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Personal Conveyance: Rules That Allow a Trucker to Drive Over the Limit


Passenger vehicles share the roadways with millions of big rigs. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) there are more than 130 million commercial trucks in use nationwide. California and Texas have the most trucks with a combined total of about 25 million. Millions of trucks can make driving on our roads more dangerous. Trucks are required to follow federal and state regulations. However, there are some differences in the rules when drivers are not on duty.

What is Personal Conveyance?

Personal conveyance (PC) is the personal use of a commercial motor vehicle. This is the time spent driving by truck drivers when they are not actually on the clock. Drivers are allowed to drive big rigs for personal conveyance as long as they follow the rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Carriers are not required to allow their drivers to use the trucks for personal conveyance; however, if they do, they must enforce the rules.

There are some appropriate uses of a truck for personal conveyance which include:

  • Traveling between the driver’s home and work locations
  • Driving from overnight lodging to a restaurant
  • Driving to a safe location for a rest stop for off-duty periods required by law
  • Moving a truck for a safety official
  • Traveling in a motorcoach without passengers while off duty
  • Transporting personal property while not on duty

There may be additional uses that are appropriate. In addition, there are some personal uses that do not qualify as personal conveyance. For instance, the driver cannot count the time as PC when driving to a location for rest after he or she has already exceeded the maximum driving period under the law.

What are the Important Personal Conveyance Enforcement Considerations?

The interpretation of Hours of Service (HOS) is complex and sometimes confusing. The driver must always follow the law and therefore may not be allowed to use the truck for PC at certain periods of time based on his or her use.

At the heart of PC time are the two basic questions as to whether driving the truck was for personal benefit alone and whether the driver was relieved of all work responsibility and able to participate in personal activities. When a truck driver is driving under personal conveyance, the issues of liability and authorization are important.

The company is ultimately responsible for determining PC and for authorizing a vehicle for PC use. Generally, the company must determine insurance policy coverage issues and give drivers detailed instructions so that they understand how they are allowed to use the truck for personal conveyance.

Time the driver spends driving for PC counts toward their break time under the law. Drivers must have a 10-hour break or a 34-hour restart in order to obtain restorative rest. If the PC time significantly reduces this rest time, the driver may actually be driving while fatigued.

Importantly, the law allows drivers to drive during their rest time but prohibits PC driving while fatigued or when sick. This leaves the PC time to interpretation should an accident occur.

CDL drivers are required to log their driving time electronically under the Electronic Logging Device mandate. The ELD logs the status of drivers and provides documentation of the hours of service that are recorded by each driver. Carriers are not required to provide a special category for drivers to record personal use time, although some do.

The law is extremely complicated regarding the use of trucks for personal conveyance. If you were injured in an accident with a big rig, it is important to seek guidance from an experienced truck accident attorney. The records of the truck driver and company must be obtained to determine whether the driver was operating the vehicle safely and in accordance with the law.

Contact our Houston truck accident law firm to discuss the details of your case today. Call (281) 893-0760!

See: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/personal-conveyance

Do I Have an Obligation to Mitigate Damages?


When you are involved in a car or truck wreck, you suddenly have to make a number of important decisions. You may have been seriously hurt and your car may have been towed from the scene of the crash. Although some things are out of your control, you are supposed to take reasonable steps to mitigate your damages. The term “mitigate damages” simply means that you must take reasonable care to prevent your damages from getting worse.

Mitigating Damages in a Car or Truck Accident Case

Mitigating your damages means that you must take particular actions if they are reasonable and necessary to prevent further damage or injury. It generally applies to property damages but it can also be applied to physical injuries. A common problem following a crash is that your vehicle was towed from the scene. You may not even immediately know where the vehicle ended up. However, the tow company charges for the tow and for storage of the vehicle while it is located on their premises.

You will need to take steps to remove your car from the tow yard before incurring excessive fees. For instance, you cannot abandon your car there and later request compensation for the multiple charges that were incurred on the vehicle. The law uses the term “reasonable” and this can be somewhat subjective.

