When it comes to trucks, Texas leads the way. Texas has the most pickup trucks, the highest tonnage of waterborne cargo, and the most commercial truck drivers in the US. Texas is also seeing a steady rise in the number of fatal truck crashes every year. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you may have cause for a wrongful death claim and should consult with a Houston wrongful death lawyer.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents are a real and growing concern. In fact, 74 percent of all fatal vehicle accidents involve a large truck, and 82 percent of all truck accident fatalities are occupants of the other vehicle. In fact, a Houston transport company was recently declared an “imminent hazard to public safety” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and prohibited from doing business. The most common causes of trucking accidents are:
- Driver errors: 87 percent. The most common driver errors are:
- Decision errors: 38 percent. The driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, followed other vehicles too closely, etc.
- Recognition errors: 28 percent. The driver failed to observe driving conditions due to inattention or distraction
- Non-performance errors: 12 percent. The driver failed to perform because they fell asleep, or were disabled by a heart attack or seizure, or for some other reason
- Performance errors: 9 percent. The driver panicked, overcompensated, or made some other error.
- Vehicle problems: 10 percent. The vast majority of trucking accidents due to vehicle problems are due to tire or brake failure. Some trucking accidents are also caused by cargo shifts in transit. A truck with brake problems is 170 percent more likely to be involved in a crash.
- Environmental problems: 3 percent. A small number of trucking accidents are caused by local conditions, including sun, rain, wind, etc. These problems are exacerbated when a driver is unfamiliar with the area or driving in a work zone.
When is a Fatal Trucking Accident Wrongful Death?
Not all fatal trucking accidents are cause for a Houston wrongful death lawsuit. In order to prove wrongful death, the plaintiff must prove:
- The death of a human being
- The death was caused by the willful intent, or negligence, of someone else. For example, if the accident was caused by sudden hazardous weather or a heart attack, it may not be the result of negligence. However, if the driver were under the influence, or the trucking company failed to perform vehicle maintenance, their negligence may have caused the accident.
- Survivors who have suffered losses due to the death. Losses may include medical or funeral expenses, lost wages or future earning potential, pain and suffering, and other costs.
Types of Trucking Accident Wrongful Death Settlements
Because there are so many different types of trucking accidents, trucking accident victims may be involved in a wide range of legal procedures. Trucking accidents may cause:
- Personal injury lawsuits. If a person is injured in an accident, but not fatally, they may be entitled to a personal injury settlement.
- Wrongful death lawsuits. If a person is injured and later dies, their estate may be able to pursue a personal injury claim, while survivors can also file a wrongful death claim.
- Workers’ comp claims. If a truck driver is injured or killed on the job, there may also be cause for a workers’ compensation claim to help recover losses.
- Criminal proceedings. In the case of gross negligence, intentional harm, or other types of trucking accidents, the penalties may be criminal as well as civil.
- Punitive damages. If a plaintiff wins their personal injury or wrongful death claim, and there has been gross negligence, the wrongful death settlement may include punitive damages in addition to their proven losses.
Because of the complexity of these types of cases, it is best to consult with a wrongful death lawyer in Houston as soon as possible, to ensure you understand your rights, and file all your claims within the statute of limitations.
When Do You Need a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been injured in a trucking accident, it is best to speak with a Houston wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. They will help you understand the types of claims you may file, and how much you can sue for wrongful death. A Houston wrongful death attorney will also advise you during any law enforcement, workers’ comp, or insurance proceedings, to ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
The Aaron Allison law firm has been fighting personal injury and wrongful death cases in Houston since 1978, and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for victims. Contact us today for a free consultation.