It’s time to hold the trucking industry accountable for the role it plays in dangerous truck accidents every day. If you or a loved one is a victim of a truck accident injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Houston Truck accident attorney Dax Garza offers Free Consultations for all truck accident victims.
At Dax F. Garza, P.C., we have secured millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for Texas trucking accident victims. We are committed to seeing justice served for you and your family. We know you need financial relief from the massive medical debt your injuries may have caused, and we want to help.
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Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents
In the blink of an eye, a large truck can cause a roadway accident. Because even minor big rig accidents can cause life-altering injuries, trucking companies and truck drivers have a responsibility to exercise great caution. Trucking companies must perform all required maintenance and routinely inspect every vehicle before each trip to ensure its fitness for the road. Additionally, trucking companies should require routine driving safety courses for all drivers.
Drivers must also commit to maintaining their vehicles in proper working condition and keeping their certifications up to date. When drivers cut corners and fail to drive safely, they put everyone on the road at risk. They are in charge of tractor-trailers that can weigh 80,000 pounds and measure 70-80 feet in length. When they make a mistake, the consequences for other motorists can be horrific.
ONE OF THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS IS TRUCK DESIGN
The design of large trucks can not only cause a catastrophic accident itself, but it can also increase the severity of the resulting injuries and damages. Due to their tall height, weight, and sheer size, these vehicles can be extremely difficult to control, are unable to stop quickly, and cannot be maneuvered the way passenger vehicles can. Furthermore, the speed and weight of a big rig mean trucking accidents occur with an amplified impact.
Common issues with various truck designs include:
- 18-wheelers: These trucks have large blind spots, top-heavy design, and massive size. They can jackknife easily, sweeping other vehicles when the trailer swings around.
- Commercial dump trucks: Dump trucks are large and heavy on their own and then also carry heavy loads. These vehicles often lose parts of their cargo while traveling, damaging other automobiles and/or initiating truck accidents.
- Box or delivery trucks: Their square shape causes big blind spots, and the cargo is often poorly loaded. Box trucks are also prone to rollover accidents.
- Rental moving trucks: Presenting some of the same issues as delivery trucks, these vehicles are involved in accidents that frequently result from the driver’s inexperience operating a large truck.
- Garbage trucks: Often slow-moving, they present risks by starting and stopping erratically. In addition, the lifting mechanism could malfunction, impacting cars nearby unexpectedly.
- Heavy hauler: Used to transport extremely large or oddly-sized cargo, these trucks usually have escort vehicles to protect other drivers. However, if the cargo slips, the truck could swerve out of control. The freight could come loose, hitting others on the road.
Operating any motor vehicle requires attention, but operating a large truck requires even more responsibility. Large trucks can weigh 20-30 times more than a passenger vehicle, leading to an increased ability to cause serious injuries and death. Ensuring adequate rest is a part of ensuring the safe operation of these large vehicles.
Truck drivers are often required to move cargo over long distances within tight deadlines. They may feel pressured to work overtime or disobey traffic laws to deliver on time. However, drivers can become fatigued and lose consciousness if they do not adhere to federal regulations regarding maximum driving time. When they lose control of their vehicles, they put themselves and every other driver near them at extreme risk of injuries or death.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found truck drivers behind the wheel for longer than eight hours are twice as likely to crash or cause an accident. Under current federal regulations, large truck drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel for as long as 11 hours at a time.
In addition to needing a rested and observant navigator, a large truck can only be as safe as its parts. Equipment failure causes numerous preventable trucking accidents every year. Truck equipment failure accidents can be avoided through routine maintenance and inspection of all vehicle parts.
Faulty braking mechanisms are the most common defective component part of large trucks. In a post-crash analysis of large truck accidents, IIHS found almost 55% of trucks had at least one mechanical violation. The same report showed 30% of tractor-trailers had at least one violation serious enough to take the truck out of service.
When trucking companies and drivers fail to routinely inspect their trucks and cargo equipment, they risk the lives of all who share the road with them. A truck carrying a cargo load that is unable to stop due to malfunctioning brakes could cause a fatal accident in mere seconds.
Truck drivers are just as susceptible to distractions as drivers of passenger vehicles. Distractions can range from using cell phones and changing the radio station to eating. Regardless of the distraction, it is dangerous and should not be done while driving.
While some cities in Texas have passed local laws making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, Houston has not. This oversight leaves truck drivers on our roads free to use their smartphones and other mobile devices to play music, get directions, and take calls while maneuvering their big rigs.
The dangers of speeding are well known, but this does not stop people from doing it. Trucks require a longer time to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles, so it is especially important that truck drivers obey posted speed limits. Unfortunately, not all of them do, leading to deadly accidents.
