Truck Accident Lawyers in Houston, TX(281) 283-8500
When you or your loved one has been in a truck crash – including accidents involving tanker trucks, 18-wheelers, big trucks, or oilfield trucks – we’ll fight to get you the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.
Why You Need a Truck Accident Attorney
Truck wrecks are different than those with other vehicles. Severe injuries and fatalities are more likely with semi-truck collisions, and the insurance companies and policies from which you’ll be seeking compensation will be very different. You need a compassionate truck accident attorney who understands the challenges and who has the resources to fight back against powerful companies.
Speaking with an experienced truck accident attorney who has worked on cases involving commercial truck accidents is the best way to preserve your rights, as well as to gather evidence in a timely fashion.
A qualified truck accident lawyer can advocate that you receive medical care, such as diagnostic tests and consultations with specialists that you might not have obtained on your own. Additionally, an attorney with experience handling truck accident knows the inner workings of the trucking industry. This can significantly benefit your case. An attorney can investigate the truck crash, document your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and even file a lawsuit in court if necessary.
At the Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston truck accident lawyers has been fighting for the rights of those injured in big truck wrecks for decades. In fact, we obtained the largest commercial trucking verdict in Texas in 2014 with a $6,028,000 jury verdict after a motorcycle and tractor trailer collision resulted in a below-the-knee amputation.
How to Find a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney in Houston, TX
Here are some of the questions you should consider asking during your search for the right truck accident attorney to handle your truck accident lawsuit in Texas:
What is their focus?
An attorney who focuses on truck accident cases has specific knowledge about liability, faults in maintenance and inspections, mechanical issues that may have influenced the accident, and the inclusion of multiple liable parties in a lawsuit. An attorney can only gain this knowledge by trying real-world cases that result in significant compensation for the victims of commercial truck accidents.
Have they handled cases like this before?
Every case is unique, but a Houston personal injury attorney with significant experience in managing cases involving truck accidents is familiar not only with Texas state laws governing the operation of commercial big rigs but also with the federal laws that mandate maintenance, inspections, operation and other facets of the commercial trucking industry.
Do they have experience negotiating with insurance companies?
Many truck accident lawsuits never go to trial. They are settled through negotiation or arbitration. This is why it’s critical to engage a Houston personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies and obtaining fair compensation for injuries.
Do they have trial experience?
Truck accident cases often involve serious, life-changing injuries. If your truck accident lawsuit goes to trial here in Texas, you will want a truck accident attorney attorney who is confident and has the skills to fight for your best interests.
With more than 40 years of legal experience, The Krist Law Firm, P.C. knows how devastating an accident with a semi-truck can be. If you’ve been involved in a Houston trucking accident, you may be unsure of how you will continue after a serious and life-changing collision. Contact our knowledgeable Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at 281-283-8500 to find out how we can help you.
Compensation in Texas Truck Accidents
The goal of many truck crash lawyers is to reach a settlement with those responsible for injuries; however, we will always seek to obtain the most compensation possible. If we determine that we need to pursue a truck accident lawsuit to get you what you deserve, we have the resources to do so. We have taken many cases to court and will not hesitate to seek a jury verdict in your favor to get you what you need to cover the following damages after a truck accident:
- Medical costs
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Physical Limitations
- Loss of earning capacity
In an accident with a personal motor vehicle, you may not be able to recover fully for your losses. Insurance policies and the financial restrictions of the person responsible limit your ability to recover. However, commercial vehicles have much larger insurance policy limits and the trucking companies may have additional funds available. Depending on the type of vehicle, they may even have federal requirements for insurance coverage. Instead of covering part of your losses, we can help you obtain the compensation that will completely cover your past and future losses as well as legal expenses.
Fatal Truck Crashes
Unfortunately, collisions with large commercial vehicles can have results that are far worse than medical bills. Because of their large size and extreme weight, accidents with these vehicles may result in death. If your loved one was involved in a fatal truck wreck, you are likely experiencing emotional distress and are unsure of how to handle the financial loss.
You may be able to recover the following through a wrongful death claim:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of financial contributions
- Loss of care, support, maintenance, advice, and counsel
- Loss of love, companionship, comfort, and society
- Loss of inheritance you may have received if your family member had lived a normal expected lifetime.
You may also be able to recover for medical expenses, physical pain, and mental anguish that your loved one suffered prior to passing away because of the truck accident.
Our Houston truck accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. understand your concerns. We will compassionately listen to your story, determine your needs, and work with insurance companies and third parties to obtain the financial compensation that you deserve.
