Any motor vehicle accident can have serious consequences for those involved, but there is heightened risk in accidents involving large trucks. Of all motor vehicle accidents, those involving large trucks involve the highest risk of fatality and are the most costly for crash victims.
According to recent data, the average total cost of a truck accident is $7 million in emergency services, medical expenses, property damage, and lost income. Compare that to the average cost of $1.4 million for fatal car accidents. Truck accidents are also twice as likely to result in death. And, unfortunately, the number of truck accidents has been increasing in California in recent years.
Truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, of course. In some cases, accidents occur out of no fault of the drivers, but because of a third party. In most cases, though, there is some driver error at play. Among truck accidents involving driver error, speeding, distraction, and fatigue are common causes of accidents.
While most fatal truck accidents nationwide involve speeding on rural roads, they can also occur on crowded freeways, and often do in California. In such situations, the risk of rear-end accidents is higher because of the distance requiring a truck to come to a full stop. In Southern California, freeway interchanges are a particularly risky area for truck accidents since lane changes present plenty of opportunities to make mistakes.
Although truck safety is an important issue and gets a lot of media attention, many truck accidents are caused by the fault of both the truck driver and passenger vehicle drivers. In such cases, determining fault can be challenging. Like other states, California recognizes the principle of comparative negligence, but California does not bar plaintiffs from recovering damages when they meet a certain threshold of fault, as other states do. In cases involving the fault of more than one party, maximizing damages is particularly important.
Those who have been involved in an accident with a truck driver should always work with an experienced attorney to ensure they have a strong advocate on their side. A skilled attorney can help ensure a plaintiff builds the strongest possible case, not only to establish liability but also to maximize his or her damages award.