Injured in a big rig or semi-truck collision?
Our Texas truck crash lawyers are Board-Certified Specialists.
Each year, thousands of individuals have their lives cut tragically short in fatal truck accidents in the United States. Tens of thousands more are seriously and permanently injured, and their lives change forever. In 2018, a total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes across the U.S. A vast majority (82 percent) of these victims were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists—in other words, not the truck driver.
Here in Texas, the numbers aren’t any better.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 649 crash fatalities in Texas involved large trucks in 2017. This death rate was the highest total since 2007.
Despite these sobering statistics, nothing can prepare you for when it happens to you or your loved one.
Our Texas personal injury attorneys have represented people who have lost family members in deadly crashes and those who have been permanently injured. We have seen their pain and how their lives have been changed forever by carelessness.
If you have suffered catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one in a truck wreck, contact the Waco, TX truck accident lawyers at Brown Trial Firm for the aggressive legal representation you need to hold the negligent truck driver or trucking company accountable. We have protected numerous clients’ rights to recover significant financial compensation, including some million-dollar settlements. Contact us to learn more about your legal rights and options, and to schedule your free, no-obligation confidential consultation.
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What are the common causes and types of truck accidents?
There are many different causes of trucking crashes that arise from negligence on the part of a driver, company or another third party. Some of the most common types of semi-truck wrecks in Texas are:
- Fatigued truck driver. When drivers make the choice to continue operating their 40-ton big rig when drowsy, or when they are pressured by their employer to work long shifts and meet unrealistic driving schedules, the consequences can be devastating and even fatal.
- Safety violations. Truck drivers and trucking companies must obey strict rules and regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). When these and other safety standards aren’t followed because a driver or company is looking to increase their profit, and someone is injured as a result, liability often becomes highly contested.
- Jackknife truck accident. A “jackknife” occurs when a semi-truck trailer swings away from the cab so that it resembles an acute angle, like a partially folded pocket knife. Because of the severe nature of jackknife truck accidents, injuries sustained by accident survivors are commonly catastrophic.
- Overloaded/unsecured truck accident. Trucks are designed to haul large amounts of material safely within certain limits. Unfortunately, in order to cut corners, some truckers or trucking companies may ignore the recommended safety limits or fail to properly secure cargo, endangering everyone else on the road and sometimes leading to a serious crash.
- Poor truck maintenance. Failing to inspect or maintain tires, brakes, lights and other trucking equipment, as well as failing to install blind spot mirrors, are just a couple examples of how lack of proper vehicle maintenance can lead to a preventable crash.
- Truck underride accident. An underride collision is when a smaller vehicle is partially or completely pinned underneath the trailer of a semi-truck. These types of collisions are often fatal because the bottom of the trailer is about the same height as the top part of smaller vehicles. Cars can get crushed or even sheared off, resulting in major injuries to passengers.
- Speeding truck accident. Whether the truck driver was speeding or another driver was, the results can be catastrophic—usually for the occupants in the smaller vehicle. These and other reckless driving behaviors can make someone liable for the damage and injuries that happen as a result.
- Distracted driving truck accident. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of all auto accidents. Whether the operator of a truck or passenger vehicle was using their cell phone behind the wheel or engaging in some other activity besides driving, this is a form of negligence and there are consequences.
- Drunk driving truck accident. Drug and alcohol abuse is a major problem among drivers in Texas, including commercial and professional drivers like truckers. Impaired driving is not only a criminal offense in Texas, but it can also result in a trucker losing their professional license and being held liable for accident victims’ injuries and damages.
- Bad weather truck accident. High winds, wet roads, rough roads, hail storms and foggy conditions are just some examples of weather-induced truck crashes that frequently occur in Texas. Although you can’t sue the weather, truck drivers and trucking companies may be held liable for failing to take proper preventative measures when driving conditions aren’t favorable.
The aftermath of a tractor-trailer collision can have major impacts on the outcome of your case and your financial future. It’s important you know what to do (and what NOT to do) if you or a loved one were hit by a semi, big rig or commercial truck.
Who may be held liable in a trucking accident?
Determining who is ultimately responsible for a collision involving a semi-truck or big rig depends on many individual factors—such as what really caused the wreck and who was involved. In general, the following parties may be held liable in truck accident cases in Texas:
- Truck driver. If the driver’s reckless actions resulted in a collision, or if they are an independent contractor (not employed by any particular company), they may be held personally liable for injuries and damages that result from a wreck.
- Trucking company. A trucking company can be held “vicariously liable” for an accident caused by one of its drivers. They can also be held legally responsible if it can be proven that the company violated a safety standard, failed to properly train a driver or didn’t do due diligence to review a driver’s past safety record.
- Vehicle manufacturer. If a defective truck part or component resulted in a wreck (such as brake failure or a tire blowout), then the manufacturer of the part or vehicle may be responsible for damages. This might take the form of a product liability lawsuit.
- Cargo company. Some trucking companies hire a cargo company to load their trucks. If a truck accident is caused by an unsecured load or overweighted rig, then the cargo company may be liable.
- Another third party. Truck drivers and trucking companies aren’t always at fault for big rig crashes. Sometimes, another driver, passenger, motorcyclist or pedestrian may be to blame. In other cases, a local or federal government agency might be liable for failing to maintain safe roads.
