To many people, the ways in which truck accidents are different from car accidents are obvious. However, many truck accident victims don’t realize how different the claims process is. Even the smallest mistakes in a case could cost you, which is why victims should always work with an experienced truck accident attorney. In this blog, the truck accident lawyers in Houston with Reich & Binstock outline what happens when a truck driver has an accident, as well as how you can give your case the best chance of a favorable outcome.
If you were injured in an accident involving a truck or another commercial vehicle that wasn’t your fault, you have the legal right to pursue compensation for your losses. Trucking companies have teams of lawyers on their side to fight against accusations of their drivers causing accidents. Facing these powerful entities alone can feel like an impossible task. However, working with an experienced truck accident lawyer can give you the edge you need in your case. To schedule your free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck driving accidents aren’t as common as passenger vehicle accidents, but they are often much more destructive. This is largely due to the relative size and weight of commercial vehicles (like 18-wheelers) compared to regular vehicles. Many of the common causes of commercial truck accidents overlap with the common causes of car accidents. However, other reasons exist that are unique to truck accident cases. Below, we outline the most common truck accident causes.
- Distracted driving: Truck drivers often work long, boring hours with nobody to interact with. As a result, they may feel tempted to text or call someone, which can take their eyes and attention away from the road.
- Truck driver fatigue: Again, truck drivers work long hours, often late at night and early in the morning. Trucking companies often pressure their drivers to work these long hours to meet delivery demands, which could increase the chances of a traffic accident.
- Driving under the influence: Obviously, drunk or drugged driving is extremely dangerous to both the driver and others on the road. The danger is compounded when you add a several-ton, 40-foot-long truck into the mix. Unfortunately, many truck drivers succumb to drug and alcohol addiction due to their solitary lifestyle.
- Poor truck maintenance: Large trucks require consistent maintenance to remain fit for long hours on the road. If a truck driver or maintenance technician fails to properly maintain a truck, they could be held liable for a crash.
- Reckless driving: Speeding, tailgating, and unsafe passing are all ways in which a truck driver might act recklessly. Some might be aggressive drivers, while others feel pressured by the trucking company to make deliveries as quickly as possible.
- Bad weather/road hazards: Nobody can control the weather or the safety of a road, but they can control how they drive in certain conditions. Many jackknife truck accidents have occurred from drivers failing to adjust their driving in bad weather or on dangerous roads.
- Inadequate truck driver training: To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), one must take certified courses. However, companies in the trucking industry are responsible for ensuring their drivers are properly trained. Poorly trained drivers are more likely to make mistakes or cause an accident.
- Uneven cargo loading: Companies that load heavy cargo onto commercial trucks have a responsibility to do so evenly and safely. Failure to do so could cause an accident from shifting cargo.
- Negligent hiring: A trucking company also has a responsibility to do their research during the hiring process. Failure to conduct a background check could result in hiring a driver with a poor record.
Types of Truck Accidents
Certain types of semi-truck accidents are more common than others because of the size and weight of these trucks. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the following truck accident types are the most common.
- Rollover accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Jackknife truck accidents
- Sideswipe accidents
- T-bone accidents
- Wide turn accidents
Regardless of what kind of truck driving accident occurs, the involvement of a commercial vehicle makes them more dangerous than the average car accident. If you were injured in any type of commercial vehicle accident, you shouldn’t be left with painful injuries and expensive medical bills.
Who Is at Fault in a Truck Accident?
This heavily depends on the specific facts of a truck accident case. All truck accident lawsuits are unique, so we recommend speaking with a personal injury lawyer to determine liability. By examining how the accident happened, we can determine which parties are responsible for your injuries.
In many cases, the truck driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer is to blame.
The Truck Driver
Truck drivers could be held liable for commercial truck accidents in a number of ways. As we mentioned before, they might cause an accident by drunk driving, distracted driving, reckless driving, or driving while fatigued. Every CDL driver has a responsibility to uphold a strict standard of safety while behind the wheel. Failure to do so could cause serious or fatal injuries to passengers and drivers involved in an accident.
The Trucking Company
If the trucking company encourages its truck drivers to ignore safety regulations to maximize profits, it could be liable for any resulting accidents. It may also be held responsible if an accident occurred due to poor truck driver training or lack of proper vehicle maintenance.
The Truck Manufacturer
Defective auto parts could also lead to a truck accident. If a crucial truck part breaks, fails, or malfunctions and causes an accident, car accident victims could file a claim against the manufacturer. It’s important to work with a skilled legal team if you plan to take on large manufacturing or trucking companies.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Trucking Accident
If you have sustained serious injuries in a truck accident, the next steps you take could affect your ability to seek compensation. We understand that these situations are stressful and often scary, but it’s important to do everything you can to help your case. Immediately following a serious commercial truck accident, we recommend taking the following steps.
