Due to their weight and size, accidents involving trucks are incredibly serious. Many extra steps are taken to prevent these accidents from ever occurring, such as extensive training, lower speed limits, and frequent maintenance. Despite this, tens of thousands of truck accidents occur every year in the United States.
Over the last decade, truck accidents have doubled. According to the NHTSA, in 2011 there were more than 250,000 accidents involving large trucks resulting in 3,757 fatalities. In 2021 there were more than 500,000 truck accidents resulting in 5,601 fatalities.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a truck accident in Houston, then you may be owed compensation. However, securing what you are owed is no easy task; trucking companies have large legal teams and will fight tirelessly to limit their liability.
Fortunately, our Houston truck accident attorneys have a deep understanding of both state and federal law, are highly experienced in dealing with large corporations and their legal teams, and are dedicated to justice. Whether the truck driver, trucking company, or negligent manufacturer is responsible for your suffering, we want to help you pursue justice.
Here at Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC, we are committed to providing high-quality legal representation to all accident victims, no matter their circumstances. We offer a free consultation and work on a no-win no-fee basis. We take a percentage of your settlement if your case is successful. If it is not, then you will not pay us anything.
We take on all the risk so that you can fearlessly fight for the compensation you deserve.
Speak to a Houston truck accident attorney today at 936-251-5246.
Why do Truck Accidents Occur in Houston?
Despite being on the rise, most truck accidents are preventable. The trucking industry is regulated by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Texas state trucking laws, which include regulations such as:
- Drivers must have a CDL license which involves education, safety, and skills tests.
- Trucking companies must hire qualified drivers, provide comprehensive training, maintain their vehicles to a high standard, monitor trucking operations, and supervise their employees.
- Drivers cannot drive for too long without taking adequate breaks.
- Everyone on the roads in Houston must adhere to the rules and regulations of the road.
One of the first tasks of your Houston truck accident lawyer is to determine the cause of the accident and who is responsible. Some of the main causes of trucking accidents include:
Speeding/ Driving at Unsafe Speeds
Speeding or driving at unsafe speeds, considering the road conditions and circumstances, can be especially dangerous for a truck. Trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded and can stretch more than 50 feet when pulling multiple trailers. These factors make them difficult to navigate and mean that they cannot stop instantly. Therefore, when they drive at unsafe speeds, they could crash into other vehicles due to an inability to stop on time.
Most full-time truck drivers spend around 300 days a year on the road. They may be required to drive at night, for long periods of time, and across difficult stretches of road. Although there are regulations on the number of hours a truck driver can work and requirements for frequent breaks, not all truck drivers follow the rules.
What is worse is that trucking companies often place pressure on drivers to hit deadlines and push themselves beyond their safe limits. Fatigued drivers may lose concentration, become distracted or even fall asleep at the wheel.
Truck drivers are alone for long stretches of time, which can sometimes cause them to become distracted, especially if they are inexperienced. They may begin to daydream, eat food, or could even use their phone. These distractions take their eyes and attention away from the road and can result in them missing a hazard and causing an accident.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol, whether prescription drugs or illegal drugs, can have a significant impact on a truck driver’s ability to drive safely. Their reaction times may be slowed and they may become fatigued, increasing the risk of a crash.
Some other common causes of semi-truck accidents include:
- Poorly maintained vehicles
- Overloaded trucks or improper loading
- Failure to yield
- Vehicle defects
- Blown tire
- Negligent hiring
- Wide turns
- Another driver in the blind spot of a truck
- A trucking company setting unworkable delivery times
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, the injuries that result from accidents are often severe and life-changing. Some common injuries include:
- Cuts and Lacerations – Although cuts and lacerations can seem minor compared to other injuries, they can leave lasting damage. Glass or metal can cause serious wounds and permanent scars. In the worst cases, they can become infected, leading to amputation and serious illness.
- Burns – Burn injuries are more likely in accidents involving trucks than those with normal vehicles due to the large impact and likelihood of a fuel tank becoming ruptured and causing a fire. Burns can be extremely painful and disfiguring, and victims may be left with life-long injuries.
- Broken Bones – Broken bones are a common injury following any road traffic accident. However, when a truck impacts a car, it could result in the crushing and shattering of bones, which are extremely traumatic.
- Amputation – Arms, legs, hands, or feet could be severed in an impact with a truck, or they may have to be amputated later due to a burn or other catastrophic injuries.
