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Southern California’s 5 Most Dangerous Highways

truck desertLos Angeles County again ranks number one in California for having the highest rate of traffic fatalities. In 2016, according to the most recent available data from the National Highway Safety Administration, 3,623 Californians died in motor vehicle accidents. More than 790 of those deaths took place in L.A. County — marking a 22 percent uptick in the past four years.

As any local resident knows, Southern California’s highways are congested and fraught with dangers, including poor road conditions, sharp curves, fatigued truck drivers, distracted motorists and drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol.

Some freeways and interstates are more hazardous than others. Here are five of the region’s most dangerous highways.

Southern California’s deadliest highways

Take extra precautions when driving on the following roads.

  1. Interstate 10 – The I-10 has the distinction of being Los Angeles’ first freeway. This busy interstate highway is notorious for its disproportionately high number of vehicle accidents and fatalities. Owing to the high traffic volume and speeding drivers, it comes as no surprise that Interstate 10 is a common site of single vehicle and commercial truck crashes.
  2. State Road 138- According to federal crash data, State Road 138, which runs through parts of L.A. and San Bernardino Counties, is among Southern California’s most dangerous routes. Sections of the road are infamous for the steep mountainous terrain, sharp turns and sheer drop-offs. Rt 138 has been called “Death Trap Highway,” because of its high number of traffic fatalities.
  3. Interstate 5 – Linking San Diego up through Redding and beyond, the I-5 is an integral part of the California Freeway system, hosting more than 1 million motorists each day. This major coastal freeway is home to dozens of fatal accidents annually, particularly in Orange County where large numbers of 18-wheelers increase the risk of serious collisions.
  4. Interstate 15 – The I-15 is a well-traveled state highway that connects San Bernadino, San Diego and Riverside Counties. The stretch between Las Vegas and Los Angeles has been ranked one of the deadliest roads in the U.S. by the Scripps Howard News Service.
  5. State Route 126 – This scenic road that follows the Santa Clara River through Ventura and L.A. Counties has been dubbed “Bloody Alley,” thanks to its long history of gruesome traffic accidents. There is a 7-mile stretch of 126 from Hallock Drive in Santa Paula to E Street in Fillmore that is particularly dangerous. Many of the collisions involve speeding drivers and slow-moving agricultural vehicles that are common in the area.

Free consultation with Los Angeles car accident attorneys

Unfortunately, some of these dangerous roads are used by daily commuters, while others are preferred routes for outings farther afield. Whether caused by road debris, poor navigability or inattentive drivers, vehicle accidents on these busy freeways frequently result in catastrophic or fatal injuries.

If you or a loved one were injured by a negligent driver in California, monetary damages may be available to pay for your lost wages, hospital bills, loss of future earnings, and emotional pain and suffering. In the wake of any type of vehicle crash, you need to speak with an experienced Los Angeles truck accident attorney who has the resources and knowledge to get serious results.

Ellis Injury Law is an award-winning personal injury firm boasting 25 years of successful case results. Schedule a free consultation today by calling our Los Angeles headquarters at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources on California’s Dangerous Highways:

  1. CBS News, Fatal highways: America’s 9 most dangerous places for drivers https://www.cbsnews.com/media/fatal-highways-americas-9-most-dangerous-places-for-drivers/
  2. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts for California 2012-2016 https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest?_program=%2FProduction%2FApps%2FSTSI%2FCountyList
  3. VCReporter, Highway 126 remains a dangerous problem https://www.vcreporter.com/2016/10/blood-alley-highway-126-remains-a-dangerous-problem/

5 Safety Tips for Driving Around Big Trucks

truck desertIf you live in Southern California, you are no stranger to driving around commercial vehicles including big trucks, tractor trailers and buses. The average passenger car weighs 4,000 pounds while an 18-wheeler tips the scales at nearly 80,000 pounds. It’s no wonder that when the two collide, life-threatening injuries result. While many truck accident fatalities are attributed to drowsy truckers on long hauls, shifting cargo or even brake failure, recent studies indicate that passenger car drivers may be equally to blame.

Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take to avoid becoming another statistic. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers some tips that highlight the importance of driving cautiously around semis and large commercial vehicles.

