Due to the size of the vehicles and their prevalence on our nation’s highways, accidents involving large trucks are among the most deadly in the United States. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, each year, large truck crashes nationwide kill between 4,000-6,000 people and injure over 100,000 people.
COMMON FACTORS IN TRUCKING ACCIDENTS
Trucking accidents often result from a combination of factors.
Truck Maintenance and Repair
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires the following:
- Trucks are systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained; and
- Parts and accessories on trucks must be in safe and proper condition at all times.
Truck drivers are also required to conduct pre and post trip inspections of the truck. The pre-trip inspections include – but is not limited to – the following:
- Truck’s tires
- Fluid levels
- Lights on the cab and the trailer
- Trailer coupling to ensure that the trailer is attached correctly
Unfortunately, often a trucking company or the truck driver fails to properly maintain the truck and/or conduct the necessary inspections and these omissions cause or contribute to a truck collision. Other times, a truck mechanic fails to properly repair the truck, and the failure causes an accident.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands of people are injured each year due to distracted driving. Distracted driving is often seen in truck drivers, who spend long hours driving. Examples of distracted driving by truck drivers often include the following:
- Talking on or using a cellphone
- Using Radio or Navigation System
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers
In particular, texting while driving is one of the most dangerous acts of distracted driving. It has been reported that texting while driving is about 6 times more likely to cause a collision than driving while intoxicated.
Drowsy or Fatigued Driving
Many truck collisions result from drowsy or tired drivers. This often occurs because the truck drivers sacrifice sleep in an effort to maximize their pay by driving longer hours. Drowsy driving or driving while tired leads to thousands of truck crashes each year. Driver fatigue is believed to contribute to over 30% of crashes on our roadways.
Driving while tired is extremely dangerous and significantly increases the risk of a collision. Driver drowsiness or fatigue decreases awareness and slows reaction times, thereby impairing the driver’s ability to timely and safely respond to potential hazards on the road. Fatigued driving also impairs the driver’s judgment. According to research, not sleeping for more than 18 hours has the same effect on driving ability as a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08, which constitutes being intoxicated in Texas. Not sleeping for 24 hours has the same effect on driving ability as a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.10.
Driving While Intoxicated
Driving while intoxicated is a menace on U.S. highways. The Department of Transportation reports that every day, vehicle accidents involving an impaired driver kill 36 people and injure 700 people. The DOT estimates that the annual cost of U.S. intoxication-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.
A driver may be intoxicated from alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs or a combination of the above.
Intoxicated driving is often a problem in truck drivers, who spend long hours of the roads. For some, alcohol, illegal drugs, and/or prescription drugs simply help pass the time while driving.
Other Factors in Truck Accidents
Other factors contributing to truck accidents include the following:
- Owner of the trucking company hired an unqualified truck driver and/or failed to adequately train the driver;
- Cargo was not properly loaded or was overloaded or was not properly secured; and
- Defective or unsafe part on the truck.
COMPLEXITIES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Federal and state laws combine to govern trucking accidents. Trucking companies are required to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations concerning required equipment, insurance, and restrictions on drivers’ hours of service. Federal law also requires commercial truckers to maintain structured logs that record their driving information. Texas law also imposes common law and statutory duties upon truckers and others who operate vehicles on the state’s highways.
Adding to the complexity of these cases is the fact that carelessness or negligence by the driver, the employer, the truck manufacturer, and others may combine to cause the accident.
We will investigate every contributing cause of a truck accident to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries.
COMPENSATION FOR TRUCK ACCIDENTS
In Texas, the person or company at fault for causing a truck accident is liable for:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses;
- Lost income or wages due to time away from work;
- Any property damage, such as damage to your vehicle;
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores while you are unable to do them;
- Any permanent disfigurement and disability;
- Emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and any interference with family relationships;
- Pain and suffering;
- Any other costs that were a direct result of your injury.
Evidence used to prove a truck injury claim often include:
- The vehicles involved in the accident
- Truck driver’s logs
- Truck driver’s employment file, along with driving and training history
- Photographs and video tapes of the accident scene and the vehicles
- Police report
- Investigative reports containing, among other things, measurements and documentation of skid marks and other evidence at the accident scene
- Medical reports documenting injuries
- Testimony of drivers, passengers, witnesses, police and emergency personnel with knowledge of the accident
- Testimony from accident reconstructionists, investigators, engineers, mechanics, and other technical experts regarding the cause, mechanics, and effects of the accident
- Testimony from doctors and other medical caregivers, medical specialists, rehabilitation and occupational therapists, mental health professionals and others experts regarding the cause and extent of physical and mental injuries.
Large truck cases require special legal knowledge and expertise because they so often involve catastrophic injuries and complex legal and technical issues. It is essential to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and enable physicians or other expert witnesses to evaluate any injuries thoroughly.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a truck accident (whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian), call the Law Offices of Alexander M. Gurevich at (713) 224-9600. We will also deal with the legal matters, so that you can concentrate on your medical treatment and the recovery from your injuries. If necessary, we can also help you find appropriate medical specialists to provide treatment. We may be able to arrange for your medical care providers to wait for payment until your case is resolved.
Your initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we work on a contingent fee basis. This means you pay for our services only when you receive a monetary award or recovery of funds.