Aggressive driving is a factor in approximately 5% of all truck accidents nationally. This can include speeding, but also swerving, tailgating, honking, and more.
FAILURE TO CHECK BLIND SPOTS
Truck drivers are trained to check their blind spots before turning or changing lanes. Fatigue, distraction, aggression, and other factors can cause even the most experienced truck driver to forget to look before moving. In addition to the known blind spots at the front, rear, and right side of a big rig, the cargo a trailer is carrying can also obstruct the driver’s view.
Federal regulations outline very specific weight limits for loading large trucks. Overloaded trucks are dangerous for a number of reasons. First, they can throw off a truck’s center of balance, making it more likely to roll over. Overloaded trucks can also cause a driver to lose control of the truck due to the weight of the cargo. Finally, overloaded trucks take more time to come to a complete stop.
In addition, many bridges in Texas communities are marked with their weight limits. If an overloaded truck tries to cross, it could weaken or collapse the bridge, taking down other vehicles with it.
Trucks spend nearly every day on the road. With so much use, these vehicles need regular maintenance to keep them running properly and safely. Companies that do not perform regular maintenance on their trucks are putting everyone on the roadways at risk. The most common problem found due to lack of maintenance is brake issues.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous regardless of the vehicle. Truck drivers have a huge responsibility to drive safely, and driving under the influence can easily cause fatal accidents.
With a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the standard for intoxication is lower than it is for a passenger vehicle driver. A truck driver can be found legally drunk with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of only 0.04% – half of the usual 0.08% in Texas – because of how dangerous large trucks are on the roads.
TIRE DEFECTS OR BLOWOUTS
Commercial cargo vehicles and other semi-trucks have a lot of tires to increase their stability. Defective tires cause almost one-third of all truck accidents. Worn tires can cause blowouts, but tire blowouts can also be caused by overloading, road hazards, and more.
A new tour route is one of the top three most common causes of truck accidents. Trucking companies often rush a driver to move their cargo load quickly to maximize profits. When the driver is unfamiliar with the route they are maneuvering, they are likely to be distracted and slow to respond to sudden changes around them.
Looking down at a GPS frequently because you are unfamiliar can cause distracted driving accidents.
ROAD AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
Road construction and confusing traffic signals can cause truck accidents, as can severe weather that diminishes visibility. Weather is unpredictable, and truckers must be prepared to react to it. Snow, ice, flooding, and heavy rain can affect road conditions and increase the time a driver requires to react to changes ahead of them on the road.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Due to the size and weight of large trucks, they can catastrophically injure or even kill victims upon impact. For this reason, motor vehicle occupants involved in truck accidents disproportionately suffer severe injuries and fatalities compared to large truck occupants. According to IIHS, 4,014 people were killed in truck accidents in 2020 alone – 68% were passenger vehicle occupants, 16% were pedestrians or cyclists, and only 15% of all fatalities were truck drivers or occupants.
Common injuries suffered in truck accidents include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Burn injuries
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Recovering from any of these kinds of trauma can be overwhelming and lengthy. You will likely face tremendously high medical bills, be unable to work, and may need lifelong treatment. Ensuring you do not sink into a financial crisis from someone else’s negligence means you must seek compensation from those responsible.
Dax Garza is an experienced truck accident lawyer in Houston who will put his team to work investigating your claim to learn who is at fault. We take on the difficult legal demands while you focus on healing.
Know Your Rights After a Truck Accident
Truck accident victims have a long road to recovery. They will face huge physical, emotional, and financial obstacles. Victims and their families do not have to suffer alone. Those who were injured by a truck have the legal right to pursue compensation from negligent truck drivers, the companies that employ them, and other responsible parties.
After a crash, injury victims and the families of those who may have been killed need to speak with a Houston truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. All big rigs engaged in interstate commerce have to carry certain types and amounts of insurance, so those insurance companies and the trucking companies themselves will arrive at the accident scene quickly, doing all they can to protect their interests.
Just as they are protecting their reputation and companies, the victims of truck accidents need an experienced truck accident attorney in Houston to protect their rights, preserve evidence, and ensure an insurance company or trucking company does not try to take advantage of them. You do not need to worry that you do not have deep pockets like trucking companies. At Dax F. Garza, P.C., we do not get paid unless and until we win your case for you.
Potential Value of a Houston Truck Accident Claim
Because you likely suffered significant injuries and property damage, your claim could be worth quite a lot. The key is determining the full range of your losses, both economic and non-economic. In addition to the damages with a fixed price, you deserve compensation for your pain and suffering.
Each case will be completely unique and judged on its own merits in court. However, there are many compensatory damages you might overlook without the assistance of a competent Houston truck accident lawyer. We work with you to create an ethically calculated estimate of your losses, including past, present, and future expenses.