- Injuries Caused by Seatbelts or Airbags – Although airbags and other safety measures are essential safety measures that save countless lives each year, there are also cases where they can contribute to injuries. For example, airbags can deploy with enough force to cause trauma to the head, or seatbelts can injure the chest or abdomen.
- Torso and Rib Injuries – Injuries to the torso and ribs are particularly dangerous as they have the potential to damage vital injuries. If these types of injuries are not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, then they could have life-threatening consequences.
- Head and Brain Injuries – A head or brain injury can have long-lasting effects. Although mild concussions could fade in a matter of days, traumatic brain injuries could affect a person’s personality or ability to care for themself.
- Internal Damage – Internal injuries could involve organs such as the liver, bladder, spleen, kidneys, or pancreas. These types of injuries are very difficult to treat, and the resulting injuries could cause lifelong complications.
- Back and Neck Injuries – Due to the jarring force of an impact with a truck, neck and back injuries are common. Neck and back injuries can range from whiplash that heals within a couple of months to lifelong pain or even paralysis.
- Paralysis – When the bones, muscles, or nerves in the spinal cord are damaged, it can lead to partial or complete paralysis of various parts of the body, which could be temporary or permanent. Even if the injuries are not permanent, there is often a long road to recovery involving painful and complex rehabilitation.
- Fatal Truck Accidents – Unfortunately, due to the severity of accidents involving trucks, fatal accidents are frequent occurrences. This is referred to as wrongful death and may result in compensation being claimed by the family of the victim.
How Much Can I Claim in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
There is no set figure for a truck accident claim, as each case is unique. How much you can claim could depend on the quality of your representation, the severity of your damages, and how clear liability is.
Truck accident victims may claim damages such as:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate victims for the emotional suffering they ensure after an accident. That could include physical pain, emotional trauma from the event, and loss of enjoyment in life due to your injuries. For example, if you are an avid cyclist but can no longer ride your bike, then this should be compensated for.
Pain and suffering damages are non-economic and highly contentious. However, an experienced truck accident attorney will understand how to evidence your non-economic damages so that you can fight for what you deserve.
Collisions with trucks usually result in serious injuries. As a result, even the most comprehensive medical insurance policies are often insufficient to cover the victim’s injuries. If you have suffered a serious injury, then you should be compensated for all of your medical expenses. This includes hospital bills, medication costs, physical therapy, transport to and from the hospital, and more.
It is also important that you are covered for your future medical costs, as otherwise, you could still be left out of pocket. A high-quality attorney will liaise with medical experts to determine what the future costs of your treatment may be and will use this as evidence to fight for a fair settlement.
While you are recovering from your injuries, time away from work is inevitable and this may mean lost wages will occur. Any lost wages should be reflected in your settlement. If your injuries are likely to prevent you from returning to the same work in the future, then you should also be compensated for the loss of earning potential.
If you were in an accident with a truck, it is likely that your vehicle came out of the accident in a much worse condition. All expenses for your vehicle and any other property damage, such as a phone or laptop, should be covered in your settlement.
If you lost a family member in a truck accident, then you may be owed compensation. No amount of money can ease your grief. However, you should not be left suffering financially due to someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death lawyer can help you claim compensation for both your economic and non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded as they are reserved for cases involving gross negligence or willful misconduct. Only a Judge can award punitive damages and they are intended to punish the perpetrator, or prevent similar behavior in the future rather than compensate the victim.
Do Accidents Involving Trucks Result in Larger Settlements?
Accidents involving trucks tend to be severe and often result in larger settlements. Additionally, insurance policy limits for commercial vehicles are usually much higher than those that apply to car insurance. This means that there is more money available to ensure that victims are fairly compensated.
Determining Liability in a Houston Truck Accident
In Texas, liability can be shared between responsible parties. That means that anyone who contributed to the accident can share liability. At Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC, we will fight fiercely on your behalf against anyone who contributed to your injuries. Seeking compensation from multiple parties can help ensure that you receive a settlement that is truly reflective of your suffering.
In a trucking accident, it is possible for multiple parties to play a role, including:
- The trucking company
- A truck driver
- Truck manufacturer
- Shipping company
- Another road user
- Government agency who failed to maintain a road
In 2021 a new law was passed in Texas known as HB 19. This law makes it difficult to hold a trucking company responsible for an accident.
Before this law came into force, a trucking company could be held liable for damages after a trucking accident even if the driver was not responsible. Now, the driver must be shown to be primarily responsible for the accident in order for victims to hold the trucking company responsible.
What if I Was Partially At Fault For a Truck Accident in Texas?
