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Sacramento Recreational Vehicle Accident Lawyer

Recreational VehicleIt is common for motorists to see recreational vehicles on the roads around California, especially during good weather. However, many RV owners think that it is sufficient to purchase one and just head out on the road. Owning and operating an RV is more complicated than that, and California has specific laws directed at the owners/operators of these vehicles. To keep the roadways safer for other travelers, RV owners need to abide by California law. An accident where an RV, especially a large one, collides with another vehicle because of negligence can result in severe injuries and fatalities.

Types of Motorhomes

Recreational vehicles are categorized as either Class A, B, or C type motorhomes or as haulers. Because there are so many types of recreation vehicles to choose from, it is essential that the driver has proper training and licensing. Following are the differences:

  • Class A motorhomes: Generally, between 30 and 40 feet in length and resemble a bus with its vertical windshield.
  • Class B motorhomes: Camper vans that drive the same way you would a large automobile. They commonly measure 20 to 25 feet in length.
  • Class C motorhomes: Have a truck chassis base and are often called cab-overs because there is extra sleeping space above the cab. 
  • Fifth wheel: These towable campers are roomy and often come with bump-outs. The vehicle must tow a fifth-wheel be rated to tow the camper and additional weight of the goods inside.
  • Toy haulers: Toy haulers are usually designed as fifth wheels with ramps but are equipped with living space and room to haul motorcycles, golf carts, and other equipment as well. 
  • Travel trailers: These popular RVs are hauled by attaching a bumper or frame hitch to the vehicle towing it. Improper attachment or defective parts can make the trailer come loose. The California DMV offers tips on driving RVs on dirt roads or freeways and the use of escape ramps, which are used to stop runaway vehicles.
  • Tiny campers and pop-ups: These small campers are much easier to tow than larger ones. However, it can still be difficult for the driver to see behind and maneuver.
California Law About Recreational Vehicles

Drivers of Class A or B motorhomes may do so with a Class A noncommercial license in California. Weight limits apply. A Class B license is required when the RV weighs more than 10,000 pounds. The DMV also offers ideas on how to handle weather conditions, make turns safely, and others.

What Types of Accidents Are Caused by RVs?

As in other traffic accidents, many recreational vehicle collisions are caused by driver error. The type of accident can depend on the situation and may range from a rear-end collision to a head-on crash. Some of the reasons that RV accidents happen include:

  • Speeding
  • Inexperienced driver
  • Runaway trailer
  • Poorly balanced load
  • Not adjusting driving for inclement weather
  • Overweight load
  • Fatigue
  • Blind spots
  • Mechanical defects
  • Distracted driving
  • Rollovers
How a Recreational Vehicle Accident Happens

Let’s pretend a couple is driving their car and pulling a fifth wheel to go visit a national park. They hook up the fifth wheel using the kingpin as directed. They are also careful to check the weight of their vehicle to make sure the fifth wheel isn’t overloaded. Everything goes along fine until they start up a steep hill. At this point, the vehicle is experiencing strain going up the hill and the kingpin, which is defective, breaks. This causes the fifth wheel to come loose and start rolling backward, where it crashes into a car traveling up the hill behind it. The manufacturer of the faulty kingpin would be liable for any accident injuries. Others may be held liable too, such as a parts manufacturer, distributor, and others. 

The video below shows a compilation of campers, caravan and motorhome rollover accidents.

Determining Fault in an RV Accident

Although in the above scenario, the company that manufactured the kingpin was at fault, in most cases, it will be the vehicle’s driver. If the driver was negligent and caused accident injuries, the injured person would be able to place a claim for fair compensation. This can be used to reimburse that person for all of their injury costs, pain and suffering, and time missed from work. This is why it is crucial to enlist the aid of a lawyer with experience in recreational vehicle accidents to help you. The amount that is awarded by a jury in a civil trial because of an RV accident injury can depend on the following in part:

  • How severe the injuries are can affect compensation. A person who suffers a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage from an accident will receive higher compensation than a person with a fractured leg.
  • The extent of time in a hospital and treatments can affect the amount of the claim. Compensation for an injury that heals in a month or two will be much less than someone who was hospitalized for an extended time, required physical rehabilitation, and was off work for a longer period.
  • Pain and suffering can be affected by the seriousness of the injury and length of time. 
How an Attorney Can Help

Recreational vehicles are great fun for the whole family. However, accidents do happen. When our firm is consulted, we immediately dispatch our seasoned investigative team to the accident site. Upon arrival, they search for evidence that links an at-fault driver to the crash. The type of evidence varies but can include road marks that show if the vehicle failed to stop and the results of accident reconstruction techniques. The team interviews witnesses who saw the accident happen and obtains video footage gleaned from traffic surveillance cameras and nearby businesses. We also check on defects associated with RVs and review the police report for mistakes. Once the information has been gathered, the data is released to our legal team to build a strong case against the defendant.

Sacramento Recreational Vehicle Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento recreational vehicle accident attorney. If you have been involved in an RV or motorhome rollover accident due to negligence, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries and other damages.  Call me at (916) 921-6400 or at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach me online. 

I’ve helped numerous residents of Sacramento and those in Northern California in wrongful death cases, all types of car accidents, and traumatic injuries.

Proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and AVVO and case history of verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 10.20.20]

Photo Attribution: pixabay.com

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