Due to their sheer size, accidents involving 18-wheelers can be devastating. The injuries sustained by other drivers and passengers on the road can require extensive medical care, adding hefty medical bills to the pain and suffering that victims experience.
If you have been the victim of a semi-truck accident, you can benefit from having an experienced Houston truck accident lawyer on your side.
Many attorneys handle car accident cases, but trucking accident lawsuits are a different matter. These cases call for attorneys who understand the nuances of trucking law and know how to maximize the case value for victims to the benefit of people who have been hurt. Often, truck accident lawsuits can involve more parties who bear liability besides the driver. And, unlike an average passenger vehicle owner, trucking companies tend to have more assets and greater insurance coverage to provide for a significant payout.
The truck accident attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek have the knowledge and experience to bring a strong case on your behalf. Contact us today at (832) 230-2643 to schedule a free evaluation of your case.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents?
While not every accident involving an 18-wheeler is the truck driver’s fault, there are many ways in which they and/or the trucking company can be at fault.
Here are some common causes of semi-truck or 18-wheeler accidents:
- Driver inattention: Like other drivers, truckers may take their eyes off the road or be using their cell phones at the wheel, with potentially dangerous consequences.
- Driver fatigue: Federal law specifies how many hours a truck driver can drive in a 24-hour period. If the driver exceeds this and causes a crash, he or she may be held liable under negligence laws. The trucking company may also be at fault, especially if they were aware that drivers were exceeding their allowed driving hours.
- Unsafe cargo: Sometimes, the cargo a semi-truck is carrying is more dangerous in a crash than the truck itself. Overloaded or improperly secured truck cargo puts other motorists at risk.
- Alcohol or drug intoxication: While drivers are supposed to be routinely drug-tested, some truck drivers can often get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs. Our attorneys have no tolerance for truckers who operate while under the influence and hurt others.
In addition, truck companies can be held accountable for the actions of their drivers. When companies negligently hire drivers, fail to properly train them, do not properly maintain equipment, or do not keep proper records, the company can be held accountable in a truck accident lawsuit.
What Can I Include in a Truck Accident Claim?
You can include various economic and non-economic damages in a truck accident claim. The amount of compensation will depend on your medical expenses, how much time from work you missed, the cost of future care, and other factors like pain and emotional distress.
While every case may differ, you may be entitled to recover the following damages:
- Complete coverage of medical expenses, both present and future
- Lost wages if you are unable to work
- Lost economic earning potential
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Possible punitive damages against a grossly negligent party
Our goal is to get you what you need to move on in life and past this terrible ordeal.
Is It Worth Getting an Accident Lawyer?
Yes, it is worth getting an accident lawyer to maximize your monetary compensation. Truck accident cases are challenging and require a comprehensive knowledge of personal injury law and trucking regulations to overcome hurdles.
Truck accidents have higher financial stakes
Due to the severity of truck accident injuries, most cases are worth significantly more than the average motor vehicle personal injury claim. Trucking and insurance companies are far less likely to settle out of court.
For example, suppose a truck accident causes an injured victim to be paralyzed from the waist down. The claimant will require medical care for the rest of their lives. Individuals who suffer from paralysis experience:
- Pressure sores (i.e., bed sores)
- Chronic depression
- Circulatory disorders
In addition, the lack of mobility will require home modifications and equipment that must be maintained and replaced. Living and medical costs can reach astronomical numbers.
Without representation, an accident victim may not have access to the medical care and services they need to move on with their lives. According to a recent study, 1 in 8 households suffer extended financial hardship after a serious injury. A truck accident lawyer has the experience to estimate the long-term costs of debilitating injuries accurately.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, our talented litigation team has a history of securing multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of our clients. Our trial attorneys are nationally recognized for their aggressive advocacy in court.
Truck accident lawyers can prove negligence per se
Personal injury law places the burden of proof on the claimant. To hold a person or company responsible for injuries, an accident victim must prove that they acted negligently.
