Who is at Fault When Cargo Bed Rides Turn into Fatal Truck Accidents?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Warm weather often prompts people to climb into the open cargo areas of pickup trucks and go for a ride. Unfortunately, such moments of seasonal indiscretion often end with fatal truck accidents. Why? Cargo areas are specifically designed to carry goods, not pets or people. Consequently, they do not feature air bags, restraints, covers or seating adequate enough to protect living, breathing passengers from harm. As a result, any number of common situations could instantly turn fatal. The list of situations includes, but isn’t confined to quick stops, rapid acceleration, powerful wind shear, rollovers and fender benders.

Despite those risks, there are many state government bodies that choose not to impose pickup truck use restrictions on their citizenry. So although it is certainly life-threatening and foolish, allowing people to ride in open cargo areas is not always illegal

California Law Expressly Forbids Passengers in Cargo Beds

California Law, however, expresses states that: "A vehicle operator shall not allow a person to ride upon any part of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for passenger use. (Veh. Code §21712(a)) No person shall ride on vehicle or upon any part of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for passenger use. (Veh. Code §21712(b)) No person driving a pickup truck or flatbed motor truck shall transport a person in or on the back thereof unless the passenger is restrained by a Federally approved restraint system. (Veh. Code §23116(a) and (c)) No person shall ride in or on the back of a pickup truck or flatbed motortruck unless they are restrained by a Federally approved restraint system. (Veh. Code §23116(b) and (c)).

Who is at fault if a cargo bed passenger is injured

This brings us to an interesting gray area of truck accident law. For example, let’s say that someone jumps into the bed of a pickup truck and during a sudden stop falls out onto the roadway into the path oncoming traffic. After the fall, the person is then run over by another vehicle and dies. Who is responsible for the fatality?

Is it the truck driver, the injured or deceased passenger, or one of the other motor vehicle operators that is to blame? How the court sees the fatal truck accident will be partially influenced by the state’s publicized riding restrictions and the victim’s age. Some states have restrictions that are very clear regarding who is liable in the event of truck accidents. Other riding restrictions are open to interpretation. Therefore, motor vehicle operators who cause fatal truck accidents are sometimes able to avoid civil or criminal prosecution. 

To find out more about how blame is assigned in these types of truck accidents, please contact us today.

Learn the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Driving on the roadways with large trucks is already intimidating enough for some drivers. Because these drivers are on the road so often, they seem to become a bit careless when it comes to their driving habits. When you learn about the common causes for truck accidents, you can increase your chances of avoiding them on the road.


Even though the DOT has strict guidelines for how long truck drivers can be on the road in a given time period, fatigue can still become a problem. There are many factors that play a role in how tired drivers are. Some drivers can't handle as much driving as others or a driver may be sick and wears out more quickly than he is used to. Those who drive at night are also more suscpetible to fatigue than those who drive during the day, though both are at risk depending on other factors.

Skipped Maintenance

All large trucks require regular maintenance and inspections to ensure they are suitable for operation on the roadways. However, many drivers don't pay close enough attention to their maintenance tasks, which can lead to truck accidents. Flat tires, blown tires, overheating and unsecure or shifting loads can all cause accidents out on the road. These are often some of the most dangerous accidents because there are few, if any, warning signs.

Driver Error

Many truck drivers become so comfortable on the road they forget about the rules of the road. They may change langes without signaling, follow too closely or even speed. Just like any other driver that drives in this manner, truck drivers can quickly cause accidents with this behavior. People who are driving on the road with these trucks must be vigilant to do what it takes to avoid an accident.

Even though trucking companies hire drivers who are properly trained in over-the-road driving, there are some drivers who cause accidents that are avoidable. Those who drive when they are tired, don't complete the proper maintenance and drive carelessly put everyone else on the road at risk. Now that you know why these accidents occur, you can take what steps you can to avoid these accidents.

Drive Safely Near 18-Wheelers to Avoid Truck Accidents

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Surf the internet for news on truck accidents, and you will find pages and pages of links to recent news stories about the devastating consequences of an entanglement between a passenger vehicle and big rig.

Commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard of driving knowledge and safety than the average driver. They operate vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds and, in some instances, carry extremely heavy or hazardous cargo. It is incumbent on them to use extreme caution when driving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers a number of safety tips for truck drivers including:

  • Always wear your safety belt
  • Reduce your driving speed in adverse road or weather conditions
  • Review maps and plan your route before driving
  • Be aware of your “no-zone” (blind spots where you may not see other drivers and accidents are more likely to occur)
  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel
  • Pay attention to the road
  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Watch the vehicles around you for brake lights and sudden movements

Whether you drive an 18-wheeler or passenger vehicle, the best course of action is to drive defensively. You may not be able to anticipate an accident, but by remaining alert and aware, you reduce your chance of being involved in one.

