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Truck Accidents Attorney Santa Barbara

Written by: Portrait Photo Of Tyrone J. Maho Tyrone J. Maho

The trucking industry is vital for America’s economy because it is responsible for transporting vital retail goods across the country. Without trucking companies, retailers would have nothing to sell, and that would bring the nation’s economy to a standstill. Even though trucks are a vital part of the American economy, they can also be very dangerous, and it is easy to see why; trucks are much bigger and heavier than most other vehicles on the road, which means that if a car or any other smaller vehicle collides with a truck, then they will be much worse off.

If a truck gets into an accident with another vehicle, then the consequences could be devastating. The accident victims could be severely injured, and the car could be completely totaled. That means the victims of a truck accident would have many losses, but if the truck driver’s negligence was responsible for the accident, they would not have to pay for those losses out of their own pocket. That is because they are entitled to receive compensation from the insurance company of the trucking company responsible for the accident.

However, if they want the best chance of getting that compensation, it is best to hire a personal injury attorney to represent them. And if the accident took place in Santa Barbara, then the attorneys of Maho Prentice, LLC will be there to help them. That is because Maho Prentice, LLC is a personal injury law firm that has several knowledgeable, dedicated, and highly experienced attorneys who are ready and willing to take any truck accident case. 

We know that the victims of truck accidents will have a lot of expenses like medical bills and repair bills that they need to take care of, and we will fight to get them the compensation they need. So, if you were injured in a Santa Barbara truck accident caused by the truck driver’s negligence, contact Maho Prentice, LLC to get the help you need.

Photo of a Turned Over Truck

Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Santa Barbara

Truck accidents happen for many of the same reasons that regular car accidents do, but some accident situations are unique to large trucks and their drivers:

Speeding – A truck that is traveling too fast has a much longer stopping distance, which means that a driver may not be able to avoid an emergency situation even if they hit the brakes in time. Furthermore, the truck driver’s reaction times may not be fast enough if the truck is going too quickly. All of these factors increase the chance of a crash happening if the truck driver is speeding.

Drowsy Driving – Truck drivers tend to work long hours, which means they could get tired while they are behind the wheel. That could lead to an accident if the driver drifts in and out of consciousness. Even though the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has a rule prohibiting tired drivers from operating their vehicles, some truck drivers will ignore those rules and drive for longer than they should.

Distracted Driving – Certain behaviors like texting while driving, personal grooming, eating or drinking, and so on are mostly associated with car drivers, but truck drivers sometimes indulge in those kinds of behaviors too. When they drive while distracted, it is highly likely that they could end up causing a serious truck accident because they are not paying attention to the road.

Driving While Intoxicated – It is highly irresponsible and illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or heavy medication, but that behavior is even worse when the offender is driving a multi-ton commercial truck. If an intoxicated driver starts driving erratically or fails to respond to an emergency situation in time, then that could lead to a huge accident.

Poorly Loaded Cargo – If the cargo that a truck is carrying is too heavy or not loaded properly, then that could cause an imbalance that makes the truck much harder to handle. That could cause an accident if the driver is unable to retain control of their vehicle.

Equipment Failure – A commercial truck needs to be in top condition when its driver takes it out on the road. If there is a failure in a vital component like the tires or the brakes, then that could cause an accident because the driver could lose control.

Poor Weather – Weather like heavy rain or snow decreases visibility and makes the road more slippery. Both of those conditions could create a dangerous situation for drivers if they are not careful.

Photo of Flat Tire of an Old Fragment

Types of Truck Accidents in Santa Barbara

Some of the accidents that large trucks can get into are the same as the types of accidents smaller vehicles can get into, but there are some kinds of accidents that are unique to trucks. But no matter the kind of accident, there is a chance that it could end up being extremely destructive:

Rear-End Collisions – This happens when trucks crash into the rear of other vehicles. The large size and weight of commercial trucks mean that other vehicles and their occupants could suffer tremendous damage in the accident.

