Burlingame Truck Accident Lawyer

Accident on a highway in Burlingame.

Many drivers are extra cautious when driving on the freeway next to or near a large 18-wheeler. There is good reason to be careful. Tractor-trailers transport goods all across the United States. But their presence adds special risks to freeway driving. Accidents involving such large vehicles have a higher mortality rate and are more likely to cause serious injury than an average automobile collision. The enormous weight differential, often as high as 30 times, puts the vehicle passenger at a significant disadvantage. Therefore when a large truck is involved in a collision there will often be horrendous consequences for the occupants of the family car. If tragedy strikes you need to contact a proven, knowledgeable and aggressive Burlingame truck accident attorney to help you and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Aggressive Burlingame Truck Accident Lawyer Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

Operating a truck involves unique challenges. Because of their length special mirrors are needed to see along both sides, especially when changing lanes. Still, visibility is not as direct as when driving a passenger car. You can't just look over your shoulder to check your blind spot. In addition, the weight causes a very long breaking distance which in turn necessitates a longer safety distance from the vehicle ahead of the truck. When liability is contested, an accident reconstruction expert may be needed to determine the weights of the vehicles, the vehicle damage, roadway debris, and skid marks found at the scene. Then computer programs are used to reconstruct the collision finding out what the vehicles must have done to lead to the physical evidence examined. Because trucking accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, often victims need professional consultants to work on the damages side of the case as well as liability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a truck’s “black box” and how can it help my claim?

A truck’s “black box” is a mandatory component of a commercial truck. It resembles a black box on a commercial airliner in that it records critical data about the vehicle’s speed, braking, acceleration, etc. Black box information can be used to reconstruct an accident and can be used as evidence in a court of law.

What are some good rules of thumb to stay out of a truck driver’s blind spot?

The following are a few safety precautions you should always observe.

  • The most effective rule is to take note of the message that is posted on many trucks: “If you can’t see my mirror, I can’t see you.” 

  • Never drive between two trucks, even if you have a lane to yourself – they might not even know you are there.

  • Always honk before you pass, in case the truck driver decides to change lanes at the same time you decide to pass.

What regulations govern truckers?

California truckers are governed by two layers of regulations:

Federal regulations govern substance abuse testing, maximum work hours, minimum break times, vehicle markings, hazardous materials, and truck maintenance, among other issues. At the state level, California regulates truck size and weight, designated truck routes, maximum speed on state highways, and weigh station requirements.

Who are the possible defendants in a truck accident lawsuit?

The identity of the defendant(s) in a truck crash accident case is heavily dependent on the facts of the particular case. Defendants might include:

  • The truck driver;

  • The trucking company;

  • The manufacturer of a defective truck component;

  • The party responsible for maintaining the truck (not necessarily the driver);

  • The party responsible for loading the truck (again, not necessarily the driver); or

  • The local, state, or federal government, if the accident was caused by road conditions or, for example, a defective traffic signal.

Trucking companies, as well as their insurers, often conduct their own “analysis” of the accident that is designed to put victims at a disadvantage. Unlike you, a large trucking company is going to be involved in numerous accidents and will have protocols already in place to start gathering evidence, restrict driver witness statements, and make sure their driver and maintenance logs are secured. A victim of a trucking accident needs an experienced Burlingame truck accident attorney such as Mr. Shapiro to be on your side because the opposition already has professionals working on their side whether you know it or not.

While truck operators are professional drivers, who need special class licenses, they often travel long distances and drive many hours. Sometimes these companies have their drivers violate the law by not allowing for proper breaks for sleep. Mr. Shapiro has handled a number of cases involving truck drivers who have either fallen asleep at the wheel or drove in a manner only explained by fatigue. Companies may want to hide these facts often unable to produce the required records which show their negligence. After reviewing the efforts of the California Highway Patrol, our skilled and committed Burlingame truck accident attorney will determine what additional investigation is needed to truly explain not only what happened but why it happened. 

Do I automatically win if the defendant was charged with DUI at the scene of the accident?

Not automatically, but your chances of victory will be looking pretty good if that happens. You might even be able to seek punitive damages. The other driver might defend, however, by claiming that the accident was your fault, or that his own intoxication was not the cause of the accident.  But generally juries look disfavorably on drunk drivers and therefore insurance companies tend to avoid going to trial when the defendant was charged with a DUI.

What regulations govern commercial trucking?

