Driving next to a large truck or an 18-wheeler can be intimidating, scary, and even a bit dangerous. A traffic accident involving a commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler or big rig tractor trailer, can be much more catastrophic than an ordinary car accident. Semi truck accidents cause a significant number of car accidents, as well as fatalities, each year. A wreck with an 18-wheeler truck can devastate a life instantly.
With their tremendous size and sheer power, large trucks are one of the more troublesome aspects that drivers of smaller passenger cars have to overcome on a daily basis. With heavy (and sometimes dangerous or hazardous) goods being transported all across the country via truck (especially Texas and Houston), there is an overwhelming amount of semi truck traffic that passes over Texas roads and highways.
A typical, fully loaded large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds. Because of the large size of semi trucks, any collision between a semi truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries.
An accident involving a large commercial truck may create liability for not just the driver of the trailer, but also the owner of the container being transported and the owner of the load in the container. If you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries by bringing a legal claim against any and all responsible parties.
No matter what type of injury you’ve suffered, it is important to seek representation from an experienced truck accident lawyer. Filing an insurance claim can feel very complicated, which is made worse when you are suffering from the pain of an accident related injury.
You don’t have to do it alone!
I have over 15 years of experience handling truck accidents and I can help you receive the maximum recovery in the least amount of time.
18-Wheeler and Semi Truck Accident FAQs
Every year, more than 500,000 large trucking accidents occur in the United States, resulting in over 5,000 fatalities and 140,000 injuries. These disturbing statistics prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to employ new trucking guidelines in 2003, which limit truck drivers’ on-duty hours, enhanced vehicle safety rules, and more.
Here are some additional data points:
- In 2005, there were an estimated 6,159,000 police-reported traffic crashes, in which 43,443 people were killed and 2,699,000 people were injured.
- One out of eight traffic fatalities in 2005 resulted from collisions involving a large truck.
- In 2005, there were 16,885 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes.
- An average of 119 persons died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2005—one every 12 minutes.
- Deaths and injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons of every age from 3 through 33 (based on 2003 data).
There are a variety of reasons that a truck can cause an accident. There are certain factors that are more common than others. These fall into three general categories: driver error, external conditions, and defective equipment.
A number of common factors may contribute to large trucking accidents including, but not limited to:
- Driver fatigue
- Unsecured loads
- Driver drug or alcohol abuse
- Driver carelessness or recklessness
- Mechanical problems
- Brake failures
- Decreased visibility
- Safety standards not followed
The most common cause of truck accidents is driver error. This can range from gross negligence to simple accidents. Lack of training or experience can lead to poor decision making that causes sudden lane changes, wide turns, and dangerous interactions with bridges and roads. Alcohol or drug abuse can impair a truck driver’s ability to drive. Fatigue and schedule pressure can take a real toll on truck drivers, causing accidents and fatalities.
External conditions can be a cause of truck accidents. Since trucks and tractor trailers are so large, they are at special risk in dangerous external conditions. Snowstorms, water or ice on the road, narrow bridges, and reduced visibility due to fog or rain can all cause accidents.
Commercial trucks are like any type of vehicle and can suffer from design flaws and defective equipment. These flaws can be fatal and cause injury or even death. Defective equipment and/or design can cause large trucks to roll over, jackknife, or have a loss of driver control. Components such as brakes can fail, and features such as lack of side and rear bumpers can cause increased damage to the vehicle hit by a truck.
While large trucks provide an important service to many American industries, their massive size poses significant hazards on roads and freeways.
In truck collisions, federal regulation requires over the road trucks to carry various levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of materials hauled. The State of Texas requires a tractor trailer truck to carry a much higher minimum liability insurance policy than a typical passenger vehicle.
Many times, trucking, hauling, and leasing companies may argue over which insurance company is responsible for compensating the victim in a truck collision. Current federal regulations protect the innocent party by helping to ensure coverage.
When proving your case in a truck accident, the primary legal theory of liability is negligence. One must prove that the other party (the truck driver, trucking company, or other party) was liable for the accident.
A person injured in a commercial truck accident must show that:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff the duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury, under the circumstances.
- The defendant failed to exercise such reasonable care.
- The defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care was the cause of the injury suffered by the plaintiff.
This is why an experienced truck accident attorney is critical to you obtaining the most compensation possible for your claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, call my law firm for a free case evaluation. I am experienced in handling personal injury cases and I have an established track record of getting compensation for victims of truck accident injuries.
