The large population and number of tourists in the Houston area produce tons of garbage every day. Roads need constant repair, and new roads and new construction zones keep dump trucks busy every day. This means there’s a number of large trucks carrying heavy loads all over the city, day in and day out. With more trucks on the highways and surface roads, you have more chances of getting into a wreck with one of these behemoths.
Even when they are empty, dump trucks weigh so much and are so big that they can easily crush passenger trucks and cars, especially compact and subcompact vehicles.
Injuries Caused by Houston Dump and Garbage Trucks
Because of the size of a dump truck or a garbage truck, accident injuries from them are more often severe or catastrophic. Accidents with large trucks also have a higher incidence of fatalities.
While some are lucky enough to suffer minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, and bumps, many others suffer from more severe injuries, including:
- Strains and sprains
- Pulled and/or torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries
- Face and eye injuries
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Amputation of a digit or limb
- Internal injuries
- Crushed bones that doctors cannot repair
- Simple and compound fractures
- Thermal and/or chemical burns
- Road rash
You could also sustain secondary injuries—such as infections in open wounds—especially if you have a compromised immune system. Plus, some accident injuries could exacerbate existing injuries and conditions. Because you otherwise would not have suffered the extra medical expenses and pain and suffering for your existing issues, the at-fault parties can be held responsible for those damages.
Causes of Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents
In some cases, drivers of large trucks cause accidents, and in other cases, a third party causes the accident.
Some of the causes of big truck accidents include:
- A fatigued driver
- Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, illicit substances, and prescription drugs
- Distracted driving
- An unforeseen medical emergency such as a seizure
- A defective truck
- Defective replacement parts, such as brakes
- Inclement weather
- A third party who causes the truck driver to lose control, such as those that merge too close in front of a truck driver or sideswipe a truck
- An inspector that overlooks issues with a truck
- A repair technician who installs replacement parts incorrectly
- The driver’s employer or inadequate job training
Because the accident might not be the driver’s fault or because the driver might share responsibility for the accident, crashes with commercial vehicles are often complicated. For instance, if three people or companies share the responsibility for the accident, you must conduct settlement negotiations with three different insurance companies.
If you decide to take your case to court, you must provide copies of court documents and discovery to several people. Each person has their own attorney, and each person’s insurance company has its own attorney. For a case with three defendants, this means you have to keep up to six different attorneys in the loop!
What to Do After an Accident with Houston Dump and Garbage Trucks
If you can move around without causing additional injury to yourself, follow these steps:
- Call first responders.
- Check on others involved in the accident.
- Take photos of the crash. Be sure to get pictures of all of the damage to your vehicle and the truck from all angles. Also include photos of any damage to the road, mailboxes, fences, utility poles, and other damage.
- Allow the emergency medical technicians to check you for injury.
- Give the police officer your statement.
- Never admit fault. Never apologize at the scene.
When the police release you from the accident scene, go to the hospital to have doctors thoroughly check you. Let the doctors know that you were in an accident. Keep in mind that some injuries and symptoms take hours or even days to manifest.
If you are not able to move without causing additional injuries, wait for first responders to arrive. Allow the ambulance to take you to the hospital for medical care.
Once you are able, contact a truck accident lawyer to schedule a free case evaluation. If you are not able to make the call yourself, a loved one should call for you. A personal injury attorney may be able to come to see you in the hospital or set up a video or audio call to discuss your case. Your attorney can notify the insurance company of the accident.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries with a Garbage Truck or Dump Truck?
When you get into an accident with a commercial vehicle, more than one person could share responsibility for your injuries and other damages. Your truck accident lawyer will investigate your case and determine if someone other than the driver should contribute to the compensation you deserve. The attorney will send a demand letter to the appropriate insurance companies.
Working with Insurance Companies After a Houston Truck Accident
Some people prefer to notify the insurance company of the accident themselves since some insurance companies give you very little time to inform them of the accident. If you choose to notify the insurance company of the accident, do not tell them anything other than your name, contact information, the date and location of the wreck, the other driver’s insurance policy number, and your attorney’s contact information.
The insurance company might press you to tell them what happened. Continue referring them to speak exclusively to your attorney. One of the tricks the insurance company may use to deny or underpay a claim is to twist what you say in an attempt to lay fault at your feet.
