Kerrville Truck Accident Lawyer Providing Legal Representation for Injured Clients
In an effort to provide reliable and low-cost logistic services, some trucking businesses fail to provide drivers with adequate work conditions, forcing them to cut corners and not comply with safety and traffic regulations. Unfortunately, this common practice often leads to severe and often fatal trucking accidents in Texas and all over the nation. Learn how truck accident claims work in Texas and why you should speak to a Kerrville truck accident attorney to discuss your case.
What Kind of Safety Regulations Should Texas Truck Drivers Follow?
In order to keep truck drivers and other road users safe, commercial trucking companies, as well as individual owner-operators, have a series of safety regulations they must comply with. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a complex set of rules that applies to the operation of all commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, tankers, and carriers of hazardous materials.
Examples of those regulations include the need for adequate and frequent maintenance and repair of trucks and trucking equipment. It is the trucking company’s responsibility to ensure that the truck and all its parts are safe and roadworthy. Trucking companies and drivers are also required to maintain adequate insurance, which usually means having higher liability coverage than a passenger vehicle driver would need due to the more serious damages a truck accident could cause. Truck drivers are prohibited from operating their trucks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and are also required to undergo periodic medical examinations and take mandatory breaks between shifts.
Before a driver is legally authorized to operate a commercial truck, they must fulfill a series of requirements, which include being at least 21 years old, speaking and understanding basic conversational English, and obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Those wishing to obtain a CDL must also be in good health and not have any disqualifying health conditions such as epilepsy, color blindness, diabetes requiring insulin injection, or a limb, muscle, or neurological disability that affects vehicle control.
What Are the Most Common Truck Safety Violations in Texas?
In order to ensure compliance with safety and traffic regulations, numerous state and federal roadside inspections are conducted every year all over Texas. A total of more than 213,273 inspections were conducted in 2020 alone despite all pandemic-related restrictions. Penalties can range from a fine to the issuance of out-of-service orders for the driver, the vehicle, or both, depending on the severity of the violation.
For example, drivers are required to maintain a log with details about their shifts, including the number of hours spent driving and time spent off duty (such as sleeping or taking required breaks). Failure to have a log on board or to keep it updated can be problematic because the driver may be attempting to hide violations such as driving nonstop for longer than they should.
Driving log violations are common, and the same is true for FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations. Many drivers are cited for driving beyond the allowed 11-hour limit per 14-hour duty period. Other drivers may be cited for not speaking English (and thus being unable to understand basic instructions or traffic signals and make entries on reports and records), speeding 6-10 miles over the posted speed limit, and even driving without a seatbelt.
What Are the Causes of Most Truck Accidents in Texas?
In spite of all efforts by authorities, Texas is still among the states with the highest percentages of truck accidents that result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Driver fatigue is among the most frequent causes of truck accidents in the state. Drivers may sometimes be put under pressure to comply with a tight schedule at the risk of losing their jobs – a situation that leads many to cut corners and try to bend the rules in order to meet the trucking company’s expectations. Driving long hours without required rest periods leads to extreme fatigue, a condition that is said to be as dangerous as drunk driving. Some drivers may attempt to deal with fatigue by consuming energy drinks or supplements, but many of those substances wear off and cause even more fatigue, increasing the risk of a driver falling asleep at the wheel or making a grave mistake.
Other causes for truck accidents include driver errors, such as improper or unsafe lane changes, speeding, poor maneuvering, or failure to brake on time – sometimes due to fatigue, intoxication, or distracted driving. Passenger vehicle drivers also cause a large percentage of accidents involving trucks, often due to traveling in the truck’s blindspots, making improper lane changes and cutting in front of a truck without allowing for enough space, and misjudging the truck’s speed and required distance to stop.
