Tractor-trailer accidents can happen anywhere in Houston. However, when these crashes occur on the city’s busy roadways, including the West Loop Freeway/I.H. 610 or I.H. 35, they are often catastrophic—resulting in horrifying injuries, excruciating pain, astronomical medical expenses, and endless questions regarding what victims in these accidents need to do next.
That is why to clear up some of this confusion, we have prepared the following post. In it, we will discuss everything you need to know about Houston tractor-trailer accidents, the actions you need to take after this harrowing collision, and how an experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyer can get you the legal help you need to go after the financial recovery you are entitled to.
What Exactly is a Tractor- Trailer?
A tractor-trailer in the trucking transportation industry is a truck that has a large trailer attached to it. These tractor-trailer vehicles are also referred to as a semi-truck or an 18-wheeler and often carry up to 80,000 pounds of goods across the country, depending on the type of trailers they haul.
Common Types of Tractor-Trailer Accidents in Houston
Several common types of tractor-trailer accidents can result. However, in Houston, these accidents tend to stem from the following:
Jackknife accidents occur when a tractor-trailer skids across the road and the trailer ends up swinging out to one side at a ninety-degree angle as the truck slows down, resembling a handle and blade of a jackknife.
These types of crashes often result in dangerous situations for anything or anyone in the truck’s way, especially since these trucks can easily overturn or roll over, causing severe accidents.
Head-On and Rear-End Crashes
A head-on crash occurs when a large tractor-trailer crashes into another motor vehicle head-on, while a rear-end collision happens when the tractor-trailer drives over the back of another vehicle. Yet, even with their differences, both of these collisions can still lead to debilitating harm and extensive medical bills that will forever change a victim’s life.
Generally, these head-on and rear-end crashes result from:
- Intoxicated driving
- Distracted driving
- Not paying attention to traffic signals and road signs
- Drifting into oncoming traffic
- Improper lane changes
Typically, a blind spot is an area you cannot see with your eyes or the mirror as you are driving. In large tractor-trailers, these blind spots are much bigger than in smaller vehicles, and as a result, truckers have to be incredibly careful when switching lanes not to cut off another motor vehicle or sideswipe a car.
Truckers often refer to these blind-spot areas as “No Zones,” as they are areas where a passenger vehicle should not travel in. These zones include the sides of the truck, the rear of the truck, and the truck’s front.
These underride accidents are one of the deadliest crashes that can occur, and often happen when a tractor-trailer stops too quickly as they approach another vehicle and the car gets stuck under the truck. These underride accidents usually result because the tractor-trailer not only weighs up to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle, but they are also taller and have a greater amount of ground clearance, meaning that smaller vehicles get jammed under these massive vehicles when the tractor-trailer plows over them.
If a trucker loses control of their vehicle, the tractor-trailer can roll over, becoming a hazard to the other drivers on the road. These rollover crashes tend to result from tire defects, excessive speeding, negligent driving, or vehicle defects and end in the tractor or the trailer tipping over on their side or rolling over on their roofs during the collision.
The Main Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents in Houston
Tractor-trailer collisions in Houston tend to occur because of driver error, which means these collisions are usually preventable.
Yet, even though these crashes can happen for several reasons, some of the more common causes of these tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Driving while distracted, including texting and driving, eating while driving, or any activity that causes the trucker to divert their eyes away from the road
- Driving under the influence
- Driving while fatigued
- Overloaded trucks
- Defective trucks or truck parts
- Poor weather
- Poor road conditions, especially on streets in Houston that contain large potholes, bumps, and dips, such as at Briar Forest and Wilcrest, Kirkwood Road, Pin Oak Road, and Westheimer Road in Montrose
- Maintenance issues
Additionally, the intersections in Houston also play a substantial role in these terrifying accidents, especially at Long Point Road and Gessner Road, W. Bellfort Blvd and Fondren Road, and Bissonnet Street and Wilcrest Drive, which are considered some of the most dangerous intersections in the city.
As a result, if you have been injured in a Houston tractor-trailer accident, you should reach out to a skilled Houston tractor-trailer accident lawyer as soon as you can. These attorneys can investigate your crash, figure out what happened and who was at fault, and make sure to hold all those liable for your injuries accountable.
Common Injuries Resulting from a Houston Tractor-Trailer Crash
Because of the difference in the weight and the size between a tractor-trailer and a regular passenger car, the occupants in smaller motor vehicles tend to suffer the most serious injuries in a tractor-trailer crash.
