Houston Truck Accident Lawyer
Have you been injured in a truck accident in Houston? Call Houston truck accident lawyer Brian White!
Call Houston truck accident lawyer Brian White for a free consultation today. We never charge a fee until we win your case. The longer you wait to speak to an experienced truck accident lawyer, the more difficult your case becomes to prosecute successfully. Don’t compromise your rights to recover the compensation you need and deserve by waiting to act. We will listen to your concerns and answer all of your questions.
When you are involved in a crash with a big rig, your accident claim will usually be handled differently than if you had collided with another car, van or pickup. Commercial motor vehicles such as semi trucks, bob-tail trucks, cement trucks, 18 wheelers, tanker trucks, and any other motor vehicle hired to deliver or transport goods carry commercial vehicle insurance, and it’s not unusual for a business owner as well as a commercial insurer to be involved in the claim. Because the injuries are often more catastrophic and expensive, liability limits for these policies are much higher. That’s why truck crash injuries are some of the most complicated personal injury claims to settle. Brian White is an experienced truck wreck attorney, and he has assisted many clients in obtaining the medical care they need and just compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages, disabilities, and more.
The Benefits of Hiring a Houston Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one recently suffered harm in an accident involving a big rig, 18-wheeler, or another type of commercial vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for the full extent of your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Texas law provides an important avenue of recourse for individuals who become victims of negligence. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand your rights and protect your right to full compensation under the law. Contact Houston truck crash attorney Brian White to discuss your legal options in a free initial consultation.
Serious truck accidents require the guidance of a serious attorney, specifically one with prior experience with truck accident law. Discover some of the benefits of choosing a Houston truck accident attorney.
Accidents involving commercial vehicles are subject to both state and federal laws. The nature of your case will depend on whether the truck was an interstate or intrastate vehicle, among other considerations. A truck accident attorney knows the trucking guidelines established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and can help determine negligence through log book violations, violation of hours of service, and more.
Brian White has extensive experience in litigating truck accident cases. As a result, he knows just how devastating these accidents can be and how the medical ramifications can last a lifetime. An experienced truck accident attorney knows not only how to valuate a truck accident claim, but also how to account for future costs such as loss in earning capacity, continuing cost of rehabilitation and treatment, and more.
Aggressive Negotiating Skills
A truck accident claim may involve one or several parties: insurance companies, truck manufacturers, trucking companies, even the state or federal government. An experienced truck accident attorney knows how to determine who is responsible and will aggressively fight for your right to fair compensation under the law. When negotiations don’t lead to a favorable outcome, we’ll take your case to trial – we’re willing to go to any length to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
Interacting with Insurers After Semi-Truck Accidents
As soon as possible after the truck accident, find out more about reporting your accident with your insurance company. Many insurers require policyholders to report incidents within a specific timeframe. You may want to write out the facts of the accident or keep the incident report handy for your initial call.
Report the incident to a representative, and only provide basic information. At this time, cause and liability may need further investigation. Stick with the bare minimum of information and avoid discussing your opinion of the accident.
As commercial motor vehicles, most semi-truck claims involve trucking companies. A truck company insurer may try to reach out to you in the days or weeks following the accident. You do not need to provide another insurance company with any information. If possible, refer any insurance adjuster or representative to your attorney. If not, politely decline speaking to the representative until you speak to an attorney first.
Many people mistakenly believe mentioning an attorney in an insurance conversation will make them look guilty or at-fault for the incident. In reality, most serious accidents involve two insurers trying to lower their financial responsibility. They can and will look for ways to make the other party appear partially or wholly liable for the accident to reduce their own payout.
An attorney acts as a legal buffer to protect your legal rights and your best interests after an accident. Since trucking company insurers may routinely handle accident claims, you need a legal representative fighting for your rights.
Why Do 18 Wheeler Truck Accidents Happen?
Commercial motor vehicle operators require specialized training in safety and follow strict regulations regarding their hours, vehicle maintenance, and more, specified by federal laws. Unfortunately, the nation has a trucker shortage and businesses often put their profit margins ahead of worker and public safety.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains that the leading cause of truck accidents is driver error. It cites fatigue, illicit substance use, and log book violations as some of the most common causes of crashes involving 18-wheelers. Other causes of crashes include improper maintenance, tire blowouts, and inclement weather conditions. Often, a combination of these factors comes into play in a truck accident.