Semi-trucks have unique challenges

18-wheelers and large trucks have special considerations to be aware of:

  • Huge blind spots, known as “No Zones”– Compared to passenger vehicles, truck drivers have a reduced field of vision thanks to multiple blind spots in front and behind their rigs, and along both sides.
  • Wider turning radius – Semi trucks have a turning radius of nearly 55 feet and need extra space to make turns, particularly right hand turns
  • Longer stopping times – An 18-wheeler that is traveling 65 mph will need 200 yards (equivalent to 2 football fields) to stop
  • Reduced maneuverability – Due to the large surface area of the rig, truck drivers have less control over their vehicles during windy conditions. In addition, semis have slower reaction times

Tips for safely driving around big trucks

Avoid a potentially dangerous truck crash by following these 5 safety tips:

  1. Never drive in a truck’s No Zones – Remember that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror, he can’t see you either. Avoid driving in these blind spots.
  2. Learn to pass safely – Avoid passing tractor trailers on a downgrade and always try and pass on the left side. Put your turn signal on early and make sure you see the driver in the mirror before passing
  3. Stay back and allow extra space – Large commercial vehicle need extra space and time to stop, slow down and turn. Maintain a safe distance (10 car length gap) and never tailgate
  4. Don’t cut in too close – Heavy trucks take 40 percent longer to stop than the average vehicle. Allow ample space when merging or changing lanes to avoid a crash.
  5. Maintain a consistent speed around large trucks and be sure to adjust according to weather and road conditions

By understanding the operational limitations of large trucks, passenger vehicle drivers can exercise more caution and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Free consult with California truck accident lawyers

Ellis Law truck accident attorneys represent personal injury victims throughout Southern California. If you or a loved one was seriously harmed in a commercial vehicle crash, we invite you to reach out for a free case evaluation. Call our Los Angeles headquarters today at 1-800-INJURED.  

Additional Resources for Driving Safely Near Large Trucks:

  1. FMCSA, Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses
  2. Life Hacker, A Trucker’s Best Safety Tips for Driving Around a Big Rig on the Highway http://lifehacker.com/a-truckers-best-safety-tips-for-driving-around-a-big-ri-1734797722
  3. State Farm, Safely Share the Road with Large Trucks https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/safety/safely-share-the-road-with-large-trucks

Common Lawsuit Tricks Used by Trucking Companies

Big rig semi truckThroughout all of California, Los Angeles County has one of the highest rates of fatalities in crashes involving large commercial trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 18 wheelers, semi-trucks, flat beds, tractor trailers and other kinds of big rigs tip the scales at more than 80,000 pounds, so it comes as no surprise that truck accidents are some of the most catastrophic, often causing severe, disabling injuries.

Getting hurt in a truck accident is traumatic enough, but getting swindled out of a fair injury settlement can make an already dire situation even more unbearable. Trucking is big business in America, and the trucking industry is no stranger to personal injury litigation. The unfortunate reality is that trucking companies and their insurance adjustors employ several tricks to minimize payouts, leaving victims and their families on the hook for costly hospital bills, treatment fees, repairs, lost wages and other damages.

Trucking companies may not play fair

Attorneys who specialize in commercial vehicle accidents have first-hand knowledge of the tricks used by trucking companies, their legal counsel and insurers to minimize settlements in injury claims. In the wake of an accident, don’t be fooled by the friendly phone call or email from a “third-party” insurance rep or risk manager who seems to care about your future — their primary goal is to limit payouts. These professionals will use every tool at their disposal to deny/delay your claim and do not have your best interests at heart.

Protect your rights to fair compensation by working with a reputable Los Angeles truck accident lawyer who knows how to level the playing field. The following are five of the most commonly used strategies and lawsuit tricks to watch out for.

  • Getting you to make a recorded statement that undermines your claim for compensation. This is often done under the pretense of helping claimants get a quick settlement paycheck. There is no law that says you must provide a recorded statement, so if a claims adjustor asks for one, it’s best to decline and speak to your attorney instead.
  • Encouraging claimants to delay their medical care or treatment, then arguing that the victim’s injuries were not related to the accident but were due to a pre-existing condition.
  • Offering a quick but low settlement that does not adequately reflect the true value of your injuries and financial losses, which may take weeks or even months to be realized. A good attorney can ensure you get all the money damages you are entitled to and can maximize the value of your claim.
  • Altering evidence or providing misinformation to the courts. Vital trucking logs are frequently “lost,” and other documents that might indicate negligence go missing. Your attorney’s private investigators can take proactive steps to prevent this from happening.
  • Delaying your case by requesting more time to gather evidence, documents or records. Any excuse to push your mediation or trial date back further and delay your day in court. This tactic can be especially frustrating as expenses pile up, but a good lawyer will stay on top of your case, making sure that justice prevails.

