Numerous semi-trucks travel through Arlington, Texas, every day. An accident could occur at any time for any reason, but places with a higher risk of truck collisions include I-20, I-30, and State Highway 360. Major roads in Arlington usually see thousands of motorists daily.
Heavy traffic can increase the risk of a collision during specific hours of the day. They tend to cause severe crashes, too: An 18-wheeler’s large size and weight can reduce its ability to maneuver around other vehicles.
If you find yourself hurt after a crash, you have the option to start a claim. You can get money to help cover the bills. A lawyer can work to get you the results you need.
Stewart J. Guss has experience when it comes to truck accidents. We commit to helping our clients get every cent they deserve in a settlement. We can answer every question you may have.
If you have been in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you may feel helpless among all the medical bills. You need an advocate who can fight for your rights to compensation. Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers can guide you through each step of the legal process.
We are a national law firm based in Houston with multiple offices around the country. We also work with affiliate law firms in most states that share our focus and dedication to excellence. No matter where you are located, we may be able to help you, so call or contact us now. We are open, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now by clicking here to submit your case for review.
Federal and State Truck Laws
Trucks and other commercial vehicles have to follow federal and state laws. The FMCSA requires drivers to adhere to the hours-of-service regulation. Hours of service determine the maximum number of hours a person can be on a shift. The purpose is to reduce drowsiness when drivers are behind the wheel.
A person can drive an 18-wheeler for up to 11 hours after 10 hours of off-duty time. However, they can extend their shift by two hours during harsh weather conditions. Once drivers have worked for 8 hours straight, they need to take a 30-minute break.
The maximum number of hours per seven days is 60. Another federal requirement for commercial trucks is an inspection. Trucks must undergo inspections every 12 months, and a qualified inspector has to complete the routine.
Texas has multiple regulations for semi-trucks and drivers. One is the commercial driver’s license (CDL). A person has to apply for one of three CDL classes based on the type of 18-wheeler they operate. Additionally, an application needs to obtain an endorsement to get a CDL.
Another requirement for drivers has to do with vehicle markings. Commercial vehicles with more than three axles have to have the USDOT number and legal name of the carrier. Markings need to be legible and on both sides of the truck.
Types of Truck Accidents
Every year, Texas experiences roughly 32,562 commercial vehicle accidents. Tarrant County in Arlington has almost 1,781 truck collisions per year. Many reported cases contain severe damage due to a truck’s size. Like car crashes, truck accidents can occur in several ways.
#1. Side-Impact Collisions
A T-bone accident, or side-impact collision, is when a vehicle strikes another from the side. A truck is likely to collide with the side of a car at an intersection. Side-impact collisions do not happen as often as other types of crashes. However, the damage can be severe.
A driver could lose control of their commercial truck for various reasons. For instance, the trailer carries more cargo than it can handle. As a result, the 18-wheeler slides and rolls onto its side. Many drivers can walk away with minimal injuries. However, the rollover can trap adjacent motorists.
#3. Jackknife Accidents
The hitch on a semi-truck and tractor-trailer connects the cab to the trailer. Since the hitch is movable, the part pivots when the vehicle turns. In an accident, the trailer could swing close to the cab. The 18-wheeler looks like it folds in like a jackknife.
A swinging trailer can hit other cars and cause a multi-vehicle incident.
#4. Rear-End Collisions
Another type of truck accident is a rear-end collision. In a few cases, the car in front makes a sudden turn or stop. Some truck operators might not brake in time and hit the back of another vehicle. Truck drivers should keep a reasonable distance to reduce the chances of a rear-end collision.
#5. Underride Accidents
An underride accident is another form of rear-end collision. However, the smaller vehicle hits the 18-wheeler in the back instead. A semi-truck comes to a stop or slows, but the motorist behind cannot avoid a collision. As a result, the car goes under the trailer.
The lodged vehicle and its occupants generally sustain severe damage and injuries.
