as much as a passenger vehicle. Additionally, large trucks are over 50 feet long, meaning they have larger blind spots and turning radii. Finally, many trucks carry hazardous materials, like explosives and toxins. This is why serious injuries are common in truck accidents, even at low speeds.
Truck Accident Statistics for California
The California Highway Patrol keeps statistics on semi-truck wrecks for the state. In 2019, there were 7009 accidents involving tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles. During the preceding five years, there were 1,580 fatal injuries, or 316 per year. In Santa Clara County, there were 760 injuries related to truck accidents, and 32 people died in a truck crash. Nationally, trucking accidents were responsible for 8.9% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Although truck drivers are trained to handle the unusual challenges of driving large trucks over long periods, some factors can affect their ability to drive safely. These are some of the most common causes of San Jose truck accidents.
Throughout the course of their route, truckers often find it necessary to communicate with their trucking company headquarters or customers, check their GPS for estimated times of arrival, or to look up different routes. Consequently, distracted driving within the course of their duties is already significant. However, they may also use electronic devices to break up the boredom of a long haul or eat in the cab to save valuable minutes on their route. As a result, distracted driving is a significant source of driver error in the trucking industry.
The hours that a professional driver can operate a semi-truck are subject to state and federal regulations. For instance, a property-carrying driver can only drive for 11 consecutive hours after 10 hours off duty. In addition, drivers must log their hours in a log book, which is something that a San Jose truck accident lawyer from our law firm will demand in the event of a trucking accident. We will also require manifests, schedules, and GPS data to determine whether the trucking company forced the driver to operate in violation of the law.
Drugs and Alcohol
Most truck companies have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers who are on active duty. That does not, however, mean that these rules are strictly enforced by all trucking companies. In order to fight fatigue, truckers often use stimulants, which can affect judgment and cause drivers to overreact. Other forms of drugs and alcohol are also common.
Trucks must be packed in a way to ensure that packages don’t shift or come loose. With flatbed trucks, if items aren’t secured properly, they can break loose and become projectiles. Finally, overloading the truck can make it difficult to drive.
The commercial trucking industry must perform routine maintenance and safety inspections on the vehicles in their fleet. If they determine that there is a safety issue with the truck, they are supposed to remove it from duty until the concern is addressed.
Brake failure in big rig trucks can have devastating consequences, leading to severe truck accidents and ultimately lawsuits. When brakes fail, the driver loses control over the vehicle’s speed and stopping power, increasing the risk of collisions. If such an accident occurs, injured parties may file a lawsuit against the trucking company, subhaulers, the driver, and the truck’s owner, claiming negligence in inspecting the vehicle, maintenance or failure to address known issues. As the victim, your lawsuit may seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, as well as pain, and suffering. Brake failure is presumed to be the fault of the trucking entities and we will work hard to determine the connection between brake failure and the collision.
The truck manufacturer is responsible for identifying a defective truck before it leaves its facilities. If they discover a design defect with a truck model, they are supposed to notify the trucking companies who bought their trucks or issue a recall. In any event, a San Jose truck accident attorney from our office will hold trucking manufacturers accountable for defects.
Truck Driver Negligence
Some big rig accidents are caused by simple driver negligence. This could be speeding, following too closely, changing lanes without checking their blind spots, or failing to check brakes before descending a long downgrade or mountain road.
Regardless of whether the negligent driver, the trucking firm, or the manufacturer was responsible for your San Jose truck accident, our personal injury attorneys will aggressively pursue compensation from the liable parties.
Different Types of Truck Accidents
While commercial trucks are capable of being involved in the same types of accidents that cars are involved in, there are certain types of accidents that are unique to the trucking industry:
- Jackknife Accidents – This occurs when the trailer portion of the truck moves in a different direction than the cab. For instance, if a truck driver makes a sudden turn, the rear part of the truck may not adjust to the shift in momentum in time, causing the truck and trailer to fold like a jackknife.
- Rear End Collisions – Due to speed, inattentiveness or brake failure, these are the most common and devastating injuries.
- Failure to Yield Collisions – These collisions often happen when a truck initiates a left turn across a roadway in front of an approaching vehicle, crossing roadways or while entering or turning onto a new road. Because of the length of the big rig, in these situations the approaching vehicle may not be able to take evasive action because the big rig can effectively block the entire lane of travel.
