Have You Been Injured in a Houston Truck Accident?
When a truck crash happens, of course, your first concern is for the well-being of those involved, including yourself and your family. Were you injured? Do you need an ambulance? Did someone already call 911? These questions will immediately follow an accident but, unfortunately, they are only the first of many uncertainties to come.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a trucking accident, you likely have questions about what to do next, and you may not even know where to start. Our Houston truck accident lawyers offer a FREE consultation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so call us right now at 800-898-4877, or CLICK HERE to send us a question or get more information. There is NO cost to get a case evaluation from our team of nationally recognized trucking accident legal professionals right now. If you decide to hire us, you pay us nothing up front, and you will pay absolutely nothing at all unless and until we’ve won your case!
Truck accidents are significantly different and more complex than car accidents. Truck accidents often result in more significant injuries than an average car accident. Additionally, trucking companies, their lawyers, and their insurance adjusters are among the “slickest” out there at taking advantage of those who have been injured by the negligence of a truck driver and trucking company. Many personal injury lawyers SAY they know how to handle a trucking accident, but few have the skills and experience of our team. We have successfully handled hundreds of trucking accident cases to a successful conclusion. If you were hit by a commercial truck or 18 wheeler, don’t just hire any law firm – hire the team with the experience, power, and reputation to get you the full recovery you deserve!
National Trucking Accident Attorney Stewart J. Guss discusses trucking safety on national news with Mike Papantonio on America’s Lawyer
Key Questions for Truck Accident Victims
Bills and other losses can add up quickly after a truck accident. A situation like this can have a major impact on your welfare, and many things can contribute to your legal rights and to the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Our job is to investigate your claim, and make sure we cover “all the bases” in handling your case and getting you maximum compensation.
We will go over this when we speak with you, and some examples of questions we regularly discuss with potential clients include:
- Were there injuries or fatalities?
- How bad is the property damage?
- Were the police involved and did you give them a statement?
- Did the police issue a citation or arrest the truck driver?
- Are there medical and insurance costs to pay?
- Do you still need ongoing treatment?
- Did you have to miss work and lose income?
- Are there residual effects from your injuries?
- Are you dealing with pain or impairments?
- What do you remember right before the accident?
We know the important questions to ask and how to evaluate your rights after an accident. If we believe the truck driver and/or trucking company can be held responsible for the crash, we will delve deeper into the details of your current situation to determine the potential value of your claim.
Our attorneys and legal professionals know that many truck accident victims have little experience with the legal system, or even with the insurance claim process. Even if you are certain that you weren’t at fault for the accident, it can still be a complicated process to seek compensation.
Because truck accident-related losses are often extensive, you don’t want to risk losing out on important compensation because you weren’t sure how to navigate the system or how to deal with difficult insurance companies. The best way to protect your rights after a crash is to call a highly experienced truck accident law firm RIGHT AWAY. We’re waiting to help clients just like you!
Remember that you can get a free consultation, right now, at 800-898-4877, or CLICK HERE to get more information about your claim. The consultation is free, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your claim.
Why Choose Our Team?
Traffic accidents can be complex, especially when commercial trucks are involved. These situations can be upsetting, complicated, and stressful. How are you going to get your car fixed? Who is going to pay for your medical bills? What are your rights? Is the insurance company treating you fairly?
To help with these and other issues, you need a compassionate, honest, and experienced truck accident law firm. Attorney Stewart J. Guss and his team of trusted lawyers and legal professionals will listen to you, keep you informed, and make this whole claim process as worry-free as possible. The law firm of Stewart Guss will take care of all the legal issues so that you can concentrate on what is most important: the health, welfare, and recovery of yourself and your loved ones injured in the accident. The following are some reasons why you should choose our law firm to represent you in your truck accident case:
- Stewart Guss and his team believe in respect, integrity, and family values.
- Our attorneys and staff are always there for you.
- With decades of combined experience, Stewart and his team will work tirelessly to recover as much as possible on your truck accident claim.
- Someone is always available to answer the phone, 24/7, because we are dedicated to YOU.
- We have gone up against the major insurance companies and understand how each company works.
And you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case!
You have absolutely NOTHING to lose by contacting our office to discuss a possible claim. Too many people think they could never afford to hire a law firm, especially when they’re facing stacks of medical bills and other unpaid expenses. That’s not how our office works, however. We work on a contingency fee basis to ensure that truck accident victims can have the legal representation they deserve!
To learn more about how our firm works and how we can help you and your family, do NOT wait to call us TODAY 800-898-4877. If you prefer, you can CLICK HERE and send us an email.
Texas Commercial Truck Facts and Figures
Texas has the second-highest number of commercial vehicles registered in-state in the U.S. with more than 1.3 million, and only California has more registered trucks. However, trucks registered throughout the country may travel through Texas on a regular basis, meaning that several million trucks may pose accident risks on major Texas highways each year.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that Texas by far had the most fatal commercial vehicle accidents of any state each year for at least 11 years straight. Texas roads saw 556 truck accident fatalities in a single year, while the next state (California) only had 322 fatalities. People who live or travel through Texas are at a much higher risk of being seriously injured or killed in a truck accident than anywhere else in the United States.
The large majority of truck accident injuries and fatalities in Texas happen to motorists in non-commercial vehicles. Consider the following FMCSA statistics:
- Fatalities in crashes involving only a commercial truck = 89
- Fatalities in truck crashes involving other vehicles = 395
While commercial truck drivers can certainly suffer injuries in serious accidents, they are a lot less vulnerable to life-threatening injuries than motorists in smaller passenger cars. This should be no surprise considering an average car weighs about 4,000 pounds and a fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds!