The driver is not the only person to blame in trucking accidents. A trucking company could be responsible for forcing its drivers to commit log book violations or failing to properly maintain brakes, tires, or other essential safety components.
No matter the cause, trucking accidents are disturbingly common and can lead to a lifetime of negative consequences. If you or a loved one suffered harm in a trucking accident, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options as soon as possible.
Investigating a commercial vehicle crash is much more complicated and time consuming than an auto accident. So many factors outside of the driver’s control, including work rules and equipment, have to be investigated in order to build a successful truck injury case for trial or settlement. Some of the factors our experts consider when compiling a case are:
- Inexperienced or untrained truck driver
- Overloaded or oversized trucks
- Poorly maintained truck brakes
- Driver fatigue
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Truck drivers driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- Running off the road
- Driving at high speeds beyond the road and weather conditions
- Driving in conditions of poor visibility due to fog, snow, rain, or smoke
- Dangerous or reckless truck driver with a long record of wrecks and fatal traffic accidents
- Aggressive driving
- Failure of truck owner to install an under-ride protection under-guard
- Unsafe safety systems, reflectors, lights, and other warning devices
Truck Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is a factor in at least 30 percent of truck crashes, and data has shown that the risk of a crash doubles after eight hours of consecutive driving.
In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new rule to decrease the number of fatigued drivers by making changes to it s hours of service regulations for trailer truck operators. However, the FMCSA later discovered that the rules were not being enforced, with some truck drivers operating under the old statutes; some were even adding one full work shift per week. Many drivers were operating at the maximum hours allowed.
Big rig operators- who are compensated by the number of miles driven versus number of hours worked – were discovered to have been spending more time driving after the new rule changes were implemented. They even reported more instances of falling asleep at the wheel, with 20 percent of truck drivers admitting to dozing off at the wheel compared to 13 percent before the changes were implemented.
Additionally, there is a shortage of big rig operators around the nation. The American Trucking Association (ATA) reports a scarcity as large as 40,000. Trucks are responsible for transporting nearly 70 percent all U.S. inland freight, and the scarcity of 18-wheeler drivers means current drivers are overworked and more likely to suffer from driver fatigue.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Legal and illegal drug / alcohol use is a component in an estimated 65,000 truck crashes annually.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reported gaps in drug and alcohol testing enforcement and the medical fitness of drivers operating 18-wheelers. Data from the NTSB also discovered that many big rig drivers were job hopping to avoid recognition of a positive drug test.
According to the FMCSA, drug and alcohol tests occur during the following phases:
- reasonable suspicion
- return to duty
Employers must receive a negative drug test result before permitting a CDL driver to operate a commercial vehicle. Drug and alcohol tests may also be required after certain crashes.
FMCSA regulations restrict motorists of semitrailers to a 0.04 percent blood-alcohol concentration limit and also prohibit driving within four hours of consuming alcohol.
Truck Accident Statistics
According to federal data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truck accidents have experienced a steady increase since the early 2000s. In 2015, 4,311 large trucks around the nation took part in fatal accidents, which was an eight percent increase from 2014. This also represents a 26% increase since 2009. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of large truck fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased 1.7%.
Texas echoes these nationwide trends. Consider the following:
- There were 34,108 total crashes involving commercial motor vehicles in 2016.
- Of these, there were 499 fatal crashes leading to 584 fatalities.
- There were 1,426 incapacitating injuries caused by commercial vehicle crashes in 2016.
- An additional 4,704 people suffered non-incapacitating injury.
Truck accidents have a range of devastating effects, from incapacitating to permanently disabling injury. Why these accidents are increasing is not immediately clear – some believe it’s related to the trucker shortage and increased pressure from trucking companies, while others cite long hours of service and fatigue. No matter the reason, a truck accident arising from negligence requires the guidance of an experienced truck accident attorney.
What to Do After a Texas Truck Accident
Your steps following a Texas truck accident can affect your future claim. To protect your right to compensation, take the following steps:
Get Immediate Medical Attention
Most commercial trucking wrecks involve injuries, given the sheer size and weight difference involved. Even low-speed crashes can lead to devastating consequences. In the moments following an accident, you might not realize the full extent of your injuries. Undiagnosed injuries such as head trauma, concussion, or herniated discs can lead to serious consequences without proper treatment and care.
