Common Causes of Truck Accidents
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we understand how terrifying it can be as the driver of a passenger car, SUV, or motorcycle to collide with tens of thousands of pounds of metal and freight.
One of our most heart-wrenching cases involved a father and daughter who were nearly killed when a wide-turning truck sideswiped their motorcycle and drove them into a ditch. Both the father and daughter suffered serious leg injuries and feared each other dead as they lay holding hands in the ditch for 45 minutes waiting for help. The father ended up having his leg amputated two weeks later because of the accident.
When we investigated the trucking accident, we found that the driver had never followed trucking regulations under federal law by inspecting his truck for defects at the end of each shift. He also was a methamphetamine user who lied about his drug problem — and was never drug-tested by the company that hired him to drive an oil field truck. He also had a previous history of citations for driving trucks with equipment violations or defects.
Despite the serious injuries involved, four other lawyers refused to represent the father and daughter before we listened to his story and agreed to pursue his case. He had been offered a $10,000 settlement, which barely scratched the surface of the injuries and losses he and his daughter suffered. With hard work and dedicated representation, the family was awarded $6,028,000 — the highest published verdict in Texas in 2014 for a trucking accident.
Truck Accidents Can Have Serious Consequences
An 18-wheeler, also referred to as a semi truck or tractor-trailer, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. By comparison, most passenger cars on the road weigh around 3,000 or 4,000 pounds and a motorcycle typically weighs less than 1,000 pounds. That’s a big difference in size and weight — which translates to a massive difference in force in the event of an impact, especially when the 18-wheeler is traveling at highway speeds.
People in passenger cars or SUVs, or who are riding motorcycles, unfortunate enough to collide with an 18-wheeler often suffer multiple serious injuries that may include:
- Broken bones
- Lost limbs
- Concussion and other traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Crush injuries
- Severe burns
- Disfiguring lacerations
- Psychological trauma
It can take years to recover from this kind of crash. You’re likely to have significant medical expenses for surgeries, physical therapy, and other treatments. You’re also likely to lose time away from work — and that’s something a lot of people just can’t afford these days when many families live paycheck to paycheck.
When you or a family member has been seriously injured in a collision with a truck — or a loved one has been killed in a truck accident — it’s natural to want to hold accountable the driver or trucking company responsible for the crash. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our team of seasoned Houston trucking accident lawyers has decades of experience doing just that. When you come to us with your injury claim, we’ll work to get you and your family the compensation you deserve.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
There are a number of reasons why a truck might crash into another vehicle or motorcycle rider. An important part of the process in a trucking accident case is to identify the cause of the accident and the responsible parties. An experienced Houston trucking accident lawyer can do just that.
In general, some common causes behind commercial trucking accidents include:
- Driver Fatigue — Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive in a given time period. However, truck drivers sometimes bend those rules in order to make deadlines. When truck drivers disobey federal regulations limiting driving hours, exhaustion can lead to impaired driving and serious accidents.
- Substance Use — Truck drivers may turn to stimulants such as amphetamines or methamphetamine to stay awake on the road. Drug use can impair a driver’s judgment and perception. There also are reported incidents of truck drivers driving under the influence of alcohol. Either drug or alcohol use can cause catastrophic collisions.
- Negligent Hiring — When a truck driver commits an error behind the wheel that causes a crash, it’s natural to ask whether the trucker should have been allowed to operate the truck in the first place. When a trucking company hires a driver with a history of moving violations or other indicators that the driver was a high-risk employee, the company may be guilty of negligent hiring.
- Negligent Maintenance — Federal regulations require regular inspections and maintenance of trucks on the highway. Trucking companies are required to keep records of maintenance and repairs. When truck drivers or trucking companies fail to keep up with maintenance, brake failures, tire blowouts, or other mechanical problems might cause a truck driver to lose control and crash.
- Improperly Trained Drivers — Driving a truck takes much more skill and training than driving a passenger car. Semi trucks are more complicated to operate and need wider berths to make safe turns and longer stretches of road to come to safe stops. When drivers aren’t properly trained in the safe operation of 18-wheelers, collisions may result.
- Truck Company Negligence — Trucking companies have a duty to follow all federal regulations regarding the safe operation of large trucks, including regular maintenance of vehicles. They also have a duty to ensure that their fleet drivers comply with regulations limiting their driving hours. When a trucking company fails to comply with regulations, have maintenance policies in place, or follow its own written safety procedures, the company may be guilty of negligence.
- Speeding and Moving Violations — Truck drivers are just as susceptible as any other driver on the road to committing a traffic violation. However, when a truck driver is speeding, fails to signal a lane change, or commits some other moving violation, any resulting accident can lead to serious injuries.
- Distracted Truckers — Just like any other driver on the road, a truck driver might become distracted by the use of a mobile device. There have also been documented cases in which truck drivers were watching DVDs in their trucks while they drove. Distracted driving is one of the leading preventable causes of highway accidents.
- Failing to Maintain Proper Lookout — Because of their size, trucks have large blind spots. Truck drivers should regularly check their mirrors and be aware of blind spots to make sure they don’t hit another vehicle when changing lanes or making turns.
- Truck Defects — Sometimes a defect in the way a truck was designed or manufactured may be the root cause of a serious crash. In this event, the company that designed or built the truck may be liable to compensate people who are injured because of those defects.
Why Hire Our Attorneys?
Good, hard-working people who are seriously hurt in accidents often are reluctant to file lawsuits. They may be hopeful that the insurance companies will sort it out or unsure how to proceed. Or they may simply be focused on daily life and trying to recover.
The reason this process exists is to help you if you’ve been injured. When someone else is negligent, you have a right to get your medical bills, loss of income, and other damages paid. There’s no shame in providing for your family — and a personal injury lawyer can help you do just that.
There are a number of things that a Houston truck accident lawyer can do to help you when you’ve been seriously hurt. A couple of the major reasons to hire a Houston truck accident attorneys quickly following an accident include:
- A lawyer can move quickly to preserve evidence. In a trucking accident case, it’s critical to get data from the “black box” that helps tell the story of what happened in the crash, such as whether the truck driver was speeding. Additionally, a trucking company is legally allowed to destroy records after a certain amount of time. A lawyer can identify which records you’ll need as evidence in your case and move to obtain copies before the records are destroyed.
- A lawyer can get you more money to pay your bills. An insurance company or trucking company typically will offer you less than your case is actually worth. Their goal is to settle your claim as quickly and as cheaply as possible. If you accept an offer without first talking to a lawyer, you may not receive enough money to cover all of your expenses. A lawyer can build a strong case to support your claim and negotiate a full settlement or take your case to court and argue for maximum compensation.
Experienced Representation for Your Trucking Accident Claim
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston truck accident lawyers have decades of experience helping injured people to recover the compensation that allows them to rebuild their lives after a catastrophic accident. We have handled countless cases involving collisions with trucks in Houston and throughout Texas and recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Our skilled Houston truck accident attorneys have the knowledge and experience to handle the kinds of legal, mechanical, and medical issues at issue in truck accident cases.
We also have the financial resources to pursue your claim. Few law firms can match the financial wherewithal of our firm, which enables us to involve the nation’s leading experts in the prosecution of your case. We have a network of former trucking fleet managers, accident reconstructionists, life care planners, medical experts, engineers, and other experts who can support your claim with established science.
With our help, your family may be able to recover compensation for the following, both in the past and into the future:
- Medical costs
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain
- Physical limitations
- Mental anguish
Call the experienced Houston truck accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at 281-283-8500 , for a consultation about your injuries today.