#6. Head-On Collisions
A couple of commercial truck accidents are head-on collisions. The driver collides with oncoming traffic. The person could have lost control and swerved into the opposing lane.
Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
According to the FMCSA, an estimated 87 percent of cases are due to driver error. Possible reasons are:
- Cargo. Some 18-wheelers have an overload issue or improperly secured the cargo. Gasoline or other fluids might spill all over the road, and approaching vehicles could skid. Boxes could fall off unexpectedly and hit a car.
- Blind Spots. Trucks usually have significant blind spots, and operators might not see motorists next to them. As a result, the commercial vehicle hits an adjacent car when it moves to the next lane.
- Drowsiness. Many truck drivers have to travel long distances to deliver cargo. Extended hours on the road could make a person feel tired. The driver is less alert to the surrounding changes. In a couple of cases, someone falls asleep at the wheel and gets into an accident.
- Distraction. When the truck operator becomes inattentive, they are more likely to hit a car or pedestrian. Daydreaming and phones are frequent sources of distraction.
- Weather. Harsh weather can impair a motorist’s vision. Windshield wipers can help, but heavy rain or snow puts people at risk of an incident. The water could make roads slippery as well. Nevertheless, a truck driver must use additional caution when the weather worsens.
- Defective auto parts. The cause of an accident could be a vehicle error instead. A truck’s brakes could have stopped working. Perhaps, an issue occurred with the windshield wipers or engine.
Injuries From Truck Accidents
Due to the size of a semi-truck, many accidents lead to debilitating injuries for other motorists. Back injuries are common among victims. Some people could have to deal with a bulging disc. The discs rest between vertebrae in the spine, and any damage could lead to pinched nerves.
The spine could sustain damage to other soft tissues in the area. A person could suffer from a spinal cord injury. The trauma usually leads to complete or incomplete paralysis. Some people can strengthen their senses and motor function with rehabilitation. Others have permanent damage.
Since the spinal cord extends to the skull’s base, trauma might result in neck pain. Other injuries include broken bones in various parts of the body. Generally, a fracture heals over time. However, several people need surgery to help repair broken bones. Some fractures cause internal bleeding. Internal bleeding and other internal injuries could be due to sharp objects or blunt force trauma.
In some instances, a victim of a truck accident experiences burns. The burns could be because of friction from contact with the vehicle’s interior. If the collision has a fire, the heat could cause severe skin damage. Burns and other open wounds are vulnerable to infections.
Many people develop a traumatic brain injury after a truck crash. A portion does not realize they have one until symptoms appear days later. Victims could face catastrophic injuries like an amputation. An amputation could occur during the accident or at the hospital.
The injuries you sustain take a financial and emotional toll. Our truck accident lawyers work hard to win you reimbursement.
What to Do After a Truck Collision
#1. Make Sure You Are Safe
After an accident with an 18-wheeler, you have to check the condition of yourself and other passengers. You should see if the truck driver or other involved motorists have injuries. Move your vehicle away from traffic if you can safely do so.
You need to ensure other drivers can see your car. You can use road flares, cones, or hazard lights to alert others.
#2. Call 911
The next step is to alert the authorities. In Texas, people have to report traffic accidents if injuries or sufficient vehicle damage are present. Remain at the scene until help arrives. When the police show up, an officer assesses the accident.
The officer collects statements from everyone involved. They might talk to any possible witnesses as well. Usually, the police fill out an accident report to record the details of the collision. Some reports contain the officer’s conclusion as to who was at fault. You can get a copy of the document later.
#3. Collect Information and Evidence
While you are still at the accident scene, collect information from the truck driver. Information includes the name, phone number, employer, license number, and insurance details. If witnesses are present, you need to obtain their contact information.
You can reach out to witnesses when you begin your truck accident claim. Additionally, you have the opportunity to take pictures of the damage. Multiple photos help illustrate what occurred. You can gather images of your injuries to prove the severity of the incident.
