Corpus Christi Trucking Accident Law Firm
Trucking accidents are often among the most devastating of all traffic crashes. With trucks’ extra size and weight, trucking accidents typically result in massive property damage, severe injuries, and a higher chance of fatality than any other type of traffic collision.
Those who live through a trucking accident often spend months or years recovering from debilitating injuries, and sometimes full recovery never happens. Long recovery times coupled with commercial trucking insurance policies make this type of accident claim particularly complex, requiring the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to handle the nuances of this type of case.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a Corpus Christi trucking accident, Texas law entitles you to seek compensation for damages in civil court if another party caused the accident. Contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at the Patel Firm at (361) 400-2036 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances.
Trucking Accidents Are on the Rise in Texas
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 26,000 tractor-trailers and semi-trucks were involved in traffic collisions in 2018—an increase from almost 25,000 trucks in 2017. In 2018, at least 3,500 trucks were involved in crashes which led to injuries and 465 tractor-trailers and semi-trucks were involved in fatal crashes.
County-level data doesn’t distinguish between types of commercial vehicles, but trucks are the most common type of commercial vehicles. In 2018, almost 400 collisions involving commercial vehicles occurred in or around Corpus Christi in Nueces County, also an increase from previous years. These statistics only scratch the surface of the trucking accident problem in Texas. Continued development in oil fields and through off-shore drilling put Corpus Christi area residents who share the road with trucks at risk of severe accidents.
Trucking Accidents Lead to Debilitating Injuries
When traffic accident victims get in minor fender-benders, it’s not always necessary to obtain legal counsel. But trucking accidents often result in debilitating, sometimes permanent injuries. Some of the types of trucking accident injuries that might warrant a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Multiple fractures, crushed bones, and broken bones;
- Lacerations that leave permanent scars;
- Severe brain injuries and other head traumas that lead to recurring headaches and loss in brain function;
- Whiplash and other neck injuries;
- Back injuries including fractured vertebrae and herniated discs, which can lead to chronic pain even after one or more corrective surgeries;
- Spinal cord injuries, which can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis in some or all of the body;
- Organ damage and internal bleeding, especially damage leading to one or more surgeries;
- Crushed limbs from the impact of a trucking accident and accompanying amputations when limbs cannot be saved; and/or
- Painful and severe burns when a trucking accident causes a fire or explosion.
7 Common Driver-Related Causes of Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents can be caused by environmental factors, mechanical issues, and human error. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates all commercial vehicles and thodse who drive them, including the trucking industry. Truck drivers must comply with FMCSA regulations and uphold their legal obligation to operate their trucks with care for others on the road. Nonetheless, truck drivers who make poor choices behind the wheel can cause serious trucking accidents resulting in incapacitating injuries and fatalities. According to the FMSCA, the following driver behaviors frequently lead to trucking accidents:
When you think of distracted driving, you likely think of using a cell phone or texting and driving. These driver behaviors have become increasingly common and cause serious traffic accidents across the nation—and cell phone use is not the primary distraction to cause trucking accidents.
Texas law strictly prohibits drivers from using cell phones, but federal law has prohibited cell phone use for truckers for more than a decade. Truck drivers can use a hands-free device and initiate a voice call with one button, but all other cell phone use is prohibited.
Other driver behaviors that take a driver’s attention away from the task of driving include adjusting the radio or GPS, eating and drinking, personal grooming, reaching for things on the passenger seat or the floor, or watching an event outside of the truck. These things are not illegal, but they can lead to severe, and sometimes fatal trucking accidents.
Truck drivers are required to work long hours and demanding schedules to transport the goods we need and want throughout Texas and the nation. The FMSCA regulates the number of hours a driver can operate a truck each day and each week, but even following mandatory hours of service rules doesn’t guarantee truckers get the sleep they need.
According to the FMCSA, drivers who have gone without sleep for 18 hours experience the same level of impairment as a drunk driver with a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol level. Driving while drowsy or even worse, while experiencing full-blown fatigue, can lead to deadly trucking accidents. Truck drivers who drive overnight are especially at risk for dangerous drowsy or fatigued driving.
Driving Under the Influence of Controlled Substances
With the large number of trucks traveling on Texas roads, motorists hope truck drivers aren’t driving under the influence. Unfortunately, studies show truck drivers sometimes use drugs and alcohol to cope with tough work conditions, including long workdays.
Each year the FMSCA estimates that well over 10 percent of fatal trucking accidents involve a trucker with drugs in their system. More than 20 percent of fatal trucking accidents involve drivers with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08, twice the legal limit of 0.04 for those who hold commercial driver’s licenses.
