Everyday, we drive alongside tractor-trailers, but we rarely think about what is required of a truck driver.
Truck drivers face long hours and tight deadlines in order to meet the demands of their job. And while most truckers are well-trained, capable drivers who get to and from their destinations without incident, sometimes disastrous accidents occur because of a truck driver’s negligence.
If you are in an accident with a truck, it is probably serious. Tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles weigh up to 80,000 pounds – approximately 25 times more than the typical passenger vehicle. When being driven at highway speed, trucks have longer stopping distances, and impact force can be devastating. Truck accidents account for only 3% of all motor vehicle accidents but are among the most damaging and deadly. If you are in an accident with a tractor trailer, you probably have many questions. Below is more information about truck accidents and how to proceed.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Most truck accidents involve serious damage and injuries. If you are hit by a truck, you should do the following:
Remain at the crash scene: In most states, leaving the accident scene can result in a hit-and-run charge. Stay at the truck crash scene until the police and medical assistance have arrived. If you can, leave your vehicle in the position where it came to rest after the accident.
Call 911: Tractor trailer accidents often mean serious injuries and damages. Safety and your health are most important. So, call 911 immediately. This call will dispatch the police, who can help with collecting evidence and witness testimony.
Take pictures: The crash scene immediately after the accident gives you the best chance to capture vital evidence to prove that the truck driver’s negligence harmed you. This evidence can help you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker and company later.
Do not make any statements after the accident: Do not claim responsibility for the accident to the truck driver, and, generally, do not make any statements that involve responsibility for the accident.
Talk to a truck accident attorney: Truck accidents can involve serious injuries and a lot of medical expenses. It is wise to have any truck accident case reviewed by a personal injury attorney with years of experience, such as Guajardo & Marks.
What to Do If the Trucking Company Calls
If the trucking company or its insurance company calls you after the accident, it is strongly recommended that you not say anything more than necessary about the accident. If you say anything at all, simply stick to the facts of the case: where, when, who, etc. Do not offer any opinions about who caused the accident. Do not talk about your injuries. The best thing to do is to have your Dallas truck accident attorney handle any conversations and negotiations with the trucking company or insurance company. Anything you say could be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit later.
Large Truck Accident Statistics
In 2014, there were 417 tractor-trailer accidents in Texas.
In 2014, there were 3,180 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles in Dallas, leading to 26 fatalities and 98 incapacitating injuries.
In 2013, 11 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle accidents involved large trucks.
In 2013, 97 percent of fatalities in crashes involving both a large truck and a passenger car were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Never Be Enough Words...
"Mike Guajardo represented my son in a lawsuit against a trucking company, and in a separate suit against an insurance agency. He was determined from the beginning to get my son every penny possible. He worked countless hours dedicating numerous resources and personal knowledge to our case. The support staff was nothing less than amazing; making themselves available at anytime to answer any and every question I had (as quick as possible, I should add). My son received settlement money that was invested in two different annuities and will help supplement his audiological impairments as an adult, as well as his college tuition. When choosing an attorney to represent you or a family member in a court of law, you want to know that they are standing beside you on every level, and through every step of the process. Mike Guajardo made us feel like we were family. He explained, in lucid detail, every aspect of the process and was specific to our case. The most important and impressive aspect of Mike, was that he cared - truly, deeply, and honestly. He demonstrated his natural generosity and caring nature in the truest way he could - to ensure my son received as much money as possible toward his case, he waived his attorney fees. There will never be enough words or reviews I can write to express my gratitude. Mike made me realize there just may be Angels - there was one with my son during his accident, and one that made sure he was taken care of afterwards. Thank you Mike Guajardo and Associates for all you have done, and will continue to do. God Bless." – Rachel Black
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Dallas
Our Dallas truck accident lawyers have seen many different causes of accidents. As with other accidents, driver negligence is often the main cause. There is no doubt that safely driving a truck, especially in a congested area such as Dallas, is very difficult and complex. Truck drivers are supposed to be highly trained and skilled operators, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Even when the truck driver has the proper training and experience, there are many other causes of these accidents. Other common causes of truck accidents include:
Infographic: Sleep Apnea in Trucking
How widespread is Sleep Apnea? Find out the answer here.
Insufficient training or experience – Trucking companies are always looking for a way to maximize their profit margins, and one way to do this is to hire drivers who are not as experienced or properly trained. Unfortunately, while they are cutting their costs, they are also putting all of us in danger.
Unrealistic delivery schedules – The more loads a truck driver and their company can complete, the more money they make. This often results in dangerous incentives for pushing all involved to move cargo at an unsafe rate.
Overloaded cargo – An overloaded truck is more prone to accidents. Some trucking companies overload trucks to move more cargo at the expense of road safety.