#4. Go to the Hospital
Seek medical attention as soon as you can. A person could feel fine, but the adrenaline typically prevents them from noticing pain. Many injuries can worsen if you delay treatment. Additionally, you can learn the full extent of your physical condition.
You can get an idea of how much to claim in a lawsuit.
#5. Find a Lawyer
Lastly, you should reach out to a truck accident lawyer. The office of Stewart J. Guss is ready to help you through the process of filing a claim.
Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents in Arlington
If you got into an accident with a semi-truck, you should begin a claim soon after you receive medical care. Like other states, Texas has a strict time limit on your ability to seek compensation. The statute of limitations for 18-wheeler collisions is two years.
You can file a lawsuit for vehicle damage as well. However, you have two years to do so. You would have the same deadline if the accident resulted in the victim’s death. Usually, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases does not begin until the person’s day of death.
Once you miss the window of opportunity, you could lose your right to recover damages. However, the statute does allow an exception in a few circumstances. The “clock” pauses if the victim was a minor or of unsound mind at the time of the crash.
The clock starts to run when the victim turns 18 or no longer is of unsound mind. The other exception is if the at-fault truck driver left the state before you could start a case. The duration of the defendant’s absence does not count toward the two years you have.
You should speak to a truck accident lawyer to know how the statute of limitations affects your case. Stewart J. Guss can answer any questions you have.
Insurance Company Tactics
Hire a semi-truck collision attorney to help you with the other side’s insurance company. Insurance providers deal with claims all the time, and they have developed tactics to avoid payments.
Common strategies include:
- Contact soon after the incident. An agent might reach out to you in the following days after the traumatic event. They know you are vulnerable and feel stressed. Additionally, you likely have not had the time to learn about the extent of your injuries. The company hopes you will agree to a quick and much lower settlement.
- Request a recorded statement. Some providers ask injured people to provide a recorded statement. An agent would inquire about your side of the story to learn more about the details. Usually, you do not have to give a statement. You should not do so until you get a lawyer. Companies tend to use your statement as a means to invalidate your claim.
- Sign a medical authorization form. In a few cases, an insurer asks the victim to sign a blanket medical release form. The form allows the company to obtain plenty of private medical information from the injured person. A provider might use past medical records to claim your injuries are due to pre-existing conditions.
- Delay the claim. The insurance company might delay your claim to avoid paying for damages. You could have trouble with communication, or the insurer delays a response to a claim. Some providers stall in hopes victims accept a lower settlement out of frustration. Others try to hinder your progress, so your case exceeds the statute of limitations.
Our staff knows the unfair tactics insurance companies prefer to use. We can protect you if an insurer tries to take advantage of you.
Evidence in a Truck Collision Lawsuit
#1. Police Report
The burden of proof falls onto you, and you need to show how the defendant acted carelessly. Evidence is crucial when you need to prove negligence in a truck accident case. Evidence comes in various forms, and a common one is a police report.
A police report contains details of the accident, and the document can point to who was at fault legally.
#2. Photos and Video
You can use photos in your lawsuit to build a strong argument. Pictures of the accident include the damaged vehicle from different angles. You should capture evidence of the skid marks and any debris. Images of physical injuries are helpful as well.
Pictures of your wounds can prove the severity of the collision. Camera footage from either the truck or other vehicles is valuable as well.
If you recorded the names of any witnesses, you could call them for official statements. Expert witnesses can add to your collection of evidence. An expert witness can be a doctor, nurse, economist, or accident reconstructionist. They can testify on behalf of the plaintiff due to their skills related to the incident.
#4. Black Box
Many 18-wheelers contain black boxes. Your attorney can gain access to the at-fault truck’s black box to learn how fast the driver traveled and when they applied the brakes
#5. Repair Bills
Evidence usually includes proof of car damage. The repair bill from the mechanic shop shows how much the defendant owes you for the cost of fixing your vehicle. You should obtain records of recent repairs before the accident.