Understanding Truck Accident Injuries
If you are injured in a truck wreck, the driver of the truck or the company he or she works for may be liable for damages related to your injuries. Here are some of the most common truck accident injuries and their effects on the human body.
- Head and Brain Injuries — A head or brain injury can have long-lasting effects depending on the severity of the accident. Head injuries can be as mild as a concussion that fades in a day or two or as serious as mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which are conditions that can result in a variety of negative effects ranging from changes in personality to death. Truck accidents can cause severe injury to the head and brain of victims and these injuries are likely to be life-altering when they are incurred.
- Broken Bones — The amount of blunt force trauma involved in truck accidents can shatter bones and leave drivers and passengers with multiple traumas that are likely to be severe.
- Amputated Limbs or Extremities — Arms, legs, hands, or feet may be severed in a catastrophic impact, or have to be amputated after being crushed or severely burned.
- Burns — Unfortunately, burns are more common in collisions with commercial trucks than in accidents involving passenger vehicles. Because trucks are larger and usually cause more damage in an impact, there is a greater risk of fuel tanks rupturing and causing vehicle fires. Not only may a fire destroy a motor vehicle, it can also cause extremely painful and disfiguring injuries from which victims may never be able to fully recover.
- Spinal Cord Injuries — The impact in a commercial trucking accident may injure or damage the bones, muscles or nerves in the spinal cord. This can lead to partial, temporary or complete paralysis of various parts of the body. Even if the injuries are not permanent, they may cause severe pain and often require complex rehabilitation to achieve recovery. These types of injuries usually require sophisticated imaging such as an MRI scan in order to diagnose properly, and may require surgery to treat.
- Neck and Back Injuries — These types of injuries are terribly common in most vehicle accidents because of the jarring force that affects drivers and passengers at the moment of impact. The structural systems that make up the neck and back are extraordinarily complex and injuries to these parts of the body can lead to debilitating pain and even paralysis if they are severely damaged.
- Internal Injuries — The sheer blunt force trauma of a collision with a semi-truck combined with the physical stresses incurred by the body’s interaction with safety equipment such as a deployed airbag can cause blunt abdominal trauma. These types of internal injuries can involve the bladder, spleen, liver, pancreas or kidneys, and can be very difficult to treat and lead to life-long physical limitation.
- Torso and Rib Injuries — These types of injuries are particularly dangerous not only because blunt force trauma to the abdomen can be painful, but because these structures also surround vital organs. Broken ribs that are not identified and properly treated can puncture lungs or cause other severe damage to the human body.
- Cuts and Lacerations — Although they may seem minor in comparison to internal injuries or head trauma, cuts can cause a lasting impact. Shattered glass, severed metal, or unrestrained objects within a vehicle can all cause cuts and wounds, ranging from minor slices to permanent injury to the eyes, head or body. Cuts can cause disfiguring scars or become infected and result in serious illness or death.
- Seatbelt and Airbag Injuries — Seatbelts and other safety measures are important tools to save the lives of people involved in truck accidents, but they can also cause some injuries during the accident. Seatbelts by definition confine the chest and abdomen while airbags can deploy with enough speed to strip the skin off of a driver’s hands, as well as causing blunt force trauma to the head. These types of accidents can also cause or contribute to injuries sustained to the chest, neck or back.
- Wrongful Death — Unfortunately, the severity of damage involved in an accident with a commercial truck means that not everyone may survive a catastrophic crash. This is described in the legal system as “wrongful death,” and may necessitate a claim on behalf of the victim’s family.
How Krist Gets the Compensation You Deserve
Why should you hire an experienced Houston semi-truck accident attorney to represent you in a personal injury case? Here are just a few:
With so many parties involved in a single roadside or highway collision involving a truck, it can be challenging to determine who is the responsible party and how to approach a multifaceted case.
Accident investigations involving trucks and other vehicles in Texas are extraordinarily complex. Very often, commercial transport companies deploy their own team of investigators to respond to every incident. The investigator is paid by the commercial trucking company, so they have no interest in the well-being or fair compensation to the victim. Any evidence gathered by investigators working for the trucking companies is likely to implicate the victim, and commercial transport companies will unapologetically use that evidence against the victim during recovery negotiations or a trial.
In many semi-truck accident cases, the actual collisions are caused by negligence on the part of the truck driver, whose behaviors may include:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs
- Driving while extremely fatigued
- Speeding or driving too aggressively for the road conditions
- Road rage
- Eating, texting or engaging in other distracting activities while driving
On the flipside, there are many ways in which the trucking company can be negligent:
- Setting unworkable delivery times that undermine safe driving behaviors
- Delaying part replacements, including tires, and key mechanical items
- Postponing or failing to perform diagnostic vehicle inspections
- Pressuring truck drivers to drive longer than federal law permits
Keep in mind that determining liability is far more difficult in truck accident cases than in simple passenger collisions because of the number of parties that may be involved.
