There were fewer crashes involving commercial motor vehicles on Texas roadways in 2020 than in 2019, but the ones that did occur were more serious and deadlier. Some 581 people lost their lives in truck accidents and 1,245 suffered incapacitating injuries. Another 3,966 people sustained injuries.
A fully loaded semi-truck and trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds or 40 tons. A semi-tractor alone weighs between 25,0000 and 35,000 pounds or 12.5 to 17.5 tons. The average passenger vehicle weight is less than 4,100 pounds. It is obvious that when a truck and passenger vehicle collide, the latter is far more likely to bear the brunt of the impact.
Negligent truck drivers and truck companies alter the course of people’s lives, then spend significant resources in the attempt to devalue or deny personal injury and wrongful death claims made against them. At the Law Office of Marco Sanchez, P.C., I work for victims and their families in New Braunfels, Texas, Dallas, and throughout the State of Texas by standing up to truck company insurers.
Everyone operating a vehicle of any kind owes everyone else a duty of care. However, due to their size, weight, and prevalence on roadways, federal and state laws and regulations hold commercial motor vehicles to even stricter safety standards. Driver training, performance, downtime, cargo loading, and safety inspections must meet certain requirements under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Texas Transportation Code. They are designed to reduce 18-wheeler accidents and the damage they can do.
The statute of limitations is the length of time you have from the date of the accident or death resulting from one to file a civil lawsuit in court. In Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Everyone involved with the truck might be held liable for the resulting injuries and deaths that occur in an accident, not just the truck driver. If the driver was working in an agency and employ of a truck company, the company may be held liable as well. The company maintains liability insurance to cover itself and its employees.
If an investigation into the crash shows that a malfunction of the truck or a faulty part contributed to its occurrence, the truck or parts manufacturer can also be held legally responsible.
If shifting cargo contributed to causing the crash, those who loaded it incorrectly can be held liable, as well as maintenance personnel whose job it is to inspect and maintain semi-trucks if they fail to do so.
The purpose of crash investigations is to ascertain fault among those involved. Texas law enforcement officers are required to file a crash report within 10 days if the accident involves injury, death, or property damage in excess of $1,000. The truck company’s insurer will investigate a crash in an effort to prove fault on parties other than the truck company and its driver.
When you retain a personal injury attorney to represent you, they will conduct an investigation to document evidence of fault for your injuries. Your attorney will request records related to the training, performance, and work schedule of the driver to see if fatigue or poor training contributed to the crash. Your lawyer will also examine the potential for truck or parts failures, load issues, and safety inspections.
You, as the vehicle driver, can also be held liable if your actions or lack thereof contributed to the crash. Texas implements a modified comparative fault rule that reduces your financial recovery according to any percentage of fault assigned to you. If investigations show that you were 51% or more at fault, you will be barred from asserting a claim against the driver, the employer, or any other party.
Road conditions can also have a role in the causation of a crash. A truck might have been traveling the speed limit, but if the roads were wet or icy at the time, one theory of liability could be that the driver was driving too fast for the conditions of the road given the circumstances.
The first step you should take if you have incurred damages in a semi-truck accident is to retain a personal injury attorney to investigate the crash, assert a claim against any negligent party’s liability insurance coverage, and/or file a civil lawsuit. If your family member was incapacitated by injuries and is unable to file a personal injury claim, you can ask the court to appoint a guardian to do it in their stead.
If your spouse, parent, or child died as the result of the crash, you can file a wrongful death action against the negligent parties. If none do, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death action to recover damages on behalf of the estate to benefit its heirs.
Due to their potential liability, truck companies are required to maintain substantial bodily injury liability insurance policy limits. When significant money is at stake, companies and their insurers are willing to pour money into defending bodily injury and wrongful death claims.
You need to talk to a personal injury attorney who has the experience, knowledge, and tenacity to confront those at fault for your injuries or the injuries or death of a loved one. They can investigate the details of your accident, help prove liability, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary.
At the Law Office of Marco Sanchez, P.C., I am aggressive with insurance companies and compassionate toward my clients who have suffered due to someone else’s negligence. I represent truck crash victims in New Braunfels and Dallas, Texas, in Hays, Comal, Collin, and Bexar counties, and in communities throughout the state. If you have been injured in a truck accident or a family member has been incapacitated by their injuries or killed, call me to schedule a free case consultation.