By John Jose
Texas has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in fatal truck accidents. In 2018, the last year data is available, there were 658 fatal crashes in Texas, resulting in 664 deaths. Texas’s 664 deaths in truck wrecks accounted for more than 13 percent of the fatalities suffered in truck wrecks in the entire country in 2018 and are more than 52 percent higher than the number of deaths from truck wrecks reported by the state that had the next-highest fatality rate from truck crashes—California.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study in which it gathered data from crashes involving large trucks between 2001 and 2003 to report to Congress. The FMCSA reported that, during the 33-month study period, there were approximately 141,000 fatal or injury-causing crashes involving large trucks (trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds).
Common causes for commercial trucking accidents
According to the FMCSA’s report, two-thirds of the crashes caused by large trucks were attributable to the following:
- the truck driver’s failure to recognize a potential crash risk as a result of inattention, distraction, or failure to observe.
- the driver’s poor decision-making, such as driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, misjudging the speed of other vehicles.
- making incorrect assumptions about the other driver’s actions.
More than 60 percent of crashes caused by large trucks resulted from one of two types of driving failures:
- driving outside the truck’s proper lane of travel.
- loss of control.
The statistics were still sobering nearly two decades later. In 2018, 4,951 people were killed and 151,000 injured in crashes involving large trucks and passenger vehicles.
Why truck accidents are more complex than car accidents
In addition to the increased severity of injury when a vehicle weighing tens of thousands of pounds collides with a vehicle weighing only a few thousand pounds, truck wrecks differ from car wrecks in several other significant respects:
Regulations: Trucking companies and truckers are controlled by an extensive framework of federal and state regulation and, as a general rule, most trucking companies and truckers are in violation of these regulations every day.
Investigation: Truck wreck cases require much more investigation into the pre-wreck conduct of both the truck driver and the trucking company, the driver’s training, and the condition of the vehicle than would ordinarily be involved in a routine car wreck case. In addition, there are critical, time-sensitive aspects to investigation and discovery in truck crash cases that require prompt attention and thorough investigation.
Complication: On the whole, handling a truck crash case is far more complicated and more expensive than handling a routine car wreck case. The focus in a truck crash case is at least as much on the culpability of the trucking company as the immediate driving conduct of the truck driver that caused the wreck. The focus is also as much, if not more, on pre-wreck misbehavior as it is on the driver’s immediate wreck-causing negligence.
How liability is determined in a truck accident case
Truck accident settlements are often complex and lengthy processes. In addition to investigating whether a violation of state or federal regulations occurred, there is also the question of who holds liability in the accident.
When a semi-truck is involved in an accident, as in any accident situation, attorneys and insurance agents will try to establish what caused the crash in order to determine who is at fault. When a commercial truck is in an accident, liability may fall on the driver, but it may also fall on a number of other parties, such as the driver’s employer, the owner of the truck, or the manufacturer of the truck and its parts.
Truck accident cases in which multiple parties are found liable—for example, when a truck driver is determined to share liability with both the company that owns the truck and the manufacturer of one of the truck’s parts—have a good chance of going to trial rather than being settled out of court. Going to trial is more expensive and takes longer than settling the case out of court, which is often preferable to plaintiffs for those reasons.
So many separate and potentially liable parties make for a complex and lengthy process of determining the exact causes of a truck accident, who should be held liable, and what compensation the accident victims deserve to receive.
Large commercial trucks account for a disproportionate percentage of the injuries and deaths occurring on American roadways. Unfortunately, Texas leads the way in these types of tragic accidents. When a large truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle loses. In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, the persons killed or injured are usually the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Litigating these cases is complex, especially when multiple factors are at play. If you have been involved in an accident with a semi-truck and you are not found to be at fault, there is a bit of a silver lining: Since commercial truck drivers are required to carry high insurance limits, you have a better chance of recovering more compensation for your damages than you would after an accident with a regular passenger vehicle.
On the other hand, when multiple defendants are involved in a truck accident case, as frequently happens, it can take years for all parties involved to come to an agreement about which liable party is responsible for which portion of the damages.
Slack Davis Sanger has deep truck accident experience
If you are a victim of a commercial truck accident or you have a loved one who was involved in an accident with a commercial truck, get in touch with Slack Davis Sanger as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in these complex cases, which typically take months or even years to settle.
Slack Davis Sanger’s truck accident attorneys in Fort Worth are leaders in commercial truck accident lawsuits, with a long track record of success in handling these complex cases. Our skilled attorneys are also compassionate listeners and passionate advocates for our clients. Our extensive knowledge of truck accident laws, including both state and federal regulations that govern how commercial truck companies, drivers, and manufacturers operate, make our firm uniquely qualified to take on these cases.
Get in touch with one of our Fort Worth truck accident attorneys today.
The firm handles cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and deaths. Our work spans three decades of handling airplane and helicopter crashes, truck and car accidents, oilfield and construction accidents, and other devastating accidents. We try lawsuits throughout the country in both federal and state courts and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. To date, we have handled or tried cases in 47 states, read more about our attorneys and firm.