If you are injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you should take the following steps to protect your physical health and future claim:
- If your injuries allow, take photos of the accident scene so you can document your case. This includes pictures of your vehicle, the commercial truck, any collision debris, the weather, and road conditions.
- Gather the names and contact information for any witnesses of the crash.
- File a police report to begin the documentation trail of your accident.
- Seek medical attention and inform your doctor about your accident. Describe all your injuries, aches and pains.
- Retain copies of your medical records and bills.
- Gather any information that will support your claim. This could include additional photos of the accident, statements from witnesses, photos of your injuries, and copies of your medical records.
- Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who specializes in roadside collisions and injuries.
- Avoid signing any documentation or statement until you have spoken with an attorney.
It is important that you seek medical help after the accident!
For any serious or life-threatening injuries, you should immediately go to the emergency room for treatment. Serious injuries would include things like whiplash, severe burns, broken bones, severe trauma, uncontrollable bleeding, and breathing difficulties.
For lesser injuries or symptoms, you should go to urgent care. But keep in mind, adrenaline can mask injuries, so you should visit urgent care even if you don’t feel like you absolutely need to.
This varies by state, but in Texas, this is set at two years from the date of the accident. The statute of limitations for truck accident claims is the same timeframe Texas uses for most personal injury claims.
You should contact the police to investigate the accident and create a police report. This will allow you to use this report for your personal injury claim and settlement.
The report will include key data points such as:
- Date and time of the accident
- Location of the accident
- Details about the weather and road conditions
- Parties involved in the collision - this includes you and the driver of the commercial truck
- Contact information of the witnesses
- Statements from the involved parties and witnesses
- A diagram of the scene
- Any citations or violations that occurred
- Suggested cause of the accident and possible fault
Truck accident settlements will vary from case to case. There is no possible way to predict how much compensation an injured person should get at the time they consult with an attorney. The case details, the severity of the injury, and the individuals at fault will all influence the compensation provided. This is best discussed with the attorney in person at your consultation.
Representation is extremely important. If you have been hurt in an accident with a semi truck or 18-wheeler, let me serve as your advocate and help you maximize your settlement. An injured party will always gain a better financial result by hiring an experienced attorney versus handling the claim on your own.
Yes, anyone can negotiate a truck accident settlement; however, both paperwork and patience will be required—not to mention experience. The negotiation process can also feel intimidating and confusing without assistance. Would you know how to handle a 3rd party healthcare subrogation lien? A Medicare lien? These are all things an experienced attorney will handle as part of your complete injury claim.
The personal injury claim process (once the client is finished with medical treatment) starts with a formal demand letter and documentation of the entire claim. This would be followed by investigation by the insurance company and an insurance adjuster’s offer of compensation. It is at this point that the negotiation process would start.
Since you will need to provide support for your claim and have a good understanding of the claims process, it is best to consult with an experienced accident attorney who can help verify you get the most compensation for your medical bills, expenses, pain, lost wages and suffering.
Some cases last only a few months and others could last years. The timeframe varies from case to case and depends on the court’s calendar and how many other cases are ahead of you. It is important to remember that most truck accident claims do not go to court, which would help decrease the time for resolution.
From my 20 years experience, about 80% of personal injury cases settle outside of court.
Yes. In Texas, you can sue for compensation related to pain and suffering. Texas courts recognize the impact that pain and suffering can have on accident victims, and they allow injured parties to seek financial compensation for these damages.
Almost any type of emotional, physical, or mental harm resulting from an 18-wheeler or semi truck accident can qualify as pain and suffering. These would include, but not be limited to, the following items:
- Emotional distress or grief
- Short-term physical pain or discomfort
- Long-term chronic pain or discomfort
- Disability such as a scar or disfigurement
- Loss of a body part due to amputation
- Loss of an important bodily function
- Psychological trauma such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Diminished quality of life
The jury or judge may calculate pain and suffering damages in virtually any manner; however, in most cases the calculation is based on a multiplier method or a per diem method.
The multiplier method takes into account your loss and multiplies this by the severity of your injuries. The per diem method is based on the days it takes for you to heal from your injuries.
Each case is unique, so it is best to discuss estimated calculations with your lawyer.
An active health insurance policy generally covers medical treatment for injuries related to trucks accidents.
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If you are injured and believe you have been a victim of someone else’s negligence, call me at 281-929-0110 for a free initial consultation. Or if it is an emergency, please feel free to text me at 832-797-7600.
*As your personal injury lawyer, I will only receive a fee if we recover a settlement or jury verdict for you. In other words, you don’t pay any legal fees unless I make a financial recovery for you!
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