A fully-loaded 18-wheeler can do a great deal of damage when it collides with a passenger vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic crashes involving large trucks killed 4,094 people and injured 116,000 in the most recent year for which statistics are available.
Large truck accidents can cause serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries, particularly to occupants of other vehicles. Our experienced truck accident attorneys in Houston lead by Willie D. Powells III and his associates are tough advocates for 18 wheeler accident victims.
Truck Accident Statistics
As reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2016:
- 4,213 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes.
- 475,000 traffic accidents involving large trucks were reported to police.
- 104,000 of these accidents caused injuries.
- 22% of fatal crashes and 14% of injury crashes involving large trucks were single-vehicle accidents, including pedestrian and bicycle accidents.
- 73% of fatal and 83% of injury large truck crashes involved collision with a vehicle in transport.
- 395 multiple-vehicle fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in Texas.
- 27% of fatal and 8% of injury crashes in construction zones involved large trucks.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
In a large study of the causes of 18 wheeler accidents published by FMCSA, researchers found that, of the large trucks involved in single and multiple-vehicle accidents, more than half (55%) were at fault for the crash.
The three major “critical events” assigned to large trucks were:
- Running out of the travel lane into another lane or off the road (32%)
- Loss of control of the vehicle due to speeding, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, poor road conditions, or other reasons (29%)
- Colliding with the rear of another vehicle in the truck’s travel lane (22%)
Common Injuries in 18-Wheeler Crashes
Based simply on the laws of physics, people in passenger vehicles are likely to suffer serious injuries in a crash with a tractor-trailer. Common injuries in this type of collision include:
What Makes Truck Accident Cases More Complex?
Truck accidents in Houston can be more complex than typical auto accident cases. Complexities arise in:
- High damages: Truck accidents often result in catastrophic or fatal injuries. Survivors may require ongoing medical treatment and suffer significant loss of earnings, along with current and future pain and suffering and disability.
- Proving negligence: Many truck accident cases involve multiple potentially responsible parties, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and vehicle and parts manufacturers.
- Multiple insurance companies: Trucking companies have extensive insurance coverage and the driver may have a separate policy. If both are liable, you may be dealing with various providers who are attempting to limit their payout.
Federal Regulations Governing Trucking Companies and Drivers
In the interest of public safety, trucking companies and their drivers are subject to a host of federal regulations. Among other things, these regulations cover:
- Screening, hiring, and specialized training of drivers
- Inspection, maintenance, and loading of vehicles
- Driver drug testing
- Hours of service (required rest for drivers between trips)
Despite the regulations, trucking companies and drivers are sometimes negligent, and other motorists suffer as a result. The trucking company may fail to properly maintain brakes, tires, and other essential equipment. A driver may be speeding, following too closely, driving fatigued, or disregarding the rules of the road.
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Truck Accident?
You must take the following steps after a truck accident:
- Remain at the scene.
- Seek medical treatment even if you are unsure of the extent of your injuries. Adrenaline reduces pain, and you may not realize you are injured. Some injuries take several days to become apparent.
- Identify the company that the truck driver works for, as that company may ultimately be held liable for your injuries.
- Obtain the driver’s name, phone number, email, address, and his or her insurance information.
- Check if any witnesses observed the accident. If so, get their contact information.
- If possible, take photos of the scene of the accident, including any damage to your vehicle, tire marks on the roadway, and of the injuries you have sustained.
- Do not speak to an insurance adjuster until you have contacted a truck accident attorney for guidance.
- Speak with an attorney regarding your case as soon as you are able. They can ensure that your rights are protected and that your case is managed correctly.
How do you prove the commercial trucking company is liable in a truck accident?
IIn order to prove negligence, you’ll have to show that:
- Commercial truck drivers owe a duty of care on the road, meaning they are obligated to drive safely and have their vehicle inspected in a timely manner
- The driver breached that duty, meaning they failed to drive safely, they failed to secure their load, they failed to properly inspect their truck, or they weren’t qualified to drive their current vehicle
- You suffered losses such as injuries, pain and suffering or property damages in the incident
- The damages were caused by the other party’s breach of duty
A good truck accident lawyer can help to establish these facts by performing a thorough investigation. This may mean delving into the truck driver’s personal life, requesting truck maintenance records, or taking extensive photographs.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the insurance company?
A good truck accident lawyer can help negotiate compensation far beyond what you might be able to get on your own. An at-fault trucker’s insurance company may try to rush the settlement process to get you to accept a lower sum, but you don’t have to take it. A good attorney will deflect lowball offers and ensure that you are not being taken advantage of. What’s more, a lawyer can help to keep communication professional when you might be feeling very angry and upset about the accident.
Why You Need a Lawyer in a Truck Accident in Houston?
In a complex truck accident case involving federal regulations and multiple potentially responsible parties, it is crucial to have an experienced truck accident lawyer by your side as soon as possible. The trucking company may have a team of lawyers and insurance adjusters on the scene momentarily after an accident involving one of its drivers. Trucking company representatives will fight to protect the driver and limit the company’s liability for your injuries.
Why Choose Willie D. Powells Law?
At The Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III and Associates, PLLC in Houston, we have the skills, knowledge, and resources to properly investigate your accident, thoroughly prepare your case, and provide the clear guidance you need after a serious truck accident. We can give your case the care and attention it deserves, protect your rights, and fight tenaciously to secure full and fair compensation for your losses. If you wish to learn more, contact us today and schedule a meeting with one of the best truck accident lawyers Houston has to offer.
FAQ 18-Wheeler Accidents
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident attorney?
Hiring a truck accident attorney may be much more affordable than you think. Attorney Willie Powells takes on truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis and is able to help many people achieve justice and full compensation without the need to pay any upfront costs.
What is a contingency fee basis?
Willie Powells works on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay any legal fees unless compensation is recovered for you. Your compensation may be recovered through a settlement or be awarded by a jury. A percentage of the compensation will cover your attorney fees. In other words, the fees are contingent on winning compensation.
How long does a truck accident lawsuit take?
The length of your truck lawsuit will depend on the following factors:
- The length of the investigation
- The extent of your injuries and need for ongoing, or lifetime of medical treatment
- Whether the case can be settled or must proceed to trial
It is important to remember that by hiring an attorney, you not only significantly improve your chances of recovering compensation but receiving an amount that reflects the full scope of the impact upon your health, life, and future.
What if I am partly at fault in a truck accident?
If you were not responsible for more than 50 percent of the accident, you could still seek compensation from a truck accident. Attorney Willie Powells can explain how comparative negligence works, how your case will proceed, and the amount of compensation that should be pursued, even if you were partly responsible for the accident. If you wish to learn more, contact our truck accident lawyer in Houston today.
How can other drivers avoid 18 wheeler accidents?
Large trucks and 18 wheelers have more blind spots than normal motor vehicles. Avoid driving in the following areas:
- 20 feet in front of the truck
- Roughly 30 feet to the rear of the truck
- The front half of the truck in the driver’s side lane
- Two lanes to the right of the truck
Be careful when passing a big rig. You must remember the following:
- Trucks require much more distance to come to a stop
- Do not try to pass a truck traveling uphill or downhill
- Don’t merge into the lane in front of a commercial truck until there is enough space behind you that you can see the truck in your rearview mirror
- Never pass a truck on the right – the driver may not see you