Texas 18-wheeler collisions: Causes, types, legal remedies

On behalf of Dennis Reich at Reich & Binstock LLP

Victims of driver or trucking company negligence may have legal claims to recover damages for medical costs, pain and suffering, property loss and more.

ImageOn any day, news appears in the media about serious motor vehicle collisions between semi trucks and smaller vehicles in the Houston area. Of course, a car is no match for the weight and size of a semi in a crash. After all, large commercial trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than smaller passenger vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports that there were 34,230 accidents involving commercial motor vehicles in the state in 2015. Harris County, including Houston, had the most of these collisions of any Texas county at 5,887 that year.

It is not surprising that tractor-trailer traffic is heavy in and around Houston, which is crisscrossed by major Interstate and other highways. Trucks haul freight through the Houston area to and from Mexico, and to and from the Port of Houston or Bayport Container Terminal.

There is plenty of freight to move too, considering the major industries in the Lone Star State involving oil and gas, agriculture, steel, construction, manufacturing, technology, retail, chemical manufacturing and more.

Truck accident characteristics

Any kind of collision with a big rig is likely to be serious, but certain kinds of accidents are unique to trucks:

  • A smaller vehicle may under ride the truck, meaning that the car will go under the higher carriage of the truck, either at the side of the truck or in the back if the under-ride guard fails. This puts passengers at great risk of head injury or worse.
  • A tractor-trailer may jackknife, meaning that when control is lost, the trailer in relation to the dab pulling it skids into an angular position.
  • Collisions can happen during the turning of a semi, complicated and difficult because of the size and angle of the large rig as compared to the road it is on and the intersecting street.
  • Big rigs can tip or roll over because of the weight and height of the vehicles, especially if freight is not properly loaded.

Commercial truck crash causes

Of course, there are many, many reasons that motor vehicle accidents occur, but semi-truck crashes have some common causes:

  • Driver fatigue is problematic because of long hours and distances. However, sleep and rest time, time off between trips, and how long a driver may drive at one stretch are all heavily regulated. Violating these hour-of-service or HOS regulations may open a driver to liability for a crash from resulting fatigue or concentration problems.
  • Driver distraction when operating commercial motor vehicles contributes to accidents. CMV drivers are restricted from using hand-held phones, but some violate this rule. Other driver distractions include eating, talking and more.
  • A driver may be inadequately trained, screened or licensed.
  • A big rig can be negligently maintained or repaired, causing equipment to fail. This is especially dangerous regarding brakes.
  • A driver may drive negligently or recklessly for weather conditions, darkness, traffic, construction zones and in regard to other conditions, including violations of traffic laws such as by speeding.
  • And many more

Speak to an attorney about legal remedies for truck accident injury and death

Immediate retention of an attorney allows him or her to launch an investigation of the incident on behalf of the victims.

The lawyers of Reich & Binstock in Houston represent clients who have been hurt in collisions with semi trucks and other large commercial vehicles in personal injury claims as well those who are the survivors of people killed in such accidents in wrongful death lawsuits.