- Recovery Negotiations — In a typical car accident, your attorney is really only negotiating with the insurance company of the other driver. Because there are multiple parties involved in a truck accident case, a Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyer must be skilled in negotiating with multiple parties including insurance companies, the driver of the truck, his or her employer, and vehicle and parts manufacturers.
- Understanding State and Federal Law — If you are involved in a truck crash, it is vital that you engage an Texas truck accident lawyer who is familiar with both Texas state law and Federal regulations because both of these sets of laws may impact your case significantly. Texas law, for example, imposes some restrictions on your ability to raise a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death.
The Texas statute of limitations states that you must file a lawsuit not later than two years after the date of your trucking accident. For instances of wrongful death, the statute of limitations is still 2 years, but the date the time limit begins is not the date of the trucking accident and is rather 2 years after the death occurred.
Simultaneously, there are laws and regulations that are specific to the trucking industry across the United States, including Texas. The trucking industry in this country is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA oversees laws and regulations that apply to the commercial trucking industry but do not apply to passenger vehicles.
The driver must have met certain qualifications before operating a commercial 18-wheeler, for example. Other FMCSA laws govern the number of hours a truck driver can work as well as other conditions specific to operating a commercial truck. The qualified Houston commercial vehicle accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm P.C. are intimately familiar with both Texas state laws and federal regulation and will know which laws and regulations apply in your specific case — and how to use them to build a strong argument in favor of your receiving compensation.
Work With a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer that Wins
An accident on this scale can take a terrible toll. We understand the Texas legal landscape as well as how federal regulations come into play when it comes to accident liability involving a large, commercial truck.
We will work closely with you and your family to keep you informed about the details of your case and communicate to a judge or jury why you deserve compensation for your past and future medical costs, loss of earning capacity, physical pain, mental anguish, physical limitations, and disfigurement.
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our semi-truck accident lawyers have tackled a wide range of trucking accident cases throughout Texas. We understand state law, federal trucking regulations, and the investigative techniques necessary to successfully handle a truck accident – in or out of court.
In addition, we work closely with experts, including accident reconstruction specialists, life care planners, engineers, medical professionals, and forensic electronics specialists who can capture and analyze data from a truck’s data recorder or “black box.” With these experts on our side, we can present a strong case to prove the cause of the crash and your injuries, as well as the extent of your mental and physical damage.
Find out more about what some of the finest attorneys in Texas can do for you after a Houston truck accident by calling 281-283-8500 or contact us online.
Truck Accident Laws
Laws addressing the commercial trucking industry are different than those for most passenger vehicles. Both federal and state agencies issue rules that must be followed by truckers and their employers. Your truck crash lawyer can explain the laws that apply to your case. Our experienced commercial vehicle accident attorneys know how to use these laws to develop the strongest case possible.
Federal Trucking Laws
When a driver or operator failed to legally inspect and maintain the commercial truck, it can cause severe damage or devastating injuries in the event of a collision.
Common Trucking Injuries
Any serious injury sustained in a truck accident can result in devastating, life-changing consequences. This may include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations.
Liability in Trucking Cases
The truckers who are negligent or reckless are obviously liable for losses that result; however, many other parties may also be responsible. Carriers who do not follow laws or who are negligent in their responsibilities can also be held liable for the wrecks caused by their employees.
Why Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Determining liability is far more difficult in truck accident cases than in simple passenger collisions because of the number of parties that may be involved. However, a good semi-truck accident lawyer in Houston can best evaluate your case.
Truck Accident Claims & Legal Process
Deciding what to do after a truck accident can be difficult. You need the best medical care as well as effective legal representation. Once you’ve cared for your immediate medical needs, you should focus on contacting a truck accident lawyer who can help you through the complex truck accident claims process.
Here are the steps we’ll take for you:
We will listen to your story and help you understand the laws involved and legal process through which a personal injury claim can be made.
We will go through the process of gathering evidence and establishing facts about your truck crash. This phase takes up the majority of time in a personal injury case. It involves obtaining the truck’s black box, trucker logbooks, employee records, and company files. We may also interview, or depose, parties and witnesses and obtain opinions from experts. Your trucking accident lawyer will utilize the discovery process to ensure we obtain all the necessary information to prove your truck accident claim.
