Anyone driving on the streets and highways in and around Houston will likely encounter a large semi-truck, if not multiple trucks in a single drive. While we take these trucks for granted much of the time and expect them to deliver goods to our favorite stores without incident, semi-trucks are involved in accidents more often than you may think. Hundreds of thousands of large truck accidents happen across the United States each year. Moreover, the following accidents involving commercial vehicles occurred in Harris County alone in one year:
- 5,628 total reported crashes
- 1,567 crash victims who suffered possible injuries
- 551 crash victims who suffered non-incapacitating injuries
- 82 crash victims who suffered incapacitating injuries
- 30 crash victims who did not survive
As you can see, semi-truck crashes injure numerous persons in the Houston area and throughout Harris County, Texas. These crashes take place when you least expect it and can damage your life in an instant.
The nationally recognized lawyers at the office of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, have helped many semi-truck accident victims move forward after a crash by obtaining the proper financial relief. We will evaluate your rights and options for free and can guide you through the entire process of your semi-truck accident claim. We are known for our tenacity in protecting the rights of our clients and we know how to handle complicated semi-truck crash claims. Do not wait to learn more. Call us today at 800-898-4877 or send an email by CLICKING HERE.
While any motor vehicle accident can be dangerous and even deadly, semi-truck accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic devastation. In addition to regularly resulting in serious injuries and financial losses, semi-truck accidents can make for especially complex legal claims. Anyone injured in a semi-truck accident needs the right legal representation to ensure they receive the full amount of just compensation they deserve after a crash.
Why Are Semi-Trucks so Dangerous?
Semi-trucks are dangerous in a collision with smaller cars, but many specific factors make these trucks so risky on the roads, including the size and construction of these vehicles. Anyone who drives near semis—which is just about every driver on the road—should understand the particular risks they present. The following are only some of the features that make semis so dangerous in the event of a crash.
- Size and weight – Semi-trucks are much bigger than your car or SUV. Semi-trucks can even make the largest pickup truck on the market seem small! With only one trailer, these trucks can range as long as 61 feet, though many semis haul two trailers at a time. They as tall as 14 feet and weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Small passenger cars can weigh 3,000 or less, while larger SUVs or pickup trucks might weigh 5,000 pounds. These vehicles are no match when they collide with a 40-ton semi-truck.
- Ground clearance – Semi-trucks often have much larger tires and a significantly higher ground clearance than passenger vehicles. This not only gives the truck a much higher center of gravity—which can lead to dangerous tip-overs—but also presents the opportunity for smaller vehicles to get wedged underneath the truck (see underride and override collisions, discussed more below).
- Articulation – Unlike most other vehicles, semi-trucks are known as “articulated vehicles” because they have two parts connected together at a joint, called a coupling device. This joint pivots, allowing the truck to make turns while still remaining connected. This articulation allows semi-trucks to carry more cargo on longer trailers, but it also brings extra risks of its own, including jack-knife accidents.
- Cargo carriers – An empty trailer is dangerous enough, but a fully loaded cargo trailer can add significantly more weight and with it, greater danger. Cargo can come in any number of shapes, sizes, and varieties. These trucks can haul boxes of produce, large furniture, livestock, or even hazardous materials (HAZMAT). Each type of cargo can wreak its own havoc if it spills from the trailer onto the highway.
- Variety of trailers – Semi-trucks are not one-size-fits-all. A standard trailer cannot hold large machinery or structures, nor can it haul liquids or gases. Specialized cargo requires specialized trailers, including flatbed trailers and tanker trailers. Each trailer comes with specific crash risks. Specifically, cargo can fall from flatbed trailers can more easily, while tanker trailers are at a greater risk of rolling over. In addition, tankers are often HAZMAT trucks, so if an accident pierces the tank, toxic materials could spill out and cause additional harm.
No matter the size or shape of a semi-truck, you may sustain life-changing injuries in a crash. After an injury, please do not hesitate to discuss the specific circumstances of your accident with a skilled semi-truck accident lawyer.
Types of Truck Accidents
Any type of crash can involve semi-trucks, but certain types of accidents are particularly common among—and even unique to—these hulking vehicles, including:
- Rollovers – Any vehicle can roll over. When a semi-truck rolls over, however, the entire trailer comes with it. Rollovers can happen due to taking turns too fast, when overcorrecting, or even because of high winds that cause a driver to lose control. In any event, a semi rollover can cause a serious chain reaction crash. Often, the trailer will suddenly roll onto its side across several lanes of traffic, which can cause many cars to crash into the trailer or crash while trying to avoid hitting the trailer. Rollovers can cause widespread damage and injuries.
