Helping Victims and Families Get Closure in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin After a Life-Changing Truck Crash
Despite advancements in traffic safety and vehicle safety technology, the number of fatal truck accidents is increasing, and Texas has more fatal truck accidents per year than any other state. Unfortunately, accidents in these larger vehicles can have more severe consequences. With a greater ground clearance and often weighing 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle, trucks often cause catastrophic injuries, and even death, in roadway accidents. Both the larger size and weight directly impact the occupants of smaller cars and increase the risk of life-altering injuries. With the exceptional truck accident lawyers from Slack Davis Sanger, including Mike Guajardo, Greg Marks, pictured here, Mike Davis, and John Jose working on your behalf, you can focus on next steps after a serious accident while our team concentrates on securing the largest possible settlement to compensate you and your family for your losses.
Causes of Large Truck Accidents
There are a variety of factors that make larger vehicles more dangerous on the road. For example, loaded tractor-trailers can take up to 40 percent farther to stop than a lighter vehicle—a distance which can be even longer under slippery or wet conditions or if a truck’s brakes have been poorly maintained. Additionally, large trucks tend to be much taller than the average car, putting occupants of smaller cars at a heightened risk of life-changing—or fatal—injuries if their vehicle passes underneath the truck or trailer in an accident. Truck driver fatigue is another factor in these crashes, since surveys suggest that many operators violate hours of service regulations by staying on the road for longer time periods than allowed in order to meet strict quotas set in place by their employers.
One of the reasons clients choose the truck accident attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger is that our team can draw upon a vast network of expert witnesses to pinpoint why a crash happens. By identifying the cause or causes of an accident, our team can establish which parties were responsible for the injuries to the victims. An in-depth study conducted by the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMSCA) revealed that the following were the most common causes of truck crashes:
- Failure to adjust vehicle speed to curves in the roadway. Most of the drivers in these accidents made miscalculations while navigating on- and off-ramps. In many cases, a tractor trailer’s high center of gravity and unstable loads are a contributing factor when one of these vehicles overturns.
- A heavy load. Drivers may neglect to consider the height, weight, or security of their cargo when operating a heavy truck. Weight may be poorly distributed, top heavy, or not well-secured. Handling errors that arise when a truck operator uses excessive speed on sharp curves can put surrounding drivers at risk of serious injury and even death. Speed was the single biggest contributing factor in the rollovers in this sample.
- The condition of the truck’s braking system. A driver is often responsible for checking that a truck is safe to drive and for making sure that brakes are maintained, the suspension system is working as it should, and that tires are properly inflated.
- The driving surface. Slippery surfaces can be a challenge for truck drivers, as can long stretches of descending roadways. In many cases, drivers neglect to slow down in these conditions, which can result in a crash.
- Conditions at an intersection. The usual scenarios that lead to accidents at an intersection involve failing to slow down enough for a turn. Some examples of these situations are when a driver is in a hurry trying to avoid running a red light, when a T-intersection comes up unexpectedly, and making a last-minute turn at a crossroad.
- Driver distraction. Not paying full attention to the task at hand can be caused by the same kinds of distractions all drivers deal with: cell phones, hearing an odd noise, or a CB radio or stereo system.
- Driver inattention. When a driver stops observing the oncoming roadway, a crash can occur when there is a sudden need to change direction. Fatigue is another common problem among truck drivers, who often drive at night or for long stretches without a break.
- Oversteering. Some crashes happened when a driver oversteered so much that the vehicle flipped over, while in other cases, steering was not adequate to keep the truck in its proper lane. Lastly, some accidents happened when the driver overcorrected while driving, resulting in oversteering in an attempt to stay on the road.
These risk factors are generally split into two categories: unsafe behavior or conditions that are identified as being directly linked to a crash and latent factors that statistical data show raise the likelihood of an accident.
The Role of Driver Error
Truck accidents are often traced back to an error in judgment on the part of the truck driver. In fact, investigations by the FMCSA found that in 32% of fatal truck accidents, the accident could be attributed to at least one driver-related factor. What’s even more alarming is that more families are faced with the consequences of these devastating incidents, as the number of fatal crashes involving these types of vehicles increased by 40% from 2009 to 2017.
