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DOT Changes the Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers

Yesterday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule impacting 49 CFR parts 385 and 395, relating to hours of servers for truck drivers.

FMCSA DOT

The rule change is designed to give truck drivers more flexibility. Some of the significant changes include:

• The short-haul exception is now increased 250 air miles and allows a 14-hour work shift as part of the exemption.
• Driving in adverse conditions is extended by up to two hours.
• A 30-minute break is required after eight consecutive hours of driving time as opposed to on-duty time. On-duty – not driving qualifies as a break.
• The sleeper berth exception has been changed to permit a driver to satisfy the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending seven hours in the berth, and the remaining time to meet the 10-hour requirement may be spent out of the berth.

The new safety requirements loosen some requirements to comply with the minimum safety requirements of the regulations. You can read the full text of the changes by clicking here.

Because of the recent virus issues, the trucking industry has faced substantial pressure to deliver goods America needs to keep running. The new safety requirements are somewhat enhanced by the use of the Electronic Logging Device rule, which has tended to make it much easier to assess compliance with the hours of service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

The ELD rules have brought motor carriers and commercial drivers into the electronic information age, which has been a much more productive way to record compliance with the safety regulations.

According to the DOT, the final rules will improve driver efficiency and that compromise safety. None of the changes increases the maximum allowable driving time.

Here is a video of the announcement.

Amazon Truck Accident Leaves Two Dead and One Injured in Houston

 

A multiple-vehicle accident involving vehicles, as well as an Amazon delivery truck, turned fatal on the North Freeway at Rankin. According to police reports, and vehicle towing a trailer traveling south on I 45 had a flat tire. The family, which included a father, mother, and two young children, were inside the SUV. They pulled over to the side of the highway, and another vehicle crashed into the back of the SUV.

 

The driver of the car that struck the back of the trailer and the mother of the SUV got out of their vehicles. As they were standing alongside the crash, another car swerved to miss the wrecked vehicles and hit the dividing wall spinning into the travel lanes of the highway.

 

A witness to the accident pulled over and got out of his car to assist. Meanwhile, an Amazon truck crashed into all of the vehicles killing the man and the woman standing outside of their vehicles. The witness who had pulled over to help solve the tractor-trailer approaching and jumped off the overpass to avoid being killed.

 

The fall is at least 15 feet according to several sources. The innocent bystander was also able to call the authorities and was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Later reports suggest that the good Samaritan lost both legs.

 

While the investigation is ongoing, authorities have identified that the road was slippery. Generally, when there is a fatal crash, authorities conduct a formal accident reenactment to determine the cause or cause of the crash. Because this was a multiple vehicle incident, the conclusions of authorities can take several weeks. No charges have been reported.

 

According to reports, Amazon has released a statement with sympathies for everyone involved and a pledge to cooperate with law enforcement.

 

The latest reports have the good Samaritan witness in stable condition with severe injuries. This terrible tragedy has impacted many Houston families; We offer our deepest sympathy.

How Long Can I Wait to File a Truck Accident Claim?

 

Texas is a hub for commercial truck transportation. The Texas Department of Transportation compiles crash information from across the state. This information helps authorities evaluate trucking safety. According to statistics, there were 37,515 truck accidents in Texas in 2018. 

 

These accidents resulted in hundreds of fatalities and many thousands of injuries. The negligent driver or company should be held responsible for paying you for your damages, which might include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If you were hurt in an accident with a truck, you might wonder how long you can wait to file a claim.

 

Laws Limit the Time to File a Claim

 

Texas, like other states, has laws in place to limit the time you have to file a personal injury claim. These laws apply to civil cases. Generally, the law requires you to file a claim within two years after you sustain an injury. File a complaint as soon as possible after an injury. You should not wait until the limit is almost reached.

 

The longer you wait to file a lawsuit, the more challenging it becomes to prove your injuries and damages. Therefore, to make sure that you will get the most for your claim, always file a lawsuit as soon as practical after the accident occurs.

 

Truck Accidents are Different from Other Accidents

 

Truck accidents are more complex than other types of crashes for several reasons. The injuries associated with a truck accident are likely to be more severe, and the associated medical costs may be much more extreme. There could be various factors that cause or contribute to a truck accident, and it can take some time and effort to gather the necessary data.

 

Truck drivers must log their time, and they cannot drive longer than allowed by law. If they drive too long or do not rest between trips, they could be driving while fatigued, which could impair their ability to handle the truck.

