Five people were injured, one critically, in a Los Angeles County big rig accident after a tractor-trailer struck at least four vehicles in Rolling Hills Estates, CBS News reports in this article. Los Angeles County Fire Department officials believe the big rig’s brakes may have failed on a downhill slope just before the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Palos Verdes North. The accident occurred the morning of February 24, 2009.

First of all, I’m relieved that this Rolling Hills commercial truck accident did not result in catastrophic injuries or death. I hope and pray that the person who was critically injured in this accident recovers from the injuries quickly and completely. Please keep these injured victims in your prayers.

California tops the list in the United States for the highest number of big rig accidents in any given year. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s statistics, in 2007, there were 361 large trucks involved in fatal accidents and 10.635 big rigs involved in injury accidents in California. Large truck accidents are notorious for causing catastrophic injuries or death because of the size and weight of these big rigs and the intensity of the crash. Occupants of smaller passenger vehicles are more likely to suffer a major injury or death in these big rig accidents.

In this case, if the news report is accurate, the tractor trailer lost its brakes while going downhill and was basically “out-of-control” when it struck the other vehicles. The fact that the big rig’s brakes failed tells me that the tractor trailer was either overloaded or not properly maintained.

Overloaded trucks certainly have an increased tendency to be involved in accidents primarily because the heavier a truck gets, the harder it becomes for it to come to a stop quickly. It is also more likely to lose control as with the tractor trailer in this Rolling Hills Estates big rig accident. Increased weight in large trucks also causes greater stress on the truck’s parts and could lead to mechanical problems such as brake failure.

The trucking companies and truck drivers are fully aware of the dangers of overloading and they know it’s illegal too. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates trucking companies, limits the total weight for commercial vehicles to 20,000 pounds per axle up to the limit of 80,000 pounds. Although that is a lot of weight allowed, it is the truck driver’s responsibility to make sure that he is in compliance and that the weight is evenly distributed.

The injured victims in this accident would be well-advised to contact a reputed Los Angeles big rig accident lawyer, who will make sure that the negligent truck driver and his employer, the trucking company, are held accountable for their wrongdoing. A skilled personal injury attorney will be able to hold the negligent parties financially responsible for injuries or losses suffered by victims. The best California auto accident lawyers will not charge any fees for a comprehensive initial consultation.