Getting answers after a semi-truck accident can be tough. Was the truck’s driver at fault, or did something else go wrong, like a defective truck part or another driver initiating a chain of events that led to the crash? Who will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and other losses? How will you continue supporting your family if you cannot work or take care of your home as you did before the accident? Will you ever recover fully?
If these questions sound familiar, call Burch Law Firm today. Our New Braunfels truck accident lawyers are here to help you through the turmoil that follows a serious accident. Let us review your situation and set out your legal options during a free claim review.
Common Causes of Trucking Accident
To state and federal regulators, a “large truck” is any truck that weighs more than 10,000 pounds – from box trucks making local deliveries to tractor-trailers hauling freight cross country. No matter their size or load, however, these trucks all have one thing in common: they’re larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. And when a truck collides with a passenger vehicle, serious harm can result.
In a truck accident, the occupants of a passenger car, pickup, or SUV almost always suffer more severe injuries than the occupant of the truck. The average passenger car weighs about 3,500 pounds and stands about 6 feet high. In other words, it’s no match for a fully-loaded 18-wheeler weighing up to 80,000 pounds and standing nearly 14 feet high.
Although careless truckers are often at fault for crashes, the actual causes of an accident can be more complicated than mere driver error. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents on Texas roads:
- Truck Driver Error, Negligence, or Distraction. Although many truck drivers work hard to drive carefully, it takes only a single mistake, a moment of careless or distraction, or a few seconds of sleepiness to cause a crash.
- Hidden Defects or Malfunctions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces a wide range of regulations related to truck maintenance, repair, and upkeep. Neglected maintenance or repair can trigger a malfunction that leads to a crash. Even if the truck is kept in good working order, however, a hidden defect in a factory or replacement part might cause an accident or make accident injuries worse – and no one may realize the part is defective until after it has failed.
- Trucking Company Negligence. Trucking companies have a responsibility to keep equipment in good working order, screen and test drivers, and ensure that the people they put behind the wheel are capable of taking on the important task of driving safely. When a company fails to do so and injuries result, the company may be liable.
- Car Driver Error, Negligence, or Distraction. Trucks share the road with many passenger vehicles, and many car drivers are not as well-trained or careful as truck drivers. In an attempt to avoid a collision with a careless driver, a truck’s driver may perform defensive maneuvers that, unfortunately, result in a collision with another vehicle.
Because 18-wheelers are so large and are complex machines, they can be very difficult to control. If a truck driver loses control of a truck near your vehicle, you may be involved in one of the following four kinds of truck accidents:
- Vehicle Rollovers
- Head-On Collisions
- Rear-End Accidents
Whatever the direction and force of impact, occupants of smaller vehicles are likely to sustain serious injuries. Moreover, the automobile in which they are traveling is apt to be significantly damaged, as well. Addressing the costs incurred by treatment and repairs is one aim of a civil lawsuit against a negligent truck driver or trucking company.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Truck Crash
If you’re in a truck crash, follow these steps at the scene as best you can. If you were injured in a crash and were unable to complete some of these steps, don’t worry. Simply contact an experienced lawyer who can help you gather information and take additional steps to protect your rights.
- Get everyone to safety.
If you can, move yourself and others to a safe place out of traffic. Using items like vehicle lights, reflective objects, flashlights, and road flares can make the vehicles easier to see, so that other drivers can safely navigate past the accident site. If anyone is unconscious or complaining of head, neck, or back pain, however, do not move them. Wait for paramedics to arrive.
- Call 911. Call, or ask someone to call, 911 as soon as you can. Give the best description of the accident’s location that you can. Remember not to hang up until the dispatcher hangs up first, so that you can provide all the information they need.
- Take notes if you can.
Use a pad and paper or your phone to take notes about what you remember from the moments leading up to the accident. Draw a diagram of the accident scene or take photos with a camera or smartphone. Get the truck driver’s name, insurance and contact info, as well as information about the trucking company. If there are any witnesses, try to get their contact information as well. Witnesses may also be willing to give you a short statement about what they saw, and that information may be helpful in establishing the accident’s cause.