Texas operates under a modified comparative negligence system, which means that you can still claim compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident, so long as you were not the main cause.
It is common for accidents to result from multiple failures. For example, a truck driver behaves erratically, but you were in their blind spot. You could be found to be 20% at fault for the accident but so long as you were less than 50% at fault, you generally can still claim compensation.
If you are found to be partially at fault, although you may still be able to claim compensation, it will affect how much you can claim. Damages are reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. If you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, a judgement in your favor will be reduced by 20%.
Due to this comparative fault system, it is common for trucking companies to try and blame you for the accident as much as possible, therefore reducing how much they are required to pay. An experienced truck accident lawyer will ensure that you are not unfairly blamed.
Steps to Take After a Truck Accident in Houston
Involvement in a truck accident is incredibly traumatic, which can make it difficult to decide what to do next. Following the right steps after a truck accident can help protect your right to compensation. Therefore, it is important that you know what you need to do.
- Remain at The Scene of The Accident – It could be considered a crime to leave the scene until the police tell you that you can unless you are seeking emergency medical treatment for yourself or another victim.
- Prioritize Safety – You should check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone has pain in their back or is struggling to move, then you should call paramedics and wait for them to arrive. If the injuries are not too severe, you should move to a safe location to prevent further harm.
- Call Emergency Services – Call 911 and request emergency medical assistance and the police. Police are required to attend the scene of any accident that causes injury or serious property damage. They will also carry out a report which will become important evidence in your claim.
- Do Not Admit Fault – Never apologize or admit fault in any way, as anything you say could be taken out of context and used to hinder your claim for compensation.
- Seek Medical Treatment – If you are not taken to the hospital from the scene of the accident, then you need to seek a medical examination as soon as possible. Adrenaline could be masking your injuries and it is important to make sure that you are safe. In addition, your medical examination will be integral to your claim. The sooner you seek medical attention the better, as it will be easier to establish that your injuries were a direct result of the crash.
- Write Down What Happened – Trauma can cause memories to become hazy. Therefore, it is a good idea to write down your version of events soon after the accident. You may also choose to keep a log of your expenses and suffering, as this could prove to be valuable evidence.
- Contact Your Insurance Company – Your insurance company will likely need you to inform them that you have been in an accident. However, you should not admit fault or give too many details. Simply tell them that your attorney will be in touch. Insurance adjusters are skilled at getting people to admit fault or accept a quick settlement to avoid paying victims what they are owed. Remember, if you do accept a low settlement, you cannot fight for more, even if you later discover that it is insufficient to cover your damages.
- Contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC For a Free Consultation – You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that they can advise you and protect your right to compensation. The sooner an attorney takes over your case, the more evidence they can collect and the stronger your case will be.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Claim
Most truck accident claims are based on negligence. Negligence means that someone’s action or inaction caused your injuries and that the accident was preventable.
In order to prove negligence, four elements must be established, they are:
- Element One, Duty – First, it is necessary to show that the person who caused the accident owed you a duty of care. For example, all drivers, including commercial truck drivers, owe a duty of care to other road users.
- Element Two, Breach – The liable party must have breached their duty of care to you. For example, a driver failed to abide by the rules of the road, or a trucking company failed to properly maintain their vehicles.
- Element Three, Causation – The negligent actions of the at-fault party must have directly caused your injuries.
- Element Four, Damages – Finally, your injuries must have led to damages such as medical bills and property damage.
Why You Should Seek Representation From a Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities. Therefore it is important that you focus on your recovery rather than dealing with the stress of a legal battle. A truck accident attorney will take over the entire process on your behalf and understand how to evidence your claims for compensation.
It is also important to note that truck accidents involve insurance companies and policies that are very different than those associated with cars and other smaller vehicles. They will be prepared with large and skilled legal teams and will do whatever it takes to limit their liability. Therefore you need an attorney who has the experience and resources to level the playing field and ensure that you are not taken advantage of.
When you have the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, you preserve your rights and ensure that a comprehensive investigation takes place. Your attorney will also advocate ensuring that you receive medical care, such as diagnostic tests and consultation with specialists that you may not have received otherwise. This could have a significant impact on how much you can claim in compensation.
Your attorney will investigate your claim, negotiate with insurance companies and will litigate a lawsuit in court if necessary. When it comes to trucking accidents, most people who have representation receive a larger amount in compensation than they would do fighting the case alone, even when attorney fees are considered.
Remember, at Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means we only get paid if your case is successful, and you can never be left out of pocket for seeking justice.