Common damages our clients request in truck accident claims include:
- Loss of income
- Loss of inheritance potential
- Doctor bills
- Hospital costs, such as for ER, ICU, and surgery
- Emergency transport fees
- Private in-home nursing care
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Prescription medications
- Mobility devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or canes
- Prosthetic limbs
- Repairs or replacement expenses for your personal property
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating because they are not interested in paying you what you need. They are in business to protect their bottom line. Insurance adjusters know you need money quickly to pay bills, so they will often make an insultingly low initial offer. They want you to take it and close the claim, which ends your ability to ask for more.
Dax Garza will not let this happen. Our law firm will negotiate on your behalf for the maximum compensation possible. If the at fault parties do not meet our demands, we are ready to take them to court. Trucking companies work hard to keep their names away from news stories about truck accident trials, so they often settle out of court. Regardless of how your case plays out, our team will be with you every step of the way.
Knowing Your Rights When Involved in a Texas Truck Accident
For truck accident victims who have been injured, there are certain rights they are entitled to in the state of Texas. When a commercial vehicle causes an accident, the truck accident victim may experience severe injuries that are difficult to recover from. At times, fatal truck accidents rob the life of someone involved in the accident.
If you have been harmed physically, emotionally, and/or financially in an accident with a commercial vehicle in the trucking industry, you do not have to absorb the burden alone. You have the right to seek compensation following a truck accident.
The insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will resist paying the total compensation amount you are entitled to in every way possible. It is crucial to have an experienced truck accident lawyer who will assist you in recovering the restitution you are due. We will not allow the insurance company to take advantage of you.
Truck Accident Victim’s Rights
Listed below are the rights that you have as a truck accident victim. An experienced truck accident lawyer can answer any questions you may have and offer you guidance as you navigate the complicated legal matters when filing a suit against someone involved in the trucking industry.
You May Decline to Give a Statement to the Other Party’s Insurance Company
You are not required to provide a statement about the accident. If you are involved in a truck accident, the other party’s insurance company will call you. The insurance adjuster for the commercial vehicle may question you about the truck accident and ask for a statement.
They are not calling to find out what happened so they can approach your claim fairly. They are trying to construct their own case, one that is against you. It is within your rights as a truck accident victim to decline comments and have an experienced personal injury lawyer field their questions.
The Right to Seek Restitution
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a commercial vehicle accident or a fatal truck accident, you have the right to compensation. As a truck accident victim, you have the right to submit a claim to the at-fault commercial vehicle driver’s insurance provider. This is commonly known as a third-party claim.
The Right to Seek Counsel
Trucking industry accidents can be horrifically traumatizing and anxiety-provoking events. They can cause physical injuries and property damage to those involved. Your experienced truck accident attorney can navigate legal matters on your behalf.
You can expect your lawyer to negotiate with the trucking industry attorney and insurance company so that you may spend your energy on healing. To be awarded the compensation you deserve, you need a truck accident lawyer, and it is within your rights to hire one.
Understanding Liability and Compensation in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Following a commercial truck accident, you or your family members may have experienced fatalities or catastrophic injuries. Your medical care and property damage can result in exorbitant expenses to repair and replace property, as well as tremendous medical expenses for the medical treatment you need. As your medical bills pile up, you may wonder how you can receive fair compensation to help pay for your medical expenses.
For the last decade, Texas drivers have experienced an increase in truck accidents. Texas consistently has more fatalities due to commercial truck accidents than any other state in the United States. There is a shortage of commercial truckers, leading to trucks remaining on the road longer than they should and with drivers having less training than was appropriate. Driver fatigue and lack of training create dangerous conditions that are often the cause of truck accidents.
Liability in car accident cases is somewhat different than in truck accident cases. After vehicle accidents, it is crucial to determine who are the liable parties. In truck accidents, there are generally multiple parties that could be at fault beyond the truck driver.
Liability, or determining fault, is a critical portion of handling accidents with commercial vehicles and the resulting the truck accident injuries sustained. Liability may lie with parties such as:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Cargo company
- Vehicle service or repair company
The driver may be at fault because they were fatigued or distracted. But, according to the legal theory of respondeat superior, the trucking company is held responsible for actions performed by their employees while acting in the course and scope of their employment. This points the finger at the trucking company for its failure to hire qualified drivers and/or the lack of training or supervision they received.
Texas observes a modified comparative fault rule. If you are more than 50% responsible for a truck accident, you may not be entitled to any damages.
Three Steps to Obtaining the Best Results After a Truck Accident
There can be many recommended steps for a truck wreck accident victim to follow in order to receive the desired outcome in a truck accident case. If you follow the following steps, you will be doing yourself a favor when the time comes to negotiate a settlement or to litigate:
- Seek medical attention. Your medical provider will advise you on how your severe injuries must be treated. Though medical bills may mount, it is important to follow the advice of your doctor to the letter.
