What Causes Semi Truck Crashes in Houston?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that Texas had the most fatal commercial vehicle accidents of any state each year, for at least 11 years straight. What are the most common causes of truck accidents?
- Speeding – We all have deadlines to meet at our jobs, but truck drivers should never rush. In fact, they need to be far more cautious than the average driver, as semi trucks require more distance to come to a complete stop.
- Multitasking and distracted drivers – With such long routes and tight deadlines, truck drivers may be tempted to grab a snack, take a phone call, or fiddle with their radios or mobile devices. But multitasking while driving means the truck driver’s attention is not where it should be: on the road ahead. Due to the drivers not paying attention a small car and a big truck collide, and disaster follows. The FMCSA’s consequences for texting while operating a commercial truck include up to a $2,750 fine and possibly losing their commercial driver’s license. The FMCSA bases this strict ban on texting for truck drivers on research claiming that texting truck drivers are 23 times more likely to cause a crash.
- Drunk driving or drug use – Alcohol contributed to almost 1,600 crashes in a single year, injuring as many as 708 people, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The FMCSA specifies .04% as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit for truck drivers. For other motorists, the limit is .08%. This stricter standard exists because driving a commercial truck is already inherently more dangerous than driving a passenger car.
- Poor road conditions – And we don’t just mean bad weather. Locals joke that Houston’s road work is everlasting, but missing signage, road work crews, poor design, or improper road maintenance can all contribute to truck accidents.
- Improper cargo loading – An average car weighs about 4,000 pounds. In contrast, a fully-loaded semi truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds! The FMCSA specifies cargo securement rules to help manage this weight. If these rules and weight limits are not followed, trucks may become unbalanced or unwieldy. Often, trucking companies use third-party cargo loaders who may be held responsible for a cargo spill.
- Blind spots – Bigger vehicles have bigger blind spots. The large size of trucks impairs their drivers’ visibility. So how can you ensure that you are not in a trucker’s “no zone” ? Do not drive parallel to a truck unless absolutely necessary. Change lanes or drive behind them if you can.
- Defective truck parts – Faulty equipment is dangerous equipment. Commercial trucks need to be thoroughly inspected every time they return from a job or depart on one, but sometimes trucking companies neglect this responsibility. A defective truck part could cause a serious accident.
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Trucking Industry Laws & Liability in Houston
While certain rules of the road apply to all of us, trucking accident laws and federal safety regulations differ from a typical car accident in several ways. For example, all commercial truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL.) Trucking companies must conduct thorough background checks on their drivers and provide proper training. Putting improperly-trained drivers on the road violates the duty of care trucking companies owe to all the other drivers who may cross their path.
Furthermore, commercial trucking companies must keep maintenance logs for each vehicle in their fleet to ensure they are routinely serviced and safe to drive. Drivers must also keep logs of their own. A Houston truck driver’s log book should carefully track their hours of service and rest periods. (Fatigued driving is a killer, and there are rules in place to prevent tired truck drivers from getting behind the wheel.)
Thanks to subpoenas, your Houston truck accident attorney can access these log books—as well as a truck’s GPS system records, black box, cell phone records, and more—during the accident investigation. These sources can contribute vital information to your Houston truck accident case, helping you maximize your settlement!
Even with all these safety measures in place, dealing with trucking insurance companies can be a nightmare. Big trucking companies have their own insurance adjusters and defense attorneys for accidents like yours, and they’ll use every trick in the book to place the blame on you at a time when you’re most vulnerable. They’ll try to limit your payout, dismiss your pain, or deny your claim entirely.
Entering this battle alone could mean you miss out on thousands or even millions of dollars in your truck accident settlement.
Fortunately, our experienced truck accident lawyers in Houston are the partners you need. Here 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 recover. Call our truck accident law firm now for a free consultation at 866-720-7920, and experience our client-first approach for yourself.
Remember, do not talk to the trucking company or their insurance company. Do not give a recorded statement and do not sign anything until you speak with a legal team, or else you may forfeit your rights to compensation.
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, flatbed trucks, buses, and more.
FMCSA regulations include mandatory break periods for truck drivers, limits on hours of service, limits on the size and weight of a truck and its cargo, protocols for the transportation of hazardous material, oil spill prevention and response plans, licensing and registration requirements, when and how to report a semi truck accident, and guidance for the routine inspection, repair, and maintenance of all fleet vehicles. The FMCSA also prohibits driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Texas State Traffic Laws
To help enforce the FMCSA’s rules for all commercial trucks driving through the state, the Texas Department of Public Safety has its own Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Service.
In addition to FMCSA regulations, Texas truck drivers must follow all state and local traffic laws when passing through the Lone Star State. These same laws apply to every other driver, and they prevent many dangerous actions like speeding, tailgating, improper passing and lane changes, or running a red light or stop sign.
