If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer truck accident, you should consult with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Texas. The attorneys at the Buzbee Law Firm understand the specific laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry and have the resources to build a robust case for you.
Factors that may play a role in truck wrecks include overloaded freight, poor maintenance, inadequate training, driver fatigue, and speed. State and Federal law regulate how trucks are maintained, and drivers must fill out both pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspection reports. These reports can be crucial evidence that can help attorneys determine and prove fault.
The Buzbee Law Firm has helped injured multiple clients after accidents involving 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. We are not your typical representatives who claim to help when all they do is shuffle paper and settle your case. Our 18-wheeler accident attorneys strive to maximize your financial recovery and, if necessary, take your case to court.
You may be able to retain any lawyer you find in the yellow pages but your case will hold a higher value when our expert 18-wheeler accident lawyers represent you. Call or email us, for your case is too important to entrust to anyone else!
For a free legal consultation with a 18-wheeler accidents lawyer serving Texas, call 844-349-9196
Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated
Although it’s easy to assume that truck accidents are just like regular car crashes, the truth is they’re not. Whether it’s a semi-trailer, an 18-wheeler, or a tractor-trailer, all truck collisions can have very dire consequences.
Plus, the process of pursuing claims can be very tedious. Ultimately, truck accident cases are complex because of the following:
Increased Risk of Severe Injuries and Death
Although all vehicle accidents can be ghastly or fatal, the odds of those are much higher in 18-wheeler collisions –particularly when it’s between a big rig and a smaller passenger vehicle.
This is because of the travel speed and size of trucks. The average truck weighs 20-30 times more than passenger vehicles. Also, mile for mile, trucks, and buses kill five times more than cars in accidents. This means that when massive trucks collide with smaller vehicles, they’re very likely to crush them, leading to unusually high fatalities and ghastly injuries.
The severity of these injuries or deaths often means costlier present and future medical costs, loss of income, and loss of consortium among many others. Naturally, this means that victims can claim higher settlement amounts and damages.
So, the truck crash lawyer needs to consider the cost of future treatments while filing compensation claims.
The Possibility of More Than One Responsible Party
There are many moving parts in the trucking industry. These include trucking company managers, shipping firms, haulage brokers, loaders, safety personnel, and truckers. Each of these entities plays a role in the truck’s journey –from loading at one point to delivery at the other- and has a responsibility.
Ultimately, the combined actions of these entities should lead to a much safer truck, load, and driver. If one or multiple entities make seemingly small mistakes, it can lead to truck accidents.
For example, if a truck falls on another vehicle because:
- Someone failed to fasten the harness securely
- A safety officer was unable to spot that safety hazard
- The truck was overloaded
- A trucking manager forced the trucker to travel at high speeds to deliver their cargo
The injured victim or their loved ones can file a compensation claim against all three parties.
The point is that there might be more than one party responsible for your 18-wheeler accident. And it’s important to hold all responsible parties liable.
Lots of Governing Regulations
At the state and federal levels, there are legislations guiding the trucking industry and designed to protect other road users. There are regulations governing everything in the industry, including:
- Cargo types and weight limit
- Truck size
- Maximum speed limits
- Cargo loading processes
- Safety protocols for both the cargo and truckers
- Maximum number of hours that truckers can drive per time
So, when truckers or their firms neglect the standards set in these legislations, and it leads to accidents, the victims can file for damages.
Texas 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer Near Me 844-349-9196
Recent Notable 18-Wheeler Cases
Our law firm has achieved results in bringing relief to injured people in the following examples of our successful outcomes for commercial vehicle accident claims:
- Assisted a man riding on a bus after he suffered a neck injury when the bus rear-ended another vehicle. This case settled for the maximum policy limits on the day of the trial.
- Represented 14 passengers who were injured in a bus-train collision. The case was settled after picking a jury.
- Helped a commercial truck driver who collided with another large vehicle. We proved that our client driver was not at fault and settled for policy limits.
- Represented a family in an accident case involving a commercial vehicle on Katy Freeway in Houston. Both adults needed surgery after sustaining neck injuries in the crash. This case was resolved a day before the trial to our clients’ satisfaction.
- Advocated for a family involved in a crash on Interstate 10 near Beaumont. The case was settled on the eve of trial to the client’s satisfaction.
- Assisted two clients after a wreck on a major roadway in Galveston. One of our clients needed surgery after sustaining severe bodily harm. Case settled on the eve of trial to clients’ satisfaction.
How Long Your 18-Wheeler Claim Could Take
The duration of your case depends on multiple factors like:
- Number of liable parties
- Cause(s) of truck accident
- The severity of the 18-wheeler crash
- Victim(s) injuries and/or wrongful death
- The settlement amount that the victim is requesting
- The skill and expertise of the truck accident lawyer
The average truck claims process is as follows:
- Investigation by the truck firm’s insurance provider – The truck company’s insurance company will send investigators to get as much evidence about the incident as possible. They do this to protect themselves and possibly offer you a lower settlement amount than you can get.
- Initial contact and offer – If the insurance firm finds that their clients might be at fault, they’ll try to contact you and make an initial settlement offer. It is crucial to avoid taking this meeting without a truck crash attorney present. This is because, contrary to how they’ll make it look, their offers are usually considerably lower than what you could get with the help of an experienced attorney. Remember that no matter how much money they offer, you can always get more.
- Counter Offer – If you have a competent 18-wheeler accident lawyer, chances are your lawyer will ask for more than they’re offering you.
- Litigation and court case – If the insurance company refuses to pay you what you deserve, your attorney might have to take them to court to ensure that you get what’s yours. This is even more likely if there are fatalities. In this instance, the truck wreck attorney can file a wrongful death suit against the responsible parties.
- Final Settlement – Most trucking companies and their insurance companies tend to settle out of court. However, your lawyer can also seek punitive damages IF there are clear indications of reckless behaviors by the trucker and their affiliated companies.
Please note that claims or lawsuits involving trucks, semis, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailer wrecks are often lengthy. So, talk to your 18-wheeler collision attorney about how long your case could take so you’ll have the right expectations. Depending on the parts of the lawsuit that are in contention, a truck accident case can go on for years.
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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:
- 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.
- 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.