Negligence can be challenging to establish, requiring the skills of an attorney to prove all four elements:
- A duty of care was owed to the claimant, i.e., the accident victim
- That duty was breached when the plaintiff failed to act with reasonable care
- The accident victim suffered harm, i.e., damages
- The failure to act with reasonable care caused the claimant’s injuries
However, truck accidents are unique. Truck drivers and companies adhere to a strict set of regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a driver fails to adhere to the following regulations, a truck accident lawyer can argue “negligence per se:”
- Hours of service: How many hours a truck driver can operate their vehicle
- Licensing requirements: In general, a driver must earn his CDL A, B, or Class C license to drive a commercial truck
- Controlled substances: Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication is strictly prohibited
- Training: Commercial trucks are massive and require specialized training to maneuver safely on the road
- Physical requirements: The driver must be able to pass a physical exam every other year
Under the doctrine of negligence per se, if a truck driver or company violates FMCSA law, it is enough to prove negligence.
Accident attorneys can protect critical evidence from being destroyed
Commercial trucking is a highly regulated service. Trucking companies and drivers are required to keep an array of detailed records, including:
- Maintenance and repair records
- Truck driver’s logbooks
- GPS records
- Electronic records and the truck’s black box
After an accident, the trucking company will conduct an investigation. Once complete, the truck will be quickly repaired and put back into service, erasing critical evidence.
Injury victims without representation lack the necessary resources to obtain important evidence. However, a trucking accident lawyer can send a demand letter preventing the company from destroying the evidence you need to support your claim.
The attorneys of Pierce Skrabanek have extensive resources to preserve and recover important information needed to maximize your settlement or verdict.
There may be more than one liable party for your injuries
Trucking accidents are rarely straightforward. There are many potentially liable parties in a negligent collision. While law enforcement will look into the accident, they may have other priorities above an in-depth investigation.
On the other hand, truck accident lawyers focus on a specific area of vehicular collisions. They are well-equipped to conduct a thorough investigation to determine all liable parties and have the means to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Some potentially liable parties in a truck accident include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The manufacturer of the truck
- The owner of the truck, if leased to the company or driver
- The owner of the cargo
An experienced lawyer can assess the details of your accident and help you decide the best course of action to recover your full compensation.
Trucking companies have large teams of lawyers and insurance adjusters
Most commercial trucks are owned or operated by large companies with an in-house team of lawyers and insurance adjusters explicitly hired to reduce any settlement payouts.
It is easy for accident victims to feel intimidated when filing a claim. Truck insurance companies may use high-pressure techniques to encourage victims to settle quickly.
Our dedicated legal team will aggressively represent our clients’ best interests. At Pierce Skrabanek, we have successfully gone up against large corporations. We will negotiate with the trucking companies and teams of lawyers and insurance adjusters to reach a fair settlement.
How Do I Find a Good Truck Accident Lawyer?
Generally, finding a good truck accident lawyer involves research. Asking family and friends for recommendations is a great start.
Most people turn to their mobile phones and search for local injury attorneys. However, they are met with a large selection of firms and a substantial number of ads on the top and bottom search pages.
Finding a good attorney is crucial to recovering the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured in a commercial truck collision, the following tips may help you choose the right representation for your needs:
- Look at reviews and testimonials
- Look at any awards and recognitions, especially anything that states “peer-reviewed”
- Put together a list of questions and concerns before the meeting
- Be sure to ask about their communication policy
Hiring a truck accident lawyer is a very personal decision. The most important factor in an attorney-client relationship is trust. You need to feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly about your case.
Our compassionate legal team has years of experience dedicated to truck accident victims. We are proud to offer close, personal attention with award-winning advocacy.
How Do Truck Accident Claims Work?
Truck accident claims work through a multi-level process with extensive attention to detail. After the collision, seek the advice of a qualified truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Many accident lawyers are willing to meet you in the hospital or your home.
Once you have hired a truck accident attorney, it is crucial to your case to conduct all communications about your accident only through your lawyer. Even an innocent post online can hurt your claim.
As you recover from your injuries, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of your case and gather critical pieces of evidence.
Once you and your attorney have built a strong claim, negotiations can begin. In most cases, your truck accident lawyer will negotiate directly with the insurance company for a fair settlement.
You have the right to accept or refuse any settlement offers. If you and your attorney believe the offers fall below what your pain and suffering are worth, the case will proceed to trial.