Commercial truck drivers must also refrain from breaking criminal laws in the state of Texas. This means no driving while intoxicated!
Common Types of Houston Truck Collisions
Any time a truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, the results are devastating. Even at slower speeds, the size and weight of a semi truck can pose a serious risk of damage and injuries. There are many different ways that trucks can crash and impact 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:
1. Jackknife Accidents
Many large commercial trucks have two main components: 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. The front wheels of the 18 wheeler lock up, but the rear wheels continue traveling. A swinging trailer can quickly cross over several lanes of traffic, colliding with many cars. A jackknifed truck can also be very difficult to slow down or stop. Swerving suddenly or driving on rainy or icy roads increases the chances of jackknife accidents. If the truck is traveling fast enough, jackknife accidents can lead to rollover accidents.
2. Rollover Accidents
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 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 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 dangerous because the truck driver loses control of their vehicle in a rollover and can crash into any cars in its path.
3. Rear-end Accidents
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 up and 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 can be deadly. These accidents often occur due to fatigued driving, aggressive driving, or distracted driving by a truck driver.
4. Head-on Collisions
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 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.
5. Tire Blowouts
All drivers have a responsibility to maintain their cars so they’re safe to drive on the road. The same goes for owners of commercial trucks. In fact, with trucks, frequent inspection and maintenance is 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. Other parts that can malfunction due to a lack of maintenance include steering systems, brakes, axles, and more. Your attorney can look at maintenance records for a truck in order to determine whether its crash was caused by negligent maintenance or inspection.
Common Houston Truck Accident Injuries
Every accident is different. Trucks can crash in many different ways, but one thing is for certain: commercial truck accidents have the potential to cause a range of serious injuries to victims.
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 vehicle.
You may suffer multiple injuries from the chaotic and violent nature of the impact with a large commercial truck. Some common truck accident injuries include:
▼ Soft Tissue Tears, Sprains, or Strains
The seriousness of soft tissue injuries is often underestimated after a truck 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. 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 toddler. Many neck and back injuries keep you from walking until you’ve undergone a long course of physical therapy.
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 to heal.
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.
▼ Facial Injuries
Facial fractures can significantly alter a person’s appearance and be extremely physically and psychologically distressing. Even in cases where reconstructive plastic surgery is able to largely correct cosmetic issues, many people who experience severe facial fractures never look the same as they did prior to their accident. Additionally, in some cases, facial fractures can result in issues with breathing, eating, drinking, seeing, and hearing.
▼ Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries can occur when a blow to the head disrupts the way the brain normally functions. The most common form of mild TBI is a concussion, 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. When it is injured, this communication is 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 and devastating.
▼ 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 and significant recovery time.
▼ Internal Bleeding
Another invisible yet highly serious condition is internal bleeding, also known as internal hemorrhaging. Internal 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.
Houston Truck Accident FAQ
Still have questions? We have answers!
Where do Truck Accidents Occur in Houston?
There are four interstate highways in Harris County. These interstates are often congested with semi-trucks, big rigs, and 18 wheelers on their way to and from Houston, as well as across the entire country. Houston also has numerous large highways and bypasses which are a popular route for many 18 wheelers. While an 18 wheeler crash can occur anywhere in Houston, some roads are just more dangerous.
Here are a few of the most dangerous roads in Houston for 18 wheeler truck accidents:
- I-610/610 Loop
- U.S. Route 59
- Beltway (Sam Houston Tollway)
- Highway 6 (SH-6)
- Highway 225
- State Highway 288
How Do I Prove Liability in a Houston Truck Accident? What if My Claim is Denied?
Truck accident cases are especially complex because multiple parties may be at fault, and multiple insurance companies may be involved. The first step to determining fault in a truck accident will depend on whether the truck driver is an employee of a company or an independent contractor. (If they are an employee, you can go after the company for improper training, inadequate maintenance, and other violations mentioned above.)
If a trucking company failed to address even one small problem with the tires or brakes of one of their trucks, they risked putting your life in danger, and we’ll catch them red-handed. When you file a claim, their insurance company may try to offer you a quick settlement to dodge further responsibility and shut you up.
Don’t fall for it!
All truck accidents warrant thorough investigation. Our team of truck accident attorneys interviews all possible witnesses and frequently enlists the help of trusted experts like accident reconstruction specialists, neurologists, forensic toxicologists, engineers, and more to get to the bottom of a truck accident case.
When investigating truck accidents, our main goal is to determine which parties should be held responsible for a victim’s losses and expenses. In many situations, more than one party is liable, and our investigators know how to go after them all to maximize compensation. This process can take time, so the sooner you begin, the better your chances will be!
Reach out today, even if your claim has been denied. We’ll do all we can to help.
How Much Does a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer Cost?
