Experienced Houston Truck Accident Lawyers
The truck accident lawyers at Michael P. Fleming & Associates help injured victims of negligent big-rig drivers. If you have suffered from personal injury and need a lawyer for a truck accident caused by a tractor-trailer, otherwise known as an 18 wheeler or commercial motor vehicle (CMV), contact the law offices of Michael P. Fleming for a free consultation.
Why are there so many truck accidents?
In the U.S. 70% of the all domestic freight is moved by tractor-trailer big-rig trucks. In 2014 annual revenues for the trucking industry exceeded $700 billion for the first time. Since Houston is now the country’s third largest city it isn’t surprising that 18 wheelers and semis are seen on our highways in increasing numbers.
If you are considering filing a claim against a trucking company, determining the exact cause of the crash will be critical in seeking damages for your injuries.
What are the causes of truck accidents?
Driver Fatigue – Many truck drivers will drive while they are fatigued which affects their performance when trying to avoid dangerous situations or taking the appropriate action when mechanical or operational problems occur. This is often the direct cause of a truck accident with another vehicle.
Safety Violations – These infractions often result in an accident with the truck. Commercial drivers are bound by rules and regulations that don’t apply to those who simply have a license to drive a passenger car or pickup truck. Commercial drivers convicted of violating traffic laws, in a State other than the one that issued their license, are required to report the violation. Within 30 days of being convicted of a violation the driver must report the offense to an official designated by the State where the license was issued as well as their employer. This includes any violation the driver committed while driving their own personal car or truck, whether it was on the job or not.
Inadequate Driver Training – Without a doubt, big trucks are dangerous on the road and result in crashes if the driver is not trained properly. If you have been injured in a truck accident you will want to know some of the specific skills that commercial drivers must have. A driver who is deficient in or lacks any of these skills may have contributed to the accident by;
- Improperly changing lanes with the truck;
- Merging the truck unsafely into traffic, especially on busy interstates in Houston like I-10, US-59, I-45, I-610 and Beltway 8
- Being unable to control the truck in order to make sudden safe stops, avoid tailgating
- Disobeying all traffic signals and signs while operating the truck
- Not adhering to the rules regarding right-of-way
Studies tend to suggest that the majority of truck accidents are caused by a small percentage of commercial vehicle drivers. High risk drivers are those who have a propensity to;
- Act aggressively while operating the truck
- Are impatient or impulsive
- Easily be distracted or lack focus
Abuse of Alcohol and Controlled Substances – Alcohol and drugs impair your ability to drive. It is even mroe pronounced when driving a big-rig 18-wheeler truck. Even after a few drinks drivers can cause accidents with their inability respond to difficult driving situations or emergencies. Add to this the fact that a big rig is much more difficult to control in the first place and the results can be serious.
Truck drivers who have had more than 4 drinks or are high on drugs can cause accidents because they are unable to control their vehicle and stop safely. A driver in this condition can easily rear-end another truck or car and cause serious injury. Because their concentration is impacted by the alcohol or drugs, truck drivers can cause accidents by making unsafe lane changes, following too close or even hitting pedestrians at truck stops at night when its dark. They may also misjudge their speed, take a corner too fast and drift into oncoming traffic causing head-on collisions with other drivers. For many reasons it is a bad idea to drink or take drugs and then drive your big rig.
Even though semis are subject to rigorous inspection and maintenance regulations, truck accidents still occur because 18-wheelers are not properly inspected or maintained. Studies of truck accidents by the FMCSA have shown that up to one-third of the tractor-trailers involved in accidents had out of service violations, which means the trucks should not have been on the road just prior to the accident.
Some examples of these violations which cause accidents include;
- Brake system problems such as inoperative or defective brakes, out of adjustment clamp or roto type brakes, brake hose or tubing damage
- Tires with tread depth less than 2/32 of an inch or with tread or sidewall separation
- Steering column with loose bolts or positioning parts, steering wheel not properly secured
- Suspension with cracked, broken, loose or missing bolts, spring hangers and other positioning parts
Texting and Distracted Driving
Just like those who drive cars, truckers can be distracted while they drive semis on highways. It is arguably a bigger problem with 18-wheelers because companies require them to stay in contact with dispatchers in their operations department. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that being involved in a truck crash or a near-crash increases 23 times for truck and bus drivers who text while driving. 39 states have banned texting while driving and in October 2010 the FMCSA introduced a regulation that bans texting while driving for all drivers of commercial motor vehicles which includes semis, tractor-trailers and 18 wheelers.
Other activities found to distract truck drivers and increase the risk of a truck wreck are;
- Dialing a cell phone while driving the truck
- Using a calculator in their lap while rolling down the highway in trucks
- Looking at a map on a phone or with a paper map in the truck
- Making notes on a pad or notebook
- Difficult tasks like cleaning a side truck mirrors
How do you prove fault in a truck accident?
In any truck or 18-wheeler accident, proper investigation is critical to determine responsibility. Insurance companies investigate immediately after a truck accident. Our lawyers have extensive experience handling truck accident cases of all types.
To determine the cause of a truck accident we investigate safety inspection reports, maintenance logs, gps logs, and state and federal certifications to determine what responsibility the truck driver holds. We also examine skid marks, provide witness testimony, examine driving conditions and other critical accident scene evidence. Sometimes, individuals other than the driver can be held liable for an accident if they are guilty of negligent entrustment.
Why Choose Us?
Attorney Michael P. Fleming has been selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers list since 2007. He is also one of the very few lawyers in the entire country to have had the privilege of arguing and winning a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.
What Will We Do For You?
We will listen
Contact our law firm and we will listen carefully to your memories of the accident. We will also listen to how the truck accident injuries have affected you and what losses you have suffered — physical injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
We will investigate
Trucking companies are held to high standards of safety. We will examine records to determine if those standards have been met. We will check maintenance logs, driver logs, safety inspections, gps records, state and federal certifications, and truck accident reports. We also examine skid marks, witness testimony, driving conditions and other critical accident scene evidence.
We will handle all insurance claims for you
The insurance company and trucking company will have lawyers on their side. You need an 18-wheeler wreck attorney prepared to prove fault. Insurance companies take our law firm seriously knowing we will take personal injury cases to trial.