When Bigger Meets Smaller on the Road

California authorities are still investigating a fatal collision between a tractor-trailer and a much smaller pickup truck that took place in Southern California in late April. The accident killed the pickup truck’s front seat passenger.

The tragic accident took place when the tractor-trailer was traveling towards an intersection. Early reports show that the pickup truck driver came to a full stop, then continued into the intersection apparently oblivious to the oncoming tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer slammed into the pickup truck’s right side, severely injuring its driver and fatally wounding its 18-year-old passenger. The driver of the tractor-trailer, 66, suffered only a hand injury. Pending a Highway Patrol investigation, it is not clear why the smaller truck moved into the intersection, or whether additional factors contributed to the accident.

In a California trucking injury case, determining the faulty parties — and also the degree of fault — is critical for a victim’s recovery. Under the state’s negligence standard, damage claims will be reduced by the percentage a party was at fault. That said, even for the most at-fault driver may be able to obtain some financial recovery.

It can be difficult to assess fault if there are no witnesses to an accident, owing to death or injury. It certainly does not help that a small act of negligence has the ability to cause great devastation due to the sheer size of commercial trucks. When trucking accidents occur on interstate highways, any violation of federal laws and regulations that contributed to the accident is applicable to assigning fault.

An investigation of the accident might turn up:

  • Post-accident drug and alcohol test results
  • Driver information from the truck’s electronic control module (ECM)
  • The truck driver’s driving record

Further examination of the truck driver and his or her employer might reveal an overly exhausted driver, a pattern of reckless driving or drug use, or mistakes made by the truck and part manufacturers. These are all facts the accident victim or surviving relatives can use to strengthen their truck injury claims against those potential parties.

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