Austin Truck Accident Lawyers
The people who suffer the most severe injuries in commercial truck accidents often are not the truck drivers. Instead, they are the others involved in the crash.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that out of the nearly 4,000 people who died in the U.S. in truck accidents during one recent year:
- 69 percent were car and other passenger vehicle occupants
- 15 percent were pedestrians, motorcyclists or bicyclists.
There is a reason for this: The tractor-trailers (or “18-wheelers”) we encounter on our roads are massive. They often weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles. They also have greater ground clearance. Smaller vehicles can readily “underride” a semi when a crash occurs.
As we have seen at Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, the majority of these commercial truck accidents should never happen in the first place. They result from the careless decisions made by truckers, trucking companies and others within the trucking industry.
We Protect the Rights of Austin Commercial Truck Accident Victims
Our lawyers help truck accident victims and their families in Austin and throughout Texas to hold negligent parties accountable. We are committed to aggressively pursuing all compensation that our clients are due.
Our firm offers experienced litigators who are well-versed in the many complex issues involved in commercial truck accident cases. We bring more than 50 years of personal injury and wrongful death law experience to the clients we serve and a record of delivering positive results.
Our lawyers have received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® Rating (the highest peer review rating possible). They are also listed in Texas Super Lawyers® and in Best Lawyers® by U.S. News & World Report – both based on peer review. We encourage you to read their profiles and learn more about their highly professional, compassionate and ethical approach to serving clients.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a collision with a commercial truck, we want to help you. Taking immediate action is crucial. Connect with us today for a free consultation. We can discuss your case at our Austin office, by phone or at a location that is most convenient for you.
Truck Accident Case Testimonial
“I hired Don to represent my 3-year-old son who sustained a permanent brain injury resulting from a collision between an automobile and a passenger bus. In what became a rather complicated case which eventually went to trial after several years, Don displayed the knowledge, ethics and passion for which he is known. …”
– Raif C, Bus Accident Client
How Can Our Attorneys Help After an Austin Commercial Truck Accident?
Our experience with cases involving large commercial trucks makes a difference for our clients. We understand the many challenging aspects of these cases, including:
- Types of accidents – Unlike collisions that involve two passenger vehicles, underride crashes (where the car goes beneath the trailer) and jackknife accidents (where the trailer spins away from the tractor at an angle) can occur when one of the vehicles is an 18-wheeler.
- Immediate investigation – You must act quickly in order to preserve, gather and analyze evidence after a truck accident. This evidence can include photos from the accident scene, black box data, driver logbooks, inspection and maintenance records and the tractor-trailer itself. Driver drug and alcohol tests must also be preserved.
- Involvement of multiple parties – In addition to the truck driver, many other parties may be responsible for an 18-wheeler crash such as the trucking company, mechanics, warehouse operators, shipping brokers and truck manufacturers. A claim must identify all of these parties, including those based in different states or countries.
- Violations of state and federal regulations – A complex network of state and federal rules govern the trucking industry in Texas. Many of these regulations are designed to prevent accidents such as rules that require mandatory inspections or limit the number of hours that drivers can be on the road. A violation of these rules may establish negligence in a commercial truck accident claim.
- Commercial driver insurance policies – Texas law and federal law set higher minimum liability insurance requirements for commercial motor vehicles. The limits are significantly higher if a truck carries hazardous materials.
The lawyers of Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, will use our skill, knowledge and resources to tackle these issues and pursue maximum compensation for you and your family through a truck accident settlement or verdict. We may also consult with highly qualified experts in accident reconstruction, engineering, truck industry safety and other fields.
What Causes Truck Accidents in Texas?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that, in 2015, 60 percent of fatal large truck accidents occurred on rural roads, while 25 percent occurred on interstate routes such as I-35 in Travis County.
Many factors contribute to these commercial truck crashes. However, truck driver error serves as one of the leading factors. Examples of careless or reckless truck driving include:
- Traveling above the speed limit or going too fast for conditions
- Failing to keep adequate surveillance of the roadway and surrounding traffic
- Making an illegal maneuver such as tailgating, failing to yield, or turning or changing lanes without a signal
- Driving while distracted by activities such as texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking or playing with a GPS device
- Driving while impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs or over-the-counter medications
- Driving while excessively drowsy.
If a truck driver engaged in any of these negligent acts, the driver could be held responsible for the harm that he or she causes to others.
The trucking company that employed the driver could be liable, too, based on the driver’s negligence. In some cases, the trucking company’s own negligence may be a factor in a crash. For instance, the company may be liable if it:
- Hired a driver without conducting a sufficient background check
- Failed to properly train and/or supervise the driver
- Allowed a vehicle to hit the road without adequate inspection and/or maintenance
- Put pressure on a driver to violate state and federal safety regulations.
Other factors that commonly cause tractor-trailer crashes include:
- Negligent repairs by mechanics
- Careless loading of trailers by warehouse operators (causing cargo to shift or spill)
- Hiring of unqualified drivers by shipping brokers.