Drugs and alcohol impair a driver’s judgment and slow their reaction time. Truckers already need extra space and time to maneuver their vehicle given its size, and adding controlled substances to the mix makes it difficult to react to the erratic movements of other vehicles on the road or to any other road hazards, which can lead to severe trucking accidents.
The FMSCA consistently reports speed as the most common factor in fatal semi-truck collisions; among fatal large truck accidents, more than one-third of all truck drivers were speeding. Speeding might not always be the direct cause of an accident, but it makes it more difficult for truckers to control their trucks. A loaded semi can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is 20 to 30 times heavier than the average motor vehicle, making the force of a truck upon impact extremely dangerous to the average passenger vehicle.
Truckers don’t have to travel above the posted speed limit for speed to be a factor in a severe accident. Driving too fast for conditions, especially in rain, fog, or high winds can cause a driver to struggle to control their truck, leading to a horrific accident.
Failure to Yield
Truck drivers don’t want to get in an accident potentially leading to suspension or job loss; however; distractions happen. When truckers fail to yield, they cannot easily stop for another vehicle. Failing to yield often occurs as a result of distracted driving, especially when truck drivers are focused on their schedule, pickups, and drop-offs, instead of paying attention to the road. Other times failure to yield is a result of truckers not clearing their massive blind spots before they turn or change lanes. With blind spots extending down both sides of the vehicle and at least 20 feet forward from the cab and behind the trailer, large trucks become dangerous weapons when truckers don’t clear their blind spots.
Following Too Closely
Truckers who tailgate the vehicle in front of them create the potential for a dangerous trucking accident. Most driving instructors teach student drivers to leave a minimum of a two-second gap when following another vehicle. The FMSCA suggests truck drivers leave a minimum of a four-second gap between the front of their cab and the vehicle they are following, or more depending on their speed. Rain and high winds increase the need for space to at least seven or eight seconds. When a truck follows another vehicle too closely, it cannot easily stop or slow when the vehicle turns or makes a sudden stop, which can lead to a dangerous, or even deadly, rear-end collision.
Failure to Obey Traffic Signals
It’s highly unlikely a trucker will intentionally run a red light or stop sign. Yet, when truckers are distracted, they may fail to obey traffic signals. Focusing on other things such as finding a pickup or drop-off location makes it easy for even the safest truck driver to miss a traffic sign or signal. When trucks disobey traffic signals, other motorists cannot always avoid an intersection collision. In some cases, small cars that strike the side of a semi-trailer might get lodged under the trailer and experience a dangerous underride collision, where the truck drags the car under the trailer until the truck driver realizes what has happened and stops the truck.
Recovering Damages After a Corpus Christi Trucking Accident
After sustaining severe injuries in a 18-wheeler accident, Texas law permits accident victims to seek compensation for damages in civil court to recover losses incurred as a result of their injuries. Exact settlement and verdict amounts vary based on the circumstances of an accident, the extent of the victim’s injuries, and the amount of economic loss a victim suffers. If a court rules in the victim’s favor or the parties reach an agreeable settlement, the victim might recover compensation for the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical expenses for ambulance and emergency service, hospital stays, surgery, diagnostic imaging and other lab tests, medication, and followup visits.
- Future medical treatment when a severe trucking accident injury requires a long recovery time or leads to a permanent disability requiring around-the-clock care.
- Rehabilitation expenses including assistive devices like wheelchairs, crutches, and artificial limbs, as well as visits to specialists who help a victim regain lost functions, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
- Costs for psychological care or therapy to treat the emotional trauma sometimes caused by experiencing a severe trucking accident.
- Lost wages for time away from work due to the accident, hospitalization, and recovery.
- Future lost wages when a trucking accident victim cannot return to their job because of a permanent medical condition or disability.
- Loss of consortium (companionship or the nature of a previous relationship) with a spouse.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Mental anguish.
- Scarring and disfigurement.
- Other non-economic damages specific to a particular case.
If you have lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you might also have a legal right to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on your relationship to the deceased. A qualified trucking accident lawyer from the Patel Firm can advise you on your eligibility and which damages might apply to your situation. If you prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit, the court might award some of the damages listed above, as well as additional damages based on your relationship, burial expenses, and funeral costs.
Contact The Patel Truck Accident Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one suffered harm in a trucking accident in the Corpus Christi area, you deserve compensation for losses related to the accident. In most cases, Texas law gives you two years to take legal action against those who caused the accident. The dedicated trucking accident attorneys at the Patel Firm understand the financial and emotional struggles you are likely facing, and we are here to help. Let us investigate the circumstances of your trucking and accident and uncover facts to build a case for damages while you focus on healing.
If you live in the Corpus Christi area, contact the Patel Firm online or call (361) 400-2036 for a free case evaluation to determine your eligibility to recover damages. The Patel Firm handles personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, only collecting attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you in the form of a settlement or court-awarded damages.