Ellis Law attorneys on your side

When going up against trucking companies, you need a seasoned advocate in your corner who knows how to navigate the often deceitful tactics used to deny or delay claims. Recorded statements can haunt you later, and always refrain from signing anything until your attorney has reviewed it.

Ellis Injury Law is one of the leading truck accident law firms in California, and has procured more than re than $350 million on behalf of clients. Schedule a free, no-obligation case review by calling 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources:

  1. Disabled World.com, Tricks Insurance Companies Use Against Car Accident Victims https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/accidents/tricks.php
  2. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Performance (Core Outcome) Measures California https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest
  3. FMCA, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015

The Dangers of Falling Truck Debris

Truck and highwayRoughly 50,568 crashes happened annually as a result of debris falling from another vehicle into a roadway in the United States from 2011 to 2014, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Those debris-caused accidents were responsible for 125 deaths and more than 9,800 injuries every year.

Debris-related accidents four times more likely on interstate highways

While the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety does not break out the incidents of debris falling from trucks versus debris falling from other vehicles, we at the Ellis Law Firm want to warn southern Californians that, because of the high volumes of cargo being carried on large trucks, debris falling from trucks is both more dangerous and likely more prevalent than those from any other type of vehicle.

The AAA study showed, moreover, that debris-caused accidents were four times more likely to happen on interstate highways than on other types of roads. Given the prevalence of interstate highways in the Los Angeles region, the danger to southern Californians increases.

While the state of California spends approximately $52 million every year to make sure there is not debris on the roadways, many factors combine to make the battle against debris a losing one.

Improper Loading, Tire Condition a Factor

Trucks carry multiple loads of cargo through southern California every day. If the load is improperly loaded and not secured sufficiently, cargo can fall off. Even pieces of packing material or straps used to secure the products can fly from the vehicle.

If it does, it falls onto the roadway. If cars strike the objects, the effect can be a severe vehicle crash.

The AAA points out, though, that while many accidents are caused by a vehicle striking debris, many others stem from motorist’s attempts to avoid debris. They may brake or swerve to avoid flying, falling, or mid-lane debris. As a result, their vehicles may hit other vehicles, barriers, road dividers, or other non-debris-related objects.

Trucks also have large tires. If their tires are improperly maintained or the load is too heavy for the tires, the tires can blow out or lose tread significantly. The result? Tire debris on California’s roadways. Tire debris can be just as dangerous as falling objects and packing material.

Determining negligence in a debris accident

Legal cases involving truck debris accidents are complicated. Trucks can be loaded and maintained by the companies that own them, the drivers, or numerous contractors and subcontractors. In a personal injury case, parties must be determined to have known or to have had ample opportunity to know that a truck was not safe, and have failed to rectify the situation.

As a result, cases involving truck debris must be investigated by seasoned personnel who know the ins and outs of the law.

Ellis Law Firm attorneys have decades of experience investigating and litigating collisions and accidents involving truck debris. While the law and possible causes are complex, we fight for your rights. Please call today for a complimentary consultation about your case with experienced Los Angeles truck accident lawyers.

We can be reached at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “falling truck debris” resources:

  1. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014.” https://www.aaafoundation.org/prevalence-motor-vehicle-crashes-involving-road-debris-united-states-2011-2014
  2. “CHP, Caltrans Warn Drivers of Danger of the Dangers of Road Debris.” CBS Los Angeles. July 18, 2013. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/07/18/chp-caltrans-warn-drivers-of-the-dangers-of-road-debris/
  3. “Driver Killed Instantly in Freak Accident on California Freeway.” CBS News. May 18, 2017. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/freak-accident-california-freeway-driver-killed-flying-tire-newhall/

Squeeze Play Accidents: When Truck Drivers Put You at Risk

truck desertSemi-trucks, 18 wheelers and tractor trailers require special maneuvering on the highway because of their extreme size and length, with some big rigs measuring more than 60 feet long. Negotiating turns is a particularly tricky task for truck drivers who must give their vehicle sufficient space to avoid a rollover.

