Austin Truck Accident Lawyer
Large trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds can cause serious damage, injury, or death, when involved in a collision.
Semitrailers pose a much higher risk of crash-related injury and death, because of their size – up to 59 feet long and weighing between 20,000 and 80,000 pounds. Professional truck drivers receive training on how to safely operate their rigs, but semis still cause numerous accidents every year.
While road conditions, visibility, and other traffic hazards may contribute to crashes, driver error or faulty maintenance is often to blame. And when those errors constitute negligence, those who are injured may be entitled to compensation. If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident, find out if you have a case – call us today at (855) 414-1012.
Commercial Truck Maintenance
Semis and tractor-trailers have a much longer stopping distance than a typical passenger vehicle. Federal law requires that when driving 60 mph, they must be able to stop within 250 feet when carrying a full load, or 235 feet when carrying a light load (an exception exists for “very heavy severe service tractors,” which must stop within 310 feet).
Even under ideal driving conditions, a driver may be unable to avoid a sudden traffic hazard, such as an accident that occurs in front of the truck or another motorist who crosses the truck’s path. When brakes are faulty or poorly maintained, a driver may have further difficulty stopping, or even be unable to stop at all.
Each year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts its International Road Check – a 72-hour enforcement effort that enlists thousands of officials to inspect commercial trucks and buses in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Inspectors look for out-of-service violations, which include structural or mechanical problems that make a truck unsafe for roadways. In 2014, inspectors placed 18.7 percent of inspected vehicles out-of-service, finding:
- 7 percent of trucks had brake adjustment problems
- 5 percent of trucks had brake system problems
- 8 percent of truck tires or wheels did not pass inspection
- 5 percent of drivers had violated Hours-of-Service rules.
Hours-of-Service rules are intended to keep drivers from working too many hours and driving while tired. Drivers who are paid by the mile may try to skirt those rules in order to earn more money. But sleep deprivation – especially when driving a poorly maintained truck – could increase a driver’s risk for a crash.
When a mechanical failure or defect causes a crash, it may not be readily apparent, especially when vehicles are heavily damaged. Investigators may need weeks to pinpoint a cause. But when you’re injured in an accident and contact a lawyer right away, you’ll be prepared to act quickly, once the cause is determined.
Compensation for Truck Accidents in Austin
When an accident claims the life of a parent, families may be entitled to damages that can help them care for the children.
In 2013, a jury awarded $165 million to the family of a man killed in a Dimmitt County accident. The victim – a decorated war veteran with seven children – was driving when a driveshaft from a nearby commercial truck broke loose and crashed through his windshield, killing him. A jury found that the operator of the truck fleet, which was a subsidiary of another corporation, was liable for the crash, because improper maintenance caused the drive shaft failure. In 2014, the subsidiary’s parent company announced terms of the settlement had changed, and been reduced, and that it would pay a lump settlement of $5.5 million to the family to fully resolve the claim.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT
If you do find yourself involved in a truck accident, there are some crucial steps you should take:
- Stay at the scene and call 911. Safety is your first priority. Remain at the scene until emergency personnel arrive. If you are injured, do not attempt to move until first responders can help you. Move your vehicle for safety if needed, but leave it where it is if you can to help preserve potential evidence. Check occupants of other vehicles for injuries if you can.
- Take photos, video, and sound recordings. A thorough record of the crash scene, including damage to your vehicle, immediately after an accident can go a long way toward proving liability.
- Exchange information with other drivers, including names, phone numbers, driver’s license number, license plate numbers, and insurance information.
- Seek medical attention. Follow all medical advice and keep all your appointments.
- Contact an attorney. Do this as soon as possible. Once the statute of limitations runs out, you may lose any chance of compensation.
WHAT IF THE TRUCKING COMPANY CALLS?
The trucking company, or their liability insurer, may contact you in an attempt to settle the claim. If they do, politely tell them that they should contact your attorney. Under no circumstances should you discuss the details of the accident with anybody but your attorney and the police.
FAULTY EQUIPMENT AND PRODUCT LIABILITY
Many accidents are caused by the negligence of the driver, but in some cases faulty equipment is to blame. Defective tires, locks, hydraulics, brakes, and other equipment can all cause damage and injury. If that happens, the manufacturer of the equipment may be held responsible. The attorneys at the Evans/Reilley Law Firm can help you determine where legal responsibility lies.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a truck accident, there’s no amount of money that can truly make up for that loss – but you shouldn’t be made to suffer financial hardships, as well. The Evans/Reilley Law Firm can help you recover damages including:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of future earnings
- Grief and emotional damage.
Head and brain injuries are among the most common types of injuries suffered in truck wrecks, and they can also be the most dangerous, especially because you may not be able to see the effects of them immediately. These injuries can range from a mild concussion to a traumatic brain injury that could ultimately prove to be fatal. It is critical that you seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident, even if nothing appears wrong at the time. Other injuries common in truck accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Amputated limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Seatbelt and airbag injuries
- Internal injuries
- Cuts and lacerations.
WHERE DO ACCIDENTS COMMONLY HAPPEN?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fatal crashes involving large trucks tend to occur in rural areas and on Interstate highways. About 61 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas, and 27 percent on Interstate highways. And about 15 percent straddled both categories: crashes occurring on Interstate highways in rural areas.
TYPES OF COMMERCIAL VEHICLES THAT CAN BE DANGEROUS
Any other vehicle on the road can be a potential hazard, but commercial vehicles to be particularly cautious around include:
- Bucket trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Agricultural vehicles
- Passenger buses
- Cement mixers
- Flatbed trucks
- Front loaders
- Garbage trucks.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer in Austin
If you’ve been injured in a crash because of a truck driver’s negligence or faulty vehicle, you want a lawyer who understands how to get the compensation you need to cover your losses. The Evans/Reilley Law Firm has achieved favorable settlements for numerous clients in trucking accident cases. Call us today at (855) 414-1012, or fill out our online contact form, and find out what we can do for you.