 

More than one party may be negligent in causing a truck accident. For example, the trucking company must adequately maintain a truck. It must ensure that the truck gets regular repairs and inspections. Failing to maintain a truck could contribute to a severe accident on the road. Improper securement of cargo can also lead to accidents. Inexperienced drivers may not control a vehicle under some adverse conditions. Your attorney will review the factors to determine how to prove your truck accident claim.

 

How a Truck Accident Attorney Will Help

 

As experienced truck accident attorneys, we understand how to handle even the most complex accident cases. We work on your behalf to immediately secure documents and data to prove your case. Our team will guide the legal aspects of your case so you can concentrate on your recovery. If you or someone you loved was hurt in a truck accident, we are here to help. Contact us today at (281) 893-0760!

 

Construction Worker Killed While Placing Cones at Crosby Freeway

 

 

A worker was struck and killed while he was placing cones as part of a road construction project. The accident happened at the entrance of the Crosby Freeway near the 13700 block. According to reports, a driver lost control of her vehicle and hit the construction worker.

 

Deputies report that the woman said she thought she was having an epileptic seizure causing her to swerve off the road and hit the man. The police will investigate the crash to determine the cause.

 

Texas Move Over Law

 

Texas has a “move over” law in place statewide. The law requires motorists to slow down and move over when they see flashing lights from a police car, ambulance, or another emergency vehicle. Drivers must move out of the lane closest to the lane where the emergency vehicle is located. If they cannot safely move over, they must slow down to at least 20 MPH under the posted speed limit. The law went into effect in 2003.

 

Since then, the law was amended to include Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) vehicles. Road construction and repair vehicles are commonly seen near our roads, and workers are dangerously close to lanes of traffic. Here, the worker was placing cones, and the driver apparently did not move over as required. The law is in place to protect emergency responders and others and to ensure their safety.

 

Penalties for Failure to Move Over or Slow Down

 

Penalties are in place for those who are caught disobeying the law, and the move over or slow down law is no exception. Drivers who do not move over or slow down are subject to both criminal and civil penalties. A driver will be ticketed and have a fine of up to $200 for failure to move over or slow down. If there is property damage involved, the penalty will rise and could range up to $2,000.

 

Criminal charges are typically a Class B misdemeanor if you cause physical harm to someone due to violation of the law. If death occurs, you could be charged with vehicular homicide.

 

Since the law was changed to include construction workers, police have been focusing efforts on violators of the move over law. Enforcement helps educate drivers to make them aware of the law.

 

Drivers should always slow down and move to a different lane to provide a protective buffer between traffic and first responders or construction workers. Drivers should pay attention to the road and to any issues that could lie ahead of them. Distracted driving continues to be a problem that could contribute to failing to follow the law.

 

Here, we do not know what caused the driver to become distracted; however, the result was the unnecessary death of a construction employee.

If you were hurt in an accident, call us to discuss your rights and options! There is never a charge for an initial case consultation.

 

You might be owed compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call (281) 893-0760 or click here to fill out our online contact form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the Dangers of 18-Wheelers?

 

Lawyer for trucking wreck Every day we share our roads with large commercial trucks. Houston is a hub for trucks that deliver goods across the country. Large trucks have a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more, as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Many large 18-wheelers weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when filled with cargo, and easily outweigh passenger cars by 30 times. Large trucks are involved in an average of over 500,000 accidents a year across the country. Many of these accidents result in serious injuries or fatalities.

What Makes Big Rigs Dangerous?

Many factors make big rigs dangerous to other drivers on the road. Trucks weigh much more than passenger vehicles, which makes braking slow. It may take 20 to 40 times longer for a big truck to come to a stop than a typical car. Large trucks cannot maneuver like smaller vehicles, and they have blind spots, even when they utilize mirrors. Drivers often work for many hours and drive long distances at a time, causing potential fatigue.

Fatigue can slow a driver’s response time considerably. Inexperienced drivers may have difficulty controlling a big loaded rig. Shifting cargo can make it impossible for a driver to stop a big rig from an accident. Some trucks carry hazardous materials that can spill or leak in an accident, creating a dangerous situation. Drivers that make mistakes or have judgment errors on the road can cause chain-reaction accidents.

Causes of Big Rig Accidents

There may be multiple causes and contributing factors in large truck accidents. There are three main categories of accident causes, including human error, mechanical failure, and external conditions. The most common causes of accidents are human errors. These include such things as improper lane changes, speeding, tailgating, failure to yield, distracted driving, and impairment. Of these, distracted driving is one of the most common factors that contribute to all accidents, including big rig crashes.

