Texas leads the United States in terms of tractor-trailer accidents, and it does not look like that will change anytime soon. It is an unfortunate aspect of life in the Lone Star State that you or someone you know may understand well. If you or a loved one was recently involved in that type of incident, make sure to seek the services of a San Antonio tractor trailer accident lawyer.
Why Are There So Many 18 Wheeler and Truck Wrecks in Texas?
Accidents involving tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, and other types of large trucks are common in Texas. But why is that the case? To answer that question, let’s look at some of the key factors contributing to Texas’ elevated truck accident rates.
High Volume of Truck and Passenger Vehicle Traffic
First off, we need to acknowledge that traffic is bad in Texas. It is especially bad in major cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The passenger vehicle traffic generated by residents alone is already enough to clog state roads. However, the traffic situation becomes unbearable when you add the many large trucks that regularly travel through Texas to the mix.
Accidents occur more frequently on clogged roads. Unless traffic on Texas roads starts to lighten soon, truck accidents will remain commonplace.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Many of the large trucks that operate in Texas move plenty of cargo within short timeframes. Because of that, some trucks may not receive the servicing they need. When trucks are poorly maintained, they are more likely to cause accidents. Hire a San Antonio tractor trailer accident attorney if you believe a poorly maintained truck was involved in your case.
Inexperienced Truck Drivers
We also need to acknowledge inexperienced drivers’ role in causing accidents. Many truckers have difficulty staying in the industry because of how demanding and grueling the work schedule tends to be. To compensate, companies hire inexperienced drivers who need more time to be ready for this type of work.
Hold a negligent employer for that decision by partnering with a San Antonio tractor trailer accident lawyer.
How Often Do Texas Tractor Trailer Accidents Occur?
We mentioned in the opening that Texas leads the nation in tractor trailer accidents. So, how frequently do those accidents occur in Texas? According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a total of 25,925 accidents involving tractor trailers occurred in 2021. That is a staggering number and speaks to how perilous Texas roads have become.
The total number of tractor trailer accidents in Texas back in 2021 is one of many troubling statistics you need to know about. Per the same department, 3,052 of those 25,925 accidents are possible injury crashes. Also, 946 of those crashes were accidents that caused serious injuries.
The most troubling revelation is related to the number of people who lost their lives in tractor trailer accidents. Over the course of 2021, the state of Texas recorded 536 fatalities connected to the incidents. Motorists in Texas should be aware of the threat that large trucks pose. They should know how deadly accidents involving those massive vehicles can be so they can take additional measures to keep themselves safe.
How Does a Trailer Tractor Accident Differ from an Auto Accident Case?
Not all attorneys can handle truck accident cases. However, you should seek out a truck accident attorney because cases involving large trucks and passenger vehicles are not the same. Find out how those cases differ by continuing below.
The Potential Parties Involved
In a typical car accident case, the target of your lawsuit will most likely be the other driver involved in the incident. You may need to deal with their insurer and their legal representative, but you still generally know that they are the party responsible for your injuries. Things are not always that simple regarding truck accident cases.
The target of your lawsuit could be the driver, but it could also be their employer. You might have to sue its manufacturer if a defective component caused the accident. One of the trucking company’s partners could also be responsible if its root cause were a cargo loading issue.
Figuring out who to sue in truck accident cases is easier said than done. First, hire a tractor trailer accident lawyer in San Antonio or so they can help you identify the responsible party.
Truck Drivers Are Held to Different Standards
It is important to remember that truckers are commercial drivers. Because of that, different rules apply to them. For instance, they will need to get a commercial driver’s license to operate large trucks legally. In addition, they need a commercial driver’s license to prove that they have the training necessary to control a large truck safely.
On top of that, DUI limits are also different for truckers. The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.08%. For commercial drivers, registering a blood alcohol limit north of 0.04% is enough to get them in trouble.
Large Trucks Can Cause Greater Damage
Lastly, we cannot ignore the greater threat that tractor trailers and other large trucks pose in terms of damage. Car accidents often involve two to three vehicles. The losses sustained by the drivers involved could prove massive, but the damage is rarely widespread.
When large trucks are involved, the damage tends to scale up. Even a single truck can wipe out an entire row of cars. Jackknifing trucks can also hit multiple lanes of vehicles and cause plenty of damage while doing so. The severity of the accidental damage also increases when large trucks are involved. Consider yourself lucky if you walk away with only minor injuries following a close encounter with an out-of-control semi.