- Jackknife – A jackknife accident is unique to articulated vehicles like semi-trucks. In some cases, the trailer can get off balance and will not remain directly behind the truck—even on a straightaway. If the trailer pivots too much on the coupling device, it can swing all the way out and become perpendicular to the truck cab—and to the roadway! When a 50-foot trailer suddenly swings out across adjacent lanes, it can crash into any vehicles in them, leaving devastation in its wake. This can also result in a runaway truck, in which the velocity of the trailer grows too great for the driver to control.
- Underride and override – As mentioned above, semi-trucks have higher clearances than most vehicles, allowing a substantial amount of space between the ground and the bottom of the tractor or trailer. This clearance can turn a rear-end collision into a nightmare for motorists. When a smaller car hits the back of a trailer, it could drive under the trailer and wedge itself underneath. The truck may then drag the car for some distance or the trailer base may even go through the windshield, which often proves fatal for front seat passengers. On the flip side, when a truck hits the back of a small car, the truck may drive onto the back of the car, often crushing it or even going through the back window. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards require guards to protect from underride accidents, these guards are not always effective and these crashes still occur.
No matter what type of collision occurred, truck accident victims can suffer catastrophic injuries. Such injuries may require extensive medical treatments or even leave victims with permanent disabilities.
An accident victim’s rights will differ depending on many factors, including what caused the crash. Because the losses from these accidents can overwhelm anybody, you shouldn’t wait—discuss your options with an experienced semi-truck accident law firm that regularly handles this type of case today.
Who Is Responsible?
You have the right to seek compensation for your injury-related losses if another party caused the crash. In many semi-truck accident cases, victims may hold more than one party liable for their damages. The following are only some of the parties whose negligence may lead to truck crashes:
Truck drivers – Truck drivers have special commercial driver’s licenses, which they obtain by undergoing specific training and examinations regarding the operation of these large and risky vehicles. Each truck driver should fully know the regulations and requirements involved in driving a semi-truck and should abide by these regulations at all times. When a truck driver makes a negligent error, it can cause an accident—and the driver may face liability for the crash. Some examples of driver negligence include drunk driving, distracted driving, fatigued driving, and aggressive driving.
Trucking companies – Victims of semi-truck accidents may often hold trucking companies liable when their drivers cause accidents. In addition, companies may engage in dangerous hiring practices, negligent supervision or retention of employees, or the violation of federal trucking regulations. Companies also may try to cover up the negligence of a driver to try to avoid their own liability for a crash.
Truck manufacturers – In some cases, neither the trucking company nor the driver could have avoided the crash. This is often the case when part of the truck suddenly malfunctions and the driver loses control. An experienced attorney may trace such malfunctions back to a defective truck part and hold a negligent manufacturer liable for the defects and the injuries that resulted.
Other parties also may face truck accident claims, including negligent maintenance crews, negligent cargo-loading crews, and more. The best way to know who may bear responsibility for your accident-related losses is to carefully evaluate your situation with a semi-truck crash attorney.
Semi-Truck Crash Insurance Claims
The law requires trucking companies to carry substantial insurance policies due to the inherent dangers of commercial trucks. These policies may very well cover the losses of truck accident victims which may not happen with standard auto insurance policies. However, trucking insurance companies do not make it easy to recover the compensation you deserve.
Insurance adjusters try to avoid liability on the part of both the insurance company itself and the policyholder (usually the trucker or the trucking company). They employ many tactics against truck accident victims, including:
- Questioning the victim’s version of events
- Asserting that the victim was partially to blame
- Challenging the severity of the victim’s injuries
- Offering settlements that are far less than the cost of the victim’s injuries
Before you EVER give a recorded statement to an adjuster or accept a settlement offer, discuss your situation with an attorney who knows how to play hardball with these insurance companies. Otherwise, you risk accepting an offer that is far too low—and losing the right to any further compensation while your medical bills and other crash-related costs continue to rise.
Do Not Wait to Call Our Houston Semi-Truck Accident Attorneys Today!
Truck accidents are nothing to take lightly—and often, victims will think about their truck accidents every day for months, years, or the rest of their lives. You should never have to carry around overwhelming financial losses to remind you of your crash. Instead, you should seek out the right law firm to represent your rights and secure full compensation for your losses. There is too much on the line to try to take on trucking companies or insurance companies without the necessary skills and resources. The team of attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, knows the challenge of semi-truck cases, and we are ready to rise to the occasion for each of our clients.
To discuss what happened in your semi-truck accident, the lawyers at the law firm of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, are here to help. Our team of attorneys consists of nationally recognized lawyers who have protected the rights of semi-truck accident victims for more than 20 years.
Please don’t wait to call our office right now for your free consultation! Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. We are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or send an email by CLICKING HERE.
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