Houston itself gets a large share of Texas’s commercial vehicle accidents, with multiple truck accidents, including many fatalities, every year.
When a truck driver or another party was to blame for a crash that resulted in serious injuries, injured motorists have important rights to financial recovery. However, this recovery does NOT happen automatically! Instead, there are many steps to the recovery process, and you should have the RIGHT law firm guiding you every step of the way!
Additional Information About Commercial Truck Crashes
Accidents involving large trucks happen every day across the United States. Many people may not realize just how common these collisions are, and the following statistics, reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), may surprise them:
- About 111,000 individuals were injured in truck accidents in a recent year.
- More than 3,900 persons died from truck accident injuries in a recent year.
- That same year, police received reports of about 438,000 truck accidents.
- Nearly three-fourths of the injured persons were riding in other passenger vehicles.
- Truck drivers or passengers suffered 23 percent of injuries.
- Three percent of injured victims were not in vehicles and were instead riding bicycles or walking.
- More than 10,905,000 commercial trucks were registered in the United States in 2014.
- More than 80 percent of crashes involved multiple vehicles.
- A head-on collision with a truck collision has the greatest incidence of death.
- Many truck drivers have past crashes, convictions for speeding, convictions for DUI, or license suspensions.
Once you realize how shockingly common truck accidents can be, you should always be prepared and know what to do when driving near trucks and in the event an accident happens to you.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Large Trucks
While truck accident victims do have rights to recover financially after a crash, it is always safer and preferred to avoid collisions in the first place whenever possible. While you cannot control the actions of a truck driver or trucking company, you can make sure that you take every necessary precaution when you approach or pass a large commercial truck.
Commercial trucks can be an intimidating presence on the roads, especially when truck drivers are driving at highway speeds of 60 miles per hour or more. While you can’t stop a truck driver from violating the law or making errors, you can drive defensively around trucks to try to keep you and your family as safe as possible.
Some safety tips to remember when driving near commercial vehicles include:
- Heavy trucks take longer to stop than smaller and lighter cars, so don’t ever pull in front of a truck or suddenly brake when you are in front of a truck. This could lead to a truck slamming into the back of your car with many tons of force behind it.
- Trucks have “no zones,” which are substantial blind spots on the sides, front, and back of the truck. Know where they are and avoid lingering in no zones when possible. While truck drivers should take all precautions before changing lanes, it may be impossible for them to see your car in a “no zone” and the truck might side-swipe your car or run you off the road.
- If you see a semi-truck swerving or any other signs of a truck driver’s erratic driving, stay away from the truck and call law enforcement authorities. This could be a sign the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or that they are overly fatigued and dozing off behind the wheel.
- Never look down at a phone or engage in other distractions when you are near a big truck. (Actually, avoid distracted driving at all times). Simply taking your eyes off the road for a second can be enough for you to put your car in harm’s way near a large semi-truck.
You should always be an alert and careful driver. However, this is even more important if you’re on the highway next to 18-wheelers or other types of tractor-trailers. You never know when a truck driver may make a mistake and you should always be prepared to react and get out of the way whenever possible.
What to Do After a Truck Crash
Texas has specific laws regarding a driver’s duties following a traffic accident, including commercial truck accidents, and additional requirements if an accident caused injuries or death. Not only do you want to ensure you’re in compliance with the law, but there are also steps you should take to protect your well-being and legal rights. The aftermath of a truck crash can be chaotic and you might be disoriented and in pain. It’s always wise to learn what to do ahead of time, so you have a better chance of remembering these steps at the time of a crash.
The following are some things you should do after a truck accident, if possible.
Stop and get to a safe place.
Texas law requires that you stop your vehicle at the scene or as close to the scene of the accident as you can. You should never remain in the path of traffic, and if you can move your car, you should try to get it to a place where it’s not obstructing traffic lanes. If your car is not moveable, you should wait until it is safe, and then exit the car and move to a safe place on the side of the road.
In some cases, your injuries may keep you from moving at all or you might be pinned in your car. In this situation, you should not risk moving and instead, ask anyone in the vicinity who’s able to help direct traffic around your vehicle until the emergency first responders arrive to provide help.
As soon as you can, you should call 911 if someone else hasn’t done so already. Many people go back and forth regarding whether to call 911 after a crash, and the answer is usually yes. Alerting the authorities is important for multiple reasons. First, you want to ensure that medical personnel arrive as quickly as possible to render any aid to injured accident victims. The law requires people to provide reasonable assistance to others who suffered injuries in an accident, which includes calling for emergency help and transportation.
Second, when you call 911, police will dispatch to the scene of the accident, as well. This is important because police can determine whether they have probable cause to believe that the truck driver violated the law in any way. If officers think a violation occurred, they can issue a citation or even arrest the truck driver for serious offenses. Officers can administer tests to determine whether the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which can only help your case down the road.
See if anyone else needs assistance.
As mentioned, Texas law expects people to check and see whether others need help after a traffic accident. Of course, if you are too injured, you should stay put and care for yourself first. However, if you’re able to move around, check on everyone in your vehicle or any other vehicle involved, including the truck. Help people move to safety if you can, but always consider your own needs first if you also suffered injuries.
Consult emergency medical technicians.
When the EMTs show up, allow them to check you over, especially if you are feeling any pain, soreness, stiffness, or dizziness. Many people write off symptoms as being “normal” reactions to a crash instead of admitting they suffered an injury. This is especially common if you hit your head, as you may have a concussion but might think you are simply “shaken up” from the accident.
