We have a lot of commercial vehicles in Texas
Texas has thousands of miles of highways and include such major interstates such as I-10 running across the state east and west, I -45 and I -35 running north and south and major highways such other major highways as US 290 from Houston to Austin. Thousands of 18-wheeler tractor trailers travel each highway every day. The sheer number of trucks leads to record numbers of commercial vehicle accidents.
According to annual report prepared by the Texas Department of Transportation we have over hundreds of thousands of registered commercial trucks operating in the US and over 50,000 registered Motor Carriers.
The growth in the transportation business is expected to grow annually by double digits for the next several years and has led to a sever driver shortage. This all adds up that we have to many trucks to be regulated and finite governmental resources to monitor carriers and drivers over safety issues. Usually, it is only after a sever crash do the safety issues become known.
Over 400 people are killed in semi-truck wrecks in Texas each year
It has been reported that over 400 fatalities occurred in Texas due to commercial vehicle accidents in one year alone. And according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in one year alone we had 4,321 fatal accidents in the US involving commercial vehicles.
Most serious injury cases involving commercial vehicles on interstate highways are investigated by The Texas Highway Patrol which has a special accident reconstruction team equipped with the latest mapping and surveying equipment.
Accident reenactment is often done by the Highway Patrol
In serious cases the Texas Highway Patrol will “reconstruct” the accident and often the results many come into evidence in a truck accident lawsuit. The insurance company for the trucking company will be at the scene of an accident involving a wrongful death with in 24 hours of learning about the accident and often before the authorities have removed the vehicles.
It is critical that the victim or the victim’s family hire a big rig accident lawyer early on who will investigate the accident before evidence disappears or vehicles repaired.
Commercial vehicle accidents usually produce injury
Given the extreme weight of 18-wheeler tractor trailers the aftermath of a wreck is usually ugly. Those lucky enough to survive often have serious injuries such as spinal cord fractures, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and many require at least one surgery (if not multiple) at great expense.
Recovering from a tractor trailer accident can be job enough for anyone, yet the victims are also forced to pay high medical bills or deductibles when they cannot work which puts a heavy burden on the victim or their family. Some have good health insurance that pays most bills, others face large out of pocket expenses and sometimes the medical expenses can go on indefinitely.
Truck wreck damages:
Legal damages for personal injury in Texas include such items as:
- Physical pain and mental anguish
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical impairment
- Medical care
These damages are posed to a jury to answer in both the past and the future.
Often, for permanent injuries with significant future medical expenses a life care planner is used to calculate the total lifetime cost of medical care. These professionals are Doctors who work with a team of medical professionals to protect the victim as far as future needs.
Where the victim of a trucking accident did not survive, the family seeks damages for the wrongful death and survival claims. The wrongful death case involves damages known in law as “pecuniary loss” which is the loss of the person and their economic contribution to the family. The human loss in a wrongful death case is called “loss of companionship and society” and a separate question is posed for “mental anguish”.
Where the company of the driver acted with “Malice” that is more than mere negligence, or thoughtlessness, exemplary damages in a truck accident may be appropriate and in Texas such damages have been capped by statute under recent “tort reform”. But when exemplary damages can be submitted to a jury it can help the family recover economic justice for the bad actions of a trucker or his company.
Most truck accidents involve serious injury and /or death. Because a typical rig can weight up to 80,000 pounds, occupants of a 4000-pound passenger car hit by a semi-truck have little hope of escaping serious injury on impact.
Trucker insurance coverage
Fortunately, trucking companies usually have significant insurance coverage to cover legal injury damages.
Given the serious injury potential of large commercial vehicles the minimum insurance required for commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds and subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is $750,000. It has been our experience that most motor carriers carry at least a 1-million-dollar primary policy and companies with more than a few trucks carry an umbrella policy.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require larger insurance coverage for trucks carrying hazardous material and commercial passenger vehicles.
Insurance companies for trucking companies act fast
Given the propensity for serious injury and wrongful death arising from an 18-wheeler accident most insurance companies who underwrite large Truckers Insurance Policies have “quick response teams” on the site of the accident in 24 hours or less.
Such teams gather information helpful in the defense of a wrongful death or serious injury lawsuit. The defense of truck accident cases frequently centers on efforts to shift responsibility from the driver or company to the plaintiff or other third parties.
18-wheeler accidents can cause the death of one or more occupants of the car struck by the tractor trailer. The possibility of death or serious injury is magnified by the sheer weight and size of the trucks. Trucks are much more difficult to stop and control than the family car.
Trucking laws help prove negligence
Trucking regulations such as driver hours and pre-trip inspections attempt to make our roadways safer. However, estimates of traffic fatalities in the US are as high as 45,000 annually, many of these involve commercial trucks.
Violation of the safety rules can be very important evidence and personal injury or wrongful death litigation involving a truck driver and trucking company. The federal regulations which have been largely adopted in the state of Texas, are additional standards of care over and above those placed upon everyday drivers.
The safety rules are necessary because of the injury potential of an 80,000-pound vehicle.
The attorney you choose for your commercial vehicle accident matters
If you have lost a loved one in a truck accident get the best truck accident attorney, you can find when you can as the earlier you retain a truck accident attorney the better position you put them to help your family.
Be wary of hiring an attorney without a significant track record in successfully prosecuting truck accidents. Do your homework and call the best commercial vehicle accident lawyers in Texas.
Call the Texas Truck Accident Lawyers at (281) 893-0760
Some helpful links http://www.txdps.state.tx.us – the Texas DPS and http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.