- Collect evidence. To prove liability and that you are due compensation, evidence gathering should be your next step. You should collect medical documentation about any serious injuries and bills or receipts for medical expenses. Provide police reports, contact information, and photos or videos from the accident.
- Hire a truck accident attorney. By having legal counsel secured early in the process, you can ensure that evidence is preserved correctly so that your truck accident case will have the evidence needed in the future. Your attorney will understand the evidence that is important to collect and will make sure it is promptly and appropriately done.
Help That an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Will Provide
While police reports and your accounting of events may give a lot of information about severe injuries, property damage, and other aspects of the vehicle accident, there is still important evidence that can prove liability in a truck accident. Your attorney will collect the items detailed below in an effort to prove liability.
The black box is essential to retrieve and have analyzed. It provides information about how fast the truck was traveling, its braking and steering, and other points that may help prove the driver’s liability. Without a qualified truck accident attorney, downloading the black box information and assessing the data is nearly impossible.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can send communications called spoliation letters to the trucking company and the insurance company to ensure evidence is preserved. If they fail to maintain the evidence properly, they can face serious consequences in the courtroom. If this step is not taken, the black boxes – and potentially other crucial items – can be destroyed.
Our Houston Truck Accident Attorneys have the Experience Needed to Investigate the Scene of the Truck Crash and Build a Strong Truck Accident Case
Our years of experience and many hours representing clients in depositions, negotiations, mediation, and at trial have taught us how to investigate the scene of a truck accident properly. We understand how to collect information from the black box, the logbooks, and the accident reports. Our familiarity with every safety regulation in Houston, across Texas, and nationally helps us build a strong truck accident case for you or your loved ones. When investigating the scene of a truck accident, the specifics of the case will determine fault.
Some of the methods we use in truck accident investigation are:
- We may visit the accident scene. An experienced truck accident attorney is attuned to the information that could help their client at the scene of the crash. These could be road conditions, property damage, damage to the vehicles, and any contributing factors that may not be immediately noted.
- Evidence gathering is another important portion of your truck accident case that takes hours of service to do thoroughly. We review your police reports, medical records, and statements from eyewitnesses and others involved in the accident and use this information to build a robust case.
- Vehicle inspections are another thing experienced truck accident attorneys in Houston typically do. We inspect the big rig for mechanical failure, lack of maintenance, and other potential contributing factors to the accident.
- Reviewing logbooks is another step that lawyers take when building a case on your behalf. These logbooks can point towards negligence if federal regulations are broken that demonstrate how many hours the driver has worked or if they took the prescribed breaks for rest.
- Expert consultation can help your experienced trucking accident attorney when it is necessary to reconstruct an accident. This can be crucial when establishing responsibility.
After completing an investigation, the attorney can use the information that was gathered to begin constructing a powerful strategy that proves the liable party. Once that is solidly shown, negotiations with insurance companies can begin. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the evidence will support your damages claim if it goes to litigation.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Texas
When you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it can be difficult to concentrate on anything other than recovering from physical injuries. If you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, your grief may be so consuming that it is difficult to think ahead to a lawsuit. While it is not likely your first thought or priority, it is important to understand that Texas has a statute of limitations – a deadline by which an affected party must file a lawsuit or be forever barred.
It is crucial to adhere to the Texas statute of limitations if you have been injured and need to collect damages. Here is what you need to know if you are entitled to recompense from a responsible party in a truck accident in Texas.
Texas Statute of Limitations
For trucking accidents and all other personal injury lawsuits in Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations. You must file a lawsuit within two years of the accident that resulted in injury or death.
Why is there a statute of limitations? The primary reason is that evidence must be kept fresh in order for it to be considered in a litigation situation. It is difficult to rely on eyewitness testimony as time lapses since memories naturally fade.
As soon as you are able, you should speak to an attorney about your truck accident. This ensures the facts of the case are fresh in your mind and the minds of other witnesses. To resolve your case with a generous settlement, it is in your best interest to act sooner rather than later.
Contact the Houston Truck Accident Lawyers at Dax F. Garza, P.C. to See if You Qualify to File a Truck Accident Claim
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, to receive the compensation that you deserve, our lawyers are ready to help. A truck wreck can turn your life and the life of your loved ones upside down, and while monetary damages will not correct the wrong, they can help to restore your life as much as possible.
Contact Dax F. Garza, P.C., to set up a free consultation so that you can see if the accident and your injuries make you eligible to file a truck accident claim. We can begin investigating your case to assemble the kind of evidence needed to build a strategy so that your case can result in the maximum benefits you are entitled to.