In some cases, truck accidents can be caused by mechanical failures. The cause of mechanical failures may sometimes be linked to a lack of maintenance or an improper repair job. For example, trucks with brakes that are inadequate, defective, and even inoperable are a hazard on the roadway. Tires that are too old or that have not been inflated properly can cause dangerous blowouts. However, in other instances, the cause may be a defective part or an improperly loaded cargo. If a truck has a manufacturing defect or if the party responsible for the cargo container failed to secure the cargo, causing it to shift, even the best of truck drivers may not be able to avoid getting into a crash. If you have been hurt in a trucking accident, it is important to work with a Kerrville truck accident attorney who can carry out an independent investigation of your accident and pinpoint the main causes.
Who Is Financially Responsible for Damages Caused by a Truck Accident?
As you may now understand, truck accidents can not only be more devastating than passenger vehicle accidents but also significantly more complex. While a lot of accidents are caused by driver error, other factors may be at play, meaning you may end up dealing with multiple at-fault parties. Making the correct determination of who was at fault for your accident will determine how you may receive compensation.
For example, if your vehicle was struck by a truck driver in a jackknife accident, and later it is determined that while the truck driver was fatigued and had been driving for longer than they should, the company responsible for loading and securing the cargo did not do a good job and the cargo shifted dangerously, forcing the driver to jackknife the truck in order to avoid a more serious collision. In this hypothetical scenario, both the driver and the cargo company would share responsibility for your accident. This means you may have to file two separate insurance claims in order to recover compensation.
Possible responsible parties in a truck accident may include the truck driver, the driver of a passenger vehicle, the trucking company, the shipping company, and even the manufacturer of the truck or truck parts. If your accident was partially caused by a manufacturing defect, you may seek compensation from that manufacturer through another type of civil action called product liability, while accidents caused by all other parties would likely be treated as a personal injury claim.
What Should I Do to Recover Compensation After a Truck Accident?
Victims of truck accidents caused by someone else may be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries and damages. However, the process of receiving compensation is not always easy or straightforward, and trucking companies will usually go to great lengths to try and dismiss an accident claim, sometimes employing a team of attorneys just to deal with this type of situation. This means that a truck accident victim working without an attorney may have slim chances of recovering any payment, even if the trucking company’s negligence was the root cause of the accident.
For that reason, you should contact a Kerrville truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can assist you in the process of filing insurance claims, as it is not unusual for truck accidents to have more than one responsible party and thus require victims to file multiple claims. In addition, some cases may require litigation. If you are not able to reach a favorable outcome through an insurance claim or other types of out-of-court negotiations, your attorney can take the steps necessary to bring your case to the courtroom.
Truck accident victims may be entitled to reimbursement for their economic and non-economic damages. Medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair or replacement bills, and any other tangible financial losses resulting from the accident are all examples of economic damages. However, a truck accident is a highly traumatic event, and simply getting repayment for financial losses is not enough. For that reason, victims may also seek compensation for non-economic damages, which are sometimes informally referred to as “pain and suffering.” Non-economic damages refer to the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of the accident, injury, and recovery process. Pain, emotional distress, trauma, PTSD symptoms, and other more subjective losses are also included as part of a truck accident claim.
In order to receive full compensation for all your damages, it is best not to self-represent and choose a seasoned truck accident lawyer to handle your case. Your lawyer can make all the difference in your case and help gather the evidence you need to hold the at-fault parties financially liable for your accident. Even if you do not believe your case will end up in the courtroom, simply letting the parties involved know that your attorney is now handling your case for you may cause them to begin cooperating and taking you more seriously, as settling outside of the courtroom is significantly less costly and less risky for them.
At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy and his legal team strive to protect the rights of victims injured in truck accidents in Kerrville and surrounding areas. They have helped countless clients secure maximum compensation after a truck accident and are ready to help fight for your rights, too. They can tackle every aspect of your case – from insurance phone calls to courtroom trials – with professionalism and knowledge, so all you need to do is to focus on healing. Reach out to the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy in Kerrville, TX, by calling (830) 222-8629 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case and get help.