Mitigation can also apply to your medical condition. You have a duty to follow the doctor’s orders when you seek medical attention after an accident. If the doctor tells you not to return to work, or puts other limitations on you, but you do not follow your doctor’s orders and your condition worsens, this portion of your medical care may be due to your own failure to mitigate.

Failure to Mitigate

Texas law requires that you have a “duty to mitigate or avoid damages in a manner appropriate to the action.” The judge or others who adjudicate the matter can determine whether a person took the steps necessary to prevent further damages or injuries from happening. It is important to be careful when making decisions regarding your medical treatment following your injury. It is not surprising to know that insurance companies may seize on any shred of information to try to prove that you failed to mitigate and are therefore not owed complete compensation.

It is not uncommon for insurance companies to try to twist the facts to meet their own agenda. For instance, you may return to work because you cannot go without pay, but the insurance company may use that against you by saying that it proves that your injuries were not significant.

This confusing scenario can be resolved more easily with help from an experienced Houston 18-wheeler accident attorney. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and help you make decisions that will be best for your particular situation.

Call us to schedule a no-obligation consultation about your rights, actions and options after an injury accident. 

Call (281) 893.0760  24/7

Texas Truck Driver to Face Charges in Deadly Denver Crash


A deadly truck crash in Denver claimed the lives of four people and sent at least 10 others to the hospital with injuries. The accident happened on a highway near Denver and involved multiple vehicles in a fiery inferno that erupted immediately following the crash. The crash ultimately involved at least 28 vehicles and four semi-trucks. According to eyewitness accounts, the truck, driven by a 23-year-old Texas man, plowed into traffic on the highway. The truck crash was so severe that the vehicles caught fire, engulfing many of them in thick flames.

The truck driver was taken into custody and bond was set at $400,000. He will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges. The charges are pending an investigation that is being completed with help from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The driver, who suffered only minor injuries in the crash, stated that the brakes on the truck failed, causing the accident.

What are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents are generally more complex than accidents that involve only passenger vehicles. The investigation into who is liable will likely focus on what happened immediately before, during, and after the crash. The safety and mechanical records of the vehicle will need to be reviewed as will the electronic data regarding the driver. There are typically various factors at play that may cause or contribute to an accident.

Factors are generally categorized into three main areas including human error, mechanical failure, and road conditions. While not part of the official investigation, some Commercial Drivers License (CDL) instructors have expressed concern over the speed the truck was traveling and the experience of the truck driver. The truck driver was relatively new to the job and did not have experience with Colorado’s terrain.

Specifically, the CDL instructors were concerned about the navigation of the steep grades and sharp turns. The truck driver should have been able to control the vehicle by barely touching the brakes and they should not get hot. The speed at which the truck was traveling shows that the driver may not have been properly trained for driving on such steep inclines.

What to do After a Truck Accident

Following a truck accident, you should always call the police. The police will investigate the accident and gather information and witness accounts. If you are hurt. you should always go to the emergency room, even if you do not think your injuries are major. Injuries can worsen over time. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer in Texas as soon as possible. Your attorney will take charge of your case and work on your behalf to help you get the compensation you are owed.

You may be owed money for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, among other damages.

If you were hurt in a truck accident, do not delay. Contact our experienced Houston truck accident legal team to discuss the details of your case in a free initial consultation.

Resources

https://www.khou.com/article/news/cdl-instructor-questions-houston-truck-drivers-training-speed-in-deadly-semi-crash-near-denver/285-d72725e7-2070-4839-b574-980434529191

How do I File a Claim After a Truck Accident?

18 wheeler attorneys in Texas


When you are involved in any type of accident, it can be a scary situation. However, when you are the victim of a truck accident, it can be extremely traumatic. Because of their size and weight, trucks commonly cause severe and life-threatening injuries. Your first and most important consideration is to take care of your medical needs. Next, contact a truck accident attorney to review the details of your case. Your lawyer will determine the best way to proceed.