Our team of Houston truck accident lawyers works on contingency. This means you pay us nothing up front, and nothing at all unless and until you receive compensation from your claim. Legal fees will be paid with an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement money you receive.
How Do I Get Medical Treatment Without Health Insurance?
Your wellbeing is our top priority. When you file an accident claim with a Houston truck accident attorney, they may be able to connect you to the medical treatment you need, even if you do not have health insurance. From surgeons to physical therapists to ongoing mobility assistance, our firm has resources ready for you. Remember, completion of proper medical treatment is a vital part of your accident claim because it helps lawyers on both sides know how serious your injuries are and how they impacted your life.
How Much are Settlements for Commercial Truck Wrecks?
Every accident is unique, but a semi truck accident settlement amount will usually depend on liability, extent of damages, and extent of insurance coverage. Trucking companies are required to carry commercial insurance policies, which will typically cover your expenses – if you know how to hold them accountable.
How Does a Houston Truck Accident Claim Work?
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, your accident claim may go through four phases:
- Evidence collection – To begin, your attorney gathers data about your crash to strengthen your case. They will access police reports, interview witnesses, consult experts, obtain medical records, and more. If you took any photos of the crash site, vehicle damage, or injuries, be sure to share them with your legal team now!
- Treatment – While your attorney is working hard, you will undergo whatever medical treatment you need. The treatment process will reveal the scope of the injuries you suffered in the crash and how they might affect you later in life. Typically, the more severe your injuries are, the higher your compensation will be.
- Negotiation – Next, when treatment is finished and you have an estimate of your total damages, your attorney enters into negotiations. Your attorney will strive to obtain compensation that will cover 100% of your accident-related bills, property damage, and suffering. They’ll square off against the trucking company, their insurance company, and/or their defense attorney. Luckily, most claims are settled out of court during this phase. However, if a fair agreement cannot be reached, you will move on to the next phase…
- Litigation – Litigation means taking your case to court. Your truck wreck attorney will explain the details of your case to a judge and jury to prove why you deserve compensation. If they succeed, you will be awarded settlement money.
What if I’m Partly at Fault for the Truck Accident?
Texas is a proportionate responsibility state. This means even if you are determined to be partly at fault for your truck accident, you can still recover money—as long as you are under 50% at fault. Reach out to us for more information on how our Texas truck accident attorneys can help.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in a Fatal Houston Truck Accident?
If you’ve lost a loved one to a Houston truck accident, you may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death case. The Texas Wrongful Death Act allows the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased to sue for the damages they have suffered due to the loss of their loved one. These relatives may file the claim individually or together as a group. If they do not file the claim within three months of the victim’s passing, an estate representative may file on their behalf.
All About Houston Truck Accident Attorney Matt Bonilla
Matt Bonilla grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, the youngest of four siblings.
Ever since he was a child, Matt has had a strong desire to help and heal. As other lawyers in his family nurtured his interest in law, he realized being a personal injury attorney was the perfect fit.
After graduating from Southern Methodist University, he went on to obtain his Masters of Business Administration from UT Dallas and his Juris Doctorate from the South Texas College of Law. While there, Matt received the CALI Award for highest grade in two different classes (“Civil Procedure” and “Legal Research and Writing”) and made the Dean’s List numerous times.
While he has handled auto accidents of all kinds, Matt has extensive experience in Houston truck accidents. Semi-truck accidents and their related catastrophic injury claims can be complex, but after years of focus, Matt now considers them to be his specialty.
Matt believes the key to success is being a great listener. He knows the importance of listening to each client’s story, empathizing with them and helping them find their way on the road to recovery. He’s made life-changing differences for thousands of injured automobile accident victims, and is committed to standing up against any challenge that comes their way.
Today, Matt lives right here in Houston with his two dogs, Bella the English bulldog and Tucker the golden retriever. In his free time, he enjoys sports, birdwatching, and spending time outdoors in locales such as Houston’s arboretum and Memorial Park.
Don’t Wait—Call a Houston Truck Accident Law Firm You Can Trust
The aftermath of a truck accident is never a good experience, but we try our best to make it an easy one. Our hard work enables you to concentrate on what is most important: your health, wellbeing, and recovery. That’s why 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.
Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us anything unless and until we win your case.
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To connect with an 18 wheeler accident lawyer near you and receive a free case review, call 866-720-7920 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE as soon as you can.
Don’t take chances. Let us help you!
Speak with a dedicated Houston truck accident lawyer and get the results – and the money – you deserve.
Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers
12777 Jones Rd
Houston, TX 77070
“I was extremely impressed with how easy they made the process of dealing with my insurance company, doctors offices, and other bill collectors involved in my accident. They are very good at keeping you informed about your case, and turn your calls very quickly. If I am ever in another car accident I will be using them again.”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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