Truck Driver Negligence Causing Accidents
Driver negligence and carelessness is perhaps the most common cause of truck accidents in Houston and throughout Texas. The resulting damages are always horrible. Whether due to fatigue, intoxication, distraction or inattention, driver error involving a big rig truck can have serious consequences. Fortunately, in many cases the regulations imposed by the government provide additional ways to show that the driver or the trucking company was negligent and that the negligence was the cause of the truck accident.
It is a good idea to contact a lawyer either at the scene or soon after a truck accident so that the lawyer can assist in making sure evidence is retained and a proper investigation is performed to determine the cause of the wreck. This is critical so later on evidence can be presented in court to prove that the driver or company were negligent.
What is Truck Driver Negligence?
Proving negligence in a Texas truck accident is the same as any injury case. Negligence simply means not being careful the way all people are expected to act. It doesn’t mean being overly cautious nor does it mean being reckless. Taking your eyes off the road, speeding, changing lanes without looking, passing before a ridge or curve – these are all actions that we recognize as negligent (or in some cases reckless). These mistakes are often the cause of truck accidents in Houston. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you recover damages for your injuries.
How do you prove a truck driver was negligent?
Proving negligence on the part of a truck driver is similar to that of any car accident but the law provides some advantages in the case of the truck accident. Everyone knows that speeding, tailgating and driving drunk are negligent activities. However, the law imposes other restrictions and duties upon truck drivers such as;
- Maximum driving time for any given day. There are federal regulations stating that 11 hours is the driving limit for a maximum 14 hour workday. Because they are federal regulations, the apply in Houston, throughout Texas and anywhere in the United States.
- Maintenance and inspection of the truck. As with any vehicle, the manufacturer will suggest a maintenance schedule for their vehicles. When it comes to trucks and semis this is usually quarterly or annually. The truck must be inspected by someone who is qualified and companies must have certificates on hand stating that the inspector is qualified. Companies must retain these maintenance records. If you have been injured in a truck accident we will subpoena these records to determine if the company was negligent.
- Daily inspection of the truck. As part of their training to become a driver of a commercial vehicle, drivers are trained to perform daily inspections. Commercial vehicles accumulate miles a lot faster than passenger cars and that means the wear and tear on the components is greater. Semi-trucks have many components that, in the case of failure can cause serious accidents and injury. These include tires, braking systems, steering system, suspension, engine components, belts and more.
- Distracted driving and texting. Unlike drivers of passenger cars, truck drivers must comply with the federal motor carrier’s regulation that has banned texting. Texting isn’t just a rampant problem with Houston teen drivers – truckers can also be just as guilty.
- Drunk driving, DWI and DUI. Just like people who drive cars and pickup trucks there are limits on the amount of alcohol you can drink before you get behind the wheel. For truck drivers the limit is much lower at .04 blood alcohol content.
- Secure your load. This is very important, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure the load is secure at all times. There are rules and regulations for the number of tiedowns and material used to secure loads. If an unsecure load caused an accident it is very likely that someone was negligent.
- Driver licensing and training. Anyone driving a commercial vehicle must have the correct license and have the proper training. In fact there are different classes of license and certain type of training are required depending on the size, weight and number of trailers on the big rig. Companies that allow drivers to operate a commercial vehicle when they are not licensed or trained will be found to be negligent.
If you have been seriously injured in a truck accident, you should seek the advice of the competent and experienced lawyers at Michael P. Fleming & Associates.