Commercial trucking companies have a legal duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. Unfortunately, despite state and federal safety regulations, tractor-trailer accidents remain a significant problem in Texas and across the United States.
According to the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), approximately 110,000 large trucks are involved in “injury crashes” each year. When tractor-trailer wrecks occur, the consequences can be devastating: In Texas alone, more than 500 people are killed in truck accidents each year.
This raises an important question: How do truck accidents happen? Our Houston truck accident attorneys have extensive experience investigating the causes of crashes and determining who was at fault. Some of the common causes of truck accidents that we see include:
A tired truck driver — usually one who is working on a tight delivery schedule — is far more likely to be involved in an accident than a well-rested trucker is. Fatigued driving is one of the big causes of truck accidents in Texas. Recently, the FMCSA instituted new “hours of service” limits in an effort to reduce fatigued truck driving. Trucking companies have a duty to ensure that their truckers are able to get the proper amount of rest.
Substance abuse is another common cause of major commercial vehicle wrecks. Truck drivers who have consumed alcohol used illegal drugs or taken large amounts of prescription medication cause far too many crashes in Texas. If you were involved in a truck crash and you believe that it may have been caused by substance abuse, you should call a lawyer immediately.
Another one of the common causes of truck accidents in Houston is speeding. Most drivers in our region have experienced how unnerving it can be to be passed by a fast-moving tractor-trailer on a major highway like Interstate 10 or Interstate 45. Truckers who are speeding or otherwise driving too fast for the road conditions are putting the safety and well-being of innocent people at risk. Companies must ensure that delivery deadlines are set in a manner that allows truckers to operate at a reasonable and safe speed.
Whether it is a truck driver passing in an unsafe location, failing to check mirrors while changing lanes, or tailgating a driver, reckless driving is negligent. In some cases, reckless driving may even amount to a criminal offense.
All truckers have an obligation to keep their full and undivided attention on the road. Cellphones and other distractions must be avoided. Yet, distracted driving contributes to a large number of truck accidents in Texas. Alarmingly, preliminary federal safety data indicates that distracted driving among truckers is on the rise.
Overloaded and Unsecured Trucks
Not all of the causes of truck accidents are related to the driver — far from it. A truck driver may do everything right, but if the trailer is overloaded or if it is not properly secured, the truck could end up in a devastating crash. If you were involved in a large truck crash caused by an improperly loaded or improperly secured trailer, you should contact a Houston personal injury lawyer immediately.
Poor or Improper Maintenance
Trucking companies have a responsibility to make sure that their vehicles are reasonably safe — both for their own employees and for members of the general public. Careful pre-trip and post-trip inspections should be conducted. If there is a problem on the truck — whether it is a worn-out tire, old brakes, or any other mechanical issue— repairs are a must.
Defective Truck Parts
If defective equipment or parts ─ such as brakes, tires or steering systems ─ were the cause of a truck crash, the manufacturer or distributor of the dangerous truck parts can be held liable.
Poor Weather Conditions
In some cases, inclement weather may have contributed to a truck accident. Notably, bad weather conditions are not an excuse for a trucking accident. If the weather is too dangerous for the trucker to operate the vehicle safely, the truck driver needs to slow it down or park it and wait for conditions to improve.
Poor Road Conditions
Finally, poor road conditions can also contribute to truck accidents. In some cases, dangerous road design or other negligent actions by state highway crews and private contractors may be responsible for a truck accident.
Protect Your Rights After a Truck Accident
If you or your loved one was injured in a truck accident in the Houston area, it is crucial that you seek advice from an experienced legal professional. Unfortunately, recovering full and fair compensation in a truck accident claim can be extremely challenging. Trucking companies are typically represented by large, aggressive insurance companies. Truck accident victims should be sure to:
- Report the accident to law enforcement immediately.
- Obtain insurance and employment information from the truck driver.
- Take photographs of the vehicles and injuries and secure other relevant information, such as names and contact information for witnesses.
- Seek professional medical attention as soon as possible, and follow your doctor’s orders.
- Avoid making any statements to the trucking company or the insurance provider.
- Speak to an experienced Houston truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Have to File a Truck Accident Claim in Texas?
Following a commercial truck crash, injured victims have a limited amount of time to file a legal claim. Under Texas law, truck accidents are generally subject to a two-year statute of limitations. If a claim is not filed by this deadline, then the case will almost certainly be automatically dismissed — without a hearing on the merits.
You should never wait to take action after a Houston truck accident. Beyond the statutory deadline, large truck accident claims require a comprehensive investigation. The longer you wait to start building your claim, the more difficult it will be to track down all of the evidence you need to win your case. After an 18-wheeler crash, you should speak to a Houston truck accident lawyer right away.
Contact Our Texas Truck Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation
At the Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian, we have obtained successful results for thousands of deserving clients. An experienced Houston truck accident lawyer, Hilda Sibrian is committed to helping injured victims recover the maximum available personal injury compensation.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident in Harris County, Texas, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.