Possible Claims Following a Truck Accident

It is normal to assume that the driver of a vehicle is responsible for an accident. However, when it comes to truck accidents, they can be trickier and much more complex than regular vehicle accidents. There are several parties that could possibly be responsible for the accident and your injuries. These include:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Truck manufacturer
  • Truck repair company
  • Tire or other parts manufacturers
  • State or local government

The first step is to determine the cause of the crash. In general, the main cause of a crash may fall under into one of several categories including driver error, mechanical failure, and weather or road conditions.

Human error is a driver mistake such as speeding, driving while fatigued, failing to obey traffic signals, driving while distracted, and others. Mechanical failure is a problem with the truck itself such as brake failure or a tire blowout. Weather or road conditions include such things as rain, ice, snow, debris on the road, or poorly maintained roads.

How to Determine the Cause of a Crash

Determining the cause of a truck crash is not often easy. It is something that must be left to the experts. The court may review the documents from a crash to make a determination as to the amount of negligence to assign to each particular driver in the crash.

Whenever there is any question as to the cause of the accident, it may be in your best interest to have an accident reconstruction expert review the crash. An accident reconstruction engineer will analyze data from the crash to determine what happened prior, during, and after an accident.

In some instances, the crash may have several factors that caused or contributed to it. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) analyzed many truck crashes and published the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. They collected data from numerous truck crashes to determine critical events and critical reasons for crashes. Critical events are actions that put the truck “on a course that made the collision unavoidable.” A critical reason is the failure that led to the critical event. They found three common critical events in large truck accidents, including running out of the travel lane, losing control of the vehicle, and colliding with the rear of another vehicle.

If you were seriously hurt in a truck accident you need support and guidance from an experienced Houston truck accident attorney.

Contact the leading truck wreck lawyers in Houston to discuss the details of your accident today. Call 281-893-0760!

Should I Talk with the Truck Driver’s Insurance Company After a Crash?

Should I give a statement after an accident?


Getting into an accident can be a stressful and traumatic event. When the vehicle that hit you is a truck, the situation can be even worse.

You may have suffered a serious or life-threatening injury due to the crash. After the accident, you may be wondering what to do and how to make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries.

One of the first things to do is to call a trucking accident attorney. Your lawyer will protect your rights and handle the situation to ensure that you get the money you deserve.

What to Know Before You Talk to the Insurance Company

Following an accident, the insurance company will contact the drivers to take statements and find out how the accident occurred. It is important to remember a few things before you speak to the insurance company.

Regardless of how nice or compassionate the insurance adjuster sounds, he or she represents the truck driver’s insurance company. The job of the insurance company is always to minimize their payout. They may try to do so in a number of ways such as trying to blame you for the accident or minimizing your injuries or trying to say that your injuries were not a result of the crash.

Keep in mind that the insurance company may make an audio recording of your conversation. Anything you say can and will be used later in an attempt to reduce your claim. The insurance company will ask you to tell them how the accident happened and what you were doing before and after the wreck and about your injuries! The insurer can then use your statement to try to prove that you were somehow to blame or that you were not hurt as bad as you were.

Worse, is often the insurer reaches out to you well before you really know how badly your injuries are from the crash. Emergency rooms are for treating emergencies. If your injuries are not life threatening, the hospital usually discharges you with instructions to follow up with your doctor or a specialist.

Frequently, it is only after seeing a specialist the seriousness of your injuries become known. Giving a statement to your adversary about your injuries prior to knowing the full extent of the injuries is always a mistake.

Questions which will be used to shift the blame are also part of the insurance companies arcenal and the unprepared can hurt their case.

Help from an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

No matter how prepared you are to speak to the insurance company, you could end up saying something that could hurt your case. The best thing to do is to seek help from a 18-wheeler lawyer. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and will help you before you talk to the insurance representative. If you have already spoken to the insurance company, do not worry. Your lawyer will review the situation and work to obtain a favorable outcome.