What is a “squeeze play” accident?

When a big rig begins to make a right turn, the driver has to swing the cab slightly to the left in order to allow sufficient room for the trailer to clear the turn. Unfortunately, passenger vehicle drivers may be unaware of this tactic, especially when the truck driver fails to signal his impending move. Motorists may think that the semi is making a simple lane change, and then attempt to pass the truck on the right, finding themselves caught in a perilous situation, known as a “squeeze play.”

While the passenger vehicle is attempting to pass the 18 wheeler, the trailer abruptly swings sharply back to the right, squeezing or sandwiching the car against the guardrail, wall or other type of roadway barrier. Given the immense size and weight of commercial trucks, squeeze play accidents frequently result in traumatic injury, property damage and –  sometimes- loss of life.

In far too many cases, truck drivers do not take their surroundings into consideration, or fail to exercise caution when attempting to make a safe right hand turn.  When negligence is to blame, victims of squeeze play accidents are entitled to make a claim for monetary compensation. Potential defendants include at-fault drivers and/or the trucking company that employs them.

Truck accidents resulting in serious injuries and death

Some of the most catastrophic traffic accidents in California involve tractor trailers. Semis weigh upwards of 60,000 pounds, and the crushing force of an 18-wheeler can demolish a car, causing severe and life-threatening injuries.  Vehicle drivers, their occupants and pedestrians may suffer broken bones, spinal cord damage, lacerations, severed limbs, third degree burns, traumatic brain injury and other types of incapacitating harm.

In the wake of such a tragedy, it’s wise to speak with a skilled truck accident lawyer to explore your options for legal recourse. A personal injury lawsuit will attempt to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including hospital and medical bills, lost income, ongoing treatments, pain and emotional suffering, in addition to compensation for a diminished quality of life.

A qualified attorney can demonstrate if a truck driver did not exercise due caution, or acted negligently when making a right hand turn, putting other motorists at risk.

Tips for avoiding a squeeze play accident

Whether you’re traveling on California’s interstate freeways or rural roads, it’s important to follow some basic tips when driving around big rigs:

  • Keep at least 4-5 car lengths between your vehicle and a tractor trailer
  • Avoid driving in a trucker’s blind spots (on both sides)
  • Anticipate which direction a truck will turn, knowing truckers will veer left before turning right
  • Never pass a tractor trailer on the right side

Commercial truck accident attorneys in California

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Ellis Injury Law works with the industry’s leading experts to build compelling evidence in all personal injury claims involving semis and commercial vehicles. Put our experience, dedication, and resources to work for you.

Schedule a no-obligation with our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers today by calling 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “Squeeze Play Truck Accidents” Resources:

  1. Edmunds.com, How to Share the Road with Truckers https://www.edmunds.com/driving-tips/how-to-share-the-road-with-truckers.html?articleid=43811
  2. OverdriveOnline.com, Trucker gets squeezed into crash in downtown delivery: Preventable or not? http://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-gets-squeezed-into-crash-in-downtown-delivery-preventable-or-not/

Why Big Rigs Crash

causes of truck accidentsWhen big rigs — tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, or 18-wheelers — crash, you often hear about it on the news. That was the case in late April 2017, when a fiery big rig accident closed all lanes of Interstate 5 in Los Angeles. Why? Because the size of big rigs makes any accident much more serious. It is much more likely to cause injuries and fatalities. It is much more likely to cause major damage to highways and property.

In addition, debris caused by a big rig crash can harm motorists and bystanders on southern California highways. Many big rig crashes cause fires, as the truck fuel ignites.

They are also complicated crashes, with more possible causes than fender-benders between cars. Here are the top reasons big rigs crash.

Truck driver error and fatigue

Driver error and driver fatigue can’t be separated in many big rig accidents. Drivers of big rigs can legally work up to 14 hours. Many are required by their companies to transport themselves to the place where they pick up their truck. As a result, they may have been awake much longer than their shift’s duration, perhaps more than 24 hours at a stretch.

Lack of sleep impairs any driver’s response time and alertness to traffic cues. It can lead to accidents.

Underinflated tires

Big rigs are complex vehicles. Safety measures like proper tire inflation matter on all vehicles, of course. But they can be major problems on big rigs, because the weight of the loads large trucks carry.

