Tractor trailers, semi-trucks, diesel trucks, 18-wheelers, big rigs – no matter what you call them, accidents involving commercial trucks can have devastating consequences for Houston motorists. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in an accident involving a commercial or semi-truck, you need to contact the Houston truck accident lawyers at Blass Law. We can help you navigate the complicated legal process and hold the truck driver’s employer accountable for your injuries and property damage. If you were hit by a truck, call Blass Law at (713) 225-1900 or request a consultation online.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
Accidents involving commercial trucks, 18-wheel semi-tractor-trailers, garbage trucks, and postal/parcel delivery trucks can involve many different issues. Truck drivers travel many consecutive hours at a time, dealing with factors such as unfamiliar terrain, distracted drivers, and mechanical breakdowns. In addition to all of the factors that contribute to passenger vehicle accidents, truck drivers often struggle against sleep deprivation or road weariness. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists the following 10 elements as the most common contributing factors when it comes to truck accidents:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruptions (such as congestion or coming upon a prior crash)
- Traveling too fast for the environmental or weather conditions
- Roadway problems
- Unfamiliarity with a roadway
- Having to make unexpected or sudden stops to prevent a crash (at a crosswalk for pedestrians, stoplight, or other traffic control device)
- Prescription drug use
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
According to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), nearly a third of trucking accidents are due to fatigue. Fatigue itself can be influenced by
- Irregular schedules with limited routine
- Long stretches of night driving
- Lack of sufficient nutrition when eating on the go
- Loading and unloading heavy cargo between trips
Federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are designed to govern how long a driver is supposed to travel during a single stretch, how many hours of driving they can log per week, and how much time they are required to rest between shifts. However, drivers can sometimes falsify records in order to make extra deliveries, as a way of directly increasing their profits, and to deal with strenuous or even unrealistic scheduling demands.
Commercial truck accidents often require extensive investigation and fact-finding to determine the fault of an incident and to build a case with corroborating evidence. When investigating a potential claim, attorneys can look at employment records, certifications of the driver, trucking logs, inspection records, maintenance records, and/or citations for past driving violations to see if the driver or trucking company cut corners or did not adhere to important safety regulations.
Common Injuries Caused by 18-Wheeler Accidents
When a passenger vehicle gets hit by a truck, the consequences can be devastating. In accidents involving an 18-wheeler, the sheer size and weight of the semi increases the risk of serious bodily harm or fatalities to the people involved in the accident, including the truck driver and driver and/or passengers of the other vehicle(s). Common injuries resulting from a commercial truck accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken appendages
- Bone fractures
- Serious neck and back damage, including fractures and disc herniations
- Shoulder and leg injuries
- Neurological damage
- Wrongful death
Having to handle complicated legal issues while also suffering a severe injury or dealing with an injury that affects a child, sibling, or other loved one can prove equally upsetting and challenging for victims of an 18-wheeler accident.
Who is Responsible in a Commercial Truck Accident?
Like other commercial vehicle and rideshare accidents, truck accidents are inherently complicated. One or more of several parties can potentially be held liable for the accident, including the truck driver, the truck manufacturer, the driver’s employer, or the company who owns or loaded the cargo. Truck driving companies can be held responsible if they didn’t provide proper training to the individuals operating the commercial truck or 18-wheeler. Facing a shortage of truck drivers, companies are highly susceptible to hiring individuals who are not properly qualified to operate a large 80,000-pound vehicle. If companies did not adhere to important safety provisions when hiring and training truck drivers, they can face significant liability.
Several state and federal laws can impact a case and the chain of liability. For instance, Texas’ proportionate responsibility law, found in Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, factors into the equation. This law allows multiple parties to share fault and liability for an accident. It also states that a plaintiff may share partial responsibility, but still recover a portion of their damages, so long as their portion of responsibility does not exceed 51 percent.
Insurance is another complicating issue that can cause frustration a person is hit by a truck. Sometimes the truck and trailer involved in an accident are owned by different corporations and, therefore, insured separately. An experienced truck accident lawyer will identify the various lines of insurance coverage at play and, when possible, investigate negligence on the part of both parties, pursuing various avenues of financial compensation for the victim.
When to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney
After an accident occurs and is reported, the insurance agency or agencies providing coverage to the driver and/or trucking company will investigate the incident and gather their own evidence to defend any potential claim that may come against their clients. Victims of truck wrecks must resist the urge to accept low settlement offers from insurance companies that are only focused on making a profit and closing the case as quickly as possible.
The first steps to counteract that effort include seeking necessary medical treatment and contacting the experienced Houston truck accident attorneys at Blass Law. We will work diligently with you to persevere and take the necessary course of action until the insurance carrier and/or trucking companies are sufficiently held responsible and make a fair offer. In the meantime, the people involved or injured in the accident should not provide a written or recorded statement to the insurance companies or adjusters investigating the claim. Let the truck accident experts at Blass Law handle the insurance companies for you.
Contact a Houston 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one was hit by a truck, don’t try to deal with the insurance companies alone. Let the Houston truck accident lawyers at Blass Law investigate your claim and hold the trucking company and their insurance carriers responsible. You need compensation for your injuries, the damage to your car, and your time away from work and we know how to get it. Let us get you the recovery you need and deserve. Call Blass Law today at (713) 225-1900 or request a consultation online.