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In California, a wide variety of occupations may expose employees to injury risk throughout the course of their work. As such, the state requires employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits for employees who are injured on the job, whether those injuries were the fault of the employer, the employee, or a third party. However, as an employee, your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits does not mean that you cannot also file a personal injury claim against a third party. In fact, in many severe workplace accident cases, it is necessary to pursue a liability lawsuit in order to receive full compensation for the extent of your damages.

When Is a Third-Party Personal Injury Lawsuit Possible?

You may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit if you suffered an injury during the course of your work, and that injury was caused by the negligence of someone other than you or your employer. A few examples of work-related injury situations that may involve third-party liability include:

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Santa Clara County personal injury attorney truck accident

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of people injured and killed in accidents involving large trucks has risen significantly in recent years. The primary danger is not to the truck drivers themselves, but to the occupants of the other involved vehicles, who account for over 70 percent of the annual fatalities. Truck accidents are dangerous not only because of the vehicles’ large size but also because of the heavy loads they carry. When those loads are not properly secured, they can lead to accidents in a number of ways.

How Unsecured Cargo Loads Cause Accidents in California

Semi-trucks are built to haul heavy weight, but in order to do so safely, they must be loaded properly with their cargo fully secured. When loose cargo shifts in transit, accidents often result because of one of the following reasons:

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San Jose trucking accident lawyersThe trucking industry is absolutely essential to the flow of goods across the United States. An estimated 80 percent of U.S. cargo is transported by hard-working men and women who drive tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other large trucks. Driving a semi-truck across the country can a tedious and isolating job. Truck drivers are expected to endure harsh road and weather conditions, long periods of time away from family and friends, and erratic sleep schedules. Unfortunately, some truck drivers turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the strenuousness of their job. Considering how destructive truck accidents can be, the prevalence of drug and alcohol use in truck drivers is extremely concerning.

Fatal Truck Accidents on the Rise

The same features that make 18-wheelers and other large trucks so useful for transportation make them deadly during a traffic accident. A large truck cannot maneuver through traffic the way an averaged sized vehicle can. If a stalled vehicle suddenly blocks the road ahead, for example, cars may have enough time to dodge the stalled vehicle or come to a stop. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer takes approximately 20-40 percent farther to come to a stop than a small car does. This difference in stopping time can mean the difference between life and death. Data shows that there were just under 4000 fatalities caused by truck crashes in 2016. This number represents a 27 percent increase from the number of fatalities in 2009.  

Half of Truck Drivers Admit to Drinking and Driving

In an extensive worldwide study of truck drivers published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it was found that half of truck drivers admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. Nearly one-third of truck drivers surveyed admitted to using amphetamines. When participants in the study were tested for drugs and alcohol, 12.5 percent of U.S. truck drivers tested positive for alcohol. Although many truck drivers are already required to submit to drug testing, many people are advocating for stricter rules regarding truck driver drug and alcohol use. If a truck driver causes a serious auto accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she can be held liable for the damages caused.

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San Jose truck accident attorneyDriving an 18-wheeler truck or tractor-trailer is not an easy job. Often, drivers are expected to drive hundreds of miles a day and deal with stresses like traffic congestion, detours, and other slowdowns which make their days even longer. Unfortunately, this leads to many drivers being chronically exhausted and sleep-deprived. Some truck drivers end up taking stimulants just to stay awake and drive. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an accident involving a fatigued or otherwise incapacitated truck driver, you may be able to get financial compensation for your losses.

Studies Show Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Accidents

In a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it was found that approximately 13 percent of serious crashes involving large trucks are caused by driver fatigue. Other factors which contributed to serious truck accidents include driver drug use, including both legal and illegal drugs, inattention to the road, and driver illness. Truck drivers are often operating vehicles that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. A vehicle of this size can do cause colossal damage during a crash.

Truck Drivers Must Follow Certain Rules Regarding Sleep and Rest

Because sleepy truck drivers are such a threat to motorists’ safety, there are certain state and federal regulations which dictate how many hours truck drivers can drive in a given time period. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to take regular breaks to rest. A driver who is not following these federal guidelines may be considered negligent and liable for damages caused by an accident. Truck drivers must record the hours that they drove and when they rested in a log book. These log books are often crucial pieces of evidence during in a personal injury lawsuit against a truck driver or trucking company.

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San Jose, CA truck accident attorney, truck collisionWhen a family member passes away unexpectedly due to the negligence of a truck driver, your life is turned upside down. Commercial drivers owe a duty to their families, as well as to the community and other drivers on the road, to drive with caution. Yet many truck drivers face impossible deadlines imposed by companies trying to increase revenue.