The documentation shows your car was in proper condition at the time of the incident. Your attorney can inform you about what evidence can help your case.
How a Case Can Last Longer
A lawsuit can take months to over a year to resolve. The length of your case can depend on incorrectly filed paperwork and:
- The parties involved. A driver, shipper, transportation company, or third party could own the truck. Your case becomes more complex if you have to deal with more than one party. Since you have to wait for multiple responses, your lawsuit could take longer to resolve.
- A willingness to negotiate. Some defendants try to have judges dismiss lawsuits. You would have to spend time combating the dismissal. The at-fault party could be unwilling to enter mediation to discuss the settlement. If the defendant refuses to negotiate, the case could go to trial. Trials extend the lawsuit process.
- The severity of your injuries. The nature of your injuries could mean an extensive recovery period. You should know the extent of your condition and heal fully. The reason is to ensure your compensation is enough. Since the treatment requires time, your case could take longer to complete.
No matter how long a claim lasts, our attorneys work hard and inform you of any updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is Liable for Your Injuries?
One of the possible at-fault parties is the truck driver. The driver might have been negligent for speeding or distracted driving. The person is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of other motorists.
Truck drivers have to inspect the rig regularly for maintenance. They could bear partial liability for a mechanical issue. Of course, they have to ensure the 18-wheeler does not have an overload problem with cargo.
You could hold the truck driver’s employer liable as well. A trucking company is responsible for the vehicles and the drivers it sends out for deliveries. An employer is accountable for hiring and training practices.
A lawyer could prove the carrier should have known the driver would be reckless during the hiring process. Evidence can point to inadequate training as well. Some employers pressure drivers to violate the federal hours of service to make deliveries. The resulting fatigue may have caused a crash.
Truck manufacturers could owe victims money for an accident if a part was defective from the beginning. A producer could have created a flawed design or cut corners during production. Your lawyer can gather evidence to determine who was at fault for the truck collision.
Who Can Sue in Fatal Truck Accident Lawsuits?
Fatal truck accidents typically go under the category of wrongful death. A living family member can sue on behalf of the victim. Usually, surviving spouses, children, and parents are the ones who can file a claim.
Children of the deceased include ones the parent legally adopted. The select family members would be the ones to receive compensation for damages. Damages would include funeral costs and lost services. Siblings, grandparents, and other distant relatives generally cannot sue for compensation.
If no family member starts a lawsuit, a personal representative can start a claim. A personal representative, or executor, manages the deceased person’s estate. A person can name the representative in their will, or the court can appoint one.
However, the surviving family members could request the executor not file a lawsuit.
When and Where Do Collisions Occur?
An estimated 31 percent of large truck accident fatalities occur between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. Many people are on the road during the day. They might go to work in the morning and head to lunch during the afternoon.
Truck drivers are likely to feel tired in the mornings as well. An accident has a higher chance of occurring during the early hours of the day. Another 25 percent of fatal collisions happen from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. More drivers enter the roadways to return to work. Others might travel to eat out for dinner.
Every year, roughly 34 percent of fatal semi-truck crashes happen on interstates and freeways. Interstates have higher speed limits and heavy traffic. However, over half of accidents are on other major roads.
How Can an Attorney Help?
You have the opportunity to obtain the compensation you need. Truck accident lawyers are necessary since they investigate crashes thoroughly. Your attorney examines every piece of evidence and speaks to witnesses. Firms usually look into trucking companies to see if they hold liability.
Claims usually have a lot of paperwork, and you can face a setback if you fill out a document incorrectly. A firm handles the paperwork for you, and you can focus on other tasks. Your lawyer negotiates with insurance companies to obtain a sufficient amount of money.
People face an uphill battle when they take on a case without legal help. An attorney can appeal your case if necessary. You should find the right firm soon after an accident for the benefit of your claim.
Could the Truck Driver Have No Insurance?