- Don’t say the accident was your fault.
In the moments after a crash, your mind is racing. You’ve just been through a traumatic event, and your ability to think clearly about details and remember what happened may be adversely affected. Even if you have perfect recall, you only have your own perspective – you don’t know, for instance, if a defective truck part made the crash inevitable. To protect your own legal rights, don’t say that the accident was your fault, even if you think it may have been. Instead, wait until all the facts are available before you assign blame.
- Follow all your doctor’s instructions.
Get medical care as soon as you can after the accident, even if you don’t feel injured at first. The adrenaline from a crash may mask symptoms of serious injuries. Many truck accident injuries, like whiplash and other soft tissue damage, can take a few days to fully appear. Keep all your follow-up appointments and appointments with specialists. Follow all your doctor’s instructions, including instructions for taking medication, doing physical therapy exercises, or using medical devices like a brace or crutch. You’ll maximize your chances for the fullest possible recovery and build the best record of your injuries and medical needs for your case.
Fighting for Texas Victims of Semi Truck Accidents
Large semi trucks are a common sight on Texas roads. The size and weight of these 18-wheel behemoths is many times that of passenger cars and pickup trucks. When a semi truck collides with a car or pickup, the results are often tragic for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Pursuing compensation for the victims of a semi truck accident is more complex than litigating a typical automobile accident case. Semi trucks and their drivers are subject to a number of federal and state laws and regulations. At the Burch Law Firm, we understand how to investigate whether a violation of one or more of these regulations was the cause of a semi truck accident.
Government trucking regulations address everything from how loads must be secured to how many hours of rest a trucker must get before going back out on the road. Trucks must be regularly inspected to ensure that brakes, lights, tires and other equipment are in good condition and functioning properly. In addition, semi truck drivers must meet the qualifications required to obtain a commercial driver’s license in Texas.
When an individual is injured in a collision caused by an inattentive truck driver or negligent truck maintenance, they have the right to bring a lawsuit against not only the truck driver but the company that employed him or her. The company can be held liable under a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, which holds an employer liable for the negligence of an employee in the course of their job duties. The company can also be directly liable for truck maintenance issues, or for hiring an unqualified truck driver.
At the Burch Law Firm, we have the experience and the skills to hold trucking companies and their insurance carriers accountable. You can find more information about our truck accident practice on our web page.
Holding Truck Companies Liable For Serious Truck Accidents
When people think truck accidents, they may think about a negligent truck driver. A sleepy truck driver may come to mind. And while many truck drivers are negligent in causing truck accidents, they may not be the only responsible party.
Truck companies can also be negligent in causing truck accidents. The truck company may be responsible for pushing a driver to drive more hours than is safe. Or a truck company may have failed to maintain a truck in safe working condition. In other situations, a truck company may have negligently hired a truck driver who was not qualified to drive a large commercial vehicle.
When a truck driver is negligent, that driver can be held liable for damages related to the accident. Like negligent truck drivers, truck companies can also be held legally responsible for an accident. This means that the truck company can be held responsible for any financial costs related to the accident if the company acted negligently.
These costs include medical expenses related to injuries caused by the accident, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering and more. This financial compensation can be vital to individuals as they recovered from a truck accident.
The attorneys at our law firm understand how important this compensation is to individuals. Our attorneys can help to examine all causes of an accident. We can help individuals determine if a negligent truck driver or a negligent truck company was responsible for causing the accident.
Contact Our New Braunfels, TX Office Today
At Burch Law Firm, we’re committed to helping each of our clients to get their lives back on track after an accident. We work closely with each client to ensure that we understand their needs and can move their case forward as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, contact our office today. If you’re recovering from serious injuries and cannot travel to our office, we’re happy to arrange a meeting in your home or hospital room. We’re passionate about fighting for the rights of injured people and securing the compensation they need for today and in the future. Call us today or fill out our online contact form if it is more convenient for you.