Tell the EMTs which body parts suffered trauma and which ones hurt. If you are in dire need of medical care, the EMTs will likely identify the need for immediate assistance and transport you in an ambulance. If they suggest emergency transportation, always listen to them. You don’t want to risk making your injuries worse or suffering complications because you insisted on remaining at the scene.
Speak to the police if possible.
If you don’t need a ride in an ambulance, you should talk to the police officers about what happened. Tell them what you remember about how the truck driver was operating their vehicle before and during the crash. If you believed the truck driver was acting aggressively or erratically, say so and describe their behaviors.
The police should take all the information they gathered from you, from the truck driver, from witnesses, and from the scene in general and write a thorough report. While a police report won’t be definitive evidence of negligence by a truck driver, it can help us determine the cause of a crash and may be used in any criminal case against the truck driver stemming from the accident. It’s important to ensure an accurate version of events makes it into the report when you can.
Since almost everyone has a camera in their pocket these days, take the opportunity to take photos of the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, especially if your car needs to be towed away. Take photos of the truck in the areas of impact, any cargo that spilled, tire marks on the road, shredded or blown tires, road conditions, nearby signals or signs, and more.
Even if you’re not sure if something is relevant to your car accident claim, it can never hurt to have the photos just in case. Since authorities will likely clean up the scene as soon as possible, accident reconstruction specialists and other experts can examine your photos to help form an opinion about what caused the crash.
Head to the emergency room.
Just because EMTs didn’t take you in an ambulance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a medical evaluation. In fact, it is always a good idea to head to the emergency room or urgent care as soon as possible following a crash.
All too often, accident victims have injuries they didn’t even know about. A doctor can conduct diagnostic tests to identify often hidden injuries, including soft tissue injuries, concussions, and more. You might be surprised that what you mistook for “soreness” is actually a muscle sprain or a fracture.
When your injuries are properly diagnosed, you can start receiving treatment right away to hopefully speed up your recovery time. It also ensures that a medical professional makes a record of your injuries in a timely manner after an accident. If an insurance company challenges the cause of your injuries, your medical records can serve as important proof that the truck accident caused the injuries you’re claiming.
Too many people don’t get a medical evaluation or treatment after a crash because they are nervous about the cost. However, remember that if a truck driver or someone else caused the accident, they should cover all of your medical expenses. It’s important to follow your doctor’s orders and get the treatment you need.
Contact our legal team for more information.
The sooner you call our experienced legal team after a truck accident, the sooner we can start working to protect your rights. Evidence seems to dissipate quickly after a crash, especially if negligent parties are trying to mask liability for the accident. The sooner we can begin our investigation into the cause of an accident, the better.
We know you have a lot on your mind after an accident and serious injuries. While your priority should always be your physical health, you also should have us working on your case. We handle every aspect of your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, so you don’t have any added stress. We make the truck accident claim process as easy as possible for you and your family, so please don’t wait to call today, at 800-898-4877, or CLICK HERE to get more information. The consultation is free, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your claim.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Trucks can crash in many different ways, and the nature and severity of the resulting injuries often depend on the type of crash that occurred. While every accident is different, one thing for certain is that commercial truck accidents have the potential to cause a wide range of serious injuries to victims. No matter what type of injuries you suffered, know that our legal team is ready to help!
Many accident victims require immediate medical treatment for traumatic injuries. A crash can twist, stretch, and jolt your body in unnatural ways, as well as cause you to hit the inside of the car or even get ejected from the car.
You may suffer multiple injuries from the chaotic and violent nature of the impact with a large commercial truck. Some traumatic injuries that may result include:
- Soft tissue tears, sprains, or strains – The potential seriousness of soft tissue injuries is often underestimated after a traffic accident. This type of injury can cause stiffness and can impede your range of motion in your neck, shoulder, hip, knee, back, or other parts of the body. Often, the pain worsens in the days following the accident, and these injuries can keep you from working or completing everyday tasks.
- Neck and back injuries – Your neck and back help support large parts of your body, including your head, shoulders, trunk, and more. When you suffer any musculoskeletal injuries to your neck or back, it can have a serious effect on almost every aspect of your life. You may not be able to work, exercise, or even do household chores or pick up your kids. Many neck and back injuries may even keep you from walking until you’ve undergone a long course of physical therapy.
- Dislocations – Your joints are also essential for movement. When a joint dislocates, it can be extremely painful and can cause many other problems. Connective soft tissue can tear and you can have a much higher chance for more dislocations in the future. Dislocated joints must often be immobilized for a period of time
- Fractures – Many of us have broken a bone or two at some point in our lives. Fractures can be extremely painful, require intensive medical treatment including surgery and traction, and can even leave victims with chronic problems and permanently weakened bones. In addition, in some cases, fractures leave victims disfigured.
- Facial injuries – Facial fractures can significantly alter a person’s appearance and be extremely physically and psychologically distressing. Even in cases in which reconstructive and/or plastic surgery is able to largely correct cosmetic issues, many people who experience severe facial fractures never look the same as the did prior to their accident. Additionally, in some cases, facial fractures can result in issues related or breathing, eating and drinking, seeing, and hearing.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Traumatic brain injuries can occur when a bump, blow, or jolt to the head disrupts the way the brain normally functions. The most common form of mild TBI is a concussion, which itself is a serious injury that can result in weeks or even months of severe and debilitating symptoms. More severe traumatic brain injuries can leave victims with permanent physical or cognitive disabilities and may even result in a permanent vegetative state.
