Texas Truck Accident Attorneys
Truck accidents are common sources of personal injury claims due to the number of 18 wheelers on Texas roads and highways. Due to the size and weight of 18 wheelers and other large trucks, these accidents can lead to serious bodily injury or even death. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are 33,000 commercial vehicle accidents every year. On average these result in 4,000 injuries and 600 fatalities. Trucking accident cases can be challenging for several reasons and you need an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer on your side fighting for just compensation for your injuries and losses. If you have been in a trucking accident, contact Texas truck accident attorneys to discuss your case.
Truck accident laws in Texas
Truck accidents in Texas generally follow the same laws as car accidents and other personal injury claims. Although truck accidents follow most of the same laws as other car accidents, proving these cases is often very different. 18 wheelers and other big rigs often fall under special regulation of the Texas Department of Transportation or the federal Department of Transportation. These include regulations of driver training and records, insurance, vehicle inspections and other rules that do not apply in other car accidents.
Most truck accident cases involve negligence on the part of the driver, just like other car accidents. That negligence may extend to failing to comply with DOT regulations for drivers and the truck or trailer. Proving these cases requires understanding the laws and regulations specific to trucking accidents. The drivers may be independent contractors from the owners of the vehicle or from the freight inside the trailer. That can create additional problems finding evidence and determining who is responsible for the collision. Experienced Texas truck accident attorneys understand how to investigate and pursue trucking accident injury cases.
Additionally, insurance coverage on 18 wheelers, big rigs and other commercial trucking is often different from a typical car accident in Texas. Commercial transportation companies often have large insurance policies which require the trucking company to pay the first part of any claim, what is called self-insured retention. The trucking company may have its own adjusters or hire separate adjusters who adjust claims differently than many insurance adjusters. Many commercial trucking companies think they are victims of accident plaintiffs and fight aggressively against injury claims. Without an experienced truck accident attorney, you are far less likely to receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
What makes truck accident cases different in Texas?
In addition to the legal and insurance issues unique to trucking accidents, these collisions occur differently from many car accidents due to the size and weight of the trucks. When semi trucks have a full load, they are extremely heavy vehicles. They do not stop or slow as quickly as a car and drivers must drive with appropriate caution and training. On the other hand, 18 wheelers with an empty trailer or no trailer can also be a danger on the road. 18 wheelers are designed to balance a heavy load with a trailer attached. They can become more dangerous in wind, rain and ice in these circumstances. Road hazards can also play a more dangerous role in causing accidents for all 18 wheelers. A pot hole can blow a tire on your car and cause an accident, but a blown tire on an 18 wheeler can cause the driver to lose control and cause accidents with many cars.
Because of their size and height, trucks often strike cars differently in accidents. A truck that fails to slow can strike your car and push it into a barrier or other cars, causing multiple impacts. It can also collide with your car with more force, causing more serious injuries to you and your passengers.
Commercial drivers must carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL) which they can easily lose due to negligent driving. A truck driver who loses a CDL also often loses the ability to earn a paycheck. This makes commercial truck drivers more likely to lie or tell half-truths about the wreck to avoid losing their license.
Experienced Texas trucking accident injury lawyers understand the unique facts involved in big rig accidents and how to pursue these cases. You need an advocate on your side who can fight for you while you take care of your injuries.
What causes a truck to jackknife on Texas roads and cause wrecks?
A truck jackknife can lead to very serious or fatal injuries for people in the cars around 18 wheelers. The most common cause for semi trucks to jackknife is the loss of traction. Big rig trucks maintain traction through the truck’s tires gripping the road. Semis can lose traction due to slick roads or improper braking, such as slamming on the brakes, causing the brakes to lock. When the wheels on the tractor or trailer skid the truck loses traction. The loss of traction leads to losing control over the direction of the truck and the ability to stop.
When semi trucks lose traction, any weight imbalance between the tractor and trailer can cause the two parts of the truck to move in different directions. The trailer or tractor may turn sideways while the other part continues moving forward. This causes further loss of control and ability to stop. The jackknifed truck may strike other cars or roll over. If the truck rolls over, it may impact other cars or block lanes and cause other cars to wreck as they try to avoid hitting the rolled truck or its spilled contents.
Common facts leading to a jackknife trucking accident include:
- Driving at unsafe speeds requiring the driver to slam on the brakes
- Driving with an empty trailer with insufficient traction between the trailer and road
- Failure to brake progressively to slow the truck gradually
- Not maintaining safe distances between the truck and traffic on the road
- Braking of decelerating on a curve
- Failure to properly balance or secure the load in a trailer
- Failure to safely maintain the tractor and trailer
The risk of serious injury from a jackknifed truck is significant, especially in major metropolitan areas like Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso, where heavy traffic requires truck drivers to drive more cautiously.
What are the other most common causes of 18 wheeler accidents in Texas?
In addition to jackknife accidents, 18 wheelers can cause collisions for several other reasons. These reasons are often completely preventable. These include:
- Distracted driving
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Failure to maintain safe distances from other cars, especially in heavy traffic
- Failing to drive safely under the weather conditions
- Driver fatigue
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Defective tractor or trailer parts
- Improper maintenance and inspections
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Driving while using mobile devices like smartphones
- Driving longer than permitted under hours of service rules under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The cause of a truck accident in Texas may result from the negligence of more than the driver. The trucking company may directly play a role, along with separate companies that inspect trucks or load cargo. Commercial trucking companies have a duty to maintain vehicles, establish safety rules for drivers and ensure drivers have proper training and qualifications. Your Texas truck accident attorney will investigate your case to determine how the wreck happened and who must compensate you for your injuries and losses.
What should I do after a truck accident?
The minutes after a truck accident is a critical time. You may be hurt, in shock, disoriented, confused, experiencing a serious bodily injury or concussion. At the same time, the truck driver may be looking for a way to avoid losing a CDL due to the wreck. The driver may try to convince you not to call the police or distract you from trying to figure out what happened.
After a truck accident, you should always call the police. The police need to come to the scene and investigate the collision so they can create a police report of the collision. The police can:
- Interview the truck driver to get the driver’s side of the story
- Review the driver’s driving logs, inspection records and hazard signage on the truck
- Take photos and video of the scene and interviews
- Draw diagrams of the wreck
- Collect evidence from the vehicles
- Assist you with getting emergency medical care
If you are safely able to move, you should also take photos or video of the scene after the wreck. The police department may not arrive right away and you should preserve as much evidence as you can immediately after the wreck.
Afterwards, you should obtain emergency medical care. Even if you think you are ok or not seriously injured, you should seek medical care right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the seriousness of injuries and help you get healthy sooner. After getting medical treatment, you should contact Texas truck accident attorneys to review your case.
Contact Texas truck accident attorneys to review your case
Truck accidents in Texas can lead to serious or fatal injuries that affect your health and the financial well-being of you and your family. Serious injuries can lead to long term health problems and may affect your earning potential for the rest of your life. It is important to receive quality healthcare after a trucking accident and your personal injury attorney can help you get treatment to get back on your feet.
In a truck accident case you can recover financially several types of compensation including:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Past lost wages
- Future lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Loss of use and disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering, including mental anguish and emotional distress
Experienced Texas truck accident attorneys know how to investigate and fight for fair compensation after a semi truck collision. Do not let the trucking companies and their insurance companies take advantage of you. Hire an experienced truck accident attorney to fight for what you deserve.