Studies 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
- Be easily distracted or lack focus
The truck driver lost control and caused an accident. What can I do?
Abuse of Alcohol and Controlled Substances: Alcohol and drugs impair your ability to drive. It is even more pronounced when driving a big-rig 18 wheeler truck.
Even after a few drinks, drivers can cause accidents with their inability to 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 truck and stop safely. A driver in this condition can easily rear-end another truck or car and cause serious injury.
Because concentration is impacted by the alcohol or drugs, commercial truck drivers can cause accidents by making unsafe lane changes, following too closely 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.
Poor Maintenance and Inspection Practices: Even though semis are subject to rigorous inspection and maintenance regulations, truck accidents still occur because 18-wheelers are not properly inspected or maintained.
Truck accident studies 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 car drivers, 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.
Studies have found that being involved in a truck crash or near-crash, increases 23 times for bus and truck drivers who text while driving.
Texting while driving is banned in 39 states, 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 side truck mirrors
How Do You Prove Fault In an Investigation?
In any truck or 18 wheeler accident, a 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, security of the load, maintenance logs, GPS logs, and state and federal certifications to determine what responsibility the truck driver holds.
We also examine skid marks, gather witness testimony, and 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.
The trucking companies have their team of professionals — you need yours!
Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions
The moments after a truck accident can be confusing. Victims typically are left with severe injuries. They may have many questions about how the crash happened and who was to blame for it, and they may have no idea about what to do next. Here, we address those issues and many other frequently asked questions about trucking accidents.
To discuss the specific facts of your own case, contact Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., today. We have decades of experience with investigating tractor-trailer crashes in the Houston area and pursuing just compensation for victims and their families. We can provide a timely and free consultation.
- How are 18-wheeler truck accident cases different from car wrecks?
- Why do accidents involving trucks happen?
- Who are potential truck collision defendants?
- How do you prove the trucking company is liable?
- How can violations of trucking safety regulations help my case?
- What if I am partly at fault for a truck accident?
- How much is my truck collision case worth?
- Who can bring a wrongful death case in Houston against a trucker?
How are 18-wheeler truck accident cases different from car wrecks?
Due to the size and weight of tractor-trailers, accidents involving these rigs tend to result in more serious injuries than crashes which involve only standard-size passenger cars. Unfortunately, the occupants in the other vehicles are the ones who typically suffer the worst injuries. In fact, on average, around 80 percent of the fatalities in large truck crashes in the U.S. are people in the other vehicles, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) statistics show.
Additionally, in most car accidents, only one person is at fault. After a crash with an 18-wheeler, many parties could be liable. Truck accidents also may involve violations of state and federal regulations which govern the trucking industry. If you were in a trucking accident, it will be important to work with a lawyer who understands those regulations and the many other unique aspects of these cases.
Why do accidents involving trucks happen?
Truck accidents happen for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes of these crashes are:
- Distracted driving – A tractor-trailer is a complex vehicle. Drivers need to focus on the truck’s controls and pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, many do not. They may text or talk on phones while driving or engage in other distractions.
- Fatigued driving – Truckers can be on the road for many hours at a time. Some drivers fail to properly log their hours and violate the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations which are supposed to limit their driving hours and prevent drowsy driving crashes.
- Impaired driving – Truckers that use alcohol or drugs while on the road – even certain types of prescription drugs – can lack the motor skills and judgment that it takes to safely operate a big rig. Texas, like many other states, sets a 0.04 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
- Inexperience – Some trucking companies hire drivers who lack proper training and experience, or they fail to adequate supervise and monitor their driving.
- Poor truck maintenance – Truckers and trucking companies must regularly conduct pre- and post-trip inspections of their vehicles and make any necessary repairs. A poorly maintained truck can be a hazard on the road.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we take immediate steps to investigate truck accidents so as to preserve, gather and analyze important evidence. We also consult with experts in trucking safety and accident reconstruction. We know how to determine the causes of trucking accidents.
Who are potential truck collision defendants?
Many parties can potentially be liable in a truck accident. Of course, the truck driver can be found liable if the driver acted negligently. A trucking company may also be liable based on its driver’s negligence or its own negligence. Other parties such as the company that loaded the truck or shipping broker may be held responsible as well. If any part of the truck was defective, the manufacturer could be held accountable through a product liability claim.
How do you prove the trucking company is liable?
A trucking company may be liable due to its own negligence. For instance, the company may have hired a driver without conducting an adequate background check, failed to adequately train and supervise the driver or neglected to inspect and maintain the vehicles in its fleet. To establish the company’s liability, your lawyer from Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., can review hiring records, logbooks, inspection and maintenance records and other evidence.
How can violations of trucking safety regulations help my case?
When trucking companies and truck drivers violate state and federal safety regulations, it can establish negligence as a matter of law, or negligence per se. Some of the most common violations involve texting while driving, exceeding hours-of-service restrictions and failing to conduct routine truck inspections.
What if I am partly at fault for a truck accident?
Even if you were partially at fault for a collision with a tractor-trailer, you may still be eligible to recover compensation in Texas. Our state follows the rule of “proportionate responsibility.” Under this law, your damages would simply be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to you. You are barred from recovering compensation only if your fault exceeds the fault of the other party or parties involved in the crash.
How much is my truck collision case worth?
A lawyer cannot determine how much your claim is worth without first reviewing the specific facts of your case. However, a few common types of damages which accident victims can pursue include past and future medical expenses, lost income, loss of earning wages, property damages, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Who can bring a wrongful death case in Houston against a trucker?
The surviving spouse, children or parents of one who dies in a tractor-trailer crash may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. If none of them files a claim within three months of the death, the executor of the estate may file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim can seek damages that are different from a personal injury claim, including compensation for the loss of a loved one’s services and financial support.
Get Help from an Experienced Houston Truck Accident Attorney
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., we know how confusing the aftermath of a truck accident can be. We are here to help you make sense of it all. Our skilled attorneys will review your case, determine who was liable for the crash, and help you to pursue full and fair compensation. If you have been hurt or have lost someone in a truck crash, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Attorney Michael P. Fleming has been selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers list every year 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 our attorneys 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.