Stay at the Accident Scene
Remain at the scene of the accident and move to a safe location if possible. Check yourself for injuries and then check others for injuries. It’s very important that you stay on the scene until the authorities arrive, as leaving prematurely could damage your case and credibility.
Contact Emergency Services
If someone has not already done so, contact the police and other emergency services, such as an ambulance. Reporting semi-truck accidents to the police is crucial, as this will serve as evidence when the police report is written. Be sure to inform law enforcement of whether anyone was injured or killed and describe what happened without blaming anyone. We advise against saying much more than this without an attorney present.
Exchange Information With Those Involved in the Accident
Texas law mandates that those involved in an accident exchange insurance information and report the incident to law enforcement. If possible, get information from the truck driver about their insurance company. Exchange insurance information with all other drivers involved in the accident as well.
Exchange Information With Witnesses
If there are any witnesses to the accident, we also recommend getting their names and contact information. Witness testimony can be very helpful in a personal injury case, so it’s important to gather witness information for more evidence. Although the police will likely interview witnesses, your lawyer will reach out for more information when possible.
Document the Accident
While you are still at the scene, take pictures and videos of the accident if you can. We recommend taking pictures specifically of the vehicles, road conditions, weather conditions, injuries, and marks on the road. These small details could prove incredibly useful in that they will paint a picture of how the accident occurred.
Keep All Accident-Related Records
You should also keep any and all documents related to the accidents. This includes medical records, proof of lost wages, witness statements, and anything else related to the crash. Any accident records are important, as they may be used as evidence to build a stronger case.
Don’t Admit Fault and Watch What You Say
Even if someone asks you directly about who is to blame for the accident, don’t point the finger at anyone. It is especially important to avoid implying you contributed to the accident. When the police arrive, simply describe the facts of what happened and then say no more. If the truck driver’s employer or insurance company contacts you, refuse to give them any information unless your attorney advises you otherwise.
Even the smallest statement could be used by the employer or insurance company of the commercial driver in refuting your claims. They will have teams of lawyers on their side, so it’s important to secure legal representation before speaking with them.
Seek Medical Treatment
As soon as possible, you should seek medical attention. Even if you don’t feel any pain or see any injuries, this is a crucial step to take after an accident. The sooner you see a doctor, the better. This will more closely tie any injuries you have to the accident and generate more evidence in the form of medical records. Waiting too long to see a doctor could cast doubt on the credibility of your claim.
Contact a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer
Even if you feel confident in your evidence and ability to take on a trucking firm, we strongly advise you to speak with an experienced lawyer. Semi-truck accidents are very complicated, especially if settlement agreements don’t work out. Having legal counsel is crucial for protecting your interests both in court and during settlement negotiations.
Truck Driver Accident Procedures
When a truck driver gets into an accident, they often have established protocols that they must follow. In many cases, drivers are required to take the following steps after an accident.
- Stop, secure the vehicle, and turn off the engine.
- Put out emergency lights and cones to protect the area from further damage.
- Help any injured person who is in immediate danger, if possible.
- Notify law enforcement and emergency services.
- Provide their contact information to the other parties involved.
- Fill out a preliminary accident report and notify their employer of the accident.
How Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?
There are several reasons why truck accident cases tend to be more complicated than regular car accidents. For starters, trucks are massive vehicles that often carry heavy cargo and dangerous materials. Their relative size and weight make them much more destructive than passenger vehicles.
An injured victim will face the truck driver’s employer and insurance company rather than just a defendant and their attorney. This is why working with a highly experienced attorney is so important.
Even the causes of truck accidents often differ from the causes of car accidents. Trucks are large, heavy vehicles. Their sheer size makes it difficult for them to stop as quickly as passenger vehicles can. Accidents may also occur due to equipment failure or manufacturer defects.
All in all, truck accidents are almost always more complicated than the average car accident. These cases often involve larger damages and potentially multiple liable parties. Again, we strongly recommend working with a skilled commercial vehicle accident lawyer for these complex cases.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents in Texas?
The statute of limitations describes how much time someone has to file a lawsuit after an accident occurs. Accident victims and their family members have two years from the date of an accident involving bodily injury or death to file a personal injury claim. Evidence fades and loses its strength over time, which is why the statute of limitations exists.
Contact a Houston Truck Accident Attorney at Reich & Binstock Today
If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, the compassionate team at Reich & Binstock is here for you. We have decades of experience handling commercial accident claims in Texas, so we have what it takes to go up against big companies. As an accident victim, you deserve to recover compensation from the parties responsible for the accident. To schedule a free consultation with our law firm, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.