Here are some tips for driving near 18-wheelers:

  • Be aware and stay out of the no-zone areas
  • Leave plenty of room when passing
  • Do not tailgate or drive too close
  • Be aware at all times in case a big rig crosses into your lane
  • Do not cut truckers off – let them in

When driving in traffic of any sort, it is all about common sense. Driving near 18-wheelers means you need to be even more alert to avoid truck accidents.

However, if you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, we can help. Located in the Peoria area, Keith Garrison of The Garrison Law Firm is a personal injury lawyer with experience assisting individuals in Arizona who have been injured by an 18-wheeler or semi-truck. Contact us today and let us assist you.

NTSB Makes Several Trucking Safety Recommendations

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board has made several recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the federal agency to take more steps to increase tractor-trailer safety, and reduce the risk of truck accidents involving these vehicles.

The recommendations were triggered by a safety study that was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2013. One of the most important recommendations involves the mitigation of blind spots behind and around the tractor-trailer. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the blind spots around the tractor-trailer can easily cause accidents involving passenger vehicles simply because the truck driver cannot see these vehicles.

Every vehicle has its blind spots. Even your average passenger vehicle driver will have several blind spots in his field of vision, which prevent him from seeing motorcycles or bicycles that are in these areas. However, the blind spots that exist for a truck driver are much larger, and because of the sheer impact that a trucking accident can have, it is important to mitigate these hazards. Additionally, there are a number of factors including location, characteristics of the truck mirrors and windows, and the design of the vehicle that can affect the driver's ability to identify and locate passenger vehicles around the truck.

The National Transportation Safety Board in its recommendations especially focuses on the blind spots that exist on the right side of the truck, because it interferes with a large section of the truck driver’s field of view, and therefore, very often results in pedestrian, passenger vehicle, and bicycle accidents.

Motorists must educate themselves about the blind spots in a truck driver’s field of vision, and avoid being in the spot for too long when they're driving around the tractor-trailer.

As Trauma Centers Shut down, Injured Patients at Risk of Fatality

Sunday, March 16, 2014

As more and more trauma centers across the country are forced to shut down operations, severely injured patients who depend heavily on the kind of emergency treatment provided by a trauma care center may be at a heightened risk of fatality.

According to new research, the closure of these centers across the country is placing lives at risk, and is tied to an increased fatality risk for injured patients. A trauma care center is equipped with the kind of emergency medical equipment that is necessary to save the life of a critically injured patient. Typically, when a patient has been very severely injured as the result of a major auto, trucking or train accident, or sustains any other injury which places him at a severe risk of death, he needs to be rushed to a trauma care center where he can receive the treatment necessary to stabilize his condition.

The transfer to a trauma care center needs to happen immediately, and as soon as the patient has been injured. When a trauma care center is located far away from the site of the accident or injury, too much precious time passes before the patient can be transferred to the center. With every passing second, his risk of dying increases.

The researchers examined data involving more than 270,000 patients, and analyzed the effects of the closure of three centers in California between 1999 and 2009 to find out the association between the closure of the centers, and heightened patient fatality risk. They found that when one trauma center closed, patients who were now forced to travel much further to a trauma center were 21% more likely to succumb to their injuries in the hospital, compared to patients who did not have to travel that far to access trauma care. They also found that the risk of fatality seemed to be highest in the first two months after the trauma care center closed down.

Federal Audit Finds Truck, Bus Carrier Safety Rating System is Ineffective

Monday, February 03, 2014

According to an audit of the federal administration’s motor carrier safety rating system, the system is based on inconsistencies and inaccurate data, rendering the results ineffective in helping reduce the risk of accidents.

The audit was conducted by the Government Accountability Office, which says that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rating system needs to undergo a few changes for it to become much more subjective and effective.The rating system that was the subject of the audit is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. The program has been designed to compare bus and trucking companies, and rate them based on their performance in traffic safety compliance. The point is to rate these companies, and then identify those carriers that have a long history of violations, and therefore, need more oversight. The belief is that greater oversight of these companies could help reduce the risk of truck accidents involving these carriers.

Los Angeles trucking accident lawyers believe that this is a stellar goal, and a rating system that is designed to specifically identify problem carriers, could help reduce the risk of accidents. However, according to the audit, the problem is that very often, the rating system makes use of inaccurate data that is inconsistent, and may not result inaccurate results. Therefore, the rating system results in several motor carriers being given good ratings or safe ratings based on inaccurate data.

The Government Accountability Office wants the federal administration to make modifications to its rating system, specifically its Safety Measurement System rating tool, in order to ensure that the system accounts for limitations in comparing safety performances across motor carriers, even though this could result in fewer carriers receiving a safe rating.

Metro Bus, Dump Truck and BWW Crash on Hollywood Blvd

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A freak accident involving a Metro bus, a runaway dump truck and a BMW injured at least 17 people on Tuesday Morning, Oct. 23, 2012, at about 8 a.m., in Hollywood. The bus was carrying 25 passengers.

