An accident with a semi or tractor-trailer truck can be disastrous for everyone involved. Walking away from an accident of this magnitude is nothing short of a miracle. The majority of the time trucking accidents cause severe injuries that completely alter a person’s quality of life.
Victims of trucking accidents need experienced representation to get the compensation they need for their medical expenses, pain and suffering. While many attorneys handle auto accident cases, crashes involving large trucks require a different level of investigation. Attorneys must understand the nuances of trucking laws to hold all guilty parties involved liable, so the maximum compensation can be secured for victims.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a large truck, the attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek have the knowledge and experience to build a strong case that may secure compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your legal rights contact us at (832) 690-7000.
5 Causes of Truck Accidents
After horrific accidents like these, the question often is how did this happen? The unfortunate truth is that despite the minor details, truck accident causes are surprisingly similar. 3,744 people lost their lives in truck accidents across the country in 2014, and of these over 60% involved tractor trailers.
5 glaring causes of truck accidents are:
1. Driver Inattention
Back in 2011, an inattentive driver of a heavy truck collided with an Amtrak train in Nevada. Besides driver inattention, another factor contributing to this accident was the truck’s poorly maintained brakes. The collision completely annihilated the tractor-trailer, destroyed several passenger railcars, and ignited a fire that destroyed two more. It took the lives of the truck driver, the conductor and 4 passengers while injuring 15 others. All this destruction was caused by a mere 5 second glance away from the road.
The lesson to be learned here is the importance of focusing on your drive, especially if you operate large vehicles.
2. Driver Fatigue
According to an older study published in Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, even moderate levels of fatigue produce higher levels of performance impairment than intoxication from alcohol or drugs. For truck drivers, operating on 5 hours or less of sleep for days in a row is comparable to driving drunk.
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, the driver can be held accountable by law. Additionally, the trucking company may be at fault, especially if the company was aware that drivers were exceeding their allowed driving hours.
3. Unsafe Cargo
Driver attentiveness and vehicle maintenance is critical to avoid unsafe cargo crashes. If a truck is driving too fast for road and weather conditions, the result can be a frightening and potentially deadly rollover crash. Because trucks have a high center of gravity, they are less stable than passenger vehicles.
Depending on the type of cargo the truck is carrying, an abrupt turn can shift the load, which may result in a crash. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), over 94% of rollovers occur in trucks with a partial load.
Not only do physics play a part in unsafe cargo conditions, the cargo itself may be unsafe – especially when the cargo contains hazardous materials. If you are hit by a truck with unsafe cargo, you may be able to hold the shipper responsible, in addition to the truck driver and the trucking company.
4. Driving Under the Influence
No matter the contents of a semi, driving a commercial truck carries a much higher risk for devastation than your family sedan. This is especially true when it comes to drinking and driving. In fact, the FMCSA regulations limit the BAC to half the legal limit – 0.04. Regulations also state that a driver may not drive within four hours of consuming any alcoholic beverage.
Commercial drivers are required to submit to random drug and alcohol testing after an accident or if there is reason to suspect them of drinking on the job. Still, truck accidents involving inebriated drivers happen often. The Texas Department of Transportation reported 1,041 people lost their lives to drunk driving accidents in 2014.
If you’ve been in an accident with a suspected drunk truck driver, please do not hesitate to contact the authorities immediately.
5. Improper Training
Handling a vehicle with a high center of gravity that weighs over 80,000 pounds, especially around tight corners and long stretches of road takes considerable skill. Experienced truckers often advise their peers on the dangers of becoming complacent behind the wheel after decades of being on the road – and these are career drivers. An inexperienced driver behind the wheel may unintentionally wreak havoc on those they share the road with should they make even the slightest miscalculation.
Unfortunately, the only way to truly tell if an accident was due to driver inexperience is by investigating the driver’s qualification file (DQF). Trucking companies are very reluctant to hand these files over and may flat out deny turning it over should you make the request yourself. However, a skilled truck accident attorney can use the power of the law to unearth the facts about the driver involved in your accident.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Should you have the misfortune of being in or even witnessing a crash with a large truck, the very first thing to do is call 911 to get the police and medics on the scene right away. If you can safely do so, there are several steps you can take following a truck accident such as:
- Take photos of the scene, including the location, damage to all vehicles involved and any injuries sustained.
- Exchange insurance information with all parties involved.
- Cooperate with police, but do not discuss details and definitely do not admit fault.
- Seek medical attention to treat and document injuries.
- Get a copy of the police report.
- Do not give a statement or sign any documents from insurance companies without speaking to an attorney.
Remember that truck accidents are more complex than car accidents, in part because there are more players involved when it comes to liability. Insurance adjusters often work in the interest of saving their company money, as opposed to awarding the victim what is truly needed to cover the multitude of expensive injuries that a truck accident can cause.
Often individual insurance policies have award limits that are difficult to negotiate on your own, especially if you are in pain or grieving.
How a Texas Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Trucking accidents involve several laws and layers of government regulations. Successful litigation of these cases calls for a knowledgeable and thorough team of attorneys. The energy and diligence it takes to deal with insurance and trucking companies may be too much for an injured victim or bereaved family to handle.
The attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek have a solid record helping people in Houston and elsewhere in Texas. We’d like to help take the burden of legal issues off your shoulders, so you can focus on healing. Call us today (832) 690-7000 or contact us online to learn more. There is no cost and no obligation to speak with an attorney about your rights, so you have nothing to lose.