Dallas Truck Driver Gross Negligence And Punitive Damages

Given the enormous size and weight of the average semi-truck the property damage and bodily injuries sustained by victims in such a crash can be devastating. Common injuries in traffic collisions involving 18-wheeler trucks in DFW typically involve broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation, paralysis and even death. In any case, the accident victim is likely to be facing enormous medical bills through no fault of their own, which means it is important to speak with an experienced truck wreck attorney to fully understand the legal options available.



Since commercial truck wrecks have the potential to cause such severe and life-changing injuries, there are numerous federal and state guidelines which seek to hold professional truck drivers to a much higher standard than the average motorist. In order to legally operate an interstate commercial vehicle in the United States, the driver must hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), be aged 21 or older, be able to read and speak English and not otherwise be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle (for example; they must never have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol, committed a felony, fled an accident scene, etc.).



Unfortunately, despite all the regulations motor carrier companies and their drivers must abide by, there are always some which try to break the rules without getting caught. Typically, this is when the worst accidents usually happen. If a truck driver is found to have caused a multi-vehicle crash because they were intoxicated or in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service regulations, then it would most definitely be seen as an act of gross negligence because they actively understood the public safety danger created by their actions and yet did it regardless. This misconduct was not a simple matter of a lapse in judgement or inadvertence, it was a blatant disregard for the potentially fatal consequences of their actions. Clearly, the driver of an 80,000 lbs tractor trailer who gets behind the wheel after drinking is certainly guilty of gross negligence.



In cases where a commercial truck driver and/or their employer is found guilty of gross negligence under Texas law, an experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer is able to claim punitive damages against them since trucking companies do not have the same low liability limits as the average DFW motorist. Punitive damages are not intended as compensation for the accident victim (although the accident victim will often receive some or all of any punitive damages awarded in addition to compensation for their medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, etc.). Rather, punitive (or exemplary) damages are intended to both punish the at-fault party for their gross negligence and to set an example to discourage others from causing similar accidents in the future.