Distracted driving consists of a variety of actions such as eating or drinking, cell phone use, texting, and others. Truck drivers may be susceptible to distracted driving, especially when they travel for long periods on large highways. Drivers must adhere to laws that limit them to 11 hours of driving at a time. Mechanical failures can cause semi-truck crashes. The most common mechanical failures are brake malfunctions and tire blowouts. Road conditions such as heavy rain, fog, and road debris may make it more challenging to maneuver on the highway. Truck drivers must be especially careful to drive defensively and pay attention to other drivers and issues that could cause accidents.

Injuries as a Result of Truck Accidents

Accidents with big rigs often result in severe injuries to the other drivers and passengers. Some of the most common injuries include traumatic brain injuries, head and back injuries, whiplash, broken bones, cuts and bruises, burns, and puncture wounds. Some severe injuries may be life-threatening, and the recovery may be lengthy and painful. The driver or trucking company may be found negligent in causing the accident. If you were hurt due to the negligence of another, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You may be owed money for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Consult with a Truck Accident Attorney

Call to speak with one of the best truck accident attorneys in the nation. Never a charge for an injury accident case consultation.

Call (281) 893-0760

What are the Monetary Limits in Truck Crash-Personal Injury Cases?

Attorney for accident in Texas

Truck crashes are among the most severe types of accidents. When a truck collides with a passenger vehicle, severe injuries and fatalities are common. When a truck driver or trucking company is negligent in a crash, they are responsible for all damages resulting from the collision. Your damages may include your medical expenses, money for pain and suffering, and reimbursement for lost wages. In Texas, the law limits the amount of money you can recover in a personal injury case in a few situations.

What are the Damage Caps in Texas?

The law provides limits for the amount of monetary compensation you can recover in some types of personal injury or wrongful death cases. These limits apply in three distinct situations, including:

Personal injury claims that include punitive damages

● Medical malpractice lawsuits

● Personal injury cases against the government

Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where there was gross negligence. Punitive damages are meant to punish the offender and deter them from committing the action again in the future. In regular negligence cases, the negligent party is responsible for damages. Gross negligence means that the party’s actions were beyond negligent. Punitive damages are not associated with economic reimbursement for expenses such as medical costs or lost wages. Punitive damages are also called exemplary damages.

Legal Punitive Damage Limits in Texas

In Texas, the punitive damage award cannot exceed specific limitations. In general, the amount of punitive damages cannot be higher than two times the economic damages plus the amount of non-economic damages. The total cannot exceed $750,000. In medical malpractice cases, you may sue for all your economic damages with a cap on non-economic damages.

The total recoverable damages are $500,000. Claims against governmental entities have a limit of $100,000 per person and $300,000 in a single occurrence.

Punitive damage limits are in place to deter people from recklessly endangering the public and committing extremely dangerous acts. When you are hurt due to the negligence of someone else, litigation is warranted, and damages are limited to compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages for a trucking accident would include such things as mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and disability or disfigurement. You are entitled to receive compensation for damages that happened to you because of the negligent act. 

Every case is different and has a unique set of facts. Your attorney will review your accident to determine the best way to proceed. Many personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial.

A truck accident attorney in Houston will work on your behalf to gather evidence and negotiate a fair settlement. Only if a settlement cannot be reached will the matter proceed to court. 

Your lawyer will work to get you the compensation you need for your economic and non-economic damages as well as provide proof of gross negligence where it applies. Injuries from truck accidents can be severe, and recovery can be a lengthy, ongoing process. There may be information available to prove that the driver was grossly negligent or that the trucking company was extremely careless.

Gross negligence in an 18 wheeler accident could be not correctly inspecting or maintaining their fleet when the dangerous condition was known and played a role in the crash.

If you were hurt in a truck accident, do not delay. The law limits the time to file a claim. Contact the attorney for a truck accident in Texas. Call (281) 893-0760!

Did Truck Driver Fatigue Cause My Accident?

 

We share our roadways with thousands of commercial vehicles. Large semi-trucks are a common sight on our Houston area highways. While trucks are a necessary part of life, they can also be dangerous to other drivers on the roads. When a truck accident happens, it can cause serious injuries and damages. It is essential to find out what caused and contributed to the crash so the driver or trucking company can be held responsible. There are many possible causes of a truck accident. Driver fatigue is one common cause of truck accidents in Texas.

What is Truck Driver Fatigue?