Unsecured cargo – Unsecured cargo can come loose on the highway, endangering other motorists and putting lives at risk. If a 20-pound item falls off a truck travelling 55 miles per hour, that item will strike another vehicle with half a ton of force.
Faulty equipment – Modern tractor-trailers have a variety of safety and stability equipment and, if that equipment malfunctions, it can cause an accident. The trucking and maintenance company can be held responsible if this equipment isn’t kept in safe working order.
Inadequate maintenance – Trucking companies might forgo adequate maintenance if that means moving cargo quicker. Unfortunately, one little oversight can put drivers who share the road with these trucks at great risk.
Rollovers – There are many causes of large truck rollover accidents, including going too fast around curves, the weight or balance of the load being carried, road and intersection conditions, driving inattention, fatigue or distraction. Nearly 10 percent of all large truck accidents involve rollovers.
Driving under the influence – The prospect of a truck driver operating a big rig under the influence of alcohol or drugs is truly terrifying. In Texas, the legal limit for blood alcohol content for drivers of commercial motor vehicles is half the limit for all other drivers.
Reckless Driving – Just like any other subset of motorists, some truck drivers might be prone to speeding, improper lane shifts, following another vehicle too closely or failing to obey stop and yield signs. When someone operating a heavy truck drives recklessly, the consequences can be especially disastrous for other vehicles on the road.
Driver fatigue – Driver fatigues is one of the leading causes of truck accidents in Dallas and nationwide. While there are strict guidelines that dictate the amount of time a driver can be behind the wheel in any given time period (known as Hours-of-Service rules), these rules are not always followed. For example, the recent Tracy Morgan truck accident involved a Wal-Mart truck driver who had not slept in more than 24 hours. Driving a truck is difficult enough, much less driving without proper rest.
If any of these possible causes apply to your truck wreck, you should seriously consider contacting our firm to discuss a possible truck accident lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, multiple parties, including the driver, truck owner, shipping company, maintenance provider and loading agent, can be held responsible for damages.
We were involved in a truck wreck in Dallas, Texas, and we were referred to Guajardo & Marks from another lawyer. Mr. Guajardo and his staff were very helpful and answered all of our questions. They worked hard on our case and got us the compensation we felt was reasonable. I would recommend their law firm to anyone. – STEVE M.
When Product Liability Causes Accidents
Sometimes truck accidents are caused by an equipment failure, such as a defective truck part. Manufacturers of truck parts have a legal responsibility to design and produce safe truck parts. If a part on a commercial vehicle has a manufacturing or design flaw, the part manufacturer can be held liable without your having to prove negligence or wrongdoing. The part defect and the fact that injury occurred from it is enough for the company to be held liable.
Some of the truck components that can lead to accidents if they are manufactured negligently are:
Also, if the manufacturer recalled any parts after the discovery of defects, and the trucking company did not replace the part, that company could be held liable for your injuries.
Deaths and Truck Accidents
Statistics show that most victims of truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles. Trucks weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles, are taller and have much higher ground clearance, which can cause passenger vehicles to be essentially run over by large trucks in crashes.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a total of 3,986 people died in truck crashes in 2016. Seventeen percent of the fatalities were truck occupants, 66% were occupants of passenger vehicles, and 16% were bicyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians.
If you lose a loved one in a tractor trailer accident, you may be entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, if the accident was due to the negligence of the truck driver and/or trucking company.
What does a Truck Accident Case Look Like?
If you have never been involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you may have questions about what to expect moving forward. The following is a short truck accident timeline of what you can expect. See Also: Truck Accident Lawsuit Timeline
The Truck Accident – Before the need for a Dallas truck wreck lawyer, there is the actual accident. If the crash is not your fault, you will want to contact us as soon as you can. Make no mistake, the trucking company is already searching for the way to pay you as little as possible, so the sooner you call, the better.
Accident Case Discovery – The discovery phase is integral to your claim and can often take several months. During discovery, we will collect all relevant information surrounding your case, including medical expenses, lost wages, police reports, witness statements, background info on the driver and more.
Depositions – An extension of the discovery phase, depositions are face-to-face, videotaped interviews with all relevant parties. Because of the logistics and scheduling involved, this can also take some time to complete.
Initial Settlement – Once discovery and depositions are completed, both sides will take some time to evaluate all of the collected information. At this point, all parties should have an accurate understanding of the facts and can then make an informed decision. Normally, we will discuss what we feel is a fair amount with you and present the defendants with a settlement offer. If an agreement can’t be reached, your case will more than likely go into mediation.
Mediation – Mediation is a process where both sides meet with a third party who specializes in facilitating a discussion between disputing parties in order to come to a fair agreement. While many cases are settled in mediation, you can rest assured knowing that, unless you are 100% satisfied with the offered amount, we are willing to go to trial for you.
