Evidence Your 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer Will Use to Prove Your Claim
To help win your case and get you adequate compensation, your Texas truck attorney must have the following capabilities:
- An understanding of the requirements and the complex nature of truck wreck cases
- The ability to deploy the best investigative skills and resources to collect evidence
- Familiarity with state and federal trucking laws and regulations
- Who to hold responsible for your injuries and/or a loved one’s death in the truck crash
Evidence collection is a vital part of every 18-wheeler crash claims process. Examples of the evidence that the semi-truck accident attorney will collect include:
- Police report – Necessary to ensure that the case was officially reported.
- Pictures and videos of the accident – This includes dashcam videos and those taken by bystanders and witnesses.
- Statements from witnesses who were present when the accident occurred.
- Trucker’s past driving and work history – Attorneys specifically look to see if the driver is a repeat offender. This can be used to establish a pattern of reckless driving and negligence.
- The records of the trucking company – Attorneys need this information to establish if there’s a history of cutting corners, excessive driving demands, previous investigations into the company, or actions that blatantly disregard state and federal driving regulations.
- The trucker’s blood alcohol (BAC) level or other toxicology reports
- Cargo or freight manifest – This is to ensure that the truck wasn’t overloaded at the time of the accident
- Safety and maintenance records – The attorney will need to establish if the company complied with the recommended safety and maintenance requirements.
- Identity of the other liable parties – Sometimes, there’s more than one responsible party in truck accidents. A skilled truck crash attorney will identify these parties and seek damages from them.
- Car damage and repair costs
- How much you’ve spent on medical treatment for injuries sustained in the crash
After your lawyer gathers the evidence, they will build a case and file claims on your behalf.
How Trucking Regulations Can Impact Your Claim in Texas
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has already set out safety guidelines to protect other road users who share the road with truckers. This covers everything from freight size to hours of service.
In fact, as part of its commitment to public road user safety, the agency has a Truck and Bus Traffic Enforcement training program, which helps law enforcement do a better job of keeping trucks and larger vehicles in check on the road.
The FMCSA’s regulations and guidelines are as follows:
Truck Safety and Maintenance
This means that trucking companies are responsible for the state of their trucks. Therefore, they are required by law to carry out consistent maintenance routines on their trucks.
Drivers are also required to check that their truck is in good driving condition before every trip, and report possible faults to the company so that the company will carry out the necessary repairs.
Failure to do these regular checks means that if the truck is involved in an accident because of a fault that could have been prevented, both the company and the driver can be held liable.
Hours of Service
There’s an official limit to the number of hours truckers can spend on the road per driving session. The regulations also stipulate a certain duration of rest time for truckers before they can embark on another trip.
This is meant to keep the truckers alert on the road while they are driving these massive vehicles. A fatigued trucker is a potentially dangerous road user, as they can make poor decisions, sleep off behind the wheels, and become a danger to other road users. Unfortunately, many trucking companies routinely ignore the recommended hours of service in a bid to meet delivery targets.
If you’ve been involved in a truck wreck, your Texas truck accident lawyer can check to see if the driver and their company failed to adhere to the recommended hours of service. If the lawyer finds that this is the case, they can sue the liable parties or file damage claims.
Truck Drivers’ Experience and Certification
Commercial truck driving requires unique qualifications and special training. Therefore, trucking companies are required to ensure that their truck drivers are certified and experienced in driving these massive vehicles. However, companies are known to hire inexperienced truck drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) whenever there’s a shortage of drivers.
A good lawyer can check to see if a company hired an inexperienced trucker –even if they have a CDL. If the Texas truck accident law firm finds that the company employed an unqualified driver who was involved in your crash, the attorneys can file a claim on this basis.
Damages You Can Claim in an 18-Wheeler Accident in Texas
Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. Therefore, even if you’re at fault to some degree (the threshold is 51 percent), you can still claim damages. So, as long as you’re only liable for up to 50 percent, you may be able to recover a part of the damages.
If you or a loved one were involved in a Texas truck accident and were injured in the process, you can claim these damages:
1. Economic Damages
- Cost of medical treatment – This covers all hospital expenses, all forms of rehabilitative therapy, post-operative care, drug expenses, and physical therapy.
- Loss of household services – This includes housekeeper costs, home maintenance costs, and other costs of running the home.
- Loss of income-earning ability – If the accident led to a temporary or permanent disability, you can file a claim for damages.
- Loss of wages – This covers all the income you were meant to earn but didn’t because of the injuries sustained in the accident.
- Property damage – If your car was damaged in the accident, you can file a claim to recover the cost of repair.
2. Non-Economic Damages
- Pain and suffering – Although intangible and difficult to quantify, a good lawyer can place a monetary value on the amount of physical and emotional pain you’re dealing with.
- Loss of quality of life – If you were disfigured, scarred, or paralyzed, your quality of life has been affected and you can file a claim.
- Loss of consortium – This is for people whose injuries have robbed their loved ones of their spousal responsibilities and companionship.
- Mental anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks that started after the accident.
- Loss of society – This is only necessary in the event of a wrongful death caused by the truck wreck.
In some rare cases, the court may also award something called exemplary damages. This is the same as punitive damages and is awarded if the liable parties displayed a clear and reckless disregard for other road users’ safety.
A good example is a trucking company instructing a driver to drive a truck and deliver cargo, knowing fully well that it has bad brakes. Or if a driver was overspeeding and the brakes failed, resulting in a truck crash, the courts can award exemplary damages to serve as a deterrent to other truckers, and punish the liable parties in question.
Who You Can Sue After an 18-Wheeler Accident
Unlike passenger car accident claims, you may be able to file damages against multiple parties in a Texas truck crash claim. These include:
- The trucker
- The trucker’s firm
- The truck’s manufacturing company
- The individual or entity who owns the trailer or tractor
- The brokerage in charge of supplying the trucks
- The safety officials
- The truck’s maintenance and repair crew
How Long do You Have to File an 18-Wheeler Accident Claim in Texas?
The statute of limitations in Texas truck accident cases is 2 years. Therefore, if you were injured in an 18-wheeler wreck in Texas, you have a two-year window from the day of the accident to file your claim.
If you don’t and the window closes, you may not be able to file your truck crash damages in Texas. Truck accident victims sometimes assume they have ample time to file their claims. The reality is they don’t. This is why it’s crucial to speak to seek legal advice from an experienced Texas 18-wheeler accident attorney as soon as you can after your accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
If you are looking for skilled and experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyers to represent your interests in an injury claim or lawsuit, the Buzbee Law Firm has you covered. You can contact us online or call our office toll-free.