- Sideswipe Accidents – Trucks have big blind spots, so a truck driver may not notice a car in the adjacent lane.
- Loose Cargo Accidents – When cargo breaks free from a truck, it can turn into a dangerous projectile, either striking the vehicle or forcing car drivers to swerve to avoid it.
- Hazardous Material Spills – This can occur with any type of accident, or it can be the result of improperly securing chemicals and other hazardous materials.
- Frequent Stops – Amazon truck accidents, FedEx truck accidents, UPS truck accidents, and Prime Inc. truck accidents are often the result of frequent stops when drivers sometimes fail to signal or put on their hazard lights to warn vehicles of their presence.
In our pursuit of fair and full compensation for our clients, our San Jose truck accident lawyers will examine the cause of the truck accident. When we identify the liable parties, we will hold them accountable.
Injuries Common in Truck Accidents
The following are some of the injuries that our attorneys see in San Jose truck accidents:
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Severed limbs
- Poisoning (from leaked chemicals)
- Neck injuries
Regardless of the extent of your injuries, our San Jose truck accident lawyers can review your case to determine whether you have a viable claim. If we believe that you can make a truck accident claim against the insurance company, we can begin representing you immediately.
Avoiding Truck Accidents in San Jose, CA
In many truck accident cases, our attorneys have determined that there was nothing our clients could do to avoid the initial cause of the accident. However, these tips may help you avoid a collision with a commercial vehicle.
- Do not tailgate large commercial vehicles. Some truck accident victims admit to tailgating trucks or not paying attention in an accident involving a delivery truck making frequent stops. These cases are more difficult for truck accident lawyers to prove.
- Pass trucks, but don’t travel adjacent to them. If you’re in the trucker’s blind spot, they may not see you during a lane change. Additionally, large truck tire blowouts are common, which means you could be struck by tire debris if you travel too close to the vehicle.
- Watch for signs of drunk driving or driver fatigue. If you see a large truck swerving, stay clear.
- Be extra careful and be aware of trucks in the area if you smell burning brakes or see smoke coming from brakes of trucks descending from an incline.
What to Do if You’re Hit by a Commercial Truck
While nothing on this site should be considered legal advice, the following tips can help you avoid severe injuries and strengthen your insurance claim. To get legal advice from a San Jose truck accident lawyer, contact Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP. We will review the details of your San Jose truck crash and determine whether you have a viable personal injury claim.
- Get to a place of safety. There may be hazardous chemicals or explosive materials near a truck accident scene. If this is the case, get away from the accident site.
- Call 911. The dispatcher will need to know your location, a description of the vehicles, any visible hazardous material placards, and the number of parties requiring medical treatment.
- Ask witnesses to remain on the scene or collect their contact information. Truck accident cases are often lost or won based on witness testimony.
- Take pictures. You’ll want to document the accident scene, property damage, visible injuries, debris on the roadway, etc. Your truck accident lawyer can use these photos to pursue financial compensation for your injuries.
- Seek medical treatment. Your health comes before all other considerations. If the EMTs don’t transport you to the hospital, follow up with your doctor.
- Contact the trusted truck accident attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde. We will represent you for free until your truck accident case settles or is litigated through the courts.
Truck Accident FAQ
These are some of the most commonly asked questions our San Jose truck accident attorneys hear from our clients. For a one-on-one consultation with a truck accident lawyer, call our law firm immediately.
How is fault determined in a truck accident?
There are four elements of liability for truck accident cases: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Whether you’re making a claim through the insurance company or pursuing your claim through a lawsuit, your truck accident lawyer will need to establish each of these four elements.
How long do I have to file a San Jose Truck Accident Injury Claim?
The statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the accident. For a wrongful death claim, it’s two years from the date of death. No matter how severe your truck accident injuries are, you must file a claim within this amount of time.
San Jose Truck Accident Lawyers for Plaintiffs
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you’re entitled to fair compensation for your medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. At Caputo & Van Der Walde, our San Jose personal injury lawyers will represent you on a contingency basis. Call today for a free consultation.