One of the biggest mistakes some people make after a commercial motor vehicle accident is attempting to bear the pain and avoid going to a doctor. However, this “tough it out” approach could severely impact your right to compensation. Seeking appropriate medical care and following your doctor’s orders is not only essential to your recovery, but also your truck accident claim. Avoiding or delaying treatment could cause a jury to think that your injuries are not as severe as you’re making them out to be – even if you’re suffering.
Preserve Evidence, If Possible
Some accident victims require emergency medical treatment and will not be able to take pictures of the accident scene or preserve evidence. However, forensic evidence is very important to a trucking accident case and determining the extent of the defendant’s negligence. Evidence like vehicle damage, skid marks, data from the truck’s computer, and debris could prove invaluable to your truck accident claim. If possible, take pictures of some of this evidence while waiting for the police to arrive.
In cases involving serious injuries or wrongful death, we often have response teams that can dispatch to the accident scene and conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf. Detailed data and measurements can prove valuable for accident reconstruction and other evidence that your attorney can use in trial.
Contact a Houston Truck Crash Attorney
As soon as you’re feeling well enough, contact an attorney with experience in truck accident law. Attorney Brian White can visit you wherever you’re most comfortable, whether it’s your hospital room or recovering at home. Let him provide you with a free case evaluation and help you determine your next steps. Hire someone with extensive experience litigating trucking cases who can aggressively protect your right to compensation.
Truck Accident Litigation Process
A Texas truck accident claim process begins as soon as your trucking accident attorney accepts your case. While you focus on your recovery, there will be a lot happening behind the scenes to protect your right to recovery. Here’s what you can expect from the process:
- An investigation. Your attorney, trucking company, and insurance companies will all conduct independent investigations into the accident to determine who is at fault. An investigation includes gathering forensic evidence as well as statements from witnesses and reading police reports.
- You may receive notification from an insurance company. Never sign any documents or agree to any recorded statements without the guidance or approval of your attorney. Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making a profit and paying as little out on a claim as possible. It’s common for an insurance company to approach trucking accidents with low-ball offers that do not reflect the extent of a victim’s pain and suffering.
- Negotiations begin. Your attorney will begin to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. In some cases, trucking accident claims end here if an insurance company is willing to pay a fair settlement in exchange for your medical bills, lost wages, future medical care, and pain and suffering.
- If negotiations fail, a trial begins. If your lawyer cannot get a fair settlement from the insurance company, he will begin the process of filing a formal lawsuit in court. This often results in a trial and a jury rendering a verdict in your case.
Compensation Available in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Victims of trucking accidents have several different types of damages available:
- Economic damages. These include the quantifiable expenses associated with a trucking accident, like medical bills, lost wages, loss in earning capacity, ongoing therapeutic costs, and more. Determining future medical costs is an important aspect of gaining full and fair compensation for a victim’s economic damages.
- General damages. Reserved for the immaterial losses associated with a victim’s experience. Common examples include emotional distress, mental anguish, pain, suffering, and loss in life quality. In cases involving wrongful death, economic damages may also include loss in partnership or consortium.
In some cases, Texas law allows victims of trucking accidents to pursue punitive damages against an at-fault driver. These only apply when an accident results from intentional misconduct or gross negligence. An example might include a driver intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Current FMCSA Truck Driver Regulations
Drivers of semitrailers are regulated by the FMCSA which provides a set of rules intended to help keep big rig operators safe.
Presently, those who drive 18-wheelers are limited by the number of hours they can work on a daily and weekly basis. According to the FMCSA, the following hours of service regulations are enforced around the country:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: Commercial motor vehicle operators may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- 14-Hour Driving Window: Drivers may not work (work includes driving and activities for off-duty time such as taking a lunch break or a nap) for more than 14 hours per day
- 30-Minute Rest Break: Regulations require that if more than eight consecutive hours have passed since the last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes, a driver must take an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes before driving
- 60/70-Hour Duty Limit: Drivers cannot exceed 60 hours on duty over a week, or 70 hours on duty over eight days
- Drivers must be provided 10 consecutive off-duty hours per shift
The trucking industry has also been slow to adopt certain safety measures and new technologies intended to make trucking safer, claiming high costs as a deterrent.
Your Texas Truck Accident Attorney
Texas truck accidents have many unique considerations and are a matter of both federal and state law. Choose an attorney who has extensive experience in truck accident litigation. Contact attorney Brian White for a free review of your legal options today. The firm commits to holding negligent parties responsible and ensuring fair compensation for the full extent of your injuries, pain, and suffering.