Houston Truck Accident Attorneys
Every day in Texas thousands of commercial trucks, which include big rigs, tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, delivery trucks, tankers, and more, move the products and materials that are essential to the American way of life. These big trucks are vital; however, their size and power make them an especially dangerous presence on the road in the unfortunate event of an accident.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a truck accident, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your pain and injuries. The attorneys of The de la Garza Law Group have thirty years of combined experience fighting for the rights of accident victims and helping them recover after an accident causes harm.
The Danger of Truck Accidents
A commercial truck can weigh in at as much as 20 times the weight of a standard passenger vehicle at 80,000 pounds. When a big truck is involved in an accident with a much smaller car, even at a lower speed, the results are often tragic. Truck accidents cause more severe injuries and fatalities than other types of accidents.
When an accident occurs between a big truck and a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the vehicle sustain much more significant injuries than those inside the truck. Around 82 percent of fatalities in these accidents are of those in smaller cars, on bicycles or on foot. Passenger vehicles offer little protection from the impact of a truck of that size.
Truck Accident Statistics
Texas leads the nation in the number of crashes involving large trucks, defined as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 10,000 pounds. As a large state with a large population and more roads, this makes sense statistically but is nonetheless an unfortunate figure. There were 556 fatal truck accidents in Texas in 2017, which resulted in almost 650 deaths. In addition, there were more than 1,500 big truck accidents resulting in serious injury.
There are roughly 500,000 accidents involving a big truck nationally every year. Of those, 4,761 people were killed in 2017 according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA.).
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Even though professional truck drivers are highly trained to operate their trucks, the immense size and reduced maneuverability of big trucks can contribute to a serious accident from one seemingly small mistake.
Some common causes of big truck accidents include:
- Negligence—Whether the driver of the truck or another motorist who is at fault, failure to use adequate caution is the most common reasons for an accident. Drivers that fail to obey traffic laws and patterns can easily cause an accident.
- Driver Fatigue—Truck drivers are often under intense pressure to make their deliveries as quickly as possible. Even though there are laws which dictate how many hours truckers can drive and how many hours they must rest, they sometimes are not enough. Driving while tired is especially dangerous when operating a tractor trailer.
- Impaired Driving—Operating a vehicle either while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while distracted by a phone or other device causes too many preventable accidents.
- Reckless Driving—Speeding, unsafe maneuvering and more contribute to many crashes, especially around big trucks that have areas of little to no visibility.
- Equipment Failure—Big trucks and trailers require special maintenance. Mechanical or cargo issues can create unsafe conditions. Common examples of this include brake failures, tire problems and improperly loaded trailers.
- Road Conditions—Weather and road conditions may cause unavoidable accidents.
All commercial truck drivers and the companies who employ them must abide by state and federal laws to maintain safety. These laws dictate things like the number of hours drivers are allowed to drive, how much they should rest, maintenance, record keeping, licensing, weight limits, required equipment and more. Not following these laws leads to dangerous, often avoidable, accidents.
The actions of multiple parties could have contributed to an accident and therefore more than one party can be found liable for any resulting injuries. The driver of the truck, another driver on the road, the owner of truck or trailer, a shipping or loading company, maintenance company, manufacturer, receiver, and other could potentially share liability depending on what caused the accident.
Determining exactly what led to the accident happening is critical to establishing legal liability. An experienced truck accident attorney will investigate an accident by whatever methods are appropriate to prove who was at fault and hold them accountable.
To do this, an attorney will investigate the accident. They will collect and preserve critical evidence, speak with witnesses and experts, gather maintenance records and driver logs from the trucking company and whatever else is necessary.
Houston Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions
How is fault determined in truck accidents?
Determining who is at fault for a truck accident can be challenging, but an experienced truck accident attorney can jumpstart the investigation in the right direction. Multiple people or entities can be negligent and share fault. For example, the driver, trucking company or the truck manufacturer could all be liable in an accident, depending on the circumstances. A thorough investigation of all evidence from the accident will shed light on liability.
How are truck accidents different from car accidents?
Truck accidents differ from car accidents because trucks are so much bigger than the average passenger vehicle. Truck accidents are often caused by the fact that bigger vehicles are harder to maneuver and take longer to stop. The size and weight of a commercial truck in comparison to a car makes truck accidents significantly more dangerous than car accidents, too.
What should I do after a truck accident?
The first thing to do after a truck accident is make sure you are in as safe a situation as possible. After any crash, vehicles can come to rest in positions that present further danger to their occupants. Get a sense for your circumstances and do what you can to protect yourself from further danger. Next, call the police so that they can come to the scene and investigate the crash. If possible, take photographs and video of the scene, vehicles, and truck driver. As soon as possible, seek medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained. Even if you feel they are minor you should still be seen by a doctor to be sure. It is common for the full extent of an injury in a car or truck accident to not be known for days afterward.