Truck crashes are among the most complicated and difficult accidents to resolve. They may require expert witnesses and accident reconstruction specialists to determine the cause of the accident and any contributing factors. Keep in mind that you may not be aware of exactly how the crash happened so do not take responsibility. Instead, count on an expert truck accident legal team to take the necessary steps in the case.

Do not discuss the case with the insurance company or make a statement before first talking to your attorney. You may be owed money for your damages including compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Contact our skilled legal team at Baumgartner Law Firm for a free case consultation today. Call- (281) 893-0760!

Deadly Big Rig Fire Causes TxDOT Response

Big rig fire


A deadly big rig crash on Houston’s Eastex Freeway caused an emergency response and a huge traffic delay. The crash happened on the southbound lanes in the Humble area. The truck driver was killed in the crash and there were no other injuries reported. According to police, the truck driver slammed into the guardrail located near FM 1960. The accident happened at about 12:45 AM. The truck lost control after hitting the barrier and then slid. The truck then caught on fire and was engulfed in flames just minutes after the accident.

Witnesses stated that the vehicle exploded when it flipped over. A huge fire ensued and the driver was not located inside the rig until about an hour later. Flames were visible for more than a mile. The road was closed for 14 hours while the fire was extinguished and the road cleaned. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) crews had to repair the guardrail before the road could reopen. Remnants of the truck were unrecognizable. A large black charred area on the road was visible from the air. The big rig was carrying lawn mowers.

What Causes Big Rig Fires?

Big rigs are more prone to catching fire in an accident than are other vehicles. Trucks have many mechanical parts that are exposed, particularly underneath the vehicle. They use different types of fluids, such as hydraulic fluid, which can easily spill onto the road during an accident. As in this accident, big rigs may cause sparks when they crash because of their large metal components. Diesel fuel and other fluids are highly flammable. When they spill on the road, it may cause a hazardous situation not only for the truck, but for other nearby drivers.

Another potential cause of 18-wheeler fires is the type of load they carry. When they carry hazardous materials, they are more likely to catch fire during an accident. Trucks that carry flammable materials may more easily catch fire. Sometimes a truck’s load catches fire without an accident. This can cause the driver to crash. Drivers should be aware of potentially dangerous trucks and maintain a safe driving distance while on the road.

In this accident we do not know what caused the driver to veer out of the lane and hit the guard rail. The accident will continue to be investigated. The driver may have been fatigued or distracted. Truck drivers are restricted in the number of hours they can drive in a row and how long they must rest between shifts. Driver logs will help investigators learn the details of what led to this crash. Driver logs are now electronic so they can provide more detailed and accurate information than ever before. Luckily, this crash did not impact any other drivers. Had the accident happened during the day, the road would have been crowded and other vehicles may have been involved in the crash.

If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, you may be owed money for your damages.

Contact the attorneys for truck accidents at Baumgartner Law Firm for a free initial case consultation today. Call (281) 893-0760!

What Documentation Do I Need to File a Truck Accident Claim?


When you are hurt in an accident with a truck, your injuries may be severe. Your medical bills and other damages should be paid by the negligent party. Truck accidents are often more complicated than regular car accidents. Immediately following an accident, the trucking company will typically involve its own accident team. It is helpful to seek professional legal help from an experienced Houston truck accident attorney soon so you can get the information to prove your case.

Gather Details About the Accident

Immediately following the accident you should make sure that you obtain a copy of the police report. In addition, you will need to know the name of the truck driver, trucking company and insurance company. When you receive medical treatment you must keep copies of everything. Take notes so you will have details of diagnosis, names of doctors, dates of treatment and anything associated with your medical care and rehabilitative therapy. You will need this information to prove your injuries and damages. Besides your physical treatment, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering.

Obtain Information From the Trucking Company

There is some important information you will need to get from the trucking company. Truck drivers are restricted to driving only a set number of hours in a row. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires the use of and electronic logging device (ELD). The system makes trucking safer and to provide accurate data. The truck driver may not have followed the law and might have been driving while fatigued. It is necessary to obtain the ELD to discover the details of the trucker’s log. You will also need to obtain truck maintenance and repair logs.