Head-on Collisions – This type of truck accident happens when a truck crashes into a car that is headed towards it. Whether it is the car that drifted out of its lane or the truck that drifted out of its lane, it can cause enough devastation that a fatality is a real possibility. Fortunately, this kind of truck accident is relatively rare in Santa Barbara, CA, and the rest of the country.

Jackknife Accidents – This happens when a truck brakes too hard and causes the trailer it is towing to swing in towards the cab. This can be very dangerous because the swinging trailer could crash into other vehicles or cause further accidents.

Rollover Accidents – As the name suggests, this is when a truck rolls over onto its side. This can happen due to a jackknife accident or because of some other incident that causes the truck driver to lose control. This kind of accident can be dangerous because the truck could hit other vehicles while it is rolling over, or the contents of the trailer could spill out onto the road.

Underride Accidents – This happens when cars or smaller vehicles run into the back of a trailer being towed by a truck. The height of the trailer means that the car could get wedged underneath it, which could cause the people inside of it to get injured.

Blind Spot Accidents – Trucks have significant blind spots because of their height and size and it is easy for their drivers to lose sight of smaller vehicles. When that happens, the truck could easily collide with the smaller vehicle. 

Who Is Liable For a Santa Barbara Truck Accident

Whenever a truck accident occurs because the driver was negligent, the company that the driver works for can typically be held liable. An exception is if the driver is an independent contractor, in which case they will be held liable for the accident. However, most truck drivers work for trucking companies, which is why liability usually lies with the company. That is one of the reasons why it is highly recommended that the victims of truck accidents hire a truck accident lawyer to help them with their case. It can be difficult to face a trucking company alone, but an experienced truck accident attorney will not be afraid to take them on.

Another reason to hire a truck accident attorney is that the liability may not necessarily lie with the trucking company. The attorney can help identify the responsible party and hold them accountable. For example, if the accident was the result of cargo that was too heavy or not loaded properly, then the party responsible for loading the trailer is liable. If the accident was the result of equipment failure, like a tire blowout or brake failure, then different parties could potentially be responsible, which is why a lawyer is needed to find out who was responsible. 

It is up to trucking companies to perform regular inspections and maintenance on their fleet of vehicles. If they failed to properly fulfill those obligations and an accident happened as a result, then they should be held liable. However, if they did their due diligence, but an accident happened because a vital component failed, then the manufacturer of that component should be held liable.

Special and General Damages

In personal injury cases like truck accidents, the victim will likely have both special and general damages for which they need to be compensated. Special damages are the losses that have an economic value, such as medical bills for the victim’s injuries, repair or replacement costs for damaged property, lost wages if the victim’s injuries prevent them from working, or any other out-of-pocket out of pocket expenses. Since truck accidents are capable of causing serious injuries and property damage, the special damages in such a case could be quite high.

General damages are for intangible losses that do not have a set monetary value. They can include things like mental anguish, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and so on. The dollar amount of general damages is decided by the various parties involved in the case, but they all have to agree on the final amount. However, the general damages in a case are usually higher than the special damages. 

The state of California also has a category called exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages. They are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather are meant to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases and are only awarded when the defendant’s conduct was particularly careless or reprehensible.

Photo of Collision of a Semi Truck

State and Federal Regulations for Commercial Truck Operators in Santa Barbara, CA

All trucks and commercial vehicles are subject to strict regulations that govern their safety, maintenance, and other factors. These protocols are meant to protect the public from the dangers of truck collisions that can cause severe injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, not all truck operators and trucking companies comply with these rules, and often cut corners to save time or money.

Our seasoned truck accident attorneys at Maho Prentice, LLP have in-depth knowledge of the applicable state and federal laws enforced by the relevant authorities. In order to establish whether the trucking company and the driver violated any of the following laws, we will investigate thoroughly and make sure you are compensated accordingly.

Truck size and weight limits

Truck operators have to comply with the maximum height, width, length, and weight limits for their vehicles, as specified by the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

For example, the maximum height limit is 14 feet, the maximum width limit is 8.5 feet, the maximum length limit for single unit vehicles is 40 feet (with some exceptions), and the maximum overall weight limit is 80,000 pounds. Truck operators also have to follow the kingpin-to-rear-axle (KPRA) length limit of 40 feet in California.