- Spinal cord injury – Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious injuries that a person can sustain. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, and when it is injured, this communication can be disrupted. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, there is still some communication that passes through. When this occurs, victims can experience issues like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, pain, loss of range of motion, and temporary paralysis. In a complete spinal cord injury, the communication between the brain and body below the site of the injury is completely disrupted, resulting in complete paralysis and loss of sensation. These injuries are typically permanent.
- Internal organ damage – Not all injuries are visible from the outside. Sometimes, a truck accident victim will suffer serious damage to vital organs, such as a punctured lung, ruptured spleen, gastrointestinal damage, and more. These are life-threatening injuries and victims should receive emergency trauma care. Often, damaged organs require immediate surgical repair, followed by a significant recovery time.
- Internal bleeding – Another invisible yet highly serious condition is internal bleeding, also known as internal hemorrhaging. Such bleeding is very dangerous, though many accident victims are unaware it is taking place. Hemorrhages commonly occur in the abdomen and can put pressure on vital organs and even lead to infection. Hemorrhaging can also occur in your skull cavity, which can result in dangerously high intracranial pressure. Doctors must often remove part of the skull to release the pressure for hemorrhaging patients.
As an accident victim, it’s important to understand that any injury can result in significant economic or non-economic losses. While it’s certainly true that a TBI is generally more serious than a broken foot, a broken foot may still require surgery, prevent you from working for weeks, and result in tremendous pain and suffering. In fact, even injuries that you may consider minor or that could even heal on their own can result in tens of thousands of dollars in losses—or even more. For this reason, it’s critical to determine the cause of your accident, as doing so is an essential part of recovering compensation for your injuries.
Common Types of Truck Collisions
Any time a truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, the result can be devastating. Even at slower speeds, the size and weight of a semi-truck can mean a serious risk of damage and injuries. There are many different ways that trucks can crash that can affect other vehicles and motorists. No matter how a crash occurs, however, there is always the potential for life-changing injuries. Some of the most common types of truck accidents are listed below.
Many large commercial trucks have two main components known as the cab and the trailer. In a jackknife accident, the trailer swings out to the side while the cab remains facing straight ahead, causing the truck to look like a folding pocket knife. There are a number of different factors that can cause this type of accident including icy or slick roads, brake failure, or driver error. The danger of a jackknife accident is that once the trailer starts to swing, the driver has no way to stop it. A swinging trailer can quickly cross over several lanes of traffic, colliding with many cars as it does. A jackknifed truck can also be very difficult to slow down or stop.
When a truck hits the back of another car or vice versa, it’s known as a rear-end accident. Unlike rear-end accidents involving two smaller cars, which are often called “fender-benders,” rear-end truck crashes can be particularly severe. This is because a truck may drive onto the back of a car (called an “override crash”) or a small car may get lodged under the back of the trailer (called an “underride crash”). Both underride and override accidents are often deadly. These accidents often occur due to fatigued driving, aggressive driving, or distracted driving by a truck driver.
A head-on collision occurs when one vehicle crosses into oncoming traffic and hits another vehicle head-on. This is an especially serious accident, as the impact of the force is fully distributed to the front of the car, closer to where the driver and passengers are seated. Head-on collisions are especially common when a driver is fatigued and falls asleep at the wheel. This can also happen if the driver is distracted, looking at a cell phone or checking a map for directions. Whenever the driver averts their attention from the road, the chances of a dangerous head-on collision increase. Drunk drivers can also swerve out of their lanes and into oncoming traffic, resulting in a head-on crash.
Because trucks have such a high center of gravity, they are especially prone to a rollover crash. In a rollover accident, the wheels on one side of the semi-truck to lose contact with the ground, causing the vehicle to fall onto its side. This type of accident is especially common when a truck enters a sharp turn when it’s going too fast, collides with a guardrail and tries to overcorrect, or when the roads are slick due to inclement weather. This type of accident is especially dangerous because the truck driver essentially loses control of their vehicle in a rollover and can crash into any cars in its way.
All drivers have a responsibility to maintain their cars so they are safe to drive on the road. The same goes for owners of commercial trucks. In fact, with trucks, frequent inspection and maintenance are even more important because malfunctions and resulting accidents can be so severe. When a tire blows out because it was overly worn or had insufficient tire pressure, a truck driver can lose complete control of the big rig. Often, this type of accident wouldn’t happen if the truck owner simply followed up with routine maintenance checks.
Note that improper maintenance can lead to other types of malfunctions and crashes, as well. Other parts that can malfunction due to a lack of maintenance include steering systems, brakes, axles, and more. We can always look at maintenance records for a truck that crashed to determine whether the accident may have happened due to negligent maintenance or inspection.
Cargo Loading Errors and Spills
Sometimes, damage and injuries occur because the cargo of a truck spills out of the trailer or otherwise shifts. This can be particularly dangerous and can happen in many situations, including:
- Cargo wasn’t properly secured in a trailer, so it shifts on a turn and throws the trailer off-balance, causing the truck driver to lose control and crash.
- A trailer was overloaded, which made it too heavy for the truck driver to stop in time to avoid crashing into another vehicle.
- The trailer door of an 18-wheeler suddenly comes open and cargo spills out onto the road, causing numerous cars to be involved in a chain reaction crash.
- A flatbed truck hauling large and heavy cargo rolls over, causing the cargo to fall off the trailer and cause damage to oncoming cars.
- A HAZMAT tanker truck is hauling flammable chemicals when it crashes. The crash creates a tear in the tank, releasing the chemicals on the ground and causing the truck to catch on fire.
Often, companies use third-party cargo loaders who may be responsible for a cargo spill. The FMCSA has strict rules regarding cargo securement and weight limitations and violating these regulations can lead to a dangerous cargo-related accident.
