Every year, California sees a significant number of truck accidents, specifically commercial motor vehicle accidents. According to statistics, there are nearly 3,000 CMV accidents every year, killing 200-300 people, and leaving even more drivers with extensive injuries to recover from.
All too often, these truck accidents are caused by either mechanical failures or failing to follow posted traffic laws. This accounts for more than 55% of truck accidents. Whether it’s because the drivers are pushed too hard or simply get careless, the results are often severe.
In this guide, we will share more information about dealing with truck accidents in California. If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact a Sacramento truck accident lawyer to learn more about your options.
What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?
When referring to truck accidents in this guide, we are specifically referring to commercial motor vehicles, which are most commonly semi trucks. However, there are other vehicles that can fall under this category as well.
These are the vehicles this guide includes:
- Semi trucks (trailer or no trailer)
- Any delivery truck that weighs over 10,000 pounds (with load included in weight)
- Any bus that carries 8+ passengers and charges a fare
- Any bus that carries 14+ passengers, even when no fare is charged
These types of vehicles require drivers to hold a special license, known as a CDL (commercial driver’s license). Any driver that holds a CDL through California is required to pass medical examinations, as well as drug and alcohol tests on a regular basis.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
When you break it down, there are several different causes of truck accidents that fall into different categories. The causes fall under driver, mechanical, environmental, and other categories and have specific details that fit into each category.
Here is an overview of the categories.
- Driver Causes
A driver-related truck accident occurs at the fault of the driver. It may be an error or carelessness that leads to an accident. This particular category accounts for nearly 50% of all truck accidents.
These are some of the most common driver causes:
- Inattentive driving
- Driver fatigue
- Use of prescriptions or OTC drugs
- Being unfamiliar with the location
While driver error does occur and accounts for the largest majority of truck accidents, it is also important to note that most truck accidents are not caused by aggressive driving practices, distracted driving, or intoxication. This is a big difference from everyday car accidents and their causes.
- Mechanical Causes
Truck companies and the truck drivers are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are properly maintained and cared for to avoid mechanical issues on the road. However, it just doesn’t always happen. A truck company or an independent driver that fails to maintain a vehicle could receive major fines or even get shut down.
Mechanical issues cause a small percentage of accidents, but they are still an issue. These issues include the following:
- Brake failure
- Wheel and tire failure
- Steering issues
- Breakdowns caused by engines or transmissions
These causes are only related to about 5% of all truck accidents.
- Environmental Causes
Truck drivers undergo extensive training to even receive their CDLs, but they drive large vehicles that can be far more challenging to control. They travel all over the world and through different terrain and climates. Issues such as weather, traffic conditions, and road conditions can sometimes cause truck drivers to lose control or cause an accident.
Most of the time, these accidents are simply unavoidable or may require extra caution from the driver. But when they occur, they are often more severe because of the loss of control of the driver.
Common causes include:
- Traffic congestion
- Slick or icy roads
- Loss of visibility due to weather conditions
- High winds
These accidents account for only about 1% of all truck accidents.
- Other Miscellaneous Causes
In addition to the categories and causes shared above, there are some additional issues that can lead to truck accidents. These account for less than 1% of all accidents.
The causes include:
- Loads that are shifting while driving
- Loads that are not properly secured
- Illness of the driver
Truck Accident Injury and Fatality Statistics
While there are sometimes fatalities related to truck accidents, approximately 97% of these accidents result in non-fatal injuries. Those injuries can cover a broad spectrum, and close to 40% experience either incapacitating or severe but non-incapacitating injuries.
Approximately 60% of truck accidents lead to possible injuries that are not severe, but they are injuries nonetheless and will require treatment for medical needs.
What to Do When You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
As part of the legal process, you will need to be able to prove liability of the truck driver or the trucking company if you have an injury and want to file a suit. Your lawyer can help you establish this liability and pull together any required documentation or proof for your case.
The best thing that you can do is find experienced Sacramento truck accident lawyers to help with your case. They will know your options and can walk you through every step of the process.