More and more of the global economy is driven by truck transport, resulting in more trucks and large vehicles on the road every year. Unfortunately, this also results in more truck accidents every year. Fatal truck accidents have increased 36 percent since 2010, and there were over 160,000 injuries in truck accidents in 2019. Truck accidents can also cause property damage, spillage of harmful materials, and other long-term effects, and it may be difficult for victims of a truck accident to recover from all the damage. You need a Houston truck accident lawyer to help you understand your rights.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Houston
Most large trucks and tractor-trailers are driven commercially, so truck accidents share many common causes and attributes. Statistically, most truck accidents occur during the work week, between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., on major roads. Because these vehicles are so large and heavy, 69 percent of truck accident fatalities involve the other driver, while the truck driver is much less likely to be injured or killed in an accident. And truck accidents are typically caused by similar factors, including:
- Truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers average less than 5 hours of sleep a night on the road. Truck driver fatigue is estimated to be a factor in over 40 percent of truck accidents, and 7 percent of truck accidents are caused by the driver falling asleep at the wheel. Driver fatigue may also play a role in a wider variety of truck accidents, because it may contribute to unsafe maneuvers, over-the-counter drug use, distraction, and other accident causes.
- Truck driver distraction. Most truck accidents occur during long-haul driving, where the driver may become bored and distracted. Distraction is a factor in 28 percent of truck accidents, often caused by the driver using communication and navigation devices while driving.
- Poor truck maintenance. Maintenance and vehicle condition can also contribute to truck accidents. Under the best of conditions, a fully loaded semi-truck traveling at highway speeds takes about 5 full seconds and 500 feet of distance to come to a sudden stop. Brake problems cause nearly a third of all maintenance-related truck accidents, while tire problems account for another third.
- Overloaded or unbalanced cargo. Overloaded cargo accounts for 5 percent of all truck accidents in the US, and unbalanced and improperly loaded cargo can also be a road hazard.
- Unfavorable weather and road conditions. As with all motor vehicle accidents, poor weather and road conditions make driving less safe and can cause collisions and injury.
Who May Be Liable in a Texas Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Because truck accidents can be caused by so many different factors, victims need a qualified Houston semi-truck accident lawyer to help understand potential liability and their recovery options. Some of the entities who may be liable for a truck accident include:
- The truck driver. If the driver was being negligent or driving recklessly, they may be liable for the accident.
- The trucking company. If the company has provided poor maintenance, they may be held liable for the accident. In some cases, the company may also be partially responsible for the driver’s actions, especially if they have poor hiring, training, or employment policies.
- The shipping company. When a truck accident is due to improperly loaded cargo, the company that loaded the truck may be liable. In many cases this is the shipping company, but the task of loading the truck is often outsourced to a broker or other fulfillment company.
Texas House Bill 19, effective in September 2021, requires that victims of a truck accident in Texas must first sue the truck driver personally. If the driver is found liable for the accident, they must pay compensation. After the driver is proven negligent and held accountable for damages, victims may file a second lawsuit against the trucking company. The trucking company can only be held liable for punitive damages (not compensation), and then only if the victim can prove gross negligence. This law makes it much more difficult for victims to recover appropriate damages in the case of a truck accident and requires the expertise of a specialized Houston truck accident attorney.
What is a Truck Accident Attorney?
A truck accident attorney is a lawyer who specializes in the unique challenges posed by truck accidents. They understand the special liabilities and procedures of truck accidents and have experience in truck accident lawsuits against drivers, trucking companies, and shipping and cargo companies. In Texas, a truck accident attorney must also understand the new liability issues and bifurcated process required by House Bill 19.
What to Look for in a Houston Truck Accident Attorney
When choosing a Houston semi-truck accident lawyer, here are some of the key factors to look for:
- Expertise and experience. You wouldn’t ask a pediatrician to perform your heart surgery, even though they are a qualified doctor. Instead, you need a Houston lawyer with a proven track record of fighting and winning truck accident cases. Ask for examples of the attorney’s related experience and the outcome of their lawsuits.
- Persistence and aggressiveness. Especially after the passage of House Bill 19, a Texas truck accident lawyer needs to be persistent and aggressive. A trucking accident lawsuit typically involves negotiating with various insurance companies in an attempt to settle. These cases can take years to reach a resolution, and trucking companies may fight discovery and attempt to delay a trial. You need a Houston truck accident lawyer who will go the distance.
- Communication and compassion. Since you may be working with your truck accident attorney for years, it’s important to choose an attorney who you understand and trust. They should be able to answer all your questions, keep you constantly informed, and help you make the best decisions for you and your family.
Why Choose Aaron Allison?
Aaron Allison Law Firm has been fighting for accident victims since 1978, with a proven track record of success. Our Houston truck accident lawyer knows your rights and offers a free consultation to discuss your case. Contact us today.