Vehicular Accident Reconstruction

Some accidents are complex, and it is necessary to know what happened before, during, and following an accident. This is especially true for truck accidents and multiple vehicle crashes. There may have been several things that precipitated the crash. Vehicular accident reconstruction is a scientific process that analyzes, examines, and determines the events that occurred in an accident. You may need to hire an accident reconstruction engineer to explain your accident so you can prove that the other driver was negligent.

Expert Witnesses

You may need reports and testimony from expert witnesses to prove your case. An expert witness might be needed to provide medical testimony, testimony about the accident, about a mechanical default or any other issues that arise from the case. Your case will be much stronger when you have expert witnesses to back up your claims.

Sometimes negligence in a case is difficult to prove. Your attorney will take charge, assess the situation and examine the facts of the accident. Additional information may be necessary to ensure a successful resolution to your claim. When you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, do not delay.

Contact our 18-Wheeler attorneys today to start your case for compensation! Call 281-893-0760!

Freight Truck Accident Kills Two in Lubbock


Two men died when a freight truck collided with their vehicle in Lubbock, Texas. The accident happened near North Slide and Clovis Highway in Lubbock. The freight truck was a semi that was pulling multiple trailers when it collided with a passenger vehicle. Both the driver and passenger in the vehicle were killed and the truck driver was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Both men killed were in their 20s.

The freight contained chemicals, which caused great concern. The police called in the Lubbock Fire Rescue hazmat team. The freight truck is owned by Old Dominion Freight Line. The company brought in their own hazmat team as a safety precaution to contain the chemical spill. In addition, troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) were called to the scene as were representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Lubbock officials were investigating the accident.

Concerns of Freight Truck Safety

Freight trucks are semi-trucks that transport freight, which is typically transported in containers. Freight containers are also known as shipping containers and are usually made of metal. They are called intermodal freight containers because they are transported using a variety of methods. The containers are often transported by sea and rail and then transferred to a freight truck for delivery to their final destination.

Freight trucks can be dangerous because of their size and weight and because they often contain hazardous materials. When a large freight truck gets into an accident, it can cause serious damage and injuries, and often fatalities as in this case. The cause of this accident has not been determined. However, trucks of this size and weight can be difficult to control if they try to make a sudden stop or lane change.

Hazardous Materials

The Institute of Hazardous Materials Management states that hazardous materials are any substances that have the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment. They may be biological, chemical, radiological or physical and may cause harm on their own or through interaction with other factors. The Department of Transportation further defines hazardous materials as any material or chemical that is a risk to public safety or the environment during transport. A hazmat team is a group of specially trained professionals who are able to evaluate and clear the hazard during an emergency. A hazardous spill on the roadway could be harmful to other drivers, pedestrians, first responders and to those living or working near the spill.

Hazardous materials must be safely transported. When a freight truck carrying hazardous materials is involved in a crash, it may result in a compromise to the containment of the material. The material must be cleaned by a hazmat team before the road can be cleared for traffic.

If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident with a freight truck you may be owed compensation for your injuries and damages.

Contact our experienced Houston truck accident team to talk about maximizing your compensation! Call 281-893-0760!

Houston Business Owners Accused of Providing False 18-Wheeler Inspections


18-wheeler road safety is of the utmost importance. Big rigs are required to pass stringent safety inspections in order to be deemed safe for the roadways. Recently, three men were arrested on felony charges for allegedly forging Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections on 18-wheelers. After the arrests, their business was shuttered and nobody answered the phone at the Pearl Street location in Houston.

DOT inspections include more than 100 different items that must be checked and should take between 30 minutes and an hour to complete properly. According to deputies, the business completed 122 inspections in two days of observation and completed more than 7,200 inspections last year. They provided forged documents to truck drivers indicating that the trucks passed the complete inspection.

18-Wheeler Inspection Requirements

All 18-wheelers in Texas are required to have a valid safety inspection sticker. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Department of Public Safety has adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Parts 390–393 and 395–397), and Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (Parts 171-173, 177 and 178). In Texas, big rigs only need to have a Texas DOT inspection and not an FMCSA inspection since they are basically the same.

