Transporting goods by truck is considered one of the most efficient ways to get them across the country. About 70% of all products bought and sold in the U.S. arrive at their destination via commercial trucks.
Even though the trucking industry is an integral part of life in the U.S., it’s also a cause of preventable accidents and fatalities. It’s been estimated that by 2030, the commercial trucking industry will be the country’s fifth largest cause of fatalities.
When accidents involving 18-wheelers, semis, and other large, commercial trucks occur, those with the most severe injuries are typically drivers and passengers in traditional cars, trucks, and SUVs.
The information here illustrates how dangerous sharing the road with large trucks is, but it also explains how necessary these vehicles are. Since these trucks are so dangerous, everyone must take steps to be safer on the road.
You have legal rights if you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck. Texas truck accident lawyers from The Burkett Law Firm can help explain your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Here you can learn more about determining liability after a truck accident and other important steps to take to protect your rights to file a claim.
Steps to Take After Being Involved in a Texas Truck Accident
Before diving into determining liability in a truck accident, you must take the right steps in the moments after it occurs. Making mistakes at this point can cost you when it comes to receiving a settlement offer.
Contact the Authorities
Contact the authorities to come to the scene of the accident. Remember, you may experience severe and even life-threatening injuries in truck accidents. If you can’t do this, ask someone nearby to do so. You should also ensure that emergency medical services are dispatched.
Get Medical Attention
You may find that you feel fine after an accident. While this is possible, it’s not likely with truck accidents. Regardless of how you feel right after the event, be evaluated by a doctor.
Some injuries can take hours, days, or longer to develop. Being evaluated right away will ensure that all your injuries – even the hidden ones – are found and treated. Also, immediate medical treatment creates a record of the accident and what injuries you sustained. This can be helpful documentation if you file a lawsuit against the liable party down the road.
Contact an Attorney
In accidents involving two passenger vehicles, you will likely hear advice like gathering evidence and exchanging information. Unfortunately, this may not be possible if you are involved in an accident with a large truck.
However, a step you should take as soon as you can is to contact Texas truck accident lawyers from The Burkett Law Firm. We can go to the accident scene and collect evidence on your behalf. Even if you contact us days after the event, we can get to work immediately to gather related information and evidence to help prove who was liable for your injuries.
The longer you wait to contact us, the more likely evidence will be lost or destroyed. We want to help you get the compensation you deserve, but we can only do that if you call us (or have someone call on your behalf).
Determining the Cause of the Accident
In a Texas truck accident, determining liability is often complex. Before determining who caused the accident, it must be determined why it happened.
Remember, commercial trucks are complex machines with many moving parts. Issues can arise if the parts malfunction or are defective. Some of the common defects that can cause serious truck accidents in Texas to include the following:
- Defective trailer couplings
- Defective wheels or tire failure
- Defective fuel systems or fuel systems placed in the wrong location
- Defective steering systems
- Issues with the truck’s catalytic converter system
- Ineffective lights or reflectors
- Defective cargo restraints that cause unbalanced loads
One or a combination of the issues above may result in a truck accident. It can also be caused by driver negligence or error.
It’s smart to hire Texas truck accident lawyers who can conduct a full and thorough investigation into what happened. With the help of an experienced attorney, you have someone fighting for your rights and working to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. They will also work to determine the underlying cause of the accident to know who should be held liable for your damages and injuries.
What if the Truck Is Defective?
If it is determined that a defect caused the accident, it’s important to determine who is at fault for the defect.
Sometimes, this will be the manufacturer. For example, there could be a flaw in the design or during the manufacturing process that resulted in failures. These failures may have led to the accident where you were injured.
In other situations, though, the driver may be responsible, the owner of the trucking company the driver works for, or the person or entity responsible for maintaining the truck and keeping it in good repair.
Rules and regulations have been established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) that require all commercial vehicle drivers to conduct a full inspection of the truck before they begin driving each day. These inspections aim to find any possible issues before they become so severe that an accident occurs.
When liability is being considered, there are a few considerations that must be made:
- Did the driver inspect at the start of the day? If this is not done, the driver may be the liable party.
- Did the driver report problems to the trucking company, which did not fix the issue? If so, the trucking company could be liable.
- Did the trucking company request repairs for the truck that were not done properly? If this is the case, then the maintenance crew or mechanic may be held responsible for the accident.
As you can see, when it comes to determining liability, there are more than a few considerations that must be made. This is one factor that makes trucking accidents so complex. It’s also a reason you need to work with experienced Texas truck accident lawyers. They can use the information here to determine liability and ensure the right party is held accountable.
Situations When the Trucking Company Is (Probably) Liable
Trucking companies are usually considered liable for accidents when certain factors are present. These include:
Improper Truck Maintenance
The driver or maintenance provider may be liable for maintenance-related issues; however, the liability falls directly on the trucking company in many situations.
There are federal regulations in place that state that trucking companies must keep all vehicles in their fleet properly maintained. This includes making regular inspections (as mentioned above).
Since the trucking company is required to ensure maintenance and repairs are made to defective trucks and parts, if this is what causes the accident, liability may be with the trucking company.
Mandatory Hours Violations
The FMCSA also has established hours of service rules. These rules outline how long drivers can be on the road. They also stipulate the mandatory break times before a driver can return to the road.
The trucking company must enforce the established rules. Unfortunately, many companies are guilty of the exact opposite – they pressure their drivers to go as long as possible, even if they break these federal regulations. Not only is this dangerous for the driver, but it increases the potential of an accident significantly.
Negligent Hiring Policies
All trucking companies in the U.S. must utilize effective hiring practices to ensure that safe and well-trained drivers are hired. If the company is found to be negligent in its hiring processes, it may be considered liable for accidents the drivers have caused.
One example of negligent driving is if a driver with no CDL license is hired or if a driver with a record of driving under the influence is hired.
Don’t Wait to Hire Our Texas Truck Accident Lawyers
Being involved in a truck accident can have serious repercussions. Not only is the situation scary, but the injuries you sustain can also be life-changing – some are even fatal.
It’s necessary to determine the cause of the truck accident to assign liability. While the police report and even insurance companies may conclude fault, you can count on our legal experts to invest time and effort into our investigation. Our goal is to gather evidence that will help you receive compensation.
You can count on our team to do the leg work and work through all the red tape insurance companies create. You can focus on your recovery while having confidence someone is in your corner working on getting you the desired outcome for your case.