Commercial truck accidents commonly cause significant injuries, damages, and even fatalities. It’s estimated that there are over 4,000 deaths each year around the country caused by delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, and other commercial vehicles.
Even though large truck accidents occur countrywide, they are particularly common in Texas. In fact, studies have shown that Texas has more fatal truck accidents than any other state.
When a truck accident happens on I-10, I-20, or any other highway running through the state, one of the first things that must be determined is who is at fault.
Do you know who determines fault and who must compensate Corpus Christi truck accident victims? At The Burkett Law Firm, our Corpus Christi personal injury lawyers can help answer these questions and more. Learn more about truck accidents, determining fault, and potential compensation here.
Common Causes of Corpus Christi Truck Accidents
It’s estimated that there are over two million 18-wheeler trucks on the road in the United States. Each year, there are over 500,000 accidents that involve these trucks.
Many truck drivers are under a lot of pressure to work long hours. While the law requires that drivers take time to rest, many drivers don’t follow these rules. It’s hard to imagine a more dangerous situation than having to share the highway with a truck driver who is tired, drowsy, or even asleep behind the wheel.
Driving While Intoxicated
A truck driver has a commercial driver’s license. With this type of license, the standards related to intoxication are much stricter than for others on the road. Those with this license type cannot have a BAC of over 0.04% in Texas. If they do, it is considered driving under the influence and carries heavy penalties, including the loss of their commercial license in many cases. If the truck driver is intoxicated, it increases the possibility of a potentially catastrophic accident.
Cases of reckless driving include almost any type of careless behavior. This includes things like ignoring traffic signals, speeding, tailgating, passing when it isn’t safe to do so, and more.
Just like other drivers on the road, truck drivers can be distracted, too. Common distractions include texting or talking on the phone, listening to music, and more. These distractions increase the possibility of an accident significantly.
Improper Vehicle Maintenance
Improper vehicle maintenance can cause truck accidents, too. For example, if the tires are worn, it may lead to a blowout and potentially deadly consequences. Determining if this is the driver’s fault requires you to find out if the driver or someone else is responsible for regular truck maintenance.
Improper Cargo Loading
Improper cargo loading may cause items to fall on the road or for the trailer to shift due to things falling. If this happens, the entire truck may tip or rollover. In some cases, the driver will be responsible, but in other cases, it will be the party who loaded the trailer.
Steps to Take After a Corpus Christi Truck Accident
Before diving into how to determine liability in a truck accident, it’s important to know what to do after being in a collision. Taking the right steps to protect your legal right to file a lawsuit is important. These steps include:
Seek Medical Attention
It’s important to be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. When you receive medical treatment, the doctor will utilize various tests to find any injuries the accident caused. Remember, adrenaline may prevent you from feeling or noticing an injury after an accident. A doctor will be able to find these “hidden” injuries and ensure you receive the proper treatment.
Additionally, by seeking medical treatment, you have an official record of what happened and the injuries you sustained because of the accident.
Once your doctor provides you with a treatment plan, be sure that you follow it. This includes going to follow-up appointments and taking all prescribed medications. Showing you completed the treatment is beneficial if you file a personal injury claim after the truck accident.
The specific evidence needed after a truck accident is described below; however, if you can, you should gather as much as possible while you are at the accident scene. Some of the evidence to collect includes contact information from the truck driver, insurance information, photographs of the accident, and requesting information from any witnesses.
Keep Documents Organized
Be sure to keep copies of any documentation related to the accident. This includes things like vehicle repair costs, pay stubs, healthcare bills, and medical records.
Avoid Making Post-Accident Mistakes
Along with taking the right steps after a truck accident, it is also necessary to avoid making mistakes.
One mistake is saying the wrong thing after an accident. Never apologize or admit you were at fault. This is true for anyone you talk to. You should also refuse to provide a recorded or written statement to an insurance company. If this is requested, you can refer them to your attorney.
Don’t post anything on social media about the accident, how you feel, or pictures of yourself while your claim is still pending.
