Common Violations of California's Trucking Laws

Posted on August 4, 2015 by bermanstaff

California motorists are keenly aware of the dangers that go into driving on the freeways in the Golden State. It is not uncommon for California drivers to see more big rigs on the road than other cars. Usually, motorists and truck drivers are able to both utilize our highways and freeways without incident, but when an accident occurs involving a heavy truck, the results can be catastrophic. To help avoid accidents involving large trucks, the California and federal governments have promulgated various laws to help keep motorists safe, and a sampling of such laws are detailed below.

Limitation on Hours of Service

As motorists, we know that one of the worst feelings while behind the wheel is that of sleepiness. This generally occurs when we have had a long day or not nearly enough sleep before driving. Although motorists are generally capable of determining whether they are too tired to drive, the law does not leave the decision up a truck driver. Under federal law, a truck driver is extremely limited as to the amount of hours that he or she is allowed to drive in any given day or span of days. For example, a truck driver may only work for 14 hours per day. Of those 14 hours, the truck driver is only permitted to drive 11 without a break. Furthermore, over a seven-day period, a semi-truck driver can only be on the road for up to 77 hours and over an eight-day period, the trucker can drive for up to 88 hours. According to the same regulations, the driver must take two and a half days off in order for the clock to reset, which helps to place limits on the amount of time driven over consecutive days.

Although one would think that semi-truck drivers would pull to the side of the road or into a rest stop if they became too tired to drive, there has been a plethora of accidents in California that are caused by drowsy truck drivers. Last year, a bus carrying 44 students was struck by a FedEx semi-truck that resulted in the deaths of nine that were aboard the bus and the driver of the big rig. The NTSB is set to release the findings of their investigation, as the cause of the crash is still not known. The FedEx truck veered into the oncoming traffic before colliding with the bus, leading some to believe that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

CalTrans Approved Routes

While driving on California highways and freeways, truck drivers are required to follow signage that is posted by the California Department of Transportation. Many trucking accidents occur when big rig drivers fail to abide by posted signs that direct trucks away from construction areas or zones of the highway or freeway that may be unsafe for large trucks to use. Drivers that neglect to follow the directions of the signage put not only themselves in danger, but also put the motorists that they share the road with at risk.

Truck and Load Weight and Length

According to federal and California law, trucks that haul trailers must ensure that their trailer does not exceed the maximum length. Trailers that are too long often result in accidents when the driver causes his or her trailer to collide with pedestrians or other vehicles due to the lack of turning clearance. In California, a big rig’s trailer cannot exceed 53 feet. Whether the large truck is towing a trailer or not, there are weight requirements that also must be followed. According to California law, the load of a big rig cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. Furthermore, load weight must be regulated to ensure that each axle is not responsible for holding more than 20,000 pounds. Trucks that exceed the weight regulations are sometimes unable to stop when traveling down a decline due to weight restraints on the truck’s brakes. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, a truck’s load that weighs too much could easily crush a motorist or pedestrian involved in the crash.

Many truck drivers take extreme care to ensure that their actions conform to federal and state laws, but unfortunately, there are some drivers of large trucks that fail to do so. Some truckers are under pressure to quickly deliver shipments and get back on the road and try to bend the rules to achieve higher efficiency; others may have innocently lost track of the requirements. In either case, when safety is at issue, there is no room for error.  The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP have significant experience handling truck accident injury cases and trucking related wrongful death litigation.  If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury in a trucking accident, the attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP will be more than happy to speak with you or answer any questions you may have.

About Berman & Riedel, LLP firm managing partner attorney William M. Berman:

Attorney William M. Berman focuses his practice in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect. Strictly a plaintiffs’ dedicated firm, he never represents insurance companies in the defense of claims. Mr. Berman’s firm remains staunchly committed to helping those who have suffered serious injury or loss due the negligence, intentional misconduct or wrongful acts of others. Mr. Berman has grown his firm to what is considered one of the largest and most successful elder abuse/neglect practices within California. Through his continued successes in handling claims involving nursing home and elder abuse and neglect, Mr. Berman remains a prominent figure in advocating on behalf of this vulnerable class of citizens.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

  • Your total financial or economic damages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact of your injuries on your daily life
  • The strength of your case
  • Whether you share fault for your accident
  • Insurance policy limits 

Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

The vast majority of cases are resolved by reaching a settlement agreement outside of court. Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial, but it is more likely if the facts in your case are in dispute, a legal issue is being contested, or you have a high-value case.

An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

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While our law office is located in San Diego, Berman & Riedel, LLP, accepts cases throughout the state of California.


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