While the number of 18 wheeler accidents is small compared to passenger car accidents, the percentage of commercial vehicle crashes that result in serious injuries or fatality is very high. Because of the size of a tractor – trailer (which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds) the devastation from a collision is usually serious, even at low speeds. Each year almost 4,000 commercial vehicle crashes result in a fatality, and over 73,000 truck wrecks involved injury.
Our experienced Austin 18-wheeler lawyers have been helping Texas families get maximum compensation after a collision with a semi-truck for over two decades. Put our truck accident team to work for you!
Texas has the largest percentage of fatal 18-wheeler crashes of any state in the country. Additionally, in the latest reported cases, Texas had over 600 fatalities and 14,000 injury truck accident victims in one year. Travis County alone had 17 deaths in commercial vehicle crashes and almost 598 truck injury crashes last year.
FEDERAL REGULATION OF TRUCKING COMPANIES
Trucking companies are known as “Motor Carriers” and are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which provide the minimum level of safe conduct by both the truck driver and the trucking company. These federal regulations have been adopted in the state of Texas. These safety rules provide the baseline conduct for drivers and the motor carrier and cover such things as driving in adverse conditions, maintenance requirements, hours that a truck driver may legally drive, and qualifications of the truckers.
Frequently Violated 18 Wheeler Trucking Regulations
1. Log Book and Hours of Service Violations
Tractor-trailer drivers must keep a log of their activities including the following:
- the total number of hours they are behind the wheel each day (because they are limited by law)
- the time they are on the job or the clock for their employer (because the total time is limited by law)
- hours driving between destinations
- rest breaks and off-duty status
2. Commercial Driving Rules
Drivers must be proficient in the operation of the big rig including:
- safely maneuvering the tractor-trailer
- backing and parking the big rig
- pre and post-trip inspections
- special rules regarding the hazardous material transport
Types of Truck Accidents We Accept
For over 20 years we have been helping folks like you after a serious truck wreck. Some of the types of accidents we take include:
- 18-Wheeler accidents
- Tanker truck crashes
- Garbage truck accidents
- FedEx truck accidents
- Uber and Lyft wrecks
- Dump truck accidents
- Commercial vehicle accidents
COMMON CAUSES OF AUSTIN TRUCK ACCIDENTS
The majority of tractor-trailer accidents are caused by driver error. This can be such things as:
- Following too close,
- not keeping a proper lookout,
- failing to maintain a safe distance,
- failing to yield the right-of-way,
- not seeing a vehicle in a blind spot,
- speeding or traveling too fast for the roadway conditions,
- driving while fatigued or after the driver was legally disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle, or
- operating a dangerous vehicle.
Trucking companies can share legal responsibility with their drivers who are operating the vehicle on the job. Additionally, trucking companies can be responsible for a crash by their actions in failing to hire qualified drivers, failing to implement safety policies, failing to properly maintain the truck and trailer or the components such as tires and brakes, and also violating the safety regulations.
What you should do if you are injured in a commercial motor vehicle accident:
1. Call the police or wait for an investigating officer
If you can speak with the police officer investigating the crash, make sure you tell the officer your side of the story. Your only chance to talk with the officer may well be at the hospital. Truck drivers are very defensive in the protection of their commercial driver’s license and often deny responsibility when they, in fact, caused a crash. They might call their company to report the accident before they even come to check on you, and the company will dispatch their lawyers to gather evidence favorable to them.
Police reports can provide evidence, particularly in serious injury accidents because the officer may reconstruct or reenact the accident. Regardless of whether the officer’s opinions can come into evidence in a trucking accident lawsuit, the officer’s factual observations such as the scene of the crash, debris, and markings on the highway as well as witness information, weather, etc. may well be admitted in a trial.
2. Take photographs
Use your cell phone to take photographs of the accident scene, the vehicles, and the resting position of the big rig and your vehicle. If you can, safely photograph the place where the impact took place and any skid marks or other markings on the highway.
3. Identify witnesses
Some of the most powerful evidence can come from independent witnesses to the crash. These are usually fellow motorists who were in the area at the time of the accident and saw it occur. It is important not to rely upon the officer investigating the crash to record the name and contact information of witnesses. Often, the officers are more interested in safety at the scene than they are in documenting independent witnesses.
4. Record statements by the driver
If the truck driver talks to you regarding how the accident happened, it is important that you record those statements either by video on your smartphone or by writing down what the driver said. This can be something simple as the driver saying “I didn’t see you I’m sorry.”
5. Get necessary medical treatment
Most of the time after an 18-wheeler collision, the surviving victims are taken to the hospital by ambulance. It is important that victims of commercial vehicle crashes follow their physician’s instructions to the letter. Do not “tough it out” or miss appointments because your health and happiness can be on the line. Additionally, it is important to understand that emergency rooms are for just that – emergencies. Many hospitals will not treat you for conditions that are not life-threatening even if they require surgery. The hospital will refer you to a specialist or your primary care physician for follow-up care.
Austin Highways Where Truck Accidents Happen Frequently
Common locations for 18 wheeler accidents near Austin include on US 290, I 10, US 281, and I 35.
TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY AUSTIN
Our primary law office for truck accidents is in Austin, Texas. We take appointments and offer home and hospital consultations.
We have obtained great results for our truck accident and commercial vehicle clients. While each case is unique and stands on its merit, our trucking litigation experience is over two decades. You do not want an attorney learning on the job in your case. We recommend you thoroughly research the attorney you are considering for a trucking accident case.
Do not let the insurance company handle your claim. Insurance companies for the truck driver typically contact an injured person quickly after the crash. The intention of the adjuster is to establish rapport with the victim and infer that the victim does not need an attorney to represent them in the case. Often words such as “we accept responsibility” are used, and people mistake that to mean we will pay you fairly. That is not the case – insurance companies are trying to pay as little as they possibly can on each claim to maximize their profitability. If an insurance company can pay you ten cents on the dollar, they will do so without batting an eye.
The only way to maximize your compensation is to hire the best truck accident attorney you can for your case. Contact us if you are looking for an experienced Austin 17 wheeler accident lawyer.