When tires are underinflated, too much surface area hits the road. That heightens the friction the tires receive. With more friction, they overheat. They can blow out as a result. A blow out can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. The truck can cross lanes or even overturn if it has not been loaded correctly. In addition, blow outs cause flying debris, which can cause injury or death.

Underinflated tires may be caused by poor maintenance. Big rig tires need to be checked regularly. However, maintenance responsibilities for big rigs are often assigned to contractors or subcontractors. Lack of communication and follow-up may cause these tasks to be overlooked.

Improper loading

Big rigs carry a lot of cargo. It is imperative that the cargo be loaded properly. The material has to be well-balanced in the truck. It has to be secured as well. If it’s not loaded properly, it may either cause the entire truck to become unbalanced or shift while it’s being transported. The truck may become difficult to maneuver or completely unmanageable as a result of improper loading.

If a truck has several stops to make, the crew must unload the cargo for the specific place and reload the remaining cargo properly again. With proper loading, this should be kept to a minimum. Each stop increases the potential for accidents.

Like maintenance, loading is often done by contractors or subcontractors.

Experienced big rig crash attorneys

The causes of big rig crashes are complex and often spread between drivers, companies, their contractors, and their subcontractors. Ascertaining legal responsibility for a crash is often difficult and complex.

Attorneys at the Ellis Law Firm have two decades of experience in big rig crashes. We know the causes and we know the complexity. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a big rig crash in southern California, we can help.

Please call today for a free appointment to discuss your case with a California truck accident lawyer. We can be reached at 1-800-INJURED.

More on why trucks crash:

  1. Abramson, Howard. “The Trucks Are Killing Us.” New York Times. August 21, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/opinion/the-trucks-are-killing-us.html?_r=2
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015
  3. Woods, Wes. “1 Dead, 10 Injured in Fiery Big Rig Crash on 5 Freeway That Closes All Lanes.” Los Angeles Daily News, April 25, 2017. http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20170425/1-dead-10-injured-in-fiery-big-rig-crash-on-5-freeway-that-closes-all-lanes

Lane Change Truck Accidents: Who Is At Fault?

Big rig semi truck

Driving in the proximity of a tractor trailer is not without its risks, and responsible drivers know to exercise caution and stay alert around heavy trucks. Truck accidents in California, including lane change crashes, are often deadly. When victims do survive, they typically face a long, painful recovery and perhaps permanent disabilities. At Ellis Injury Law, our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers have seen the devastation that big rig crashes cause. We’re committed to raising awareness of this serious issue and helping the victims pursue justice.

Types of lane change truck crashes

Lane change truck accidents can happen when either a passenger vehicle or the big rig changes lanes and causes a collision. Traffic safety experts recognize two broad categories of lane change/merge collisions: Angle/sideswipe collisions and rear-end lane change crashes.

Rear-end crashes occur when a vehicle is rear-ended shortly after completing the lane change. Angle/sideswipe crashes occur when a vehicle merges into a lane in which another vehicle is already present, adjacent to the shifting vehicle. Angle lane change crashes may involve severe side-to-side collisions or slightly less serious front bumper-to-back bumper crashes.

When is the truck driver at fault?

In the majority of truck accidents of any type, the driver is found to have been at least partially negligent. Other factors may contribute to the crash, such as dense fog that limits visibility, wet roads, or poor road construction.

When assessing liability in a lane change truck accident, injury attorneys review the police report, medical records, surveillance footage, eyewitness statements, and any other available evidence. One of the primary factors is determining which vehicle initiated the lane change.

A truck driver may be at fault for the crash if that driver failed to use the turn signal, changed lanes at an intersection, or changed lanes while traveling at a high speed. Weaving dangerously between lanes is another indicator of truck driver negligence. Truck drivers may fail to exercise reasonable caution because they’re trying to shave a few minutes off their travel time. Typically, a truck driver may be found at fault if the vehicle making the unsafe lane change was the tractor trailer.

When is the passenger vehicle driver at fault?

Drivers of passenger vehicles often underestimate the maneuvering capabilities of tractor trailers. As a result, they may not leave sufficient space between their car and the truck. Trucks have substantial blind zones, and driving within these blind zones is hazardous. However, truck drivers do have the responsibility to check their blind zones before making a lane change.