The type of crash that happened to you is important as it can often give us some idea of the cause of a crash. For instance, if a truck swerves into oncoming traffic and collides with your car head-on, it usually means the truck driver made an error or something caused the driver to lose control. Rear-end accidents when a truck is a rear driver usually means the truck driver was distracted or not following cars at a safe distance. The type of crash that happened can tell us a lot about what possibly led up to the accident.
When we investigate truck accidents, our main goal is to determine which parties should be responsible for your losses. In many situations, more than one party can be liable, and we need to conduct a thorough investigation to maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries. Don’t wait to call our office so we can begin evaluating your accident and legal rights!
Liable Parties in Truck Accidents
Many different parties can be liable for a truck accident. In many cases, truck driver error is the culprit. However, even when the driver was at fault, did you know that the trucking company may also be on the hook for your damages? This is because of a legal principle that holds companies strictly liable for the negligent acts of their employees.
Trucking companies can also engage in negligence on their own, including:
- Allowing people to drive trucks without a proper commercial driver’s license or necessary endorsements
- Hiring drivers with a history of drunk driving, aggressive driving, or other dangerous driving violations
- Failing to perform the required drug and alcohol tests on drivers
- Not taking disciplinary action against drivers for serious violations, such as drunk driving
- Encouraging drivers to violate safety regulations or allowing violations to occur
- Failing to keep necessary records to demonstrate compliance with safety regulations
- Failing to inspect or maintain the trucks in a fleet
Most often, a company gets involved with a truck accident claim because a truck driver engaged in dangerous behaviors that caused an accident. Three especially dangerous and, unfortunately, common dangerous driver behaviors include drunk driving, fatigued driving, and distracted driving. Commercial truck drivers who do any of the above put others at risk and should be held fully accountable for any harm they cause, as should their employers, as well.
There Is NO Excuse for Impaired Truck Drivers
One of the first things that ANY prospective driver learns is that alcohol and drugs NEVER mix with driving. Zero tolerance for impaired driving is made clear to all commercial drivers, and they should be well aware of the consequences of impaired driving, both for other motorists and for themselves.
Too many Houston drivers get into their vehicles after consuming too much far too often. Almost 1,600 crashes in which alcohol played a role took place in a single year, injuring as many as 708—74 of them seriously, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Sadly, 72 victims died in Houston from alcohol-related crashes.
For most drivers, the legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). Because driving a commercial truck is already inherently more dangerous than driving a passenger car, the law lowers the legal limit for truck drivers to 0.04 percent. For some people, all it takes is one or two drinks and they will be over this limit.
If a truck driver gets out of their semi-truck after an accident and you can tell they may have been drinking, never confront them. Though you may be angry, remember that drunk individuals can become volatile and even violent. Instead, call 911 and wait for the police to show up. When the police arrive, they can administer field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer test to determine whether the driver has been drinking. A commercial driver must ALWAYS test for drugs and alcohol in the following situations:
- When the accident caused disabling damage to another vehicle and the police issued a citation to the truck driver
- When the accident caused serious injuries to another person and the police issued a citation to the truck driver
- When the accident caused a fatality of another person, whether or not the police issued a citation to the truck driver
If a test shows a BAC over the legal limit or if the police have other probable cause to believe the truck driver is impaired, officers will place the truck driver under arrest.
A criminal charge for driving under the influence will not reimburse you for your medical bills and other losses. However, our law firm can certainly use a criminal conviction to help protect your rights in your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. We believe there is NO reason why a truck driver should EVER put the lives of others at risk by driving drunk or high. We are ready to fight to hold such drivers responsible for their highly dangerous actions.
Hours of Service Violations and Fatigued Driving Accidents
Truck drivers often have extremely tight schedules, and they can often make more money if they complete more deliveries faster. Some truck drivers would drive as much as possible and rest as little as possible to maximize the time on the road. However, driving long hours on monotonous roads can easily lead to extreme fatigue, which can cause a truck driver to crash. For this reason, the FMCSA enacted and enforces strict limitations on the hours of service a truck driver can spend behind the wheel without resting.
The FMCSA’s hours of service regulations require that truck drivers limit their driving hours to 14 hours within any period of duty, and that drivers may only have 11 hours of uninterrupted driving, which must incorporate a 30-minute break for every 8 hours of driving time. This 14-hour maximum must include the time spent on all driving breaks and gas stops, as the time spent on these breaks from driving can’t be subtracted from the total allotment of 14 hours of driving time in one shift.
Additional regulations relate to a driver’s weekly hours of service:
- A truck driver may not drive more than 60 hours in any one week, and the driver can restart their allowed 60 hours only after spending at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
- A truck driver may not drive more than 70 hours in 8 days, and the driver can restart their allowed 70 hours only after spending 34 consecutive hours off duty.
- Truck drivers who use the sleeper berth in their trucks must spend at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper birth and another two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth or off duty, or any combination of these two.
- All truck drivers must track their driving and resting hours in a daily logbook or in an Electronic On-Board Recorder (EOBR). This log must include the dates, times, and locations of driving along with all status-of-duty changes and total miles driven on each driving leg.
There are some exceptions to the hours of services rules that regulate a trucker’s legal driving hours:
- In inclement weather (which naturally slows a truck driver down), the truck driver may exceed the 11-hour driving limit by a maximum of 2 hours.
- Truck drivers who only drive within a 100-mile radius of their home base aren’t required to keep a driving log.