Yet, although though these injuries will often differ in type and severity depending on the circumstances of the collision, the more common types of tractor-trailer accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Deep lacerations
- Facial trauma
- Loss of a limb
- Neck and back trauma
- Internal injuries
- Wrongful death
Actions to Take After a Houston Tractor-Trailer Accident
Following a Houston tractor-trailer collision, the accident scene is often chaotic, stressful, and overwhelming. Yet, as a victim of this terrifying accident, you need to remember that you have to take action quickly since the steps you take after this crash can not only help keep you safe but ensure your legal rights remain protected. That is why following a Houston tractor-trailer accident, you should:
Contact the Authorities Immediately Following the Crash
After a tractor-trailer collision, you should contact 911 immediately. This is the fastest way to get your accident on record and to notify emergency medical crews that you or someone else at the scene needs medical assistance.
Once the police arrive, they can investigate the crash and jot down their findings in their police report. If you decide to bring a legal claim after this tractor-trailer accident, this report can provide you with valuable details regarding what happened.
Try to Take Pictures and Videos After the Tractor-Trailer Accident
If you do not require emergency care after your accident, you should try to gather as much evidence from the scene as possible. This evidence should include photos and videos of the vehicles involved in the crash, their placement on the roads, the damage to your car, your visible injuries, skid marks on the street, the weather conditions, traffic signs near the accident, and any other evidence that can help show what happened and who was at fault.
Exchange Information with the Others Involved
Try to exchange personal information with the others involved in the tractor-trailer crash, including names, driver’s license numbers, contact details, and insurance information.
Check For Witnesses
If there were individuals at the scene who saw the accident, try to get their name and personal information. Their statements can often provide you with further details regarding the accident and help back up your claim.
Get Examined By Your Doctor As Soon As Possible After Your Tractor-Trailer Accident
Even though most tractor-trailer collisions are known to end in devastating trauma, which requires immediate medical attention, there are rare instances where you may only suffer minor injuries following the accident. Yet, in these instances, it is still important to head to your doctor to get examined as soon as possible.
It is not out of the ordinary for severe brain injuries to take some time before symptoms manifest. Yet, the longer you wait to get this condition checked out, the more fatal it can be. For these reasons, following a tractor-trailer accident, get looked over by your doctor immediately.
Plus, getting this prompt medical treatment is important to your legal claim. Generally, insurance companies try to find any reason they can to pay you less money than you are entitled to or to deny your case altogether. By not getting this prompt medical attention, these insurers will argue that your injuries are not that serious or a result of a subsequent event.
Fortunately, when you get looked over by these health care professionals, they can document your injuries in their medical reports, providing you with a direct link between the tractor-trailer crash and the harm you sustained.
Be Careful What You Say to Others After the Accident
Following the tractor-trailer collision, you need to watch what you say to others at the crash scene. This means you do not want to make any definitive statements about the accident, take responsibility for anything that occurred, or apologize for the crash. These types of comments can come back and hurt your claim, impacting the amount of money you can receive for your injuries and losses.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Tractor-Trailer Injury Claim in Houston?
To get the money you need following a tractor-trailer accident, you need to ensure your legal claims are filed before time expires. The statute of limitations restricts the time individuals have to file a claim following an alleged offense. If they do not file this claim within that allotted time, they can be barred from collecting compensation for their losses and injuries.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for an injury claim following a tractor-trailer accident is two years from the date of the accident. However, there are often various exceptions to this rule that can affect the amount of time an individual has to file a case. That is why, following a Houston tractor-trailer accident, you should not wait to get legal help.
Instead, you need to reach out to a skilled tractor-trailer accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can not only determine how much time you have to file your legal claim, but they can also make sure that all of your legal documents are filed correctly and before time runs out.
Get the Legal Help You Require After a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Houston
If a Houston tractor-trailer collision harmed you, it may feel like your whole life was flipped upside down—meaning that the last thing on your mind is trying to figure out how to present strong legal arguments that can help you fight for the money and justice you deserve.
Thankfully, with a Houston truck accident attorney on your side, you will not have to take on this challenging legal battle alone.
Once retained, your truck accident lawyers can:
Go over your tractor-trailer accident in detail, evaluate your potential legal claim, and discuss the legal options you have.
- Go over all of the questions you have regarding the tractor-trailer collision and your case.
- Investigate the tractor-trailer accident and secure the evidence required to show fault and damages.
- Obtain experts who can help prove liability and damages following your accident, including doctors, accident reconstructionists, and engineers.
- Handle all the negotiations with the insurance company and the other side, and pursue the just settlement you require.
- Take your case to trial, if necessary, and work tirelessly to get the maximum compensation you need.
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.