In the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report, a majority of accidents were caused by “speeding of any kind.” Driver distraction or failure to pay attention was the second leading reason these accidents took place, while impairment—either by fatigue, alcohol, or some type of illness—was another key factor in accidents involving larger vehicles and passenger cars. Slack Davis Sanger’s team of high-caliber truck wreck attorneys have the resources to conduct extensive research into the chain of events leading up to the accident, including any possible errors made by the driver prior to the incident.
The Role of Driver Fatigue
Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that drivers on the road for more than eight hours are twice as likely to be involved in an accident. Long hours behind the wheel lead to fatigue, a disrupted sleep/wake cycle, and sleep deprivation, all of which can increase the likelihood of a crash.
In May of 2020, the U.S. Transportation Department revised the regulations in regards to how many hours a truck driver can be on the road. Now, instead of truck drivers being on the road for 11 hours maximum with a required 30-minute break before the 8 hour mark, truck drivers can now stay on the road for up to 14 hours, with no federally regulated break time. This revised regulation, coupled with a shortage of drivers, could lead to an increase in accidents related to driver fatigue.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has expressed reservations about these changes that keep truck drivers on the road when they are fatigued, in high traffic situations, or under unfavorable weather or road conditions. The attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger have the truck accident case experience to understand when driver fatigue plays a role in these cases and how to best advocate for victims and their families when pursuing justice in these cases.
The Role of Mechanical Failure
A thorough understanding of the location of the accident, the nature of the crash, the impact on the vehicles involved, the resulting injuries and medical care, and the other contributing factors are all needed to secure the maximum amount of damages for the victims and their families. In the 2010 Large Truck Crash Causation Study, researchers found that over half of large trucks involved in accidents had one or more mechanical violations. In these crashes, almost 30% of these large trucks had at least one problem that should have taken the vehicle out of service.
The most frequent equipment violations involved malfunctions in braking and lighting systems. A large truck with a misaligned braking component was found to be almost twice as likely to have caused a crash. A large truck with a brake violation was also much more likely to be the striking vehicle in a rear-end and crossing-path wreck. The well-respected truck accident attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger are skilled at conducting the thorough research needed to prove how and why these accidents occur to pursue a sound legal strategy on behalf of victims and their families.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
The moments after a truck accident can be shocking and it’s understandable to be unsure of what you need to do next. If you have been in an accident, it’s important to stay calm and take the following steps:
- Call 911. No matter how small the accident may seem, be sure to contact the police for an official report. The official police report can help you in your case.
- Gather and preserve evidence. Be sure to get the contact information of the truck driver and any witnesses. Witnesses can confirm what you experienced when the accident occurred. Also, take pictures of any damage or injuries, as well as the surrounding area where the accident took place. An experienced attorney will be able to use these pictures to locate anything out of the ordinary that could further prove that you were not at fault.
- Be careful what you say at the scene. While you should cooperate with the police, you do not have to speak with insurance adjusters. Don’t sign any documents or paperwork provided to you by the truck driver’s party without consulting with an attorney.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you don’t believe that you’re seriously injured, you should go to a doctor immediately after the accident. You may have a brain injury or some other injury that you may not be able to physically see, and it may take a day or two for you to start feeling unwell. If you go to the doctor even a day after your accident, it may weaken your case. Be sure to keep all records of medical expenses, and write down the different aches and pains you are feeling as time goes by and be sure to keep dates.
- Contact an attorney. There are many parties involved in truck accident cases. Often, insurance companies will get in contact with you in an attempt to make you settle for compensation which is much lower than what you deserve. A reputable attorney will help you create a strong case, ensuring you receive damages for medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and more.
Who Is Liable?
A complex set of laws come into play when determining liability in these catastrophic roadway accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is charged with setting standards for equipment used in new trucks and plays a role in truck equipment for vehicles traveling on our roadways. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces safety regulations for commercial trucks operating across state lines. These rules govern not only equipment, but also hours of service, inspections, maintenance, and licensing. In addition, each state has a separate set of laws for trucks which only operate within a state’s boundaries. These state employees carry out inspections to make sure drivers and truck companies are in compliance with regulations.
