Texas Truck Accident Attorney Protecting the Rights of Victims Hurt in a Truck Accident in San Antonio
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimates that Texas was the state with the highest number of fatalities due to truck accidents in 2019. That is a chilling statistic because it means that about 12.6% of all accidents that occurred in Texas were due to a collision involving a commercial truck or 18-wheeler. Accidents are often caused due to truck driver errors but also due to passenger vehicles. Learn what to do if you were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck and the steps you may take to recover compensation.
What Are the Most Frequent Types of Accidents Involving a Truck?
Truck accidents are said to account for more than 13% of all fatal vehicular crashes in the country. Some of the most common types of truck accidents are rollovers, rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, and jackknife accidents. A rollover is one of the most dangerous types of truck accidents in which the truck trailer flips and forces the entire truck to roll and land on its side.
Rear-end collisions involving a truck are equally catastrophic. Trucks weigh several tons more than a standard passenger vehicle and thus require longer distances to come to a stop. If a trucker is going too fast or for any reason fails to apply the brakes in time to stop may hit another vehicle from behind and cause serious or fatal injuries to the occupants of that vehicle.
Head-on collisions can happen when a truck drifts from its lane and heads towards oncoming traffic, or fails to stop at an intersection, red light, or stop sign. This can be due to driver errors or mechanical failures. Jackknife accidents happen when a truck that is attached to its trailer by an articulated joint makes an improper turn or braking maneuver, causing the trailer to skid wide around its pivot point, pushing the truck to fold into itself at a 90-degree angle and potentially leaving a path of destruction in its trajectory. There are many other types of accidents involving trucks, but any encounter with a commercial truck can be serious and often fatal.
What Type of Injuries May Result From a Truck Accident?
Injuries resulting from a truck accident can range from soft tissue injuries such as whiplash, bruises, and cuts to more serious conditions such as spinal cord injuries, internal injuries (such as blunt abdominal trauma), traumatic brain injuries, burns, and even loss of limbs and disfigurement. Whiplash is a relatively common injury in any vehicular accident, and while it can be painful, it is usually not very serious. On the other hand, a spinal cord injury can be serious and lead to temporary or permanent disability because the spinal cord houses a large number of nerves that transmit information from the brain to the rest of the body. Any lesions may mean that part of your body is not receiving the brain stimulus it needs to function properly, and that is a condition that requires extensive medical treatment, and not every patient is able to make a full recovery.
Head injuries are also frequently observed in truck accidents and can vary in severity from just a bruise or a cut to a concussion or traumatic brain injury. This type of injury can happen when a person’s head suffers a sudden blow (such as strong shaking, a hard impact, or severe rotation of the head) that causes damage to brain tissue and, in its most severe form, can lead to lifelong disabilities and even brain death in some cases.
Another possible type of injury in a truck accident is burns. Trucks can do a lot more damage to a passenger vehicle in the event of a crash, and the chances of rupturing fuel lines and causing a fire are high. In some cases, the truck may be carrying fuel or other types of flammable chemicals that can ignite and cause a dangerous and often deadly situation. Passengers who are fortunate to escape a fiery crash may suffer first, second, or third-degree burns that can lead to disability and disfigurement.
Is the Process of Filing a Claim for a Truck Accident Similar to Filing a Car Accident Claim?
When you are injured in a truck accident, you are entitled to file an insurance claim for damages, much like what would happen after a car accident. However, the similarities end there. While most truck drivers are required to have their own insurance, commercial truck operators often work for a trucking company, meaning you may have to file more than one insurance claim.
You will want to begin by reporting the accident to law enforcement and seeking medical help right away. If possible, obtaining information from the scene of the accident is also important – finding out who the truck driver works for, what their insurance carrier is, and whether the police have given any traffic citations to that driver. Take pictures and video of the scene of the accident, and write down the contact information of any witnesses. Then, reach out to a San Antonio truck accident lawyer right away.
Truck accident claims tend to be more complex than auto accidents due to the fact that there are often multiple parties involved – the truck driver, the trucking company, the party responsible for loading the cargo the truck was carrying, and sometimes even the manufacturer of a defective part that contributed to the accident. Your attorney can help you get to the root cause of the accident and identify which parties are liable for it.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents in Texas?
Truck accidents can happen due to a myriad of reasons ranging from drivers who are fatigued or under the influence to passenger vehicle errors and tire blowouts. The trucking industry is a high-pressure, high-stakes environment in which many truckers end up feeling the pressure of a tight and demanding schedule and are tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety, maintenance, or compliance with traffic laws.