How to Find The Best Truck Accident Lawyers in Houston, TX
Many personal injury victims have never needed an attorney before, and finding the right fit for your case could feel like an impossible task. Fortunately, many personal injury law firms offer free consultations so you can ask some questions to ensure that you are making a good choice. Some questions you may choose to ask include:
Have You Handled Cases Like Mine Before?
It is essential that your potential attorney has helped people seek compensation following truck accidents before so that they understand how to deal with large trucking companies. Texas also has many laws that are specifically for trucks, so your attorney must have a thorough understanding of these laws.
Do You Have Trial Experience?
Most personal injury claims are never heard in front of a judge. Instead, there is usually an out-of-court settlement. Court proceedings are time-consuming and expensive, so it is usually in both parties best interest to settle. However, it is important that your attorney is prepared to go to trial if your case goes that far. If your case does go to trial and your attorney is not prepared, then you will be unlikely to succeed.
It is also common for large insurance companies and their legal teams to know which law firms are willing to go to court and which are not. They may not be willing to offer a fair settlement if they do not believe that they risk being taken to court.
What is Your Focus?
Some law firms try to cover all matters, from family law to criminal defense. However, when a law firm has a focus, such as personal injury law, it ensures that they have the in-depth understanding and experience necessary to do everything possible for your case.
Commercial truck accidents could involve negligence, product liability, multiple liable parties, and life-changing injuries. Therefore, they require an attorney who is dedicated to personal injury victims.
The Process of Claiming Compensation in Houston, TX
Following a free consultation with Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC, at the very least you will walk away with more knowledge than before. If you agree to representation, then we will quickly get to work to ensure that evidence is protected and that your case is as robust as possible.
Although all truck accident cases are different, they each follow a rough timeline, for example:
The first step will be to protect evidence. It is best if this happens quickly, as the accident scene may be cleared away, vehicles fixed, and CCTV deleted. When you hire an attorney soon after an accident, they can help ensure that your case is as strong as possible.
Investigating a truck accident involves a lot of work, including site investigations, interviews, trucking company investigations, analysis and reporting, and more. Often, trucking companies will also investigate the accident and try to take the blame away from themselves as much as possible. They will use any evidence they can find against the victim, and it is up to their attorney to dispute it or to overwhelm it with evidence in their favor.
Determining fault after a truck accident is often highly complex. There may be more than one liable party, and your attorney will need to determine what factors contributed to the accident.
After a typical car accident, your attorney is likely only to be negotiating with one party; however, because there are usually multiple parties responsible for a truck accident, your attorney will need to negotiate with multiple parties. Your attorney will negotiate fiercely on your behalf and will not accept less than what you deserve.
If an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached, then your truck accident attorney will be prepared to take your case to trial.
What Evidence is Required to Prove My Houston Truck Accident Case?
Our Houston truck accident lawyers will fight fiercely to collect evidence and will not leave any stone unturned. We will gather as much evidence as possible to ensure that you have a strong case for damages. Potential sources of evidence may include:
- Witness statements
- Photographs of the scene of the crash, damage to property, and your physical injuries
- Police and medical reports
- Toxicology reports
- Video footage of the crash
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Medical records
- Black box data
- Trucking company records, including hiring, training, and procedures
- Testimony from victims
How Long Do I Have to Make a Truck Accident Claim in Houston, TX?
Under Texas state law, victims of truck accidents usually have up to two years to make a claim. However, it is important to note that truck companies are not required to preserve evidence. Therefore, important pieces of evidence, such as information from a black box, could become lost. Therefore, the sooner you contact a truck accident lawyer in Houston, the better.
Speak to an Experienced Truck Accident Law Firm Today
Truck drivers are professional drivers who must adhere to strict state and federal laws, including limiting how many hours they can drive and other minimum standards of conduct. The truck company also has a responsibility to properly train and care for its drivers, maintain vehicles, and ensure the strictest safety standards.
When truck accidents happen, it is often because of someone’s negligent actions. Considering the catastrophic consequences of a truck accident, the fact that they are usually preventable can leave victims feeling incredibly frustrated.
At Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC, we understand how state and federal laws contribute to truck accident liability. We will ensure that no stone is left unturned and will advocate fiercely on your behalf at every stage.
We will work closely with you and your family to keep you informed and to ensure that we understand the extent of your suffering, which can then be clearly evidenced. Whether your case results in an out-of-court settlement or a trial, we will be prepared.
Our Houston truck accident attorneys are waiting for your call, so contact us today for a free consultation at 936-251-5246.