These considerations, along with the fact that more than one party can be held liable, are part of what make filing and winning a truck accident case a lengthy and complex process. The different parties that could be held liable for the accident include:
- The truck driver. The driver may be held accountable if the inspection reveals that he or she was distracted, speeding, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drowsy, or otherwise at fault when the crash occurred.
- The trucking company. The company that hires the truck driver may also be liable for the crash if the company had cut corners with safety regulations in order to save money. Additionally, the company may be held responsible if they had put unrealistic expectations on the driver, making the driver feel as if he or she had to drive longer than what is legally allowed.
- Owner of the truck. In the circumstances where the truck is rented, the owner of the truck may be held liable for the accident. If the owner had not kept up with maintenance checks for the truck and there was an equipment malfunction, such as if the brakes failed, the owner can be held responsible.
- Cargo loaders. If the cargo loaders do not properly secure any goods that are loaded into the truck, the items may fall or shift around in the vehicle, which can potentially lead to an accident.
- Manufacturers. If there is a defect that causes an accident, the manufacturer of the truck can be held liable. For example, if a part malfunctions and causes a tire blowout or if the brakes are faulty and an accident occurs, the manufacturer may be held responsible or partially responsible.
Sometimes, victims of trucking accidents do not want to take their case to court, despite the injuries and damages they have suffered, because they believe they may have contributed to the crash in some way. However, in Texas, the rule of comparative negligence allows those who are only partially responsible to still collect damages from the other party. If the other party is at least 51% responsible, you can still receive compensation. The attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger have extensive experience helping victims of truck accidents receive just compensation, so victims and their families can start moving forward after a life-altering accident.
Truck Accident Injuries
Studies show that victims who are hit by a vehicle weighing 1,000 pounds more than the car they are traveling in are 47% more likely to be killed in a crash. Due to the large size of these vehicles, these accidents can be devastating and result in life-altering injuries. Common truck accident injuries include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Internal injuries
- Amputated limbs or extremities
- Torso and rib injuries
- Seatbelt and airbag injuries
Truck Accidents in Texas: Crashes With Tragic Consequences
Sadly, Texas is among the top 10 states with the highest number of deadly large truck and bus crashes. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2016 Highway Statistics data, these 10 states represented 51% of all fatal crashes. Even more alarming is the fact that FMSCA data shows that the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in Texas increased by over 33% from 2007 to 2017. With over 70,000 miles of roadways and a burgeoning population, more drivers will be in harm’s way if these current trends continue. A growing number of these serious accidents occur in some of the state’s largest and growing urban areas.
Number of Austin Truck Accidents Grow
The state capital and the Travis County seat is known worldwide as a hot spot for live music, technology and outdoor spaces. The notoriety of Austin has led to exponential growth in and around the city. Austin came in third out of the top 50 metros in the country when you look at net migration when compared to the total population in 2018. Close to the University of Texas campus and downtown is the Colorado River, which crosses under Interstate 35, a major highway that brings consumer goods from the border of Mexico north to Minnesota. The section of I-35 which is located between U.S. 290N and SH 71 earned the distinction of being TxDOT’s most congested stretch of highway in 2015 in Texas. These factors are all contributing to more serious crashes involving trucks on Austin’s roadways. The Austin truck accident lawyers at Slack Davis Sanger are well-versed in the complex set of local, state, and national statutes that can come into play in large truck crashes and can apply this knowledge to represent the victims of these tragedies and their families.
Fort Worth Truck Accidents Increase With Population Growth
Once a stop on the legendary Chisolm Trail and now a bustling metropolis, Fort Worth is the 5th largest city in Texas and the 13th largest in the country. Many major roadways have seen more and more traffic, including I-20, I-30, I-35W, I-820 and US 287 South. Fatalities have increased in crashes involving semi-trucks on Forth Worth roads in recent years. Aging roads, human error and defective parts