Semi Truck Accidents
With numerous major highways running through the Dallas Fort Worth area and throughout the great state of Texas, we often find ourselves driving side-by-side with large trucks. Unfortunately, major semi truck accidents can happen at any time of the day or night. And when they do, they endanger the safety of other drivers and pedestrians because of the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. Shocking enough, accidents between big trucks and passenger vehicles account for 25 percent of all vehicle occupant fatalities across the United States.
According to the FMSCA, in 2018, 5,096 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 1-percent increase from 2017. Although the number of large trucks and buses in fatal crashes has increased by 48 percent from its low of 3,432 in 2009, the 2018 number is still 3 percent lower than the 21st-century peak of 5,231 in 2005. From 2017 to 2018, large truck and bus fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by all motor vehicles remained constant at 0.160, 22 percent below the 21st-century peak of 0.205 in 2000.
Three Things to Look for When Hiring a Lawyer
When you're looking to hire a lawyer to help with your personal injury case, I would encourage you to look for three things. One, you wanna find a lawyer that's experienced. A lawyer that's been practicing law for several years, that that knows what he's doing. Second thing, and maybe the most important thing is you want to find a lawyer that's experienced in the area that you need. You don't want to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to handle a person injury case, you don't want to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle a criminal case. So, find a lawyer that practices personal injury law, that's what he does. That's all he does, he'll be able to best help you. And the third thing is find a lawyer that you feel comfortable communicating with. Hiring a lawyer is a little bit like a marriage, you're going to be in the case for a long time. You wanna have someone that's going to return your calls, that's gonna answer your questions and is gonna shoot straight with you about your case.
Semi Truck Accidents Cause Severe Injuries
Here are a few things we think you should know if you or a family member is injured or tragically killed as a result of a semi truck accident.
Semi Truck Accidents Cause Severe Injuries
Your car, SUV or pickup truck is no match for a large truck. If you or a family member is injured in a semi truck accident, you could suffer severe injuries, including some that could be life-threatening or life-changing. You may require extensive and expensive medical treatment and spend months recovering. Some of the most common injuries causes from semi truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Bone fractures
These injuries could lead to a lifetime of chronic pain or permanent disability. If you are unable to work because of your injuries, your family’s financial future can also be at stake.
Document as Much as Possible
The initial moments after an accident can be chaotic. Once everyone is safe and emergency medical needs are being attended to, it is important to try and document as much information as possible about the accident. While the police will gather information for their own report, you should not depend solely on that report. Additionally, you will not be able to get a copy of the police report for several days. Witnesses to the accident may leave before the police arrive on the scene, so their information will not be on the report either.
If you are able to safely move around, gather the following information if possible:
- Names and phone numbers of witnesses before they leave the scene of the accident
- Photos of the accident scene noting weather conditions, road conditions and time of day
- Photos of damage to all vehicles involved
- Name of the semi truck driver
- Company that owns the truck
- Phone number of the company
- Truck’s license plate number
- Truck’s insurance provider and policy number
This information will be needed for insurance purposes and to assist your attorney if you choose to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
Leading Causes of Semi Truck Accidents
Whether you are driving a semi truck or a standard sized vehicle, there are many reasons for semi truck accidents to take into consideration while you're out on the roadways. Most accidents are caused by one or more of the following factors:
- Driver distraction
- Poor weather or road conditions
- Aggressive driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Mechanical failures
- Failure to inspect or maintain truck
- Speeding to meet deadlines
- Overloaded trucks
- Tire blowouts
- Improper training
Commercial truck drivers and trucking companies are required to follow the laws put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). These laws were designed to help keep all motorists safe on the road, including truck drivers themselves. When truck drivers and the companies they work for fail to observe these rules, it could potentially strengthen the personal injury claim of the accident victim. A few of the laws that those in the trucking industry are required to follow include:
Restrictions on Hours of Service
To combat driver fatigue, truck drivers must take regular breaks. They are only allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours. Once they reach that maximum, they must remain off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. After driving 60 hours over a seven day period, truck drivers are required to be off duty for a minimum of 34 hours. Trucks are now required to have electronic equipment that logs the amount of time drivers are in service.
Alcohol and Drug Testing
To reduce the number of accidents that happen because of truck drivers driving under the influence, commercial drivers must submit to random alcohol and drug testing. They must also be immediately tested if they are involved in an accident. If a semi driver refuses to be tested, they are immediately are forbidden to drive.
Use of Mobile Phones
Federal laws prohibit the use of handheld phones for all commercial drivers to help reduce accidents caused by distracted driving. Semi truck drivers are prohibited from typing or even reading text messages. They may only use hands-free devices to make or answer calls while driving.
Must Carry Adequate Insurance
Trucking companies are required to carry at least $750,000 in insurance if they weigh at 10,000 pounds and are carrying non-hazardous materials. Those who carry hazardous materials or weight more are required to carry more insurance.
Semi Trucks Must Be Maintained
All commercial vehicles, including semi trucks are required to be kept in good mechanical condition. Trucks must be inspected every 90 days. Independent owners and trucking companies are required to keep records of repairs, maintenance operations and inspections for their vehicles.
What Can You Do to Avoid Being in a Truck Accident?
Semi truck accidents are not always the fault of the truck driver. Everyone, including you and other private drivers on the road need to share the road with truckers. Here are a few ways you can reduce the risk of being involved in a semi truck crash:
- Avoid being in a truck’s blind spot.
- You should always be able to see the truck’s side mirror. If you cannot see the mirror, the trucker cannot see you.
- Do not tailgate a big truck.
You should never tailgate any vehicle. But if a semi truck stops short, you could be seriously injured if you rear-end it.
- Do not stop short in front of the truck.
- A loaded truck moving at full speed is difficult to control if the driver attempts to stop suddenly. This can lead to the truck jackknifing and crashing into multiple vehicles.
- Do not ride up on the right side of a semi.
Never assume that a semi truck is not going to make a right turn if its turn signal is not blinking. Large trucks need plenty of room when they are making a turn.
If you or a loved one are in injured in a semi truck crash, you could be entitled for compensation for your medical expenses, loss of income and other damages, including:
- Medical treatment
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
- Property damage
If you or a loved one has been in a semi truck accident, don't wait! You do not need to go through this process alone. Call the law office of Jason N. Thomas, Attorney at Law at (817) 381-4099 or contact us online for a free case review. There is no fee unless we win your case.