After establishing the liability of the trucker and truck company and obtaining information about how much money you’ll need to cover your losses long-term, we will make an initial demand to the insurance company for compensation. We will consider past and future losses to be sure we include everything you need to move forward with your life after a devastating crash.
Most insurance companies deny an initial demand and make a lowball counter offer. We will not accept less than you deserve. If necessary, we’ll file a truck accident lawsuit to verify our determination to obtain compensation for you. A lawsuit will involve a complaint, motions, and many other complex legal documents. Strict deadlines must be adhered to so that we meet court requirements. We will make sure all conditions are met to give you the best chance of success.
There may be several steps in the negotiations process. Counteroffers and additional demands will be made with both sides trying to seek beneficial outcomes. We will make sure the trucking company, their insurance, and their lawyers understand we will not accept an offer that does not meet your needs
We may attempt to mediate your legal claim. This involves meeting with a mediator, the defendants, their insurance company, and any other necessary parties. Both sides will provide a statement and we will have a chance to provide information about how much money we feel the defendant owes you for your injuries. Many cases are settled through the mediation process; however, if we cannot reach an acceptable financial outcome, we will take the case to trial.
Many law firms avoid trial; however, The Krist Law Firm, P.C. is not afraid to take a case to trial. We have experienced attorneys who know local court procedures and can effectively present evidence to a judge or jury. If we take your case to trial, we will work to obtain the highest possible verdict.
The Roles of Plaintiffs and Defendants
There is a lot of activity in a lawsuit prior to when a jury renders a decision about liability and payment of damages. That process includes investigation of the truck accident, the process of fact-finding and trading evidence known as discovery, and a variety of motions aimed at settling certain legal or factual issues before a case goes to trial. Once all of the defendants in a Texas truck accident case have been named, the plaintiff must establish a theory of liability.
With the exception of cases involving defective products or mechanical failures, the plaintiff’s theory in a trucking accident is usually based on negligence. When this charge is leveled at a truck driver, liability is usually determined by investigating the accident, interviewing witnesses, and reconstructing the accident with experts in the field.
Liability becomes even more complicated when other parties are involved. For example, if a trucking company knowingly hired a driver with substance abuse problems or multiple previous accidents on his or her driving record, the trucking company may also be liable for negligently hiring or retaining the driver. Some other common ways that a trucking company may be negligent, and, therefore, liable for your injuries, include:
- Failing to regularly inspect and perform maintenance on trucks
- Failing to properly train drivers
- Failing to ensure that drivers comply with regulations limiting driving hours
- Failing to comply with federal or Texas safety regulations
- Being vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee driver
Once liability has been proven, the plaintiff must demonstrate the extent of his or her injuries. This generally involves the testimony of expert witnesses. A physician will offer a medical opinion that articulates the harm the victim suffered in a trucking accident. The plaintiff’s attorneys will also often hire an economist or life care planner to offer expert opinions on damages centered around the loss of earning capacity, both in the past and future, and reasonably predictable medical care needs in the future.
Can Trucking Companies Avoid Liability?
There have been a number of truck accident cases in which trucking companies have tried to avoid liability by creating a perceived distance between themselves and the driver, the vehicle, or other equipment.
In these types of cases, the professional trucking company has obtained the necessary permits to operate the truck. However, for purposes of “ownership,” the company is leasing or renting the equipment, tractors, and trailers from an “owner/operator.” Instead of employing the drivers, the trucking company hires them as independent contractors.
The trucking company then gives the owner/operator a placard with the name and permit numbers of the trucking company, which makes it look like the truck is owned by the professional trucking company and the driver is an employee. In previous years, the trucking company would argue that it was not responsible for driver error because the driver wasn’t an employee, and does not own the equipment, so the company wasn’t responsible for maintenance.
Fortunately, federal law ended this illogical argument. Under current federal laws, a trucking company is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its name displayed on the vehicle, regardless of the driver’s employment status.
Trucking Company Negligence & Damages
If a Texas truck driver caused an accident but did not complete the required training or licensure, a claim can and should be brought against the commercial trucking company for negligence. The same concept applies if the commercial trucking company did not properly maintain or service the vehicle, or if a component of the vehicle such as the brakes are found to be faulty through negligence or misconduct.
Accident Involving 18-Wheeler Tractor-Trailers
Damages in a case involving an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer or similarly large type of commercial truck tend to be higher simply because the injuries in these types of trucking accidents are, by their very nature, extensive.
A loaded semi-truck can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds while most passenger vehicles weigh around 3,000 pounds. It’s not hard to do the math and see how that difference in size and weight may lead to catastrophic or fatal injuries. This greater likelihood of major injuries is the very reason that commercial trucking operators are required to carry insurance with higher liability limits.
