Katy Truck Accident Attorney
Fighting for the rights of injured truck accident victims
As drivers, we all know that feeling of anxiety and claustrophobia that creeps up when we end up driving between two semi-trucks on the highway. Our economy needs these commercial vehicles, but they can be pretty intimidating to share the road with.
Due to their hulking size, semi-trucks can cause serious injury or even death in the event of a collision.
In Katy, bad truck accidents are far too common. In fact, the problem grew so severe that the state legislature needed to intervene.
If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, know your options. Call the law firm of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law. Because accidents can happen at any time, we’re open 24/7 to provide free consultations to victims in need. Call 800-898-4877, or contact us now by CLICKING HERE to submit your case for review.
How Bad Are Truck Accidents in Katy?
Recently, the Katy Police Department got a little help from a state representative in addressing a rather large issue regarding commercial vehicles.
State Rep. Gina Calanni of Katy filed a bill that would allow the department to hire its own commercial truck enforcement officer. Generally, certified commercial vehicle enforcement officers are only permitted for larger cities or at the state level. However, with several truck yards either in the city or at its borders, Katy’s roadways are filled with tractor-trailers, many of which are overloaded.
The density of this commercial motor vehicle traffic has resulted in damage to the roads, damage to street signs, and far too many accidents with other motor vehicles.
At the time the bill was signed into law, the city has experienced over 300 commercial motor vehicle crashes in the last decade, with many of these trucks carrying hazardous cargo. The Houston Police Department also has a commercial truck enforcement unit, established 20 years ago and staffed by officers certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These officers conduct a 57-point inspection and are authorized to place trucks out of commission when violations occur. The enforcement unit conducts at least two of these inspections on trucks in the area each month.
In 2017, Texas law enforcement agencies reported 433 fatal crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, including 284 on the state’s rural roadways and another 149 in urban areas. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that, in just one year, there were more than 4,000 fatal crashes involving large trucks on the nation’s roadways, accounting for nearly 12% of the total number of fatal crashes for that year. Additionally, there were around 537,000 nonfatal crashes involving U.S. commercial motor vehicles in the same year.
Trucking Accident Attorney Stewart J. Guss discusses trucking safety on national news with Mike Papantonio on America’s Lawyer
What Makes Commercial Trucks Dangerous?
Even with proper training and responsible drivers, 18-wheeler wrecks can still happen. Some reasons commercial trucks put other motorists at risk include:
- Massive size differences: The average tractor-trailer weighs around 40 tons, while a passenger car weighs around 2 tons or less. This means that the truck is 20 to 30 times heavier than the cars it is sharing the road with, and carries a much greater force of impact. Serious damages, injuries, and fatalities can occur in these crashes. Additionally, the large size of commercial trucks makes them harder to maneuver.
- High centers of gravity: Not only are commercial trucks heavy, but they’re also much taller than other vehicles. This causes a high center of gravity and poses an increased risk of rollovers, particularly on ramps and around sharp curves. During a rollover accident, a truck can pin smaller vehicles beneath it.
- Significant blind spots: Unfortunately, large commercial trucks feature significant blind spots on all four sides. Motorists are urged not to linger in these blind spots, particularly if the truck is turning, changing lanes, or backing up. Don’t know if you’re in a truck’s blind spot or not? Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you cannot see the driver in their side mirror, it’s likely that they can’t see you either.
- Greater stopping distances needed: Commercial trucks require a greater distance to safely come to a stop than passenger vehicles do. The FMCSA notes that a fully loaded truck traveling at highway speeds needs the distance of two entire football fields to come to a safe stop. This distance is increased even more as the weight and momentum of the truck increase, or when driving on wet or icy roads that may cause them to skid.
- Need more space to turn: Semi-trucks are unable to make turns as easily as cars. The space needed to turn a truck is 55 feet. When a truck is making a right turn, other driver should use extra caution to avoid what is known as the “right turn squeeze.” This involves the truck moving to the left to have enough space to make the turn, creating a risk for motorists in neighboring lanes.
Commercial Truck Regulation & Accident Prevention
Commercial trucks are heavily regulated by the FMCSA, an agency of the federal government. Some regulations that the trucking industry faces include:
- Enhanced licensing requirements. Truck drivers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a tractor-trailer.
- Hours of service rules. Under these detailed rules, drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours in a 14-hour workday, at which point they must have an off-duty period of no less than 10 hours. They must take a break of at least half an hour after eight hours. They cannot work more than 60 hours in a 7-day workweek, or 70 hours in an eight-day work week, after which time they must have at least 34 hours of off-duty time. These rules exist to ensure drivers are not falling asleep at the wheel.
- Physical fitness requirements to ensure they’re healthy enough for the job.
- Drug and alcohol testing and enhanced regulations about alcohol consumption. Drivers cannot drive if their blood alcohol content is 0.02% or more. This is stricter than the .08% legal limit imposed on the drivers of passenger vehicles.
- Required markings on the truck, including the USDOT number and hazmat markings.
- Cargo regulations regarding securing and transporting hazardous materials.
More state and local regulations exist in the trucking industry, as well.