Trial – The majority of cases don’t go to trial. They are time consuming, unpredictable and expensive. Sometimes, though, going to trial is necessary in order to get you the best compensation possible. There are attorneys who shy away from the courtroom. Mike and Greg do not. We prepare every case as though it’s going to trial. Mike and Greg have more than 40 years of combined, proven trial experience and are skilled and persuasive when fighting for clients in front of a judge and jury.
Post-Settlement – Once your case has been settled, we will work with your medical providers to try and reduce your medical expenses. This will leave more money in your pocket to help with your recovery. It is at this point that we receive our compensation as a percentage of your award, plus our expenses. This is the only time that you pay us a cent.
Many truckers work for large trucking companies who have legal teams prepared to take action as soon as a driver is involved in a vehicle collision. It is not uncommon for a representative of the company to arrive on the scene of a collision to solicit signatures to reduce their liability. If you are involved in a collision with a large truck, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t sign anything put in front of you by the driver, the driver’s company or the insurance company of that driver. Instead, contact your attorney immediately after you call the police and emergency medical services.
Michael Guajardo turned my life around. I was involved in a truck wreck and I had initially hired a lawyer who turned out to be someone who I didn’t trust. Michael took over my case and he got me more money than my first lawyer said my case was worth! Michael was always in touch and kept me in the loop through every step. He is very professional, and he takes pride in his work. I have already recommended Michael to other friends. – R.G. HOUSTON, TX
Truck accident injuries can be catastrophic. If the wreck is not fatal, it can leave you with devastating injuries that can permanently affect your life. Some of the most common truck accident injuries are:
Back and neck injuries: These can range from minor neck injuries such as whiplash to more serious injuries, such as dislocated or ruptured discs. Back and neck injuries can seriously hamper your ability to work and enjoy life.
Broken bones: The severe impact of trucks can cause broken legs, feet, ankles, hips, wrists, arms and ribs.
Head injuries: Head trauma is very common in truck accidents. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause serious, permanent injury and even death. These injuries may not be apparent immediately after the accident. Serious brain injuries can cause major loss of cognitive and motor function, and the medical costs of these injuries can be tremendous.
Internal injuries: Blunt trauma from a truck collision can lead to damage of the bladder, liver, kidney, pancreas and spleen.
Paralysis: Truck crash injuries to the spinal cord can lead to partial or full paralysis. Get medical attention as soon as possible after a serious truck accident, as these injuries may not be apparent immediately.
Where Do Truck Accidents Most Often Happen?
Some may think that most truck accidents happen in the city. Inside city limits, truckers generally need to slow down and pay attention to other vehicles and obstacles. It is in rural areas where speed limits are higher and there is less traffic where the most truck accident happen. Truckers on the open road may relax and pay less attention to the road. One of the most common truck accidents is a rear-end collision where the truck driver comes upon stopped traffic and slams into the vehicle in front at high speed.
Dallas Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer in Dallas who will fight for you. At Guajardo & Marks, we know what it takes to stand up to the legal teams of large trucking companies. Our attorneys have helped families secure payment for medical bills, ongoing care, property damage, pain, suffering, loss of income, loss of work capacity and the loss of companionship. Time is of the essence in these types of cases, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible.
Mike Guajardo represented my son in a lawsuit against a trucking company, and in a separate suit against an insurance agency. He was determined from the beginning to get my son every penny possible. He worked countless hours dedicating numerous resources and personal knowledge to our case. The support staff was nothing less than amazing; making themselves available at anytime to answer any and every question I had (as quick as possible, I should add). My son received settlement money that was invested in two different annuities and will help supplement his audiological impairments as an adult, as well as his college tuition.When choosing an attorney to represent you or a family member in a court of law, you want to know that they are standing beside you on every level, and through every step of the process. Mike Guajardo made us feel like we were family. He explained, in lucid detail, every aspect of the process and was specific to our case. The most important and impressive aspect of Mike, was that he cared-truly, deeply, and honestly.
He demonstrated his natural generosity and caring nature in the truest way he could- to ensure my son received as much money as possible toward his case, he waived his attorney fees. There will never be enough words or reviews I can write to express my gratitude.
Mike made me realize there just may be Angels- there was one with my son during his accident, and one that made sure he was taken care of afterwards.
Thank you Mike Guajardo and Associates for all you have done, and will continue to do. God Bless.
Tractor trailers are the most common types of commercial vehicle that are in accidents. But there are other commercial vehicles that you should be aware of. If you are in an accident with one of the vehicles below, you could be entitled to substantial compensation from the commercial vehicle company and/or its insurance company:
Box or straight truck
Floral delivery truck
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