Trucking and Transportation Law
Truck drivers have dangerous jobs under the best of circumstances, and accidents involving large trucks may prove fatal for one or more involved parties. Whether you or a loved one was involved, it is important to have a basic knowledge of what to do immediately following an accident and how personal injury claims are handled when truck accidents occur. The following are several causes of truck accidents and what personal injury lawyers look for.
Risks that Truck Drivers Take
- Accidents Caused by Fatigue
- Situations Involving Prescription Drugs
- Tipped Trailers and Insecure Loads
- Dealing with Faulty Equipment
What to Do if You Are in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle
If you've been in an accident with a commercial vehicle or an 18-wheeler, you might wanna handle the case a little bit different. The insurance company or the trucking company typically sends investigators out to start preserving evidence right away. They'll contact witnesses, they'll inspect the scene, and potentially do an accident reconstruction. You wanna have someone that's doing that on your behalf. So there might be a little bit more of an urgent need to obtain representation if you've been involved in an accident with a commercial truck then just a general fender bender or intersection accident with a passenger vehicle.
Black Boxes and Personal Injury Cases
All you have to do is read the paper or watch the news to see that automobile accidents are happening every day. These accidents can vary from no damage or injuries to severe damage and fatalities. When these accidents involve semi trucks, they can have severe consequences. Many trucking accidents end up in court with each side trying to prove what happened and who is at fault. Having recorded information about the semi truck and driver’s actions on what happened before, during, and immediately after the accident can be immensely beneficial.
One way of knowing the circumstances surrounding an accident involving a semi truck is by the information contained in the truck’s “black box.” These boxes are known as an electronic control module (ECM) or event data recorder (EDR) and are similar in concept to those that are found on airplanes. These boxes store data that can include vehicle speed, brake usage, engine throttle, truck’s driving time, trip driving time and distance, average and maximum speed. Some trucks are also equipped with technology that sends this information along with GPS to the company’s office in real time.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br />
Black Boxes and Personal Injury Cases
In the event you are involved in a trucking accident, an attorney can be a great benefit to you. They can help you quickly find out if a “black box” was in the truck involved in your accident. They can also help take the steps to quickly secure the evidence from the device. These boxes do not keep the information permanently. Many only record data for a certain amount of time or mileage, and then start recording over old data. This means that if the truck involved in your accident is moved too much, the data from the accident could be lost. A truck’s black box can be the difference in the outcome of your personal injury case since the information may reflect what really happened. You may also find out that the driver of the truck should not have been on the road at all due to being in excess of their driving hours. Your attorney can help secure the information and gain the proof you need to help win your case.
When Public Transportation Leads to Personal Injury
For environmental and quality of life reasons, there is a trend among commuters to take advantage of the benefits that mass transportation has to offer. You may be one of these commuters, whether your reason is being able to reduce your time wasted sitting in traffic, help reduce air pollution or reduce expenses from fluctuating gas prices. While public transportation can be beneficial to many, its increased use also means an increase in the number of bus accidents that are being seen. Due to the size of buses, bus accidents tend to cause severe and often gruesome injuries. Statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation show that in 2014, approximately 3,300 bus accidents--including school buses--occurred in this state. Out of these accidents, 18 caused fatalities and almost 50 caused serious personal injuries.
Understanding Common Carrier Law
In Texas, bus companies and their drivers are subject to state and federal regulations that regard the transportation of passengers under what is known as common carrier statutes. The term common carrier is a legal term that refers to individuals or companies that provide public transportation. This usually includes buses, trains, and taxis. Under common carrier laws, bus drivers, taxi drivers, train conductors, and the companies they work for are held to a higher standard than you or one of your fellows drivers on the highway. Being that they are entrusted with transporting many individuals like yourself on a daily basis, they have an increased responsibility to act reasonably in the course of their duties. Transportation companies are required to monitor their drivers, who must pass specific driving tests and be tested for controlled substance and alcohol use on an ongoing basis. Drivers must also adhere to regulations pertaining to the length of time they may drive before being required to take a mandatory rest period. The company must also:
- Maintain insurance
- Insure that its vehicles are regularly inspected
- Make needed repairs to avoid putting their passengers at risk
Providing Proof of Negligence is on the Injured Party
Even with the common carrier requirements, the burden will fall on you to prove your personal injury was the result of negligence on the part of the driver or the bus company. Adding another layer of difficulty in your time of need, whether the bus is considered privately-owned or government-owned may mean there are different steps that need to be taken to protect your rights and establish their liability. In some situations, you may only have a short window of time, usually, six months, to make a personal injury claim before you forfeit your right to compensation. It is extremely important to act fast when dealing with a public transportation company. This is where having a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with public transportation injury cases will work to your benefit. With time being of the essence to protect your rights, they will move quickly to work toward establishing liability, handling the needed investigations of drivers and witnesses, and getting you fair compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and loss of income.