Truck driver fatigue occurs when a driver has been behind the wheel for too long or is driving without enough sleep. Driving for long distances can be monotonous and can contribute to driver fatigue. When a driver is driving while tired, it impairs his or her ability to think clearly and increases reaction time. A driver may actually nod off for short periods of time while driving. Some drivers take medications or use stimulants to try to stay awake. Most techniques for trying to stay awake are unsuccessful. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can lead to a serious accident.

What are the Laws Governing Truck Driver Hours?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts the number of hours that a truck driver can be behind the wheel. Generally, a commercial truck driver may drive for a period no longer than 11 hours in a row after a break of 10 hours. Drivers must take rest breaks of at least 30 minutes after eight hours of driving. Truckers have a limit of 60/70 hours of driving during a period of seven or eight consecutive days. A driver can restart a period only following at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. Truck drivers can take more frequent breaks and longer rest time when needed.

Truck Driver Logs

Trucking companies and truck drivers must comply with safety laws and must log the time they spend working. Until several years ago, most drivers had to log their time manually. This created a problem because there was the possibility that the driver could forget to log time or might intentionally report time incorrectly. Some truck drivers get paid by the trip rather than by the hour and therefore, they are often encouraged to work as many hours as possible.

Today, new technology is in place that electronically logs driver time. Trucks must utilize Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to record their time. ELDs make it easier to ensure the accuracy of the hours of service. It is critical to obtain the driver’s electronic records following an accident. This will ensure that the driver followed the law and can show that a driver may have been driving while fatigued. An experienced truck accident lawyer will assist in obtaining the records necessary to prove your case.

Never a Charge for an Injury Accident Consultation!

Truck accidents can be complicated. If you were hurt in a truck crash, it is best to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. Contact the Texas truck accident lawyer – for a free case consultation to talk about the details of your accident.

Call (281) 893-0760

What is the Texas Move Over Law?

 

Safety on the roadways is of the utmost importance to the state of Texas. Various laws are in place to protect employees as well as motorists on the streets and highways. One of the dangers for police, fire, paramedic, and road workers is the potential of being hit by a car or a semi-truck. Many members of law enforcement and others have been seriously injured or killed when a motorist hit them while they were working on the side of the road.

Whether helping a disabled motorist, stopping a car for a violation, or assisting with an accident, emergency personnel must work close to lanes of traffic which are sometimes traveling at high rates of speed. A law is in place to ensure the safety of workers on the side of the road.

What is the Texas Move Over Law?

The Texas Move Over/Slow Down law requires drivers to yield to emergency vehicles on the roads. The law specifically requires drivers to move out of the lane that is closest to the emergency or TxDOT vehicle when possible. If drivers cannot move over, they must reduce their speed to 20 MPH below the posted speed limit. Drivers must be aware of emergency vehicles on the road and take precautions to prevent accidents.

Violations of the Move Over Law

Motorists are required to move over and slow down when they approach police, fire, emergency, or TxDOT vehicles with flashing lights. A motorist who fails to obey the law will face penalties that include fines of up to $2,000. Texas has a point system in place for driver’s licenses. In addition to a fine, you will also be assessed points against your driver’s license in accordance with the Texas Administrative Code. When you accumulate too many points in one period, you can be subject to suspension of your driving privileges.

Accidents Due to Failure to Move Over

When a vehicle is stopped on the side of the road due to an emergency or a breakdown, other drivers must avoid causing another accident. Unfortunately, in some cases, another vehicle strikes a disabled car and causes serious injuries and damages. If you have a vehicle problem, pull over to the side of the road as far into the shoulder as possible. Do not exit your vehicle unless it is safe to do so. Put your hazard flashers on and call for assistance. Keep your seatbelt on when you are inside the car. Many accidents happen at night or during inclement weather. Always keep your cell phone with you and charged up so you can call the police. When the police have pulled you over, follow the instructions they provide. If you were involved in an accident and your vehicle is drivable, make sure you pull off the roadway and out of harm’s way.

Free Consultations for Injury Accidents

If you were seriously hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

Contact our Baytown truck accident lawyers today to discuss the details of your case with a free initial consultation.

Is the Trucking Company to Blame for an Accident?

 

top truck accident lawyer

Commercial trucks are a part of life. We need these big rigs to transport goods across the state and the country. While we share the roads with these semi-trucks, they can also be dangerous to other drivers. Trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles, making passenger vehicle occupants vulnerable to serious injuries or fatalities in a crash. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI), more than 4,100 people died in large truck crashes in 2018 in the United States. When a truck accident happens, the driver, trucking company, or another party may be negligent.