Recovering Damages After a Truck Accident in Houston
You may be able to recover three types of damages after a Houston dump or garbage truck collision: Economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
The court orders economic and non-economic damages in an attempt to make you whole again. While this money does not bring back a loved one or heal your injuries, it does reduce financial stress, especially for those who sustain long-term or permanent disabilities the accident caused.
Note: the court only orders punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant. They are not to make you whole again, and courts award them less often.
Special damages, often referred to as economic damages, have a monetary value. Most people who are in a wreck deserve economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses including past expenses incurred because of the wreck and before a settlement or a trial award, and future expenses incurred after a settlement or a trial award. Medical expenses include surgeries, appointments with medical professionals, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive and other psychological therapies, hand controls for vehicles, ambulatory aids, prescriptions, and changes to your home, including grab bars and wheelchair ramps.
- Lost wages including those you lost because of accident injuries, and those you lose after a trial award or settlement. If you can work part-time or at a job that does not pay the same hourly rate or salary you received before the accident, you could collect damages for partial lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property, including your vehicle and items inside the vehicle, such as cell phones, computers, clothing, and other personal items.
- End-of-life expenses, including funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
General damages, often referred to as non-economic damages, do not have a monetary value since you cannot put a dollar amount on pain and suffering and other emotional damages. They may include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to use ambulatory aids, take prescription medications, or have other life-long changes because of the wreck.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy or take part in family events and activities.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, such as house cleaning, grocery shopping, childcare, lawn care and maintenance, and home repairs and maintenance.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as your hand or a leg.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder.
- Amputation, whether directly caused by the accident or because of secondary injuries like infection.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
Texas allows accident victims to recover punitive damages, but only if they can prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent. You have to go through a bifurcated trial because you can only collect punitive damages if the court orders the defendant to pay compensatory damages.
During the first part of the trial, the jury hears evidence and awards compensatory damages. During the second part of the trial, the jury hears evidence as to why you should receive punitive damages and determines the amount of the award.
While it’s difficult to obtain punitive damages, in some cases, it’s worth it. When your attorney reviews and investigates your case, they will let you know if they think you have a chance of recovering punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Truck Accident Case in Texas
Most people attempt to settle with the insurance companies to recover damages. However, sometimes the insurance companies refuse to pay a fair and reasonable amount for your damages.
In Texas you have two years from the date of the truck accident to file a lawsuit. While this seems like a long time, it really isn’t, so you should always contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
Keep in mind you use up some of this time when you work on a settlement. If your attorney needs to investigate the case before a trial to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement, that also takes time, as do doctors’ appointments and other issues.
Hiring a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer
Many people are hesitant to schedule a free case evaluation with a truck accident attorney because they believe they will not have the money to pay the attorney. Suffering accident injuries means that you most likely are not working and have a hard time putting food on the table. We understand, and that’s why we operate on a contingency basis.
When you sustain injuries in an accident, you have every right to pursue the compensation you deserve. Not being able to pay an attorney should not stop you from seeking an award for damages. When a personal injury attorney agrees to take your case, you typically do not pay for legal services unless they win your case. When you come in for your free case evaluation and decide to retain a personal injury attorney, you will get a contingency contract that outlines when they recover their legal fees and costs. Talk to the personal injury attorney for details about their payment structure.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
Some people try to settle their case on their own, and others accidentally choose a personal injury attorney who does not have experience in truck accidents.
In both cases, these accident victims leave money on the table.
Truck accidents are different from other accidents in several ways, including the number of defendants that could be liable and the type of injuries you might suffer in a truck wreck.
In addition to making sure you pursue the compensation you deserve, a truck accident attorney communicates with the insurance companies and hires investigators, expert witnesses, and others to help prove your case. If insurance companies refuse to put forth a fair and reasonable settlement, a lawyer can make sure the defendants do not violate your rights during a trial.
When you don’t have to worry about managing your case, your stress levels decrease, and you tend to recover from accident injuries more quickly. Additionally, a truck accident lawyer knows how to estimate future medical expenses and lost earning capacity to help ensure that you have enough money to cover expenses now and later.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a Houston dump truck or garbage truck collision, don’t suffer in silence. Contact a truck accident attorney for a free case evaluation.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.