Generally, the driver of a passenger vehicle may be found at fault for a lane change crash if that driver changed lanes in front of the big rig, and failed to leave sufficient space between vehicles. The truck driver may hit the brakes, but big rigs cannot stop quickly, and the result is a rear-end collision.

Ellis Law: Your personal injury lawyers in California

To bring negligent truck drivers and their employers to justice, it takes a team of investigators, medical experts, engineers, and legal professionals. At Ellis Law, we draw on our extensive resources to build bulletproof cases for our injured clients and surviving family members. We pride ourselves on our unwavering commitment to prompt, personalized, and courteous attention to each family. When you’re here, you’re not just another statistic. Call our Los Angeles personal injury law firm at 1-800-INJURED to request your complimentary lawsuit review.

Additional “truck lane change accident” resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Lane Change/Merge Crashes: Problem Size Assessment and Statistical Description, https://ntl.bts.gov/lib/jpodocs/repts_te/420.pdf
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Highway Safety Information System: An Examination of Fault, Unsafe Driving Acts, and Total Harm in Car-Truck Collisions, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/humanfac/04085/

Drugged Dump Truck Driver Crashes into San Bruno Senior Center

Dump truck driver crashes into San Bruno Senior CenterOfficers responded to the San Bruno Senior Center Tuesday afternoon for a reporting of a vehicle crash. A commercial dump truck had crashed through a wall in the senior center located a 1555 Crystal Springs Road. Police reports indicate that the truck was driving down Cunningham Way toward Crystal Springs Road, then veered across the intersection, traveled through a parking lot ramming into the northwest corner of the building.

The building sustained major damage. Two walls were demolished as the truck came to a stop approximately 12 feet into the room of bingo players. Emergency responders were able to free the driver from the dump truck which was carrying concrete chunks and construction debris. The driver emerged unhurt, as did the dog that was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle. No one in the building was injured. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine and and operating a vehicle he was not licensed to drive.

Crews were called into remove the crash debris and worked well into the evening. The senior center will remain closed indefinitely. The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Bruno police department.

Trucking accidents can be very complicated; the truck accident lawyers in Los Angeles at Ellis Law are prepared to deal with the many complexities that may arise during litigation. In the wake of a truck accident, the driver can be held legally responsible if his or her behavior was the catalyst that led to the collision. This can mean a driver, or the driver’s insurer, may be made to pay for the accident victim’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress or wrongful death damages.  If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, contact our  offices at 1-800-INJURED for a free and confidential review of your case.

5 Horrifying 18 Wheeler Crashes

firefighter with truck accident victim

More than 500,000 accidents every year in the United States involve 18 wheelers, also known as big rigs. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 15 percent of all traffic fatalities involve a semi-truck or tractor trailer. It’s no surprise that crashes involving 18 wheelers tend to produce some of the most catastrophic injuries including loss of limbs, paralysis and brain damage. Some of the most gruesome injuries and fatalities are associated with 18 wheeler underride accidents: when a passenger vehicle slides underneath the side or rear of a truck. The impact rips off the vehicle roof, crumples the passenger compartment, usually killing the occupants immediately.

U.S. traffic safety authorities say that more than 200 Americans are killed in underride accidents every year — horrific deaths that could be avoided if 18 wheelers were equipped with safety guards to deflect passenger vehicles.

To illustrate the severity of these incidents, here are five of the most horrifying 18 wheeler crashes.

Tractor trailer ammonia disaster

In 1976, an 18 wheeler hauling 7,500 gallons of ammonia lost control on a Houston freeway, barreled through a guardrail and plunged off a ramp onto the crowded highway below.  The crash, which is widely regarded as Houston’s worst accident on record, killed five people and injured nearly 180 others who were trapped in a noxious cloud of ammonia fumes. Authorities say that the truck driver’s excessive speed was the primary cause of the accident.

Fiery crash burns victim alive

In January of this year, a Georgia man who driving a semi to New York, died in a fiery blaze when his rig veered into the median, clipped the cable barrier and collided head-on with another 18 wheeler in the southbound lane near Blacksburg, South Carolina. The impact of the collision sparked an enormous fire, burning the Georgia man beyond recognition. Dental records were used to identify the victim – 45 year-old Emmanuel Owuraku Abeasi.