- Truck drivers for retail stores who are driving less than a 100-mile radius can exceed their daily driving hour restrictions between the dates of December 10th and December 25th to help keep up with the increased retail demands of the holiday season. It’s important to note that truck accidents increase around the holidays, and possibly, because there may be more fatigued truck drivers on the road.
When drivers fail to follow these critical hours of service restrictions, they can face harsh penalties and fines. This is because every driver should be well aware of the extreme dangers of fatigued driving. If a driver violates these regulations knowingly and willfully, they may even face criminal charges. Trucking companies can also face penalties for allowing violations to occur, not requiring drivers to keep proper records and logs, or even for falsifying logbook information to cover up a violation.
How Fatigue Affects Truck Drivers
Truck drivers face strict hours of service regulations for a very good reason since fatigued truck driving is highly dangerous. Many studies show that fatigue can have similar effects on a driver as alcohol or drug impairment. Tired truck drivers can experience many effects of fatigue, including the following:
- Decreased reflexes and increased reaction time
- Lack of focus and attention span
- Reduced alertness
- Lapses in safe decision-making
- Blurred vision
When drowsy truck drivers get behind the wheel, they are far more likely to cause serious accidents and they endanger everyone else on the road. When a truck driver becomes extremely tired, they may even fall asleep behind the wheel. When a driver completely dozes off, they often depart their lane into the path of other cars, commonly leading to a devastating crash.
Long hours are not the only factor that causes fatigue in truck drivers. Health issues can also result in drowsiness and fatigue, including stress, depression, thyroid disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. One major factor that has become a serious concern in the trucking industry is sleep disorders.
When undiagnosed and/or untreated, the following sleep disorders can lead to dangerous fatigue and truck crashes:
Sleep apnea – This is a very common sleep disorder that affects millions of people across the United States. People with sleep apnea have interruptions in their breathing during the night, which can cause the brain to wake up so it can get the body to start breathing again. While many people don’t even realize they wake up many times per night, these interruptions in sleep still keep them from ever getting into the deep stages of sleep. The restlessness of their sleep can lead to tiredness and fatigue throughout the day, which can result in fatigued driving crashes.
Narcolepsy – This autoimmune condition keeps the brain from properly regulating a person’s sleep cycles. This often leads to excessive fatigue and can also cause sudden and unexpected sleep “attacks,” which cause a person to fall into the REM stage of sleep without notice, and often at inappropriate times during the day. These sleep attacks can last for a few seconds or even a few minutes, which is plenty of time for a driver to crash.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) – This condition causes a person to experience discomforting feelings in their legs and the sudden urge to move their legs around to feel better, often as they are in bed and trying to fall asleep. These sensations often make it difficult for many RLS sufferers to stay asleep or even fall asleep in the first place, which can easily lead to fatigue during waking hours.
If a truck driver knows (or should know) they have a sleep disorder and doesn’t seek treatment for the disorder, they should be responsible if their fatigue causes injuries to others on the road. Just because a driver doesn’t violate hours of service regulations doesn’t mean they might not still be responsible for driving while fatigued.
All truck drivers should be aware when they’re fatigued and should pull off the road to rest. They shouldn’t try to rely on caffeine or energy drinks to stay awake, as these substances often cause a driver to feel more alert when, in reality, they are still fatigued.
Our law firm knows how to determine whether a truck driver was overly drowsy or in violation of hours of service rules at the time of the crash, and we know how to hold fatigued drivers liable for your losses.
The Dangers of Distracted Truck Drivers
As drivers, we’ve all taken our eyes off the road for a second for various reasons, though this is never a good idea. There are many types of distractions while driving, many of which can result in a serious crash. Because commercial trucks can cause such severe injuries in a crash, truck drivers should especially be careful to keep their eyes and focus on the road.
Much focus has been on the epidemic of distracted driving in recent years. Distracted driving is engaging in any activity that is not a driver’s main task of operating their vehicle in a safe manner. Generally, experts divide driving distractions into three main categories:
- Visual distractions – These take a truck driver’s eyes off the road.
- Manual distractions – These cause the truck driver to remove their hands from the wheel.
- Cognitive distractions – These take the truck driver’s mind off the task of driving.
Some activities only involve one category of distraction while others may involve two or even all three types of distraction. Some activities that can regularly distract truck drivers include:
- Having conversations with passengers in the truck
- Eating and drinking
- Programming or paying attention to a GPS system
- Personal grooming
- Listening to engaging podcasts or audiobooks
- Adjusting controls, including the radio, music players, or the heat or air conditioning
- Reading books or articles online
- Watching videos, movies, or TV shows
- Making phone calls or taking phone calls
When it comes to driving distractions, texting is widely considered to be the most dangerous one. Texting involves all three types of distracted, as you must take your eyes off the road to look at your phone, use at least one hand to hold the phone and type a message, and take your focus off the road to concentrate on composing or reading a message.
When truck drivers choose to use their smartphones to text, browse social media, or look things up on the internet, they make the roads more dangerous for all of the rest of us. Truck drivers who text behind the wheel are so dangerous that the FMCSA strictly prohibits drivers from using their smartphones in this manner.
According to the FMCSA, texting including any activity that involves “manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This includes, but is not limited to, short message services, e-mailing, instant messaging, or pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile phone.”
In short, a truck driver shouldn’t use their phone for any text-based purposes AT ALL.
The FMCSA set out consequences for any drivers who text while operating a semi or another type of commercial truck. These consequences can include up to a $2,750 fine and possibly losing their commercial driver’s license. The FMCSA bases its strict ban on texting for truck drivers on research claiming that texting truck drivers are 23.2 times more likely to cause a crash.
