A runaway big rig carrying hazardous materials crashed into many vehicles on the Interstate 5 near Fort Tejon north of Los Angeles. California Highway Patrol officials say the driver of the big rig lost control and struck the vehicles in the December 31, 2008 accident on a stretch of downhill highway. The truck driver apparently told officials that he lost his brakes before the crash. Our source for this blog was this article on KTLA’s Web site. CHP officials said 11 people were injured out of which four suffered major injuries.
This is a horrific California big rig accident that could have been a lot worse. I’m relieved to hear that the victims who suffered major injuries are expected to survive. I wish all the injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s truck accident statistics, there were 361 fatal accidents involving large trucks in California in 2007 and 10,635 injury accidents involving big rigs during that same time. California tops the list of states with the highest number of fatal and major injury big rig accidents.
In this case, I would be very curious to see what investigators find out about the truck and why it was malfunctioning at the time of the accident. I would also want to find out whether the big rig’s brakes failed because the truck was overloaded or because the big rig was simply not maintained properly.
A number of big rig accidents occur because truck drivers overload their rigs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates commercial trucking companies, limits the total weight for commercial vehicles to 20,000 pounds per axle, up to a limit of 80,000 pounds total. I would not be surprised if in this case, the big rig had been overloaded or if the load was unevenly distributed. It is usually the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the weight limit is not exceeded and that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the vehicle.
Overloading a big rig increases the risk of mechanical malfunction in big rigs such as brake failure or tire blowouts. Both the truck driver and his employer could be held liable for the accident and the injuries if it is determined that this chain-reaction crash was caused because of overloading or lack of proper maintenance of the big rig.
The injured victims of this Fort Tejon big rig accident would be well-advised to contact a reputed big rig accident attorney, who will help determine the facts and hold the negligent parties responsible for their actions. The best California personal injury lawyers will not charge anything for an initial consultation.