Truck safety and maintenance

Making sure that their trucks are safe, well-maintained, and pass the required inspections is another important responsibility of a truck operator. They must also check the vehicle at the beginning of each shift, and report any defects or malfunctions to their employer or mechanic. Safety rules for brakes, tires, lights, horns, mirrors, windshield wipers, fire extinguishers, emergency equipment, and cargo securement must also be followed.

Driver qualifications and training

Every truck driver must undergo periodic drug and alcohol testing, and complete the mandatory training on safe driving practices, hours of service rules, hazardous materials regulations, and other topics. They have to carry their commercial driver’s license (CDL), medical certificate, and other documents with them at all times.

Hours of service

As per the law, every truck driver must take rest breaks and off-duty periods from time to time. These “hours of service” rules are designed to prevent driver fatigue and improve road safety. The basic hours of service for property-carrying drivers are:

  • A maximum of 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • A maximum of 14 hours of on-duty time (including driving) after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • A minimum of 30 minutes of rest break after 8 hours of driving
  • A maximum of 60 hours of on-duty time in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days
  • A restart provision that allows drivers to reset their weekly cycle by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty that include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Hazardous materials

If a truck operator is transporting hazardous materials (HM), they have to follow additional regulations that govern factors like the classification, packaging, labeling, documentation, registration, security, and emergency response of HM shipments.

They also have to obtain a HM endorsement on their CDL, complete specialized training on HM handling and transportation, and carry shipping papers and emergency information with them. Some types of HM are prohibited or restricted on certain routes or tunnels in California. For example, explosives, flammables, liquified petroleum gas or poisonous gas are not allowed in the Caldecott Tunnel or the Tom Lantos Tunnel.

Photo of a Truck Accident Scene

Evidence Required to Prove Negligence in Truck Accident Cases

To prove negligence of the truck operator, the trucking company and other defendants, you need to show that they had a legal duty to drive safely and reasonably, but failed to do so, and this failure caused your accident. Some of the evidence that can help you prove this include:

  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Video footage of the accident from traffic cameras, dash cameras, and security cameras
  • Expert testimony from accident reconstructionists, trucking safety specialists, or other professionals
  • Police report that assigns fault to the truck driver or cites them for any traffic violations related to the crash
  • Truck driver’s logbook, electronic data recorder (EDR), and/or other records that can show any hours-of-service violations, mechanical failures, cargo issues, or other factors that may have contributed to the truck driver’s negligence
  • Truck driver’s medical records, drug test results, employment history, training records, etc. that can show any impairments that may have affected the driver’s performance

Contact Maho Prentice, LLC If You Were in a Santa Barbara Truck Accident

The injuries a person can suffer in a truck crash can be devastating and even life-threatening. That is why anyone who was injured in such an accident deserves compensation for their losses. If that truck accident happened in Santa Barbara, CA, and was caused by the driver’s negligence, then we at Maho Prentice, LLC can help you with the injury claim process. That is because we are a personal injury law firm whose attorneys have extensive experience with truck accident cases.

If you were in an accident in Santa Barbara involving a commercial truck, then you will need the help of a truck accident lawyer because the case could get more complicated than a regular car accident. Your injuries are likely to be more extensive, and your car could suffer enough damage that repair costs would be very expensive, in fact, you may need to have it replaced altogether. Furthermore, your injuries could prevent you from being able to work for quite some time. Plus, there is the fact that the liable party in a truck crash may not always be obvious. Fortunately, an attorney from Maho Prentice, LLC will be able to help you with those various problems.

We can help identify the party responsible for the accident; we can help to gather evidence that proves their liability; we can help you to calculate all of your damages; and we can negotiate with the insurance company of the liable party to make sure that they offer you a fair settlement. The attorneys of Maho Prentice, LLC can help you no matter the circumstances. So if you suffered any injuries or property damage in a truck crash in Santa Barbara, California, then contact Maho Prentice, LLC to get the help that you need.