In 2016, the number of crashes involving large trucks increased to 475,000 according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Victims of these accidents have a right to compensation, but they must first prove that the fault for the incident falls on the truck driver or another party. However, because of the complex matters involved in truck collisions, proving fault can be a difficult process that requires the assistance of a Houston truck crash lawyer.
How Truck Accidents Occur
Truck accidents occur for many reasons and most are preventable. Consumption of alcohol or drug use leading to DUI is involved in one-third of crash fatalities in the U.S. The Texas Penal Code limits the blood alcohol concentration for commercial drivers to 0.04%. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) further restricts DUI by prohibiting the consumption of alcohol prior to operating a truck. Yet, many truck accidents still occur from excessive alcohol consumption.
FMCSA also imposes regulations on trucking companies regarding the number of hours allowed for driving between rest breaks, meals, and sleep. However, companies may violate these regulations, so that truck drivers are drowsy or fall asleep while driving.
Reckless driving is another common cause of trucking accidents. Speeding can cause trucks to spin out of control. Driving around a curve too fast can result in a truck tipping sideways and rolling over. Stopping too quickly can result in underride accidents. Insufficiently-secured loads can fall off while driving and hit the following vehicles. Unsecured loads can also shift during travel and cause the truck to tip over from the weight. Distracted driving can lead to rear-end accidents.
Determining Fault in a Truck Accident
With so many possible causes of truck accidents, the fault can potentially fall on truck drivers, other motorists, trucking companies, truck manufacturers, and even governments responsible for maintaining roadways. The liable parties will depend on the circumstances of the individual accident.
To receive compensation, truck accident claims must prove the fault of the commercial truck driver and provide evidence for this claim. This involves establishing that:
- The responsible party had a duty of care toward you
- The responsible party violated that duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly
- Those actions were responsible for your accident, and
- That accident was the cause for your injuries.
Any motorist – including truck drivers – automatically has a duty of care toward others on the road. Likewise, trucking companies have a duty of care to ensure that their trucks are well-maintained and that their drivers follow appropriate regulations. While establishing a duty of care in an accident can be simple, proving that the responsible party violated that duty and caused the accident is much more complex.
Conducting a truck accident inquiry requires the help of an attorney who understands the different types of evidence common to truck accidents. Trucking accidents require specific types of evidence such as “black boxes.” These boxes record data like truck speed, brake information, and other important evidence. However, loss or destruction of information is likely to occur if an attorney does not access a black box quickly. Other information like driver log books, maintenance records, and employee files play important roles in determining fault.
An attorney will also gather eye-witness interviews and investigate the accident scene to determine who is at fault. Reconstruction experts may also be necessary to reconstruct the scene of the accident to help determine fault. If a truck driver or company acted in violation of federal trucking regulations, that can serve as grounds for liability.
Because of the complex process of truck accident claims, you’ll want to work with a skilled Houston personal injury attorney to help prove fault. By proving liability in court, you can successfully recover your rightful compensation to assist in recovery from your accident.