However, just like other drivers, truck drivers are human. They’re not immune to distractions, errors, and negligence, even with all these regulations in place.
What Causes Commercial Truck Accidents?
Most bad truck wrecks are caused by simple human errors. These can include:
- Fatigue: In spite of the aforementioned regulations imposed on their hours, many drivers of commercial trucks continue to work while tired. A lack of adequate sleep, strenuous work, long work hours, and even medical conditions such as sleep apnea can contribute to this risky behavior. The FMCSA estimates that approximately 13% of commercial truck drivers involved in traffic accidents admitted to being tired at the time of the crash.
- Alcohol or drug impairment: In spite of regular testing and a lowered BAC limit for commercial truck drivers, many drivers continue to operate their vehicles while impaired by alcohol or drugs. While some drivers are bending and breaking rules knowingly and carelessly, others are unaware that the prescription medication they may be taking could hinder the skills they need to safely operate their trucks. Even some over-the-counter medications can cause impairment, reducing reaction time, alertness, and logical thinking.
- Speeding: Breaking the speed limit or driving too fast for the inclement road conditions comes with enormous risks, especially when you remember a commercial truck is already harder to handle and harder to stop due to its large size. When it comes to speeding, all the dangers come into play at once: the mass of the truck, how securely the cargo has been loaded, the high center of gravity, the blind spots, and the distance needed to stop safely. It’s a recipe for disaster.
- A disruption in the flow of traffic: Stop-and-go traffic is difficult for trucks due to the space needed to stop and the time needed to accelerate once more. Additionally, road work zones including flaggers and work vehicles entering and exiting the roadway create further issues that the driver needs to pay careful attention to.
- Unfamiliar roads: One of the hazards of driving a commercial truck is the requirement to go wherever the load needs to be picked up or dropped off. This often results in a driver of a large truck traveling across roadways they’re unfamiliar with. Drivers might make a sudden sharp turn to avoid missing an exit or fail to notice other important road signage.
- Poor training: While training is required to pass the CDL test, that training has little to do with the real-world experience of driving a large truck for a living. Unfortunately, driver shortages have caused some trucking companies to cut corners in their training programs… meaning brand new truckers are hitting the road with little experience and minimal training.
- Poor maintenance: Trucks travel thousands of miles every year as they transport commercial goods across the country. Since so many miles are traveled, the auto parts of these trucks are subject to extreme wear and tear. One faulty truck part could cost someone their life. Tires, braking systems, and electrical systems all require routine maintenance. Even a tire blow out can result in a freeway pileup.
- Distracted driving: Truck drivers often spend their working hours in solitude, driving across boring terrain. Many of them irresponsibly choose to entertain themselves by talking on the phone, texting, browsing the internet, eating, drinking, or otherwise taking their eyes off the road. According to one study, 71% of the commercial truck drivers who had been involved in an accident reported that they were “doing something else in addition to” driving the truck.
- Inclement weather: As we mentioned earlier, commercial trucks are harder to stop than other vehicles. This problem grows even bigger when inclement weather is involved. Poor visibility due to heavy rain or fog can keep drivers from spotting potential hazards on the roadway. Wet road conditions require more distance for the truck to come to a stop and could even result in hydroplaning into other cars.
Were You Seriously Injured in an Accident With a Large Truck?
If you’ve been injured in a Katy truck crash, you’re probably facing a mountain of bills and worries. But you don’t have to do it alone. A Katy truck accident lawyer can help you determine the liable parties and recover compensation for your suffering.
The expenses related to your injuries from a semi-truck accident may last for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s crucial to partner with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in trucking accidents.
It’s a common misconception that lawyers are expensive and can only complicate things. On the contrary, a personal injury attorney can make a ton of things easier for you, including:
- Advising you of your legal options and your rights.
- Establishing the value of your case. We see the big picture: the amount of money in a settlement should pay for the expenses you’ve incurred due to your injury, future surgery and therapy, your lost wages and earning capacity, and the problems that your injury will cause you in the future.
- Identifying liable parties and sources of insurance to obtain the compensation you need to pay for the expenses you face. Some potential sources of liability include the driver, the company who employs them, the company who contracted this driver to transport their goods, and the manufacturers of potentially defective truck parts.
- Negotiating with high-powered corporate lawyers who often represent the trucking company and the insurance companies who provide their coverage. These individuals will try to bully you or manipulate you in your time of need, but a dedicated Katy truck accident lawyer won’t stand for it.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit if you cannot reach a fair settlement, and if the Texas statute of limitations allows. (The statute of limitations for this type of case in Texas is generally two years after the date of the accident.)
- Gathering evidence and seeking the testimony of experts and witnesses, which can support your case.
- Representing you during all pre-trial and trial proceedings, handling the payout of your award, and representing you at the appellate level if the at-fault party wishes to appeal the court’s determination in your case.
Injured in a Truck Accident in Katy? Contact Our Katy Truck Accident Attorneys Now!
If you were injured in a truck accident in Katy, help is here.
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.
We offer 100% free case evaluations. Simply call 800-898-4877 now to speak with one of our legal experts. We take all of our truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay us nothing upfront and you pay nothing at all unless we win your case.
Live experts are available to listen 24/7, so call today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.