The driver of the BMW was taking her 10 year old daughter to school when the chain reaction crash occurred – apparently out of the blue. The event started when a runaway, unmanned dump truck went out of control, wildly rolling down a hill, striking a bus heading west on the 7600 block of Hollywood Blvd.

The bus driver apparently tried to avoid the dump truck and swerved into eastbound traffic. That’s when the bus crashed into the BMW sedan. The force of the crash pushed the sedan back some distance. The collision between the BMW and the bus created an extremely dangerous situation for everyone, especially the driver of the car. She was trapped in the car for at least twenty minutes before being freed by firefighters.

The driver of the BMW was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Her injuries included a broken left leg. Fortunately, her daughter was able to free herself from the vehicle and sustained only minor injuries.

Also injured was the bus driver, who was listed in fair condition. Many bus passengers were taken to the hospital for examinations and treatment of minor bruises. Some passengers sustained cuts from exiting through the shattered emergency windows.

Major accident in Hollywood involves several cars and a bus

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There was a major accident on Hollywood Blvd near Highland Blvd.  A dump truck rolled down a hill after the brakes failed.  There was no driver in the truck which rolled out of control into traffic.  When the vehicle reached an intersection in broadsided a city bus sending it into oncoming traffic where it slammed head on into a BMW coming from the opposite direction.  There were several people injured in the crash but luckily no one was killed.

Looming Driver Shortage Raises Risk of Truck Accidents

Monday, August 06, 2012

It’s a national problem, and one that Los Angeles truck accident attorneys believe could impact trucking safety in California and around the country. Across all 50 states, trucking companies are reporting a shortfall in the number of trained and experienced truck drivers.

Trucking simply isn't as attractive a job option for young people as it used to be a couple of decades ago. Not many young people now want a job that keeps them away from family for long periods of time.

Further, the trucking industry also believes that the federal administration’s recently strengthened standards are preventing people from applying for these jobs. The new rules include logbook maintenance standards that make it harder for truck drivers to falsify log books. Besides, strict restrictions on Hours of Service, also limit the number of hours that a truck driver can drive.

All these factors have made trucking a much less attractive proposition than earlier, which explains the shortfall of applicants. Trucking companies are trying to meet the shortfall in their own ways. Some have resorted to setting up their own trucking training colleges in order to train batches of applicants. However, others are simply cutting down operations, resulting in delayed deliveries.

What Los Angeles truck accident lawyers are really concerned about is the possible effect on trucking safety as a result of the shortage. Inexperienced, unskilled drivers are now likely to be picked up by many trucking companies looking to hire any truck driver.

In other parts of the country, there are efforts to increase the truck driver pool using other sources. In Virginia, the Virginia Trucking Association is supporting a program, which helps former military veterans obtain commercial driving licenses for a new career.

Jason’s Law Would Reduce Driver Fatigue-Related Truck Accidents

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A piece of legislation that would provide for increased funding to enhance the current network of truck stop and resting facilities for tractor-trailer drivers, has been reintroduced in Congress.  Los Angeles truck accident attorneys hope that this time around Congress will pass Jason’s Law, thereby addressing a long-felt need in trucking safety. The last time the bill was introduced in Congress, it died without much progress. 

Jason’s Law was named after Jason Rivenburg, a tractor-trailer driver who died when he was attacked by a robber at an abandoned gas station.  Rivenburg had arrived early for a delivery, and finding no other place to park, had parked his truck at the gas station.  His widow has spearheaded efforts to have Jason’s Law passed. 

In this new version of the bill, the law would provide $20 million in annual funding to enhance the network of rest and parking facilities for truck drivers across the country.  The funding would also be used to construct new rest and parking facilities as well as to increase the capacity of current facilities to accommodate more trucks and larger tractor-trailers.

While federal rules strictly limit the number of hours that a truck driver can drive consecutively, a truck driver needs convenient access to safe rest stops and parking facilities if he is to pull over when tired.  Unfortunately, many states around the country have closed down dozens of truck stops in an effort to contain costs.  The result has been a lack of convenient access to enough numbers of truck stop and rest facilities for tractor-trailer drivers. 

The lack of enough parking facilities means that a trucker may have no other option but to continue to drive while tired.  The other option would be to pull over on the side of highway, or park the truck in an abandoned and potentially dangerous place, like Jason Rivenburg did. 


Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers


David Lederer and John Nojima used to defend the insurance companies. Now they are on your side.

At Lederer & Nojima LLP, in Los Angeles, California, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with the highest quality legal services and advice. We recognize that our success is based upon our client's success — so we are absolutely committed to obtaining the results our clients want and need.

CALL TODAY: 310-312-1860


12100 Wilshire Boulevard

Suite 480
Los Angeles, 90025
Phone: (310) 312-1860

Get Map | Driving Directions


555 W. 5th Street
31st Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone:(310) 312-1860

Get Map | Driving Directions

Lederer & Nojima proudly serve Los Angeles, West LA, San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, Brentwood, South Bay, Long Beach, Riverside, Encino, Sherman Oaks, and more locations throughout Southern California.