Don’t Wait to Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
It’s important to allow our legal team to get involved with your case as soon as possible. We can help with the investigation and work to help you recover the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Liability is the legal term used to describe who is at fault for an accident. It’s an important factor in legal cases involving a serious accident caused by a person’s negligent or reckless actions. Assigning liability also determines who must compensate the injured party or parties. However, to do this, liability must be proven. It’s necessary to prove that a person’s inaction or action caused the injury sustained by the victim.
In a truck accident situation, if someone is determined to be at fault for the accident, the person or company will be liable to compensate the other party.
Liability laws vary in each state. For Texas, liability is particularly important because it is an at-fault insurance state. This means that the at-fault party is responsible for compensating injury victims for any accident-caused cost.
Determining Liability After a Corpus Christi Truck Accident
When determining liability, an insurance company will base decisions partly on what is added to the police report. Some of the things that may be used to help determine liability include:
- Information provided by the police officer who responded to the accident in the country or city where it occurred.
- Information was provided by a state trooper from the Texas Highway Patrol if the incident occurred on an interstate.
- Findings after an investigation are done by the NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board, especially if the incident resulted in severe injuries or fatalities.
When truck accidents occur, the trucking company will likely conduct an independent investigation to determine the at-fault party and who should provide compensation to the victims.
Remember, the trucking company and the insurance company that represents it are not always objective during this investigation. They are vested in the accident’s outcome since it will impact their bottom line.
Because of this, as an accident victim, you should hire an attorney from our truck accident law firm to represent you. We will investigate the accident and present evidence to support your injury claim.
Who May Be Responsible for a Corpus Christi Truck Accident?
In a truck accident, it’s not uncommon to have more than one at-fault party who is responsible for providing financial compensation to the accident and injury victims. This is because a few businesses or entities may be partly responsible for the accident, including:
- Truck driver
- The trucking company that employs the truck driver
- Truck manufacturer if the accident resulted from a mechanical defect
- Truck part manufacturers, especially in situations where defective brakes or tire blowouts are involved
- The company that loaded the truck, especially if the incident involved a tractor-trailer that was not loaded properly and a jackknife or rollover accident occurred
With so many potentially liable parties, several insurance companies are usually involved, too. It is not unusual for the truck’s cab and trailer to have separate insurance policies. This is true for the cargo and even the truck manufacturer.
Figuring out who is responsible for the truck accident and liable for compensating injury victims is challenging. Because of how complex these types of cases are, having an experienced truck accident lawyer helping with the legal process is invaluable.
Factors that Are Considered When Determining Fault in a Truck Accident
An important factor to consider when determining fault in a Corpus Christi truck accident was the status of the driver when the accident occurred. As mentioned above, if a trucking company employs the driver, then the company may be responsible for the driver’s actions. Indications that the driver is an employee, and therefore the trucking company may be liable for the accident, include:
- The company sets the driver’s schedule.
- The driver receives a regular paycheck from the company.
- The company requires the driver to wear a uniform or specific clothing when working.
If the driver is not an employee, they may be an independent owner-operator. In this case, they are considered self-employed. Because of this, the driver is responsible for the vehicle and any accident they cause. Any owner-operator on the road must carry commercial liability insurance, and it’s possible to make a claim against this to recover compensation.
Evidence Needed to Prove Fault in a Truck Accident
To determine the liable party in a trucking accident and prove they should be accountable when filing a personal injury claim, some of the information and evidence your attorney should gather includes:
- The police accident report may contain information like toxicology test results or citations for traffic violations
- Data from the “black box” accident that records what happened or another electronic logging device
- Records related to how the trucking company hires, screens, and trains drivers
- Truck maintenance records
- Video footage or photos of and after the accident
- Eyewitness statements from anyone who can corroborate how the accident occurred
- Expert witness testimony
All this evidence can be used to prove who was at fault in a truck accident.
Don’t Wait to Hire an Attorney from The Burkett Law Firm
If you are involved in a truck accident, our legal team at The Burkett Law Firm is here to help. We can investigate the case, determine who is at fault, and help you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.