When traffic accidents in California occur involving trucks, they often result in catastrophic injury or death. The severity of injury in accidents involving large commercial vehicles and passenger cars is in large part due to the tremendous size differential between them. A fully loaded commercial truck weighs up to 40 tons, compared to an average passenger vehicle weight of 2 tons, which makes the truck 20 times heavier.
Other factors that contribute to serious injury include a truck’s tendency to jackknife when forced to stop suddenly and that many large trucks carry hazardous material such as petroleum, industrial waste or other flammable material, which frequently causes catastrophic secondary injury or death in a post-impact fire or explosion.
How fires start in a motor vehicle accident involving trucks
Collisions are the leading cause of motor vehicle or truck fire fatalities, with an estimated 212,500 vehicle fires that occurred in 2018. From 2013 to 2017, 79% of deaths from large truck fires were the result of collisions. That most of these fire events occur on highways suggests that fires often start during or after high-speed impact.
Many fires in passenger cars begin near the fuel tank or fuel line with a flammable or combustible liquid or gas, and they are often caused by mechanical failures or malfunctions. Truck fires, on the other hand, frequently begin with the ignition of a tire. When a tire catches fire, the cause can be due to brake or wheel bearing failures, or because of flat or underinflated tires.
Trucks make up only 4% of the vehicles on our nation’s highways, and yet 10% of all highway fatalities involve trucks. More than 70% of those victims were occupants of other vehicles.
Common causes of truck accidents
Drivers may face negligence claims if their behavior caused the accident. Fatal crashes are most often due to:
- Distracted, drowsy or impaired driving
- Careless or aggressive driving
- Failure to yield right of way
In cases involving large trucks, third-party negligence claims may also apply if the trucking company has not maintained regular truck inspections or has imposed burdensome work schedules on their drivers. Equipment manufacturers may face liability claims for tire blowouts, faulty brakes or mechanical errors. Fire victims in Riverside County will want to find out how to get the maximum compensation for their claims in order to begin the healing process.