Texas Laws and Trucking Standards
Truck drivers in Bexar County and other parts of Texas should be aware of their rights and the other laws governing the state. By being aware of those laws, truckers can protect their rights and avoid hitting the road in poor conditions.
Hours of Service Laws for Texas Truckers
Hours of service laws are supposed to keep truck drivers from becoming overly fatigued. In the Lone Star State, a truck driver must be off duty for at least eight consecutive hours before they can resume driving. When they are back on the clock, Texas law dictates that truckers are only allowed to drive for up to 12 hours. They are also only allowed to stay on duty for 15 hours total.
Notably, the hours of service law in Texas is more demanding of truckers than federal guidelines. If an investigation reveals that a trucking company violated those hours of service laws, you should go after them with the help of your San Antonio tractor trailer accident attorney.
Weight Limits for Large Trucks
The state of Texas imposes weight limits for its highways. According to state law, the maximum weight limit for any vehicle intending to use a Texas highway without a permit is 80,000 pounds. Additional limits are set based on what type of truck they are operating. Trucking companies and their partners should be aware of those weight limits so they do not overload those commercial vehicles.
The Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Lawsuits
Victims of truck accidents do not have an unlimited amount of time to take legal action. In Texas, plaintiffs have two years from the date of the accident to sue the party responsible for their injuries and losses. Two years may seem like plenty of time, but it can go by quickly while you focus on recovery. Partner with a lawyer to ensure that you file the lawsuit on time.
Determining Responsibility in an 18 Wheeler Accident
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that truck accident cases are different from typical car crashes due to the potential parties that may be involved. So, how do you determine which party is responsible for your accident? The solution to that problem involves hiring a truck wreck attorney.
Your attorney can coordinate with the police to investigate your accident. They can get to the heart of what happened and identify the root cause of the crash. Once your attorney has determined the cause of the accident, they can assign blame to the appropriate party. For example, they may suggest suing the truck driver, their employer, a partner company, or a manufacturer responsible for producing a defective component.
Regardless of who your lawyer identifies, you can rest assured that you are going after the right party. You also cannot dismiss the possibility that the defendant in your case will attempt to blame you for the accident.
This is a common tactic defendants deploy because it could allow them to reduce their financial obligations. Do not worry about the defendant using that tactic. The facts of the case uncovered by your tractor trailer accident lawyer in San Antonio will prove that you should bear no blame for that incident.
Do I Need an Attorney, or Can I Handle My Own Case?
We cannot overstate the importance of hiring a San Antonio tractor trailer attorney to handle your lawsuit. You are trying to recoup compensation to cover your medical expenses and damaged property, so messing up the lawsuit is not an option. Detailed below are additional reasons why hiring an attorney is a must for anyone pursuing a semi-truck accident case.
- Navigate the Complexities of a Truck Accident Case: Figuring out who is to blame and the extent to which their negligence contributed to the large truck accident will not be easy. However, sorting that out is necessary if you want legal action against the appropriate parties. Entrust that task to your legal representative to avoid potentially costly mistakes.
- Oversee All the Necessary Conversations: Insurers and lawyers will likely be calling soon if you are the victim in the truck accident case. They want to help their clients escape their responsibilities and know that talking to you can help. Avoid saying something wrong by letting your attorney handle those conversations. For now, you should focus on getting better.
- Negotiate with the Parties Involved: Even after you and your legal representative file the lawsuit, settling is an option. If you are going up against a business, you can expect them to bring high-powered lawyers to the negotiations. Do not allow the other side to get the upper hand by hiring a reputable attorney yourself.
- Represent You in Court: Did the settlement negotiations break down? Do not worry, even if something like that happens. There is no reason to fear heading to court if you hire a competent attorney. On the contrary, thanks to them, you may even walk away with greater compensation when everything is said and done.
What Is the Average 18 Wheeler Accident Settlement?
How much can you expect to receive in compensation if you were involved in an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer accident? On average, settlement packages in those cases amount to around $48,000. Of course, several factors can change the settlement in your case.
Your injuries will play a role in determining the value of your settlement. Plaintiffs dealing with serious injuries like broken bones and traumatic brain injuries are more likely to receive greater compensation. The defendant may also be open to offering greater compensation if you and your lawyer can credibly prove that the accident has caused you emotional distress. The same thing may happen if your property received damages due to the accident.
The amount of evidence you gather can also affect your settlement. If you can present overwhelming evidence in your favor, the other side will be more amenable to your demands.
San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyers
Reach out to Barrus Injury Lawyers and get the help you need following your tractor-trailer accident. We can handle every aspect of your case and work tirelessly to help you claim fair compensation.