Underride collision kills two sisters

In 2013, an underride collision claimed the lives of 17-year-old AnnaLeah Karth and her younger sister Mary, as the girls traveled with their parents from their North Carolina home to a wedding in Texas. Tragedy struck when an 18-wheeler sideswiped their vehicle, spinning it once and then striking it once more, pushing the car under another truck. The truck’s underride guard failed, and both teens suffered fatal injuries.

Big rig crash shears off SUV roof, killing man

A horrific crash on Birmingham’s I-59 killed a Fairfield fire chief and critically injured his daughter. The May 2017 accident happened when an 18-wheeler suddenly crossed the median, striking two vehicles, one of them the victim’s SUV. The impact sheared off the top of the vehicle, killing 54-year old Kevin Sutton instantly and leaving his 26-year old daughter with life-threatening injuries.

Semi plows into Los Angeles apartment building

Just a few months ago, five people were hurt when an 18 wheeler traveling on Imperial Highway unexpectedly veered across lanes and plowed straight into a Fullerton apartment building. The victims included a family and their two-year old child who were in their home when the tractor trailer barreled into their apartment.

California truck accident law firm

Research conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board indicates that drowsy driving plays a role in more than one-third of all 18-wheeler crashes. Due to the state’s congested freeways and heavy interstate commerce, California has one of the highest rates of commercial truck accidents – many of which result in debilitating injuries and death.

At Ellis Injury Law, we have been protecting the rights of victims and their families for more than 25 years. Our veteran legal team has secured favorable outcomes in complex cases, including a $3 million verdict in a fatal 18 wheeler truck accident caused by a drowsy driver. For a no-cost consultation with a results-oriented Los Angeles truck accident lawyer, call 1-800-INJURED today.

Additional 18 Wheeler Accident Resources:

Large Trucks Kill Over 4,000 Americans Every Year

Big rig semi truckMore than 4,000 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which annually releases data about large carriers on the nation’s highways. The number of fatal truck crashes rose 5% from the year before, and the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes climbed 8%.

Unfortunately, the number of fatal crashes rose 20% in the six-year period between 2009 and 2015. While that increase followed a 34% decline in fatal truck crashes between 2005 and 2009, it still is a sobering indication that truck accidents cause all too many deaths on the nation’s highways.

The number of people killed in truck accidents during one year alone is higher than those killed in airline accidents over the past 45 years combined.

Driver fatigue, lack of safety cause many truck accidents

The reasons for truck accidents are complex. One possible cause is driver fatigue. Truck drivers are required to work very long hours, of up to 14 hours per day. In addition, they may have been awake for longer than that, preparing for the workday. The driver involved in the accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan several years ago, for example, was in the last hour of a 14-hour driving shift. But he had been working for 28 hours straight, driving himself to the truck pick-up point.

These long hauls can impair driver judgment, attentiveness, and response time.

In addition, the trucking industry has been accused of fighting regulations that could make both driving and its trucks safer. These include monitors for drivers, collision-avoidance technology to warn drivers of specifically dangerous situations, and collision detection systems. Only 3% of U.S. trucks have available collision-avoidance technology onboard.

Truck accidents in the Los Angeles area are much more likely to lead to fatalities and injuries than other types of vehicle accidents simply because the size of large trucks causes great impact and more damage.

Assessing responsibility for a truck accident

When a fatal truck collision does occur, assessing responsibility can be highly complicated. The upkeep and maintenance of a truck may be involved. The loading and packing of the cargo can be a factor. The operation of the systems might be in question. In these cases, the people who performed maintenance and loading might be employed by contractors or subcontractors rather than the company that owned the truck.

Trucks are regulated by the federal government. Companies and drivers involved must abide by federal regulations. Truck accidents are monitored and reviewed by federal authorities.

Assessing wrongful death claims can, as a result, be highly complicated. A wrongful death suit can be brought if negligence can be shown on the part of the company, the contractors or subcontractors, or in some cases, the driver.

Experienced truck fatality attorneys

The seasoned California truck accident attorneys at Ellis Law Firm have over 20 years of experience in crashes involving trucks. While the law and possible causes are complex, we fight for your rights aggressively. Please call today for a free consultation about your case with a seasoned attorney at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “truck accident fatality” resources:

  1. Abramson, Howard. “The Trucks Are Killing Us.” New York Times. August 21, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/opinion/the-trucks-are-killing-us.html?_r=2
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015