Although restrictions have been placed by lawmakers to decrease truck accident fatalities, truck drivers may still cut corners with the approval of their employers. Yet who is responsible for the death of your loved one in these cases?

Unexpected Bills

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commercial trucks, big rigs, San Jose truck crash lawyerThere is an epidemic going on in the United States that to this day remains a serious problem. Everyday, on average 11 accidents involving commercial trucks result in fatalities. Additionally, over 100,000 people are injured in the same type of accidents per year. If you apply the same numbers to a different industry, it would be like a commuter jet crashing every week. With the potential for these accidents being so high, the need for legal counsel is also rising. What should you expect from truck accidents with regards to legal action?

Reasons for Concern 

Commercial trucks are seen on almost every road and every highway, and, every day, truck driving schools have a new graduating class full of fresh, newly-trained drivers that will be on the road shortly. Commercial trucks are responsible for transporting a large portion the goods that we purchase, from gas and oil all the way to moving homes. These vehicles have deadlines and agendas that they have to follow, as well as regulations that mandate everything they do. In most cases, they are highly-trained and skilled professionals, but accidents are not planned and can happen to anyone. There are number of factors that contribute to these accidents being so much more devastating and potentially dangerous, including:

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truck accident, liability, San Jose truck accident lawyerTruck accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic injury and harm. Of course, most trucks are operated safely, but due to their size and cargo, when a truck is in an accident, occupants of other vehicles are more likely to be permanently injured, or even killed. The true cause of a truck accident, however, is not always immediately apparent.

Causes of Truck Accidents

Common causes of truck accidents include:

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California residents may be interested to learn that the former mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young, was slightly injured in an accident in which a cement truck fell on top of his car as well as that of another driver. The man in the other car reportedly suffered serious injuries when both cars were crushed by the falling truck.

According to reports, the cement truck driver ran a red light and was allegedly driving too fast for conditions at the time of the accident. After losing control of vehicle, the truck fell on the two cars and spilled diesel fuel on the roadway. While Mr. Young reportedly was treated at the accident scene and then taken to the hospital as a precaution, the other man suffered serious injuries to his head and hands.

Authorities did not release the identity of the cement truck driver, although they did state that he was cited for failing to obey the traffic signal and with driving too fast. In addition to being the former mayor of Atlanta, Mr. Young was heavily involved with the civil rights movement and worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was also an United Nations ambassador and is currently 83 years old.

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An pre-dawn truck accident on Highway 41 near Fresno began when a fuel tanker truck hit the back of a truck hauling live poultry. The poultry truck was pulled over on the northbound side of the highway, according to the California Highway Patrol, but the reason for the stoppage was not immediately apparent.

The 39-year-old male driver of the poultry truck was outside the vehicle when the tanker truck hit. The accident resulted in the man being hit by the tanker truck and then dragged while pinned under a tire. The wreck then snowballed when a pickup truck and a second poultry truck also carrying livestock collided with the vehicles.

Community Regional Medical Center confirmed the death of the man who had been dragged under a tire. The crash also inflicted major injuries on the fuel tanker driver, a man from Visalia, California. Minor injuries were suffered by the Riverdale man driving the pickup truck while the driver of the second poultry truck remained unharmed. The highway patrol suspects fog might have played a role in the accident.

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Per a report from the U.S. Transportation Department, the number of people killed in large-truck crashes increased for the fourth year in a row, with nearly 4,000 fatalities in 2013. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that deaths have increased by 17 percent since 2009, so it is no surprise that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is urging regulators to adopt a variety of new safety regulations.

In an interview, the NTSB's director stated that there are a number of technological improvements that are already available to help reduce crashes. Examples of this include new systems that use sensors to warn truckers when they are about to collide with another vehicle or are changing lanes.

Another issue that the NTSB points out is that driver fatigue is still a significant concern. While the board can make recommendations, it is not a legislative body, so trucking companies can ignore suggestions to improve managing fatigue on the roads. Additionally, Congress weakened regulations aimed at reducing driver fatigue due to a concern that the new rules might lead to a greater number of large trucks on the road during rush hours.

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California truck drivers may feel a huge relief as their paperwork requirements diminish. The Dec. 18 implementation of a final rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation has resulted in a potential savings of more than 46 million work hours per year that were once spent on creating and filing reports. While some paperwork is still required, truck drivers will be relieved of the need to file reports for vehicle inspections before and after trips when no safety problems are identified.

According to the DOT, an average of 95 percent of these inspections produce no signs of trouble. However, the related reports that were previously required accounted for nearly $2 billion in costs that can now be saved without any compromise to safety on the roads. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation indicated that this change reflects President Obama's desire to see red tape and waste reduced. The rule will enable the trucking industry to focus more on the safe delivery of goods and greater attention to avoiding accidents.

