Sacramento Truck Accident Attorneys – Proven and Professional Truck Accident Experience
Sacramento is a major artery between Southern California and the northwest. Trucks also regularly travel through Sacramento to San Francisco and to the East Coast. Unfortunately, the high volume of traffic causes many major truck accidents, especially on I-5 and Highway 99.
Whether you’re in an accident with a large 18-wheeler/semi-truck, commercial truck, or even a bus, the injuries are usually extremely serious. These types of accidents are best handled by a Sacramento truck accident attorney because a truck accident lawyer can collect evidence, review what caused the truck accident, and research the trucking company and/or history of prior accidents to preserve information for your case.
Truck Accident Attorneys Gather Critical Evidence for Truck Accident Cases
If you were involved in a truck accident, your Sacramento truck accident lawyer should have access to plenty of evidence. These accidents tend to offer more evidence than traditional car accidents. The root cause(s) of most accidents are generally broken into four basic categories: fatigue, speeding, cell phone use (distracted driving), and mechanical failure. The evidence needed to prove the root cause(s) of a truck accident can vary dramatically. Evidence usually includes:
- Log Books: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all large, commercial, and semi-truck drivers to keep a logbook and be prepared to provide that log book to authorities after an accident. These log books contain important information that could help a truck accident attorney prove a case. This information includes the drivers’ compliance, or lack thereof, with the Federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules. Information that is kept in the log book includes the time the driver was off-duty, on-duty, in a sleeper berth, and actual driving time. These time records are critical because they assist a truck accident lawyer in establishing driver fatigue as a cause for the accident.
- Event Data Recorder (Black Box): In addition to reviewing the driver’s log book after an accident, it is important for a truck accident attorney to determine if the truck has an event data recorder. An event data recorder is much like a black box on an airplane. Its reports are typically reviewed by a truck accident lawyer to determine speeds, acceleration, deceleration, deployment of restraints, and similar information on the truck.
- Cell Phone Records: Distracted driving, especially because of cell phone use, is a major cause of these accidents. In many cases, truck accident attorneys can match cell phone records with time-stamps on driving logs or event data recorders to help establish the cause of the accident.
- GPS Devices: Our commercial truck accident attorneys will inquire if the truck was equipped with a GPS device. Truck owners, leasing companies, and truck accident attorneys use these devices to track the whereabouts of the trucks. These GPS devices can be cross-checked with the log books to determine if the log book has been manipulated.
- SWITRS Report: California also maintains a record system that is commonly referred to as SWITRS. SWITRS stands for the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. For a small fee, the California Highway Patrol will provide truck accident lawyers with a listing of accidents that occurred near the location your accident occurred. This information can help determine if truck accidents regularly occur at that location on the highway.
- Traffic Collision Report (Police/CHP Report): A truck accident lawyer also has access to the traffic collision report, or police report. This report will provide truck accident attorneys with statements from the driver immediately after the accident, measurements of skid marks, location of debris after the accident, and potentially identify witnesses.
A personal injury attorney usually obtains the police report but our truck accident attorneys understand this report is only a small part of the necessary evidence needed to prepare a truck accident case. That is why it’s important to hire a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney.
Typical Causes of a Truck Accident
Root causes of truck accidents and what’s described in the California Highway Patrol Traffic Collision Report can vary. For example, the root cause may be fatigue, speeding, cell phone use (distracted driving), or mechanical failure. The reported cause of the accident is usually described as: following too close for conditions, improper passing, improper turning, unsafe lane change, unsafe speed, or fell asleep.
- Following too close for conditions: California Vehicle Code 21703 states: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.” The statute is intentionally vague as to what is “too close” because the term can vary dramatically based on the road, weather, and traffic conditions. However, if a truck rear-ends a car, a truck accident lawyer should be able to establish that the truck was in violation of this section of the law.
- Improper passing: There are nine typical Vehicle Code Sections that encompass most improper passing situations. Those sections include California Vehicle Code Sections 21750 to 21758. The most generic and broadest is Vehicle Code 21750. It states, “The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle, subject to the limitations and exceptions set forth in this article.” Other common sections used by truck accident lawyers during trials include codes about two lane roads, curves, railroad tracks, left-turn lanes, and proper signaling.
- Improper turning: Improper turning violations are more common on city streets. As truck accident attorneys, we typically see two main variations. These include: making an illegal turn when it is prohibited by law or making an unsafe turn. California Vehicle Code 21801(a) is very clear about U-turns. It states that when making a U-turn, commercial trucks “shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.”
- Unsafe Speed: Our truck accident attorneys see this reason most in semi-truck accidents. There is a misconception that you can drive as fast as you want as long as it is below the posted speed limit. However, the law is much more restrictive, and prohibits a truck from driving “at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, the surface and with of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” Consequently, the law is clear that just because the posted sign might limit speed to 55 miles per hour, you are not allowed to drive that fast if it is unsafe. This is particularly relevant during snow and ice conditions across Sacramento’s Interstate 5 and Highway 50, as well as during rush hour traffic in the downtown Sacramento area.
As truck accident lawyers, we are familiar with a variety of injuries arising from truck vs. car wrecks. If you were in an accident with an 18-wheeler, semi-truck, commercial truck, or a bus, we hope you will contact one of our truck accident lawyers immediately. We can assist in the collection of evidence, review the cause of the accident, and we can research the trucking company and area of road history for information to properly substantiate and prove your personal injury case.