A trucker who has been driving for long hours without a break is more likely to become sleepy, distracted, or make mistakes due to their reduced ability to concentrate and react to obstacles ahead. Yet, many truckers fear losing their jobs if they are late on a delivery and feel they have no choice but to keep on driving and forgo their breaks. Other truckers choose to use energy drinks or supplements to stay awake, but the effects of those substances are not always predictable and can still leave the driver exhausted and lead to an accident.
The same high-pressure schedules can lead a trucker to drive aggressively, swerving in and out of traffic lanes and speeding to try and cut down on their travel time. However, due to the sheer size and mass of a truck and trailer, aggressive driving can lead to serious accidents because a trucker may not have enough time and distance to apply the brakes or may execute an improper turn or lane change and crash into other vehicles on the road.
Accidents can also be caused by mechanical failures, and tire blowouts are a good example of those. Many instances of mechanical failure can be traced back to a failure to conduct proper maintenance of the truck, driving with old or improperly installed tires and truck parts, or taking shortcuts to reduce waiting time and costs. However, even when a truck is properly maintained, a manufacturing defect or improperly loaded and secured cargo can also cause an accident.
Other possible variables include the use of drugs and alcohol by the truck driver and/or the driver of a passenger vehicle, inexperience driving a large commercial truck, and accidents caused by passenger vehicles engaging in an illegal maneuver (such as a u-turn), cutting in front of a truck, or being unaware of a truck driver’s blind spots and limitations when it comes to stopping distances.
As you can see, a truck accident can be rather complex and require extensive work to determine which party or parties may have been at fault for the accident. Evidence from the scene of the accident, along with police reports and data collected from the truck’s EDR (Event Data Recorder, which is informally referred to as a truck’s ‘black box’), can all help determine liability. In many cases, the truck driver is required to submit to a drug and alcohol test following the accident, and the result of that test is also an important piece of evidence. That is why it is essential for truck accident victims to reach out to an experienced San Antonio truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What Kind of Damages Are Available for Truck Accident Victims in Texas?
Truck accident victims may be entitled to compensation for the losses they suffered due to their accidents and injuries. A typical accident claim will likely include two categories of compensable damages – economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are tangible financial losses that one may suffer as a direct result of the accident and injuries. These may include the cost of emergency medical care and hospitalization, the cost of rehabilitation, physical therapy, or any form of long-term care, the cost of prescriptions and medical equipment such as prosthetics or wheelchairs, and could also include the cost of hiring a home health aide for patients with a temporary or permanent disability. Because most truck accident victims are unable to work while they recover from their injuries, they may struggle to make ends meet without receiving their regular paycheck, so lost wages are also included as a type of economic damage, and that also applies to any property (such as vehicles) that need to be repaired or replaced as a result of the accident.
However, an accident involving a large commercial truck does not simply result in financial losses. The entire situation is traumatic, and oftentimes, the process of receiving medical treatment and recovering from an injury can be just as painful. While no amount of money can undo what happened and actually stop the victim’s emotional and physical pain, non-economic damages are paid as the next best solution to reimburse victims for the emotional distress, pain, and suffering caused by the truck accident.
Finally, there is another category of damages called punitive damages. These are not available in every case but may apply to cases in which the at-fault party is proven to have been grossly negligent and acted with such disregard for the safety of others that the court feels their behavior should be reprimanded. Since a civil court that handles personal injury cases cannot issue criminal penalties, the judge may choose to require the defendant to pay the victim punitive damages in addition to standard compensable damages as a way to punish the defendant’s behavior and discourage similar behavior in the future.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may want to speak to a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. This is an important step for you to understand your rights as a victim and get a better idea of how much money you may be able to receive for your case.
Why Is It Important to Work With a San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyer?
Truck accidents can quickly become complicated cases because of the type of evidence necessary to build your case, as well as the potential number of parties involved. You may find yourself having to file multiple insurance claims, and sometimes, going to court may be necessary to secure fair compensation for your case. By working with a seasoned San Antonio truck accident attorney, you can simply focus on healing and let your attorney use their experience and knowledge to handle every aspect of the case on your behalf so as to maximize your chances of winning.
At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy and his legal team have helped countless truck accident victims in San Antonio and surrounding areas. Whether you are having a hard time getting paid by the insurance company, need to go to court, or are simply overwhelmed and unsure about your next steps, reach out to our firm at (210) 953-7486 and schedule a free consultation to learn your options.