Texas follows the modified comparative fault rule when it comes to determining negligence in fault, meaning that the amount of damages you can recover for a truck accident can be adjusted based on your perceived degree of fault. If you are found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the crash, then you won’t be able to recover any damages under this law. For this reason, it’s vital you talk to an experienced and knowledgeable truck accident attorney near you as soon as possible to protect your claim and fight for your rights.
Truck accident damages and compensation
At Brown Trial Firm, we understand how important it is that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible in order to recover financially from your accident and move on with your life. Truck accident losses (known as “damages”) generally fall into 1 of 2 categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are reimbursement for direct financial losses resulting from your crash. We can seek compensation on your behalf for:
- Emergency medical transportation and care
- Medical and prescriptions bills
- Long-term caretaker expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity (disability)
- Property damage
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, cover indirect losses that impact you and your family, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Those who have lost a loved one in a fatal truck crash will undoubtedly suffer deep emotional losses. They’ll also have to pay for funerals and burial expenses—not to mention face other major financial hurdles, such as loss of income and employment benefits that were provided by the deceased.
In any case, survivors will experience continued losses. However, recovery after a wrongful death is possible by holding at-fault parties responsible and gaining monetary compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship and more.
Preventing serious collisions in Texas
Just as we all have to follow safety rules when we are driving our cars, trucking companies and their drivers must follow basic safety rules and regulations to protect the driving public on the road. Unfortunately, sometimes trucking companies or drivers bend or ignore the rules and regulations to save time and to increase profits. These companies should never place profits above safety, but it happens all too often.
Failure to follow basic safety rules can result in catastrophic injuries to the drivers and passengers in our communities. When a trucking company or its employee driver violates a safety rule and hurts someone, that trucking company is legally responsible and should be accountable for the damage that results.
Protect yourself and your family
It probably comes as no surprise that trucking corporations and their insurance companies have and use extensive resources to defend claims filed by people who have been injured or killed in trucking crashes. These trucking corporations and insurance companies hire big defense firms and lawyers in an attempt to avoid paying claims—or to pay as little as possible.
No one ever thinks that they will be involved in a serious crash and need to have a trial attorney capable of taking on a large trucking corporation or insurance company. But when that happens, you need to choose the right injury attorney to represent you in what is frequently a David versus Goliath battle.
Waco truck crash FAQ: Answers from experienced lawyers
Q: How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit in Texas?
A: In the state of Texas, under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 16.003.a, you have roughly 2 years in which to bring your case to court before the statute of limitations runs out. In most situations, this code goes without question; however, there are notable exceptions to the rule. To discuss the finer details, contact a professional personal injury attorney with a history of truck accident litigation.
Q: In a truck accident lawsuit, who can I hold responsible?
A: As with most Texas personal injury claims, a trucking accident lawsuit greatly depends on who was at fault or negligent in their responsibilities at the time. In most cases, the operator of the truck is to blame for the wreck.
On the other hand, if there was faulty mechanics at work or an overbearing hauling company pressuring the driver, the suit could end up including a number of different parties. By speaking to a personal injury attorney and allowing their team to further investigate the cause of the wreck, you’ll gain further insight into who should be held accountable.
Q: The insurance company offered me a settlement, should I take it?
A: Absolutely not—at least not until you’ve spoken with an experienced trucking accident attorney. Simply put, insurance adjusters work for trucking companies and they both want the same thing: to make sure you settle for the lowest amount possible. They don’t have your well-being in mind and will actively attempt to rattle you or prove the accident has had no adverse effect on your life.
Do not let them.
If you are contacted by an insurance adjustor or the trucking company following an accident, simply direct them to your personal injury attorney. Only a firm dedicated to holding these big businesses responsible will be able to help you secure fair compensation.
Q: What should I consider before hiring a Texas truck crash attorney?
A: There are a number of factors to look at when retaining an attorney. Chief among these would be their experience with personal injury lawsuits, specifically large truck accidents. You’ll want representation that understands both your situation and has experience handling large trucking companies and their counsel in court.
Q: How much money can I get from a truck accident claim?
A: The answer to this question can vary greatly, depending on the amount of damage caused, injuries sustained and overall negligence on the part of the at-fault party. There are medical bills, loss of wages, as well as pain and suffering to consider—not to mention a whole host of punitive damages a judge may award if the wreck was severe enough. The only way to be sure is to contact the Waco truck accident attorneys at Brown Trial Firm LLP and have us review your case.
What to expect from your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer
Questions to ask to make sure you pick the personal injury lawyer who’s right for your case
Talk to our personal injury attorneys
Trucking corporations and insurance companies resolve claims by making business decisions based on what they think their bottom line exposure will be if they go to trial. For that reason, it is very important that you choose a law firm that has experience with large cases and that is capable of fighting the battle at trial (if you are forced to go to trial).
At Brown Trial Firm, we’ve handled some extremely difficult trucking accident cases throughout Texas. Attorneys Dale Williams and Laura Brown have a long record of success representing crash victims, and they are also Board Certified Specialists in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization—a distinction held by only 10 percent of Texas attorneys.
Each case poses tough challenges and unforeseen factors, but one thing remains consistent: the overwhelming amount of destruction inflicted upon the victims. We firmly believe in helping those who have suffered terrible losses obtain the compensation they deserve and are owed.
Undoubtedly, if you’ve been involved in a tractor-trailer accident of any kind, you’ll have questions – lots of them. Don’t let those responsible leave you to suffer in silence.
At Brown Trial Firm, we have that experience and a track record of results. We are happy to show our results to you at your request.