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Long Beach Personal Injury Law Blog

Data shows that fatal truck accidents are trending up

Many Long Beach drivers are likely to consider national crash statistics to be a grim subject. However, changes from year to year can prompt awareness of specific dangers to motorists. The report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration covers 2015 statistics and includes some comparisons with earlier years.

In the trends section of the report, it was found that both buses and commercial trucks logged more vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which appears to correlate with a higher number of fatal trucking accidents. Specifically, there was an increase of 5 percent in fatal bus and truck accidents with a VMT increase of 1.4 percent and .3 percent, respectively.

Inspection blitz leads to nearly 2,000 out-of-service orders

Road users in California may be alarmed to learn that a recent unannounced safety initiative launched by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance led to almost 2,000 large commercial vehicles being ordered off the roads in the United States and Canada. During Brake Safety Day on May 3, CVSA inspectors checked the safety equipment, braking systems and overall condition of 9,524 trucks in 33 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces.

The CVSA, which is an association of trucking industry groups and provincial, federal, state and local safety officials, conducts operations like Brake Safety Day to identify commercial vehicles that pose a potential threat to other road users. During these initiatives, inspectors also check to see how well logistics companies are repairing and maintaining tractor-trailers and their safety systems.

3 large cars earn IIHS safety designation

Safety rankings provide consumers with important information that could ultimately influence buying decisions. In 2017, three full-size cars joined the list of vehicles that have received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick Plus designation. Because IIHS crash-test results played a major role in ranking these cars, drivers in California who are looking for a new vehicle may want to know more about the way in which the insurance industry determines crashworthiness.

In order to qualify for a Top Safety Pick Plus designation, vehicles must rate high for front crash prevention, have a headlight rating of 'good" or 'acceptable" and pass five safety tests. During testing, vehicle response to side, small and moderate overlap front crashes, head restraint effectiveness and roof strength are measured and ranked. A non-profit organization funded by automobile insurers, the IIHS tests SUVs, trucks and cars of all sizes before naming the top safety picks in each size category.

Risk of distracted drivers up during holiday

Holidays can be especially dangerous times for California drivers. The frequency of car accidents increases during holidays for several reasons. Motorists may want to review the risks and precautions summed up by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

One of the leading reasons for auto crashes during the 4th of July celebration is due to distracted drivers, according to a vice president at Travelers. This is often owing to unfamiliar drivers in the area not sure of their directions or distracted by the local sights. Families are also traveling together or in caravans, which can lead to distracted drivers. Drowsy drivers are another major cause of car accidents. Spending too long on the road in an effort to reduce driving time can result in increased danger for them and other motorists.

Dealing with a car accident

Aggressive or reckless driving can result in a serious car accident on any California highway. Not only can a motorist suffer a serious injury, but he or she will also have to deal with seeking compensation if another driver was responsible. Before that happens, however, a few things should be done.

If no one suffered serious injuries, the first step to take immediately after the car accident occurs is to move the vehicles out of the flow of traffic if possible as this can prevent an unnecessary traffic jam. If the other driver was clearly at fault, he or she is responsible for reporting the accident to his or her insurance company. However, those involved should get the important information from the liable driver in the event he or she fails to report the crash. This information should include the driver's name, address, phone number and policy information. If there were significant damages, calling the police can be beneficial as a police report could document the crash.

Medical costs for bicycle accidents skyrocketing

California is home to many bicycling enthusiasts, and a study released by the University of California, San Francisco, revealed that medical expenses for bicycle injuries are rising every year at a rate of about $789 million. The researchers looked at nonfatal and fatal accidents involving adults over a period starting in 1997 and ending in 2013.

They counted costs that included medical care, lost income and impact on quality of life. The period studied produced costs of $209 billion for nonfatal accidents, which reflected an increase of 137 percent. For deadly accidents, the costs totaled $28 billion and rose by 23 percent. About three-quarters of the expenses resulted from injuries to men. Older bicyclists are experiencing severe injuries at a higher rate. In 2013, almost 54 percent of the injury costs involved people age 45 and older. This represented a 26 percent increase in that age group since 1997.

New regulations for truck driver training

Most California motorists have encountered large trucks on the roadways, and sometimes there might be concern about the training drivers receive prior to being allowed to work full time. On June 5, a law that provides standards of training for new drivers went into effect. The law, which provides a window of almost three years for companies to meet compliance, will apply to drivers who get their CDL on or after Feb. 7, 2020.

The law covers various aspects of the training process. First, it sets a basic curriculum for driver training for CDL applicants and trainees. It also includes establishing a registry of driver trainers who must be approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. To be certified and put on the registry, independent trainers and carriers who have their own training programs must meet the criteria established by the FMCSA. Trainees and CDL applicants must be trained by a certified trainer from the registry.

Obtaining compensation following a car wreck

When people are injured in a California car crash that was caused by the negligence of another driver, they may be able to be compensated for their losses. Besides medical expenses and property damages, they could also be compensated for pain and suffering that resulted from the incident. However, the amount that they can expect can vary.

In general, there are two categories of damages sought in a personal injury lawsuit: general damages and special damages. General damages cover noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, potentially shortened lifespan, physical disfigurement or impairment, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of reputation and loss of enjoyment of life. Special damages refer to specific economic losses, such as medical bills, vehicle and other property damage, and lost wages.

Study shows California has high child traffic accident fatalities

A study that examined fatal car accidents that involved children identified notable differences in the child mortality rate among the states. Researchers from Harvard University and UT Southwestern Medical Center studied data about fatal crashes that occurred between 2010 and 2014 that killed children under the age of 15. The states with the most child deaths were all clustered in the South except for California, which placed second overall with 200 child fatalities.

The area of the U.S. that had the highest mortality rate at 1.34 child deaths per 100,000 each year was the South. The Northeast emerged as a relative bright spot of safety with only 0.38 per 100,000 children dying in car accidents during the study period. The Midwest had a much higher mortality rate of 0.89 per 100,000 children. Despite the high numbers in California, the West overall had a somewhat lower mortality rate of 0.76 per 100,000 children.

IIHS recommends side underride guards

Drivers of large trucks on California highways may eventually have both back and side guards that protect against underrides. Rules that will require rear-mounted underride guards are in process. In spring of 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did two crash tests to look as well at the safety provided by side guards.

In the crash tests, a midsize passenger car going 35 mph hit a 53-foot dry van trailer in the center. For one of the tests, the trailer was equipped with a side underride guard. In the other test, the trailer had a fiberglass side skirt. This skirt was designed to improve aerodynamics but not to protect occupants of other vehicles. In the first test, the guard was damaged but the car did not go under the trailer. In the second test, the top of the car was partly torn off, and the vehicle became wedged under the truck. This would likely have been a crash that involved fatalities.