At Pierce Skrabanek, our talented litigation will work tirelessly to recover your total compensation.
What Are Some Types of Trucking Accidents?
According to statistics provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a total of 649 fatalities in Texas involved large trucks in 2017. This was the highest recorded number that year of any state in the country. Thus, people traveling on Texas highways may be at a higher risk of a serious or fatal truck accident while on the road compared to other areas.
Tractor-trailer accidents take many forms, and they occur for many reasons. For instance, 18-wheelers are less maneuverable than passenger cars and cannot adjust their speed as quickly.
Among the most dangerous accidents are rear-end crashes, due to the truck’s mass. Because of its size, a tractor-trailer takes much longer to stop than a normal car. If a driver is not watching the road ahead and needs to stop suddenly, any delay might cause the truck to slam into stopped vehicles ahead of it. This can seriously injure or even kill the people in the passenger vehicle.
Roll-overs occur when a truck loses traction, turns sideways and overturns, often in poor weather. In addition to the obvious risk of collision, a roll-over accident can spill potentially dangerous cargo, creating even more dangerous road conditions.
A jackknife accident occurs when the trailer swings outward perpendicular to the front of the truck. This can span multiple lanes of traffic and is often the result of sudden braking. A jackknife situation can block an entire road or trap vehicles underneath the trailer.
Under-ride accidents occur when a tractor-trailer stops suddenly and a car behind it is unable to stop in time. Because the truck sits much higher off the ground than a passenger vehicle, the car can become wedged beneath the trailer.
Accidents may also be caused by malfunctioning equipment, such as failed brakes or a faulty cargo hold. A truck can be very difficult to control after a tire blowout. If a trucking company does not maintain its equipment as required under the law, the odds of a mechanical failure increase.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
After any serious crash, the first priority is always to summon emergency medical personnel for anyone who is seriously injured. If you are the one seriously hurt, it’s unlikely you will have time to document the scene.
If it is at all possible, follow these steps after a serious accident truck accident:
- Take photographs of the vehicles, their positioning, your injuries, and any property damage.
- Get the insurance information of everyone involved.
- Cooperate with the police, but don’t discuss the specifics of the accident.
- Get a copy of the accident report.
- Do not admit fault to anyone, and don’t give a statement to an insurance company without speaking with an attorney. Even an offhand comment could be used against you by an insurer.
- Visit a doctor as soon as possible so your injuries are documented.
- Contact a Texas truck accident attorney. Do not discuss the accident with anyone except your attorney.
Typically, after someone is hurt in an accident, the insurance company of the liable driver will offer a settlement. They will want to close the claim as quickly as possible for as little as possible. That’s how they make money.
You may be entitled to far greater compensation than an insurance settlement if you hire a lawyer and pursue a lawsuit. If you agree to an insurance settlement, you may lose your right to seek further compensation. This is why it’s important to get a Houston truck accident lawyer on your side right away to make sure your rights are protected.
Why Contact Pierce Skrabanek Today for Your Truck Accident Claim
Our award-winning litigation team has helped thousands of individuals and families hurt by negligence. We pride ourselves on holding responsible parties accountable for the harm they cause.
At Pierce Skrabanek:
- We are committed to pursuing the highest possible compensation
- We are recognized by the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Million Dollar Advocates Forum for our outstanding service
- Our dedicated attorneys are results-oriented, recovering the largest single personal injury verdict in Louisiana history
If you or a loved one have been hurt, let our truck accident lawyers provide the compassionate attention and aggressive representation you need. Schedule a free consultation by clicking here or calling (832) 690-7000.
Truck Accident FAQs
The types of injuries common in a truck accident lawsuit are catastrophic, often resulting in the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage that may result in paralysis
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Crush injuries involving internal organ damage
Passenger cars are greatly outmatched by large commercial trucks in size and weight. The consequences of being involved in a truck accident are often tragic.
A truck accident case may be won by proving the concept of negligence per se. A truck accident lawyer only needs to show that the driver violated federal trucking regulations. If you have been hurt in a trucking collision, you need an attorney knowledgeable in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.
The truck accident lawyers of Pierce Skrabanek can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call (832) 690-7000 to schedule a free evaluation of your case.