The research also reports that a truck driver who’s texting takes their eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds on average, which is enough time to drive blind for about 370 feet, or longer than a football field. Because commercial trucks are so massive, they often need far longer stopping distances than average vehicles do, and this fact only intensifies the dangers of texting truck drivers.
While texting is thought to be the most serious distraction for any driver, there are some distractions that may be unique to truck drivers, including:
- Cleaning a side mirror or adjusting mirrors for no-zones
- Filling out a truck log of hours worked and deliveries
- Interacting with a dispatch service
- Reading paperwork or directions
These tasks are part of a truck driver’s job, but when they’re performed behind the wheel of a semi-truck, they become extremely dangerous distractions. Unfortunately, the trucking industry often pushes its drivers to exceed imposed scheduling regulations to make a delivery within a specific timeframe, which can cause a driver to feel rushed and the need to multitask behind the wheel. This leads to distracted truck drivers and distracted driving accidents and injuries.
They Will Try to Deny Your Claim!
After an accident, you may think it’s clear that a truck driver was at fault, so you naturally expect to receive payment from the trucking company’s insurance company sooner rather than later. Most people do not foresee the challenges they will likely face when they make an insurance claim. They don’t realize the importance of seeking legal assistance before they even start the claim process.
Without the right truck accident law firm on your side, an insurer will try to limit your payout or deny your claim for various reasons, including:
- Claiming you were partially or totally at fault for the accident
- Challenging your claimed damages
- Trying to get you to accept a settlement that is FAR less than you deserve
Dealing with trucking insurance companies can be a nightmare. Sometimes it seems like they think their jobs are to DENY your accident claim—NOT TO PAY! You need a strong yet approachable advocate on your side. Call us now for a free consultation, and decide for yourself if you think we can help. Remember, do not talk to the trucking or insurance company and do not sign anything until you speak with us, because you risk losing some or all of the compensation to which you are entitled.
Stewart Guss and his team will do everything possible to obtain the best possible recovery on your claim, and we take pride in treating our clients like family. Pick up the phone and call 866-674-5289 to talk to us about your truck accident. Remember, your consultation is FREE, and you pay NOTHING unless we win your case!
Proving Your Truck Accident Claim
Even if you are sure that your accident occurred because of a dangerous truck driver, your word is not enough to hold a driver or trucking company legally liable. Instead, you must present evidence that a party was negligent and caused the crash and your injuries. Evidence that can prove a claim can differ significantly from case to case.
To identify and gather evidence in your truck accident case, and to determine the cause of the crash, you will need an investigation. This can include:
- Reviewing police reports
- Reviewing logbooks and delivery receipts
- Obtaining documents and records from the trucking company
- Analyzing data from the truck’s “black box”
- Obtaining any video footage of the crash, whether from a truck’s dashboard cameras or external cameras
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining any arrest, charging, or conviction records if a driver is accused of a crime
- Using accident reconstruction experts
All of these investigative tasks can be challenging and time-consuming—especially since a trucking company will likely be less than cooperative in providing records and other requested evidence. At the law office of Stewart Guss, however, our legal team has the resources to conduct a thorough investigation to build as strong of a case as possible in support of your claim.
Truck Accidents Can Cause Extensive Losses
One reason you need to prove liability in your truck accident case is that these crashes can result in devastating losses for victims. Because commercial vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, they can cause extreme damage and injuries when they collide into smaller passenger vehicles.
Examples of the losses truck accident victims commonly incur include:
- Medical bills – Severe injuries can require extensive treatments. Some truck accident victims may require emergency transportation, emergency trauma care, surgeries, hospitalization, time in the intensive care unit, rehabilitative therapies, follow-up visits, medical equipment, medications, home health assistance, and more. Due to high healthcare costs, even minor injuries can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills.
- Lost income – After a truck accident, many people experience some type of disruption in their work schedules. You may miss work to receive the treatment you need—especially if you are hospitalized or have to recover from surgery. Even missing work due to a doctor’s appointment can result in lost wages for that period of time. In addition, an injury may completely prevent you from performing your job, so you have to take time off until you have sufficiently recovered.
- Intangible losses – Truck accident injuries can result in physical and mental pain and suffering that can greatly damage your life. Furthermore, some catastrophic injuries can result in permanent impairments, disfigurement, or disabilities that can destroy the quality of the rest of your life. Victims deserve compensation for intangible losses as well as measurable monetary losses.
- Future losses – At the time of your truck accident claim, your medical treatment may still be ongoing or you may have not yet returned to work. A qualified truck accident law firm will know how to calculate all future losses in addition to losses already incurred.
The truck accident lawyers and legal professionals at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law understand how to most effectively represent truck accident victims so that they can recover the full amount of compensation possible in their claims.
Contact Our Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys Today!
If you were injured in a truck accident, speak to our Houston personal injury law firm as soon as you can. To schedule a free case evaluation with the team of lawyers and legal professionals of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, call today at 800-898-4877 or send us an email through our online contact form. Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your recovery. Don’t take chances—let us help you!
Commercial truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with many different regulations and laws both on the federal and state levels. When they violate these laws, they can often cause serious collisions and injuries to motorists. Anyone who violates any safety laws and causes injuries should be held fully accountable for their actions. The number of regulations that apply to commercial trucks and their drivers can make trucking accident cases extremely complicated. The following are only some of the many regulations and laws our law firm regularly applies to truck accident cases.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacts and enforces a wide variety of regulations that apply to all commercial vehicles operating on an interstate basis in the United States. This can include semi-trucks, hazardous materials (hazmat) trucks, tanker trucks, flatbeds trucks, buses, and more. The regulations set standards of behavior for many aspects of trucking, including:
- Licensing – Everyone who operates a commercial truck must have the proper commercial driver’s license and training for that particular type of vehicle.
