Articles Posted in Commercial Vehicle Accidents

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truck accidents, trucking company liabilityLet’s say you are in your vehicle headed to the grocery store and waiting at a stop light. You look up in your review mirror and see a truck twice the size of your hatchback barreling towards you. The driver is looking down at a cell phone, and he’s not slowing down. He rear-ends your car. You’re injured, and now you have medical bills and missed time from work.

The commercial truck driver isn’t the only one who may be held responsible for your injuries, medical bills and time lost from work due to vicarious liability. The trucking company who hired the truck driver can be held vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence under a legal principle called “respondeat superior.” That means “let the master answer.” The theory holds an employer liable for an employee’s negligence, like the trucker looking at his cell phone while in the course of his employment in our example.

For an employer to be held liable, the negligent act has to occur within a set of determining factors:

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When you do business with a professional driver in California, you certainly expect that you will not end the interaction in an accident. However, this is not been the experience for many people who have recently patronized the Uber rideshare driving service in the state.

Claims in the Golden State from users of the Uber rideshare service have gone up in recent years, creating a real dilemma for insurance companies as well as for the rideshare company itself. It seems that drivers who are affiliated with the service have been getting into a great deal of trouble both on and off the clock, and it is uncertain why this is the case.

Many of the drivers have been saying that passengers in the rideshare vehicles have been creating untenable demands on them to somehow magically get to a remote location faster than traffic would allow. Because they are supposed to be “professional drivers,” they feel a pressure to perform more efficiently than the average driver would. However, anyone who has faced down the bumper-to-bumper traffic in CA understands exactly what even a professional driver is up against. Sometimes, there is simply no fighting the flow – you simply have to wait your turn.

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charter bus accident attorney los angeles, charter bus accident lawyer los angeles, charter bus accident attorney californiaGiven the spate of recent commercial tour bus crashes across the country including in California, many are asking whether there should be more oversight of these commercial tour bus and trucking companies.  Various federal agencies, including the National Traffic Safety Administration are faulting a lack of oversight of these companies as a principal cause for these incidents which have caused injuries and deaths across the country. (See article here).  Many are saying that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been lax in it’s inspection and certification processes and needs to be overhauled.  They cite to the following examples:

  • February, 2013: Bus Crash in Yucaipa, CA: On Super Bowl weekend, this past year, a commercial tour bus from Interbus Tours and Charters was coming down from Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County, California when it lost control and crashed killing 8 people (including seven passengers and a pick up truck driver hit by the bus) and injuring 33 more (including 11 who sustained serious, life-threatening bodily harm).  A California Highway Patrol accident investigation revealed a major brake malfunction due to mechanical failures including cracked drums and liners on all six brakes despite the fact that the bus had supposedly been inspected and certified as safe just a month earlier.  It was revealed that federal inspectors had not even requested to inspect the various buses at the company’s San Diego, CA headquarters despite prior citations based upon spot roadside checks.
  • December, 2012: Pendleton, OR: A commercial bus driver lost control on a slippery highway and broke through a barrier and slid down an embankment.  Nine people died and the driver and 37 of the passengers were seriously injured.  The primary cause of the incident was the excessive speed of the driver for the roadway conditions.  An inspection and investigation revealed that the driver had been on duty for 92 hours in eight straight days of work prior to the accident and the transmission retarder that was supposed to limit the bus’s speed was not functioning at the time of the crash. Federal inspectors had previously cited the tour bus company for failing to test drivers for drug and alcohol use and other problems but, had reinstated their license in 2011 despite “longstanding and systemic” problems.
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