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5 Dead in California Wrongful Death Crash involving Big Rig Semi-Truck

Last week five people were killed as a result of a fiery big rig truck crash on the 10 freeway in Rialto, California. At approximately 1:00 p.m. on February 16, 2018, a semi-truck traveling Westbound on the 10 Freeway near the Riverside Avenue exit veered into the guardrail causing the truck to crash, burst into flames and collide with oncoming traffic. As with many truck accidents, the apparent negligent driver only sustained minor injuries but the other persons in several other vehicles sustained serious injuries including the death of five accident victims. If a person is injured in such a catastrophic truck accident, they should always consult with a truck accident lawyer to determine their rights and to get full compensation they are entitled to under California Law including damages for physical injuries and damages for the loss of a loved one for wrongful death.

1. Doing the Proper Investigation in a Truck Accident Case

When a truck driver loses control of their big rig or semi-truck and causes a significant freeway accident such as the one in Rialto, there are many avenues to investigate to determine the cause of the accident including driver error, driver fatigue, weight and mechanical issues with the semi-truck or its load. In many cases, law enforcement will be the first agency to investigate a fatal traffic accident and they will interview witnesses, take photos at the scene, take measurements and engage in other traffic collision investigation. By the time a victim hires a personal injury lawyer to work on a case there is usually many more discovery and investigation to perform. Truck accidents involving catastrophic injuries or death will require a seasoned attorney to seek and request many different types of information to prove that the truck driver was at fault including but not limited to:

a. All documents identifying the cargo loaded in the truck at the time of the accident;
b. All documents identifying the weight of the cargo load at the time of the accident;
c. All documents showing the maintenance performed on the truck within a year of the accident;
d. All documents identifying who owned the truck;
e. All documents identifying the employment relationship between the owner of the truck and driver of the truck;
f. All log books for the driver of the truck.

2.  Evidence of Truck Driver Fatigue

In 2017 there were approximately 15 million trucks transporting 70 percent of all U.S. Good across the United States. According to a 2007 survey by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration  (FMCSA) a significant reason or contributing factor in commercial truck crashes is overworked and fatigued drivers. In many cases, drivers are under pressure to get as many loads delivered as possible and will not take the rest required when driving a commercial truck. The maximum driving time for a truck driver under section 395.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations are as follows:

a. 11 cumulative hours driving in a 14-hour period following a rest period of no less than 10 consecutive hours; and
b. Drivers employed by companies or carriers in a daily driving operation may not work more than 70 hours within any period of 8 consecutive days.

As much as we want to support our local and national truck drivers and allow them to do their job, if they don’t follow the required rest periods they put everyone’s safety in jeopardy. Often times that jeopardy includes fatal truck accidents like the freeway accident in Rialto, California last week.

3.  Conclusion

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a truck accident, often times the negligence of the truck company could have been avoided. As such, whether or not the accident occurred in Los Angeles, Burbank, West Covina, Anaheim, Lancaster or any other city in the State of California, you should always consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to determine whether and how much compensation you are entitled to under California Law.

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