- Health conditions – Medical professionals must approve drivers, who cannot have any potentially dangerous medical conditions that may interfere with the ability to operate their trucks.
- Hours of service – To prevent fatigued driving, truckers must follow strict rules about how many consecutive hours and consecutive days they can work without taking breaks to rest and sleep.
- Intoxicated driving – Commercial drivers face stricter intoxicated driving laws than regular drivers, with a legal limit of 0.04 percent blood alcohol content (BAC)—compared to 0.08 percent for everyone else. They are also subject to random and post-accident drug and alcohol tests.
- Distracted driving – Commercial drivers who engage in text-based messaging or reading on a smartphone while driving violate the law. They also must follow strict rules regarding largely hands-free communications.
- Inspections – The driver must inspect a truck pre-shift, and a company must inspect and maintain the trucks in its fleet.
- Size and weight – There are weight limits depending on the size and number of axles of a commercial truck, with the maximum weight at 80,000 pounds. Trucks must be regularly weighed to ensure compliance.
Texas State Traffic Laws
In addition to FMCSA regulations, truck drivers must follow all state and local traffic laws when driving through Texas. These same laws apply to every other driver, and they prevent many dangerous actions, including:
Sec. 545.351. MAXIMUM SPEED REQUIREMENT.
(a) An operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.
(b) An operator:
(1) may not drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for actual and potential hazards then existing; and
(2) shall control the speed of the vehicle as necessary to avoid colliding with another person or vehicle that is on or entering the highway in compliance with law and the duty of each person to use due care.
(c) An operator shall, consistent with Subsections (a) and (b), drive at an appropriate reduced speed if:
(1) the operator is approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing;
(2) the operator is approaching and going around a curve;
(3) the operator is approaching a hill crest;
(4) the operator is traveling on a narrow or winding roadway; and
(5) a special hazard exists with regard to traffic, including pedestrians, or weather or highway conditions.
Following too closely:
Sec. 545.062. FOLLOWING DISTANCE.
(a) An operator shall, if following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway.
(b) An operator of a truck or of a motor vehicle drawing another vehicle who is on a roadway outside a business or residential district and who is following another truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle shall, if conditions permit, leave sufficient space between the vehicles so that a vehicle passing the operator can safely enter and occupy the space. This subsection does not prohibit a truck or a motor vehicle drawing another vehicle from passing another vehicle.
Sec. 545.053. PASSING TO THE LEFT; RETURN; BEING PASSED.
(a) An operator passing another vehicle:
(1) shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance; and
(2) may not move back to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the passed vehicle.
(b) An operator being passed by another vehicle:
(1) shall, on audible signal, move or remain to the right in favor of the passing vehicle; and
(2) may not accelerate until completely passed by the passing vehicle.
(c) Subsection (b) does not apply when passing to the right is permitted.
Violating traffic signals:
Sec. 544.007. TRAFFIC-CONTROL SIGNALS IN GENERAL.
(d) An operator of a vehicle facing only a steady red signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line. In the absence of a stop line, the operator shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. A vehicle that is not turning shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown.
The above, of course, are only a handful of the many, many traffic laws that every truck driver should know about and follow. When a truck driver violates a traffic law, they can receive a citation and it can help the case of an accident victim.
Texas State Criminal Laws
Texas can also apply criminal laws to driving a commercial truck. These can prohibit various driving violations that are so dangerous that they regularly cause accidents and serious injuries. The following are only some of these criminal laws that may come into play in Texas commercial truck accident
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs:
Sec. 49.04. DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
(b) Except as provided by Subsections (c) and (d) and Section49.09, an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.
(c) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person’s immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.
(d) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that an analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time the analysis was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
Vehicular manslaughter while drunk driving:
Sec. 49.08. INTOXICATION MANSLAUGHTER.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and
(2) is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
(b) Except as provided by Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.
Sec. 545.401. RECKLESS DRIVING; OFFENSE.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by:
(1) a fine not to exceed $200;
(2) confinement in county jail for not more than 30 days; or
(3) both the fine and the confinement.
In addition to federal and local law enforcement agencies, the Texas Department of Public Safety also has a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Service charged with the enforcement of nearly all laws that apply to commercial trucks driving through Texas. This agency oversees laws involving the following and more:
- All provisions of the Texas Transportation Code
- Seatbelts for commercial drivers
- Size and weight of the trucks
- Required markings on trucks
- Commercial driver’s license requirements
- Truck equipment maintenance
- Truck registration
- Hours of service
Truck accident cases can be particularly complicated due to the sheer number of regulations and laws that may be involved. At the law office of Stewart Guss, we are thoroughly familiar with commercial trucking regulations and industry standards, which allows us to better help truck accident victims!
Don’t Wait—Call a Truck Accident Law Firm You Can Trust TODAY!
When you call the law firm of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, you will speak with a legal team you can rely on. We will always be honest about your options in your case and won’t ever try to convince you to accept a result that is less than you deserve. We know how to go up against trucking companies and their insurance companies, and they know we mean serious business. We play hardball on behalf of our clients because that is the best way to get the full compensation you deserve after a traumatizing truck accident.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in an accident at a Costco or any other store, call our office right now to schedule a free consultation! Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. Don’t leave your rights to chance for a MINUTE longer! We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE as soon as you can. We’re waiting to help!
Don’t take chances—let us help you!
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Stewart J. Guss, Attorney At Law
12777 Jones Rd
Houston, TX 77070