While the paperwork load for the industry is expected to drop from the 19th highest to the 79th highest among federal agencies, paperwork requirements will remain in effect when defects or safety issues are identified. These records may be important in case of equipment failure resulting in accidents. Even in cases of truck accidents not attributed to equipment problems, service records and inspection reports may be evaluated for signs of problems that should have been addressed.

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Officials with the California Highway Patrol report that one man is dead following an accident involving a truck towing a trailer and a semi-truck in Stockton on Oct. 31. No one else was injured in the fatal semi-truck accident.

According to the report, the crash transpired on the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 and on Highway 4 of the Crosstown Freeway when the operator of a truck that was towing a trailer suddenly lost the ability to control the truck and smashed into a semitrailer. The force of the collision sent the semitrailer plummeting off highway's northbound lanes and into an embankment where it struck a tree head-on. The driver of the semitrailer died from the injuries he suffered in the crash. It was not clear if the driver died at the scene or if the driver was first taken to a nearby hospital. The other driver involved was not hurt.

Authorities who responded to the scene shut down I-5's northbound lanes and Highway 4's westbound lanes while crews cleared the roadway and investigators worked to determine the cause of the wreck. Troopers believe that wet roads from the rain could have played a role in the accident. Police did not disclose the names of the injured victims; neither had they filed any charges against the driver involved in the accident. Moreover, it was not reported if any of the motorists were wearing seat belts.

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On Sep. 19, the California Highway Patrol responded to a fatal semi-truck accident on Highway 299 outside of Round Mountain. According to troopers, the crash happened when a semitrailer traveling east on the roadway entered a curve at an estimated speed of 50 mph, which caused a container of building debris to fall from the truck's flatbed trailer and into the opposite lane. A collision ensued between the first semi-truck and another westbound tractor-trailer, and the 50-year-old male driver of the latter vehicle was killed in the crash.

Authorities did not believe drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident. Both lanes of the highway were reportedly shut down for about nine hours, and a team was dispatched to the scene to clean a gas spill from the roadway.

The 45-year-old male cousin of the decedent was also in the truck and suffered injuries. The driver of the eastbound semitrailer and his 44-year-old passenger were also injured in the crash. The three were hospitalized and had been released as of Sept. 21.

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A motorist is dead and a 40-year-old semi-trailer driver is facing charges following a two-vehicle accident shortly after midnight in Ontario on Sept. 11. According to a report, the fatal crash was believed to have been caused by intoxicated driving.

According to police, the motorist died from injuries sustained after a man operating a semi-truck suddenly swerved and drove into the path of his sedan. Instead of stopping to help the victim, the truck driver allegedly continued eastbound on 60 Freeway where he crashed into a concrete barrier at an on-ramp. At this point, the man supposedly left his truck and walked down the highway for approximately a mile before police discovered and detained him near the Milliken Avenue on-ramp.

Although it was not reported if officers gave the man any sobriety tests, they claimed that he exhibited signs of inebriation. The accused man was taken to Rancho Cucamongo where he underwent booking procedures in the West Valley Detention Center. He has been charged with felony DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, felony hit-and-run and suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

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Two people died near Fowler Thursday, July 31, in an accident that California Highway Patrol investigators said was caused by an allegedly intoxicated big-rig driver. The semi-truck accident took place at the intersection of Manning and Fowler avenues.

According to reports, a Kenworth truck driven by a 48-year-old Los Angeles man drove into the back of a 2003 Kia passenger car that was stopped at the intersection. The truck then pushed the smaller car through the intersection until it came into contact with a utility pole. The big-rig continued to travel to the east on Manning Avenue and struck a Peterbilt tractor-trailer. From there, the out-of-control truck drove another mile toward the east, stopping near a gas station.

According to the report, the driver of the truck then walked on foot before being arrested near the truck's final stopping point. Officers say a 14-year-old boy and a female subject of an unspecified age died from their injuries. Two of the individuals in the Kia, the 34-year-old driver and a 61-year-old passenger, were treated for minor injuries as was the 45-year-old Peterbilt driver. The Kenworth driver was taken into custody and charged with hit and run, DUI and manslaughter.

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Tagged in: Truck accident

California Highway Patrol reported that a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 152 killed one person and injured several others on July 21. The highway accident involved a tractor-trailer and eight other vehicles and took place on both the westbound and eastbound lanes of the highway near the Ferguson Road intersection.