In some cases, a crash may be due to a defective truck or truck parts such as tires, wheels, brakes, steering mechanisms, couplings, hitches and safety chains. The manufacturer can and should be held liable.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Texas Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Truck Accident Injuries
Because of the huge discrepancy in size and weight between large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, victims of large truck accidents can suffer serious or fatal injuries. Common truck accident injuries include:
- Rib and torso injuries
- Seat belt injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
At Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, we understand the severe impact of these injuries on victims and their families. We want to help them to move on with their lives with a feeling of security.
Truck Accident Cases
In your truck accident case, we can seek damages that may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
We prepare cases for success in the courtroom. When the other parties in a truck accident case see that we are ready to win in court, we believe, they will be more likely to offer a settlement that justly compensates our client.
Negligence of Truck Drivers
Unfortunately, the drivers who get behind the wheel of large commercial motor vehicles do not always act responsibly. They make careless and reckless decisions that lead to tractor-trailer wrecks such as:
- Speeding – Truck drivers often break the speed limit or go faster than they should in poor weather and road conditions. When mammoth 18-wheelers go too fast, drivers can easily lose control or lack the ability to avoid collisions.
- Aggressive driving – In a rush to meet delivery deadlines, truckers may also drive aggressively. They can tailgate, weave through traffic and refuse to yield the right of way, which places others on the road in serious danger.
- Impaired driving – The use of alcohol and drugs can impair a driver’s physical and mental faculties, greatly raising the risk of a crash. Breath, blood and urine test results will show the amount of alcohol in a driver’s system (0.04 blood alcohol concentration is the legal limit for commercial drivers in Texas) or reveal whether the driver had consumed illegal or prescription drugs at the time of the crash.
- Driving while tired or fatigued – Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as impaired driving. Unfortunately, many truck drivers violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules called “hours of service” regulations limit the number of hours they can be on the road during a given period of time.
- Distracted driving – Truckers can get easily distracted behind the wheel by eating, drinking, smoking, texting, talking on a cell phone or checking directions on a map or GPS. The FMCSA reports that the odds of getting into a crash are 23.2 times higher when truck drivers text while driving than for those who do not.
- Failing to use flares and/or triangles –> If a truck driver needs to pull over a rig due to a blown tire or other mechanical problems, the driver must take care to put out flares or triangles that alert other drivers. Many crashes occur when other drivers fail to see stopped tractor-trailers on time in order to avoid collisions.
Negligence of Trucking Companies
Under Texas law, trucking companies can be held responsible for the negligence of their truckers if the negligence occurs while the trucker is acting within the course and scope of employment. However, in many cases, trucking companies contribute to crashes through their own wrongful actions. Examples include:
- Negligent hiring, training and supervision – Companies put dangerous truck drivers on the road when they violate federal rules (and their own policies) by hiring drivers without sufficient background checks, by failing to properly train drivers on how to handle certain rigs and cargo and by neglecting to supervise their drivers’ compliance with safety rules.
- Encouraging or forcing drivers to engage in dangerous practices – Many companies in the trucking industry put profits ahead of safety. For instance, they may set tight delivery deadlines, which force drivers to speed, drive aggressively or violate hours of service regulations.
- Failure to properly inspect and maintain vehicles – Some trucking companies try to cut costs and neglect inspections, maintenance and repairs to their fleet, which allows dangerous tractor-trailers to be on the road.
- Negligent loading of cargo – If a trucking company permits cargo to be poorly loaded, it can cause a shift or spill that leads to accidents.
Negligence of Truck Manufacturers
Many accidents result from negligence that can be traced to the manufacturer of the tractor-trailer or its components. A crash may be traced to:
- Tire tread separation, tire blowouts or wheel roll-offs
- Brake failures
- Hydraulic system problems
- Defective hitches or couplings.
When defective tractor-trailer equipment contributes to a wreck, the manufacturer, distributor and/or retailer of the equipment should be held liable for the injuries and other losses that result.
Other Parties’ Negligence
An investigation into a truck accident should identify all parties who are responsible. In some cases, the cause of a truck accident may be:
- A mechanic’s failure to properly inspect, maintain and repair a tractor-trailer
- A warehouse operator’s failure to properly load cargo
- A broker’s neglect to conduct an adequate background check before pairing a driver with a company that needs a delivery
- A bar, store or restaurant’s decision to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated truck driver.
Our Austin Truck Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Help You
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a traffic crash with a large commercial truck, it is important to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable Austin truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
When you work with Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, you will receive personal attention directly from your attorney. You can count on our firm to work diligently in the pursuit of a favorable outcome for you and your family.
We founded our firm more than 50 years ago on the principles of honesty, integrity, hard work and professionalism. We continue that tradition today.
Contact us to discuss your case in a timely and free consultation.
Sources / More Information
- Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Large Truck Crash Causation Study – Analysis Brief, FMCSA
- Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics – 2015, Texas Department of Transportation
- Large Trucks, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety