Dealing with the complexities of a trucking accident lawsuit as you and your family are dealing with the potentially life-changing injuries resulting from your accident can seem overwhelming, but moving quickly and engaging an experienced and professional trucking accident attorney is key to preserving your rights and getting the legal help you need and deserve.
Involved in a Trucking Accident
Getting into an accident with an 18-wheeler is one of the scariest–and potentially most dangerous–situations that any Texas driver can find themselves in. Over 400,000 accidents occur nationwide every year involving large trucks, and recent year averages have shown that about 10 people die daily in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other big truck. These numbers are frightening enough; when you consider the size of the trucks involved, however, you can get an even greater sense of the real risk of severe injury or death that drivers face when involved in trucking accidents.
The Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Professional truck drivers undergo specialized training aimed at ensuring they know and can follow proper safety protocols and regulations to protect both themselves and other drivers on the road. However, too often truck drivers and the companies that employ them cut corners and place profits ahead of road safety. When this happens, an 18-wheeler accident is often not far behind.
One common cause of trucking accidents is fatigued drivers. While truck drivers do have strict guidelines limiting the maximum number of hours they can drive in any period, many drivers violate these hours of service regulations, leading to tired and distracted driving. The shortage of truck drivers in Texas and across the country has to lead to many companies hiring truck drivers who are not fully qualified to operate an 18-wheeler, increasing the chances that they’ll lose control and cause a crash.
Problems with the truck itself can also lead to accidents. A failure by the trucking company to keep their fleet of 18-wheelers in proper working order by performing basic maintenance such as brake inspections, tire changes, and more can put everyone on the road at risk.
Other common causes of trucking accidents include, but are not limited to:
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol can be a common cause of many truck accidents when truck drivers get behind the wheel after consuming any kind of controlled substance. Keep in mind that commercial truck drivers also have a lower blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.04 than other drivers who have a limit of 0.08, so truck drivers could face criminal charges when they have a BAC that is only half the regular limit.
Reckless driving is possible when a truck driver operates with clear disregard for the safety of other motorists.
Distracted driving is a possible cause when a truck driver is attempting to use their personal cell phone or possibly even navigational equipment while behind the wheel.
Poor cargo loading can cause a great many accidents because uneven loads can affect a driver’s ability to control a truck during certain perilous turns.
Inclement weather can be a factor when heavy rain or snow is affecting the roads for all drivers and a truck driver does not operate safely in such conditions.
Speeding is a very common factor because a commercial truck driver operating in excess of posted speed limits will not have sufficient time to come to a complete stop in emergency situations.
Understanding the Truck Accident Lawsuit Process
Unfortunately, getting into an accident with an 18-wheeler can truly be devastating–particularly since many such accidents occur at high speeds on the highway. A fully-loaded 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, causing a catastrophic impact with your 4,000 pound car.
Victims of trucking accidents frequently face:
Internal organ injuries
Spinal cord injuries including paralysis
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other significant neurological damage
Loss of a limb
Disfigurement …and even death
These injures can be life-long and require extensive and expensive medical care, rehabilitation and ongoing support.
Types of Trucks Involved in San Antonio Truck Accidents
Commercial truck accidents may involve any one of a number of different types of trucks. Some of the most common kinds include:
Refuse or garbage trucks and utility trucks
Mail and delivery trucks
Tanker or fuel trucks
Day cab trucks
Flat-roof, mid-roof, or raised-roof sleeper trucks
Reefers or refrigerated trucks
Winch tractors or winch trucks
Truck Categories in San Antonio, Tx
Trucks are divided into three categories based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The categories include:
Class 1 — GVWR of 0–6,000 pounds
Class 2 — GVWR of 6,001–10,000 pounds
Class 3 — GVWR of 10,001–14,000
Class 4 — GVWR of 14,001–16,000 pounds
Class 5 — GVWR of 16,001–19,500 pounds
Class 6 — GVWR of 19,501–26,000 pounds
Class 7 — GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds
Class 8 — GVWR of greater than 33,001 pounds
File a Lawsuit Against Any One or All of The Following Parties
in the San Antonio Area
Depending on the specific circumstances of your accident, you could be able to pursue a claim against any one or all of the following parties:
Truck Drivers — The people who drive commercial trucks can be financially liable for any injuries or deaths when their recklessness or negligence contributes to or causes a crash. Most truck drivers will not have adequate financial resources to pay large judgments, so it is often wise to instead seek compensation from their employer.
The Trucking Company — The company that owns a truck or was responsible for hiring a driver can be responsible for negligent policies, poor truck maintenance, inadequate training, or unsatisfactory hiring practices. Most trucking companies will have insurance companies protecting their interests, but some trucking companies are self-insured, meaning that they do not maintain any form of commercial insurance and instead strive to satisfy Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) standards by using their own funds or credit. When a trucking company acts as its own insurer, it will still be responsible for filing and paying out claims to injured claimants, and such companies must pay injured parties directly. The trucking companies providing their own insurance often strive to avoid having to pay injured parties.
Truck Manufacturers or Maintenance Companies — When a truck accident is the result of some kind of defective part, you may be able to seek compensation from the part manufacturer. In some cases, maintenance companies could be liable for failure to perform necessary repairs.
What to Do After a Truck Collision in San Antonio?
After you are involved in any kind of commercial truck accident, you should always be sure to contact authorities so your crash will be properly reported and documented. Your next step needs to be to seek medical attention, regardless of whether you think you were hurt because many injuries do not have immediate symptoms, and getting a medical record created will be critical to your ability to obtain compensation later.
Take Evidence of Everything
When it is possible, try to take as many pictures as you can of your accident scene or have somebody else you know do this for you when you require medical attention. No attorney will ever tell you that you took too many pictures.
Avoid Speaking to any Insurance Agent
In the days that follow, try to avoid speaking to any insurance agent for the trucking company because very little good can come from speaking to these parties. In most cases, insurance companies will act quickly to get you to say things that can be used against you later on in your case.
Hire a Truck Accident Attorney Nearby in the San Antonio Area
You will want to hire a lawyer as soon as you can because immediately after your crash, the trucking company and its own insurer will be conducting their own investigation and getting witness statements, taking pictures, and reviewing evidence. You will want to have legal representation that can also conduct their own independent investigation into your accident so you can know that your rights are being looked out for.
A commercial truck accident can result in many different kinds of financial compensation for a victim.
Economic damages, which are awards for the types of costs that can be proven and calculated, may include:
Emergency room services
Physical therapy costs
Noneconomic damages, which are awards for the more subjective costs without inherent financial values, can include:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium
Loss of enjoyment of life
The size of commercial trucks increases the likelihood that any accident involving a large truck will be fatal. Families of people killed in such cases need to understand that they are usually eligible to file wrongful death claims in these cases.
Wrongful death claims are subject to the same strict time limits that apply to other personal injury claims, so you cannot afford to wait in seeking legal counsel. It will be important for you to contact an attorney as soon as possible during your period of grief because there will need to be significant work performed in evaluating your case and collecting the evidence that will be necessary for securing compensation.
Why Do You Need a San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyer?
On average, auto accidents claim the lives of around 32,000 people a year in the United States. Furthermore, two million people suffer injuries in automotive accidents. Anyone involved in an accident should seek an El Paso auto accident lawyer – even if they’re not planning on suing somebody and only need help to make a claim from their insurance company.
The best time to get an attorney is immediate. Once you seek medical attention for your injuries, you should be on the phone. There are many occasions where it’s important to get an auto accident lawyer in order to get the appropriate help. Filing a claim without a lawyer means you could be missing out on the full amount of compensation you’re entitled to.
Serious Injuries: If you’re in a crash where a person involved has been seriously injured, you’ll need the services of a car accident lawyer. Examples of serious injuries include broken bones and anything that’s likely to be permanent in nature.
Death: Accidents that result in death, whether someone was in a vehicle or a pedestrian, should be dealt with by an attorney.
Fault: If you’re struggling to determine who is at fault, you could benefit from legal guidance.
Accidents in a Construction Zone: Accidents that happen in a construction zone can often be fatal. If a worker is hit by a truck or other large vehicle, heavy fines and penalties can be issued. An auto accident lawyer can help you resolve this.
Inaccurate Police Reports: Police reports are important pieces of evidence in the compensation claim process. Having a police report filed that you think isn’t entirely accurate can really hinder things for you and prevent you from getting the result you deserve.
Issues with Insurance: If any of the drivers who are involved in an accident don’t have sufficient insurance, or your insurer suggests your car insurance limits are too low, a legal expert can help you resolve this.
Making a Claim on Your Insurance
A professional El Paso Auto Accident Lawyer can ensure that you get the most from your vehicle insurance. Things can be a little dramatic after a car, truck, motorcycle or commercial vehicle accident and people often make rash decisions. After being involved in an accident you should consider speaking to a legal professional as soon as possible; even before you contact your insurance provider.
This can help you to avoid making any mistakes that turn out to be costly. Getting an attorney can lead to you receiving a substantially larger settlement than going it alone. Insurance providers know that they’re likely to face much higher charges when there are lawyers involved.
If you’re hurt in an accident, you’re entitled to compensation. In Texas, there is no limit on what you are able to claim in regards to your pain & suffering, so get legal assistance and get the most from your claim.
Have you been involved in an automotive accident? If so, contact the highly experienced El Paso Auto Accident Lawyers and the team at Cesar Ornelas Law. We are able to help you get the justice you deserve.