Shortly before 5:25 p.m., a 48-year-old man driving a big rig was headed westbound when he approached a line of traffic that was stopped at a red light. Unable to stop his vehicle, the truck driver hit several cars before swerving into the path of eastbound traffic and colliding with several more. As the tractor-trailer lurched into a field, it pulled a sedan with it. The cab of the trailer and the sedan both caught fire.

While the truck driver was pulled to safety, the driver of the burning sedan died at the scene. Three other drivers suffered major injuries, and at least one person was transported to the hospital by helicopter. Other drivers involved in the crash suffered from minor and moderate injuries. The truck driver was not arrested, and police don't believe that alcohol or drugs were factors in the accident.

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Highways can be dangerous roads, given the high speeds and variety of vehicles present. Accidents on the highway can vary in the intensity and level of disruption of traffic-and a highway accident involving one or more commercial trucks can wreak havoc on traffic patterns, not to mention cause serious injuries for those involved.

Recently, San Jose highways were disrupted due to several big rig accidents. One accident involved a 18 wheeler and a stalled SUV. The two vehicles collided, and the big rig hit a guardrail, resulting in about 100 gallons of leaked diesel fuel. The truck driver was injured and taken to a local hospital, while another person was treated for minor injuries at the scene. Hazardous materials crews were called to the scene to clean up the leaked fuel and the materials that the firefighters used to contain the spilled fuel. The second accident that same day resulted in a multi-truck fire. Fire crews worked to make sure that the fire, which fully engulfed one big rig and was spreading to two others, did not spread further.

Accidents involving commercial vehicles such as 18 wheelers can be much more dangerous than accidents involving passenger cars or other vehicles. Big rigs are not only much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, but they also carry a large amount of diesel fuel, and could be carrying hazardous cargo. If they are carrying hazardous cargo, and it spills in an accident, people who come into contact with it could experience additional or different injuries than those from the impact only.

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Highway accidents can range from minor fender-benders, to multiple car pile-ups. As any San Jose car accident lawyer knows, the danger increased significantly when a big rig carrying hazardous cargo is involved.

Recently, Highway 37 near San Jose was shut down when an 18 wheeler crashed into another truck. The impact caused the big rig to fly off of the highway, landing in a grassy area below the highway, where it caught fire. The driver of the big rig died in the hospital from his injuries. Authorities report that the big rig was carrying hazardous materials. After firefighters put out the fire, a hazmat team was called in to determine any environmental hazards from the fire.

Highway accidents involving commercial big rigs can be especially dangerous to drivers and others on the road. Not only are 18 wheelers and other commercial vehicles nearly 26 times heavier than a typical passenger vehicle when fully loaded, but the cargo can pose hazards all on its own. Cargo that is hazardous or flammable may cause injuries such as burns or respiratory injuries in the event of an accident.

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Major interstates can be rife with danger. The high speeds along with the variety of vehicles--cars, motorcycles and big rigs--can make for potentially devastating highway accidents. And when big rigs are carrying heavy cargo, or cargo that is inherently dangerous, the risk of injury rises.

Recently, on Interstate 280, a cement truck crashed into a dump truck. The collision caused the cement truck to roll over, blocking three lanes of traffic. One of the trucks spilled diesel fuel, which fire crews cleaned up. A police officer stated that it was unknown which truck spilled the fuel. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

An accident involving an 18-wheeler can easily wreak havoc on a smaller vehicle because a fully-loaded big rig can weigh 80,000 pounds, whereas a car usually only weighs around 3,000 pounds. In addition to the weight of a commercial truck, big rigs are also susceptible to jackknifing, which can cause sudden accidents, particularly when roads are slippery. These factors can lead to unpredictable and dangerous highway accidents.

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Posted on in Truck Accidents

Highway driving, particularly during times such as rush hour or late at night, can be dangerous. Any number of things can cause a highway accident, such as poor road conditions, tiredness, mechanical malfunctioning and even unexpected or dangerous driving by other drivers. High speeds coupled with high volumes of cars on the road are often a dangerous combination.

Recently, two people were injured and one person was killed in a crash between a semi-tractor trailer and a car in Gilroy. According to reports, the car merged behind the tractor-trailer. Shortly thereafter, the car crashed into the rear of the truck. It is unclear what caused the accident, though police indicated that neither alcohol nor drugs were involved. All three victims were in the car. The driver of the truck was not injured.

When someone is injured in a truck accident, several people can potentially be held liable, including the drivers of the vehicles involved. In some accidents with 18-wheelers, the trucking company may also be held liable, depending on the cause of the accident. The injured person or the family of someone who was killed in a truck accident may be entitled to compensation from the person found liable for the accident. Damages can include compensation for the cost of medical treatment, lost income and pain and suffering.

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