Commercial truckers are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations and state regulations. A new state trucking law, set to go into effect in 2020, has been heavily criticized by independent truckers who fear that it is so restrictive that they will no longer be able to operate in California. The law would make it easier for accident victims to sue the trucking company that the driver works for as well as the driver.

I am suing a truck driver for wrongful death, but he was acquitted of manslaughter charges in criminal court. Does the acquittal doom my wrongful death claim?

No, not necessarily. All an acquittal in criminal court says is that the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed criminal negligence. What you are trying to prove, however, is that the defendant committed ordinary negligence.  For a civil case, you don’t need to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. You only have to meet the easier standard of “more likely than not”.

18-wheeler Accidents

Sometimes, 18-wheeler accidents happen without driver error. These large tractor-trailers are complicated machines which require regular maintenance to make sure they are working properly and safely. For example, trucks should be inspected to ensure the functionality of all parts including steering, brake lights, mirrors, brakes, fluid levels, and the engine. If the required maintenance, including inspections and part replacements, are not performed in a timely manner then malfunctions can occur resulting in deadly consequences. Thorough records should be kept so that any malfunction can be properly traced to the prior history. 

Trucking accidents involve unique laws and therefore require special legal experience. Just as a typical automobile collision fact pattern must be reviewed in relation to the California Vehicle Code, a trucking accident fact pattern must be reviewed in relation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. For example, Federal regulations include weight limits depending on the size of the truck, regulate the hours to drive and sleep, etc. So this is not the type of case you should be considering handling on your own for yourself or a loved one.

Types of Trucking Accidents

Jackknife Accidents

Jackknife accidents are one of the most common types of trucking accidents. They can be caused by:

  • Sloppy maneuvering
  • Wheels locking up
  • Malfunctioning brakes
  • Speeding
  • Other equipment malfunctions
  • Hazardous weather conditions
  • Road debris or unstable cargo

In such a crash, the driver typically brakes hard and/or suddenly. With the weight of the trailer being so much heavier than the cab of the truck, the sudden braking causes the cab to stop much faster than the trailer – which often continues its forward trajectory until the cab and trailer are at a 90-degree angle.

As you can imagine, this is incredibly dangerous. When jackknifing occurs, the driver has utterly lost control of the truck and trailer.  Nearby cars are at great risk of sliding under (i.e., underriding) the truck or slamming into the out-of-control trailer.

Blind Spot Crashes

Due to their size, semi-trucks have enormous blind spots. When a driver is inexperienced or simply not paying enough attention, they may fail to properly check their blind spot before attempting to change lanes. This typically ends with the unsuspecting car getting side-swiped.

Wide Turns

When a large truck has to make a right-hand turn, the driver must often “swing left” to give themselves enough room to turn right.  Careless truck drivers can crash into smaller vehicles if they are not very careful and make sure no one is in the way as they perform this swing to the left.

Runaway Trucks

When a large truck is going down a hill, it can be difficult to maintain a safe speed. The weight of the vehicle couples with gravity to make the truck go much faster than anticipated. This can lead to the loss of control of the truck and potentially catastrophic crashes.

Example of a Typical Truck Accident Case

An overloaded truck causes a tire blowout, which in turn causes the driver to lose control of the truck and smash into the plaintiff’s automobile, thereby causing serious injury to the plaintiff. The trucking company, which loaded the truck, is found to have violated federal commercial trucking regulations. The auto shop responsible for maintaining the truck failed to change the tire which was worn.  The driver is found to have been driving beyond his allotted maximum hours without sufficient sleep. The truck driver, the auto shop, and the trucking company may all be found liable for the plaintiff’s serious damages.

Contact Our Burlingame 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney Today

If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident, contact our Burlingame 18-wheeler accident lawyer to discuss your needs and compensation for the injury.

Shapiro Legal Group also handles a wide variety of personal injury cases in Burlingame, CA cases, such as:

Call our Burlingame truck accident lawyer at the Shapiro Legal Group today at 650-274-0180 or fill out the online form for a free consultation with an  to protect your rights and make sure the trucking company is held accountable.

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851 Burlway Rd, #500, Burlingame, CA 94010
| Phone: 650-274-0180

Automobile Accidents | Brain Injuries | Burn and Scar Injuries | Defective Products | Dog Bites | Elevator Accidents | Government Claims | Motorcycle Accidents | Pedestrian Accidents | Personal Injury | Spinal Cord Injuries | Slip/Trip and Fall | Truck Accidents | Wrongful Death | Prior Results | About

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