An inspection is a comprehensive safety review of all of the systems of the truck including brakes, tires, exhaust systems, and more. If the vehicle passes inspection, the driver will be provided with a sticker and documentation showing that the vehicle passed. The driver must carry this paperwork at all times and must produce it for a member of law enforcement if requested.

The Importance of Safety Inspections

Safety inspections are designed to keep the roadways safe for public use. A check of 8,000 commercial trucks tested by the Department of Public Service during a three-day period found that 24% had some type of safety violation. That equals about one in every four trucks. During that time period, they issued 1,200 safety citations and 18,000 warnings.

Safety inspections can prevent the incidence of big rig accidents on the roads. Safety problems are responsible for a number of incidents and can cause serious accidents that result in injuries or fatalities. Truck accidents often cause the most severe injuries that may include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more. When a truck gets into an accident, it often results in worse injuries to passengers of the other vehicles than to the truck driver. 

In this case, it is unclear whether truck drivers knew that the inspections were being forged. Truck drivers should make sure that their inspections are current and that they are completed properly. Falsifying inspection documentation is a crime, and the men arrested in the case mentioned above may be facing additional charges.

If you were seriously hurt in an accident with a big rig, you need help from an experienced Houston Truck accident attorney. You may be owed compensation for your injuries. Contact trucking accident attorney Greg Baumgartner today for a free initial case consultation.

Resources

https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/Forms/DL-7C.pdf

https://www.tttinspections.com/faqs/

How Soon Should I Contact an Attorney After a Serious Truck Accident?

collision with a big truck

Truck accidents are among the most severe crashes that can happen. When you are involved in an accident with a big truck, you could be severely injured, and recovery could take months or years. Yes, your first consideration should be your health, but many people wonder how quickly they should call a truck accident attorney following a crash.

The Earlier You Retain a Lawyer the Better!

Generally, the sooner you contact an attorney, the better. Although Texas law allows you to file a personal injury claim within two years of an injury, you should not wait that long to talk to an attorney. It is advisable to call your lawyer immediately. If you are hospitalized, your spouse should contact the attorney.

Quick Response Team

When you have been involved in a truck accident, you can be sure that the trucking company is already putting their attorneys on the case. They will begin the process of reviewing the accident and may try to say that you were at fault. It would be best if you acted quickly to make sure that the evidence from the truck driver and trucking company are preserved.

Your lawyer’s quick response team is a group dedicated to investigating severe truck accidents. The team can be comprised of attorneys, investigators, and accident reconstruction experts who have experience and knowledge working on these types of cases. The team will determine the cause of the accident and gather proof of negligence.

Not every law firm has a quick response team in place. It is necessary to get the team working on your accident as soon as possible after it occurs. The investigators need to collect information about the driver and trucking company including the driver’s log that shows how long the driver was on the road and the maintenance log that provides details about the truck. These items can be lost if they are not requested immediately. Sometimes a court order is needed to ensure that the documents or other valuable evidence are not destroyed.

Why Truck Accidents are More Complicated

Truck accidents can be more complicated than passenger vehicle accidents. Large commercial trucks must comply with many rules and regulations. If they fail to do so, the truck driver or trucking company could be considered negligent. These factors may enhance the recovery in personal injury cases. Because of the complexity of a commercial wreck, it is best to hire a truck accident attorney with experience working on these types of accident claims.

Texas Comparative Fault Rule

It is important to note that Texas follows the comparative fault rule. Comparative fault means that you may be partly to blame for the accident and still collect a portion of your damages as long as you are not more than half at fault.

The First Step is to Talk with the Best Truck Accident Attorney

The first step after an accident is to discuss the incident with your attorney. The lawyer will review the details of your case and let you know if you should proceed. If so, you may be able to obtain legal help immediately.

Call the truck accident law firm in Texas. Our award-winning attorneys have helped truck wreck victims for over three decades.

Call 281-893-0760    24-7!

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