How much does a truck accident lawyer cost?
The truck accident attorneys at The de la Garza Law Group work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing until and only if your case is won. If a recovery is made, the attorney is paid a percentage of the settlement. If no recovery is made, you pay nothing and ow nothing to the attorney.
What can I recover in a truck accident case?
Every truck accident is different. The money you can legally recover for injuries you suffered as a result of a truck accident depends on several factors. Damages, also called “compensatory damages,” are awarded to repair a wrong or compensate for an injury. These damages are classified as either economic damages or non-economic damages. In many cases, the most reliable factor for estimating a truck accident victim’s probable recovery will be the economic damages, which are damages that can be easily quantified, such as medical expenses and loss of earning capacity in the past and future. Non-economic damages are damages awarded to compensate for physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish and disfigurement. In severe cases, these can be important factors in estimating the probable recovery.
Another factor to consider in estimating a truck accident victim’s probable recovery is the percentage of responsibility that the parties to a truck accident bear for causing the accident. If multiple parties contributed to causing the crash, then at trial, the court will ask the jury to assign a percentage of responsibility to each party. Your recovery will be reduced by your own percentage of responsibility, if any. Under Texas law, if the jury determines that you were greater than 50 percent responsible, then you cannot recover.
How long do I have to file a claim after my truck accident?
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those arising from a truck accident, is two years from the date of the injury. You must file a lawsuit and serve the defendant with the lawsuit no later than two years after the date of the injury. In certain cases, serving the defendant with the lawsuit can take significant time and effort. Failure to meet this deadline will result in your claims being forever barred. You can, and in many cases, should, make a pre-suit claim to the at-fault party’s insurance carrier well in advance of the expiration of the two-year period. This is the standard process in most cases, and many cases settle without the need for filing of a lawsuit. But if your case does not settle within two years from the injury and you fail to file a lawsuit, your claims are forever barred. Act quickly to preserve your rights. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help guide you through the process.
What does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer?
Truck accident lawyers, including those at The de la Garza Law Group, usually work on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no fees upfront and you will pay the attorney a percentage of the money you are awarded when they win your case. You pay nothing if there is no award or settlement. There is no risk to work with an attorney and they typically will be able to secure a much larger award than you could on your own.
Who are potential truck accident defendants?
Truck accidents are unique because several parties can be found to have been negligent, and as such responsible for your damages. These parties can even share responsibility for the accident in some cases. Potential truck accident defendants include:
- Truck driver;
- Employer of truck driver;
- Owner of the truck;
- Person or company that loaded the truck;
- Person or company that maintains the truck;
- The manufacturer of the truck; and/or,
- Anyone else whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
How to determine the value of your trucking collision claim?
Every collision involving a commercial vehicle and/or 18-wheeler is unique and potential compensation depends on the injuries and damage incurred in the accident, as well as the specific details of the accident. An attorney experienced with representing clients involved in collisions with commercial vehicles and/or large trucks can help you quantify your losses and give you an idea of how much your case could be worth.
How long do I have to file a claim related to a trucking accident?
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for most trucking accidents. This means the victim has two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
Accidents involving large trucks are different than car or motorcycle accidents and much more legally complex. Commercial trucking is heavily regulated by laws, and liability for an accident could be shared by several potential parties.
Perhaps the biggest reason accident victims need to hire an attorney is that commercial trucking companies and their insurance companies employ teams of lawyers and other staff whose only goal is to pay accident victims as little as possible. Without the help of an attorney experienced with collisions involving commercial vehicles and/or 18-wheelers, you could lose a significant amount of the compensation you are entitled to.
Talk to a Houston Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in an accident involving a big truck, contact an experienced truck accident attorney without delay. An attorney will represent your best interests and protect your rights as you pursue fair compensation and will help you navigate the complicated and overwhelming legal process.
In some cases, you will be offered a settlement from an insurance company. This demands a closer look. Trucking companies often have the means to fight accident claims aggressively to avoid lawsuits and negative publicity. These companies and their insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart.
The attorney team at The de la Garza law group has 30 years in combined experience and are ready to help after you or a loved one have been hurt in a trucking accident. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling us at 713-784-1010 or contact us online.
We work on a contingency fee basis. If we do not recover compensation for you, you will not pay us anything. If your injuries prevent you from easily coming to our Houston offices, a home or hospital room visit can be arranged. At The de la Garza Law Group, every case is personal. Our attorneys are happy to accommodate you after your accident.
Texas Truck Accident Fact Sheet Infographic
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