Who is Responsible for a Truck Crash?

There are several parties that might hold some responsibility for a truck crash. The truck driver may have made a mistake or could have been driving while fatigued or impaired. The truck could have a mechanical problem that caused the crash, such as brake failure or tire blowout. In some cases, the manufacturer could be liable for a defective part. Any party that was negligent could be responsible for causing or contributing to a crash.

Determining Liability

The liability for a truck accident depends on various factors. Generally, the insurance company evaluates the accident and assigns fault to all responsible parties. More than one party could be held responsible for a crash. As long as you are less than half at fault for the accident, you are allowed to collect damages. Vehicle crashes may be caused by driver error, mechanical failure, or road conditions. Many times, an accident may have several factors that led to the crash. Analyzing the main cause and contributing factors of a truck accident can be complicated. It is helpful to seek assistance from an experienced truck accident attorney.

Why a Trucking Company May be Liable

A trucking company could be responsible for an accident if they were negligent. For instance, the company may not have properly maintained the truck and the crash happened due to a mechanical failure. The trucking company must inspect vehicles on a regular basis and must ensure they are safe for travel on the roadways. The company and driver must also ensure that they secure the cargo properly. Unsecured cargo can shift during transport and cause the truck to become uncontrollable. The trucking company may have known that a vehicle was not safe but allowed it onto the road anyway. When a party does something or fails to do something that could be dangerous, they might be considered negligent and could be to blame for the accident.

What to do After a Truck Accident

Truck accidents are unlike other types of accidents. The injuries from a truck accident are often more severe and you may be undergoing extensive medical treatment. Trucking companies often have their own team in place to handle crashes. They have attorneys who are ready to protect their rights and prevent high payouts for accidents, even if they are at fault.

 

It is essential to contact an experienced Baytown truck accident attorney as soon as possible following an accident.

Your lawyer will take care of all the details and work with the insurance company to resolve your claim and get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact the Texas truck accident lawyer today for a free initial consultation. (281) 893-0760!

Unsecured Cargo can Cause Serious Truck Crashes

 

We share our Houston roadways with millions of trucks. According to the United States Department of Transportation, there are over 12.5 million commercial trucks registered in the U.S. While we need trucks to transport our goods across the country, sometimes trucks can be dangerous. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded, making them difficult to control. The cargo they carry can cause or contribute to 18-wheeler accidents when it is not properly secured.

How Improperly Secured Cargo Contributes to Accidents

There are several ways cargo can cause or contribute to crashes. Cargo can shift during transport if the driver does not secure the load. Cargo can shift suddenly if the truck makes a quick turn or maneuver, such as an abrupt stop or lane change. Cargo not secured properly on an open vehicle can come off and fall into traffic, harming motorists. When cargo shifts quickly, the driver has little control over the truck. When this occurs, the truck can jackknife. Jackknife accidents happen when the truck’s cab and trailer go in opposite directions. Jackknife trucks are hazardous to other drivers on the road.

Requirements for Cargo Securement

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has requirements in place that govern cargo securement. Truck drivers and owners must use the proper procedures to ensure that they secure their cargo appropriately before they get on the road. The purpose of the cargo securement rules is to ensure the safety of the drivers and other motorists when they transport materials on the roads. The rules are extensive and detail the specific ways that various cargo must be secured for transport.

The FMCSA tested various materials that can be utilized for tie-downs. They require the proper materials to be used so the tie-downs do not break due to friction or other factors. The tie-downs must meet the minimum standards and they need to withstand forces in all directions, not simply forward movement. Cargo that becomes loose can cause a truck to go out of control because of a shift in weight. Even experienced drivers may not control the force at which a truck veers in another direction due to shifting cargo.

Cargo Falling Onto Roads

Cargo can fall off of open trucks if it does not have the properly secured tie-downs. Many trucks have lost their loads on busy highways and at high rates of speed. Other vehicles cannot quickly get out of the way of falling or rolling materials, some of which are large and heavy. Long cargo, such as wood or metal poles, can become airborne and act like javelins to pierce other vehicles on the road. Injuries from falling cargo can be severe.

If you were hurt in a truck accident due to shifting or falling cargo, you may be owed money for your injuries. You may have compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages if you could not work, and money for pain and suffering.

Contact  Attorney Baumgartner for a free initial consultation to discuss your injury claim.

(281) 893-0760

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