Trucking companies are shipping goods, including oil, all over the state of Texas on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this intense truck traffic means that a lot of car drivers get into an accident with these heavyweights of the road. And the consequences are terrible. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2020 there were 500 fatal truck accidents and 15,592 non-fatal accidents in Texas. In total, nearly 10,000 people died or were left with severe injuries as a result of a collision with large commercial vehicles. If you or your loved one was a truck accident victim, we encourage you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Glenn Law Firm to prepare and negotiate your claim for compensation.
Trucking accidents are among the most severe life changing events for anyone. Truck drivers are frequently fatigued because they have to meet tight delivery deadlines. Poor maintenance may cause a truck to fail braking on time. Bad weather conditions and potholes can make even an experienced driver cause an accident if they drive a fully loaded 18-wheeler. When the truck is carrying oil, the accident may also ignite the fuel and lead to a massive, destructive fire.
Truck Accident Attorneys Know Whom to Hold Liable
First of all, you need to understand that commercial trucks fall into different size categories. However, any motor vehicle accident involving this type of vehicle poses the same challenges in terms of identifying all the responsible parties and winning a fair compensation for your economic damages and non-economic damages.
Thus, truck crashes can involve:
- 18-wheelers or big rigs
- delivery trucks
- delivery vans
- tanker trucks
- cement trucks
- dump trucks.
In general, any large vehicle owned and operated by a company in the trucking industry falls into this category. When you are involved in a crash with such a vehicle, you may be tempted to pursue the driver and their insurance company to reach a financial settlement. An experienced truck accident lawyer will go after those who are ultimately responsible for creating the conditions for the collision to happen:
- trucking companies
- truck manufacturers
- companies that provide regular maintenance to trucks
- delivery companies that hire trucks to carry merchandise.
Truck Accident Causes in Texas. Why Do Truck Accidents Happen? A List of Common Causes
Commercial truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the driver is solely responsible for the crash. In other cases, their responsibility is shared with their employer or other third parties.
Here are the most common truck accident causes:
1. Driver Fatigue
In the state of Texas, the law states that a truck driver must be on duty for maximum 15 consecutive hours, out of which only 12 hours of actual driving. Between on-duty periods, drivers must take a break of 8 consecutive hours.
In reality, the truck company they work for gives them unrealistic deadlines for reaching a specific destination to load or unload merchandise. Thus, many truckers will exceed the maximum number of consecutive driving hours and fatigue sets in. A drowsy driver will fail to notice incoming traffic and react in time to avoid a crash.
2. Distracted Truck Drivers
Distracted driving causes crashes all the time, but when we are talking about a fully loaded truck, the consequences of the crash can be catastrophic. Texting and driving, fiddling with the navigation or entertainment systems in the truck or looking for an address will cause the driver to take their eyes off the road for a few moments.
Unfortunately, that is all it takes for an accident to happen, especially on crowded highways. Given the fact that a tractor trailer with a full load needs the equivalent distance of 2 football fields to come to a full stop, it is easy to picture the damage caused by a truck out of control.
3. Driving Under Influence
US truck drivers hold a negative record - they have the highest frequency of positive tests for alcohol consumption in the world, according to the American Addiction Centers (AAC). The same organization conducted a survey indicating that 50% of truck drivers consume alcohol, while 30% use amphetamines. Other drivers admit to using various illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, to stay awake for longer hours.
A driver under influence has impaired senses and reflexes. This can lead to a tragedy, especially if they are transporting hazardous materials. Accident victims usually suffer catastrophic injuries with long lasting effects on their ability to live a normal life.
4. Reckless Driving
Speeding, changing lanes and overtaking other vehicles are instances of reckless driving if the vehicle is a fully loaded 18-wheeler or tractor truck. According to AAC, younger drivers are more likely to engage in reckless driving, because they want to accumulate as many paid hours as possible and they lack the experience and reflexes of older drivers.
In some instances, reckless driving can be viewed as gross negligence, allowing the victim to request punitive damages, as well as compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
5. Defective Vehicles
In some cases, an 18-wheeler driver loses control of the vehicle because it has a design or manufacturing defect, which was not detected before now. Substandard materials, sloppy assembly work or other similar issues can compromise a good design and create an unsafe vehicle, leading to dangerous conditions, such as the wheels suddenly blocking or a malfunctioning brake.
In this case, the truck accident claim will be filed against the truck manufacturer and their subcontractors, who provided poor quality parts and workmanship.
6. Poor Maintenance
Trucks are vehicles subject to intense use and wear and tear. This means that they need constant preventive maintenance and repair works. If these works are not carried out on time or are carried out in an improper manner, the vehicle may malfunction, leading to a fatal truck accident.
In this case, the fault party is the company that provides maintenance and repair services for the fleet of trucks.
7. Poorly Trained Drivers
Driving a heavy truck is very different from driving a passenger car. Commercial truck drivers must receive specific training, including in preventive driving and trucking regulations on safety. In many cases, truck companies will literally hire anyone with the right type of driving license. Thus, there are thousands of truck drivers who do not know how to react in certain situations in order to prevent an accident.
In these cases, the responsibility for the crash is shared between the inexperienced driver and their employer.
8. Overloaded Truck or Improper Loading
Each truck has a specific maximum loading capacity. In some cases, the trucking company will accept to exceed this capacity, because they want to make more money. In other cases, the cargo load is unevenly distributed across the trailer floor. This causes the truck to tilt to one side or another, creating the conditions for an accident to happen.
When the driver brakes, the overloaded or unevenly loaded trailer will continue moving out of inertia. In this case, one or several passenger cars may get trapped and crushed between the tractor and the trailer.
9. Failure to Use Signaling Triangles
When a big rig or delivery truck malfunctions, the driver needs to pull it to the side of the road and signal its presence with triangles or flares. Failure to do so, especially during the night or in bad weather conditions may cause other drivers to see the truck too late to avoid collision.
In such situations, the truck driver is the main fault party in the accident.
10. Poor Road Conditions
Debris on the road or potholes can cause even experienced drivers to cause a truck accident. If this is the main cause of the crash, a skilled personal injury lawyer will help you identify all the responsible parties and get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Reasons to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Case
As you can see, there are many reasons why truck accidents occur. Depending on the cause, an experienced truck accident attorney will identify several at-fault parties, resulting in the recovery of a larger amount of money to cover your expenses and losses.
An experienced law firm will conduct a detailed truck accident investigation and examine relevant pieces of evidence, such as:
- the police report prepared at the accident scene
- the driver's log book
- cell phone records to find out if the driver was texting and driving
- the employment records of the trucking company to identify a pattern of negligent hiring
- truck maintenance records
- drunk driver's alcohol test indicating the BAC level
- shipping documents to identify instances of an overloaded truck.
These are valuable documents if settlement negotiations with insurance companies fail and the lawyer advises you to file a truck accident lawsuit.
At Glenn Law Firm you will benefit from the professional advice of a personal injury attorney with nearly 40 years of experience. We are experienced in conducting negotiations to reach a fair settlement for our clients, or taking their cases to court and winning.
We work on a contingency basis, so you can afford to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer. Do not wait until the statute of limitations (2 years) for taking action expires. Call us now for a free case review: 817-424-5999!