Most truck collisions result in extensive vehicle damage. You likely have to spend a lot of money to fix your car, and you will want reimbursement from the other party. In other traffic accident cases, some liable motorists do not have insurance. You might have concerns about the truck driver’s insurance status.
Texas requires truck drivers and carriers to have sufficient coverage to pay for damages in an accident. The minimum liability coverage depends on the type of commercial vehicle and cargo. A truck needs at least $300,000 if it weighs less than 26,000 pounds and transports household items.
The minimum coverage increases to $500,000 if the 18-wheeler weighs more than 26,000 pounds. A truck driver needs to carry a minimum of $5 million in insurance if they deliver hazardous substances.
If the truck leaves state lines, federal regulations require at least $750,000 in coverage. The requirement increases to $1 million for carrying oil, and a driver needs a $5 million policy for other hazardous substances. You do not need to worry about collisions with uninsured semi-truck drivers.
How Much Is a Case Worth?
Truck accident lawsuits are never the same, and a person can walk away with a different settlement than someone else. The type and severity of your injuries affect the value of your claim. You could get more money for a catastrophic injury compared to a traumatic brain injury.
Additionally, the length of your recovery can make a difference in your settlement. On average, an overnight stay could cost someone around $11,700. The bill could be much higher if you needed to stay for over a week. Individual hospital services can cost thousands of dollars.
Your insurance might not cover specific injuries, and you have to pay the whole bill. A lawsuit can help reimburse the out-of-pocket expense.
Emotional suffering can make a claim worth more. Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and the court tries to compensate them as accurately as possible. Loss of guidance and consortium can maximize the worth of a truck accident case.
Missing wages go toward the final settlement as well. A permanent injury could have impacted your ability to generate future income. Your attorney calculates what your lawsuit is worth after looking at the damages.
What if the Truck Is From Another State?
You could have gotten into a collision with a truck whose carrier is in another state. Even though the company is in a different jurisdiction, you can still receive compensation. However, filing a claim becomes more complex since the trucking company is less willing to cooperate.
Some trucking companies do not contact the victims, and they drag out the process. The other party might not believe they owe people money due to being out of state. The insurance provider might behave the same way.
A truck accident attorney can deal with companies from outside of Texas. Our firm does not put up with their antics and can get them to negotiate for fair compensation.
What Can You Expect the Carrier to Do?
When you file a claim, the trucking company prepares its defense. An employer hires field investigators and other experts to reconstruct the accident in their favor. Additionally, you should prepare for the carrier to spend plenty of money.
The opposing side likely will have an attorney to aid them. Some defenses they might use include shifting blame onto the plaintiff and procedural arguments. You should get a lawyer to increase your chances of winning.
Find the Right Truck Accident Lawyer for You
Truck accidents are never easy for anyone, but you should not suffer alone. The Arlington truck accident team at Stewart J. Guss understands the hardships you have to go through while you recover. We can support you to the best of our abilities, and we make sure you are comfortable while we battle insurance companies.
Truck accidents can leave people with severe injuries and expensive medical bills. However, many victims have legal options to recover some of the damages. If you believe you have a valid lawsuit on your hands, reach out to Stewart J. Guss for assistance.
Our firm helps Arlington residents find justice for 18-wheeler collisions. Our team can deal with insurance agents who try to take advantage of you. We value the comfort of our clients, and we can support you through your recovery process.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If a truck accident injured you in Arlington, call our office right now for 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. 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.
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“As a relatively new resident of Houston, I did not know of an attorney to contact for a personal injury suit. I randomly went through the yellow pages contacting two attorneys that had rejected my case prior to me contacting Stewart Guss. Stewart took my case on and settled for far more than I had anticipated. The silver lining of this is that I will now have enough money to go back to school for retraining, so I will be able to reenter the workforce in a new capacity. The paralegal, Angela, was kind and supportive throughout the process. If I did not understand the legal jargon, I did not hesitate to ask, and was never once made to feel that I was incompetent. Thank you Stewart and Angela for giving me a new lease on live.”
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.