That means that there may be more insurance money available to settle a truck accident lawsuit. Only by engaging qualified, competent lawyers like a Houston truck accident attorney with The Krist Law Firm, P.C. will you be likely to receive the maximum available compensation for your injuries and losses.
Punitive Damages in Texas Truck Accidents
Because each case is based on a unique set of facts and circumstances, the type and amount of compensation you may receive will depend on the individual factors surrounding your accident.
In extreme cases, truck crash lawyers may seek punitive damages if there is evidence that a party to the truck accident acted in bad faith or with the intent to harm another party. Punitive damages may be awarded under circumstances such as a trucking accident in which the driver was found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or when there is evidence that the driver’s employer intentionally pressured the driver to violate safety regulations. However, punitive damages verdicts are rare in Texas, and large punitive damages verdicts may be reduced at a judge’s discretion.
Comparative Negligence in Truck Accidents
In Texas, your actions may reduce the amount of compensation you can receive under a theory known as comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that you contributed to your own injuries in some manner.
Texas law states that the compensation you receive should be lessened in proportion to the degree of fault you contributed to your accident or injuries. For example, if a jury decides that your injuries are worth $100,000 in compensation, but you are found to have contributed 30 percent of the fault, your verdict would be reduced by 30 percent, or $30,000. You would receive $70,000 of the $100,000 verdict.
If you are found to bear more than 50 percent of the fault, you have no legal claim to compensation.
Houston Truck Accident Lawyers FAQ
How much can I recover in my big rig truck accident case?
Once it is determined that you are entitled to recover damages because of another party’s negligence, your actual damages will be assessed. These might include medical bills, loss of current and future wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage, among other financial compensation. In some cases, an injured party will receive additional amounts in the form of punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the responsible party’s actions were particularly egregious, such as in the case of a trucker texting while driving or a trucking company having prior knowledge a truck was unsafe.
The best way to understand what your case is worth is to consult with a truck accident attorney for a free case evaluation.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer?
It costs nothing unless you recover. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will charge a fee based on the compensation you receive and you will not be charged any money — not even the costs of pursuing and taking a case to trial — unless and until you recover. Talk to your truck accident attorney about the contingency fee structure they offer their clients in cases like yours, but typically contingency fees range between 25% – 40% of the recovery.
How long do I have to file my Texas truck accident case?
As a general rule, a person injured in a Texas trucking accident or the survivors of a person killed in a Texas truck crash have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. It is important, however, to hire an attorney as soon as possible after the accident in order to preserve evidence of the crash. The longer you wait to start your case, the more likely it is that crucial evidence could be destroyed or go missing.
The trucking company’s representative wants to settle my case right away. Why should I wait if I can get the insurance money now?
The trucking company’s insurance agent’s job is to settle the case for as low an amount as possible. Despite what they might say or how helpful and understanding they seem to be, they do not have your interests or the best interests of your family in mind. They have a duty to protect the trucking company and the insurer, not to protect you.
It is unlikely that the amount they offer you will be enough to cover all of your expenses, plus the pain and suffering you may be enduring for a lifetime. An experienced truck accident attorney knows how to determine what amount is reasonable and how to negotiate a fair settlement from the insurance company. If the insurance company acts unreasonably, your attorney can seek justice on your behalf in court.
Who is liable in a truck accident?
It is not always immediately clear who is liable in a truck accident. Depending on the facts of the case, it is possible that both the driver and the trucking company could be held liable for the injuries and other losses resulting from a trucking accident. There are also cases where the mechanic who worked on the truck or a truck parts manufacturer could share in the liability for the accident. These are questions that will be answered as your case is investigated. Determining who to sue for damages in a truck accident case is the most important strategic aspect of your claim and is a job for an experienced trucking accident attorney. This is one of the reasons hiring experienced counsel is so important to your case.
Skilled Representation for Your Houston Trucking Accident Claim
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our skilled semi-truck accident lawyers balance the aggressive pursuit of your Houston trucking accident claim with the compassion and understanding you and your family need during what is undoubtedly a stressful time filled with uncertainty. We’ll make sure that you understand all your options and are informed through every step of your case so that you can make the decisions necessary to protect and care for your family.
When we represent you, we’ll fight to get you the maximum compensation possible for your injuries and hold the person or company who caused your accident accountable for what happened to you. Our experienced truck accident litigators know the laws and possess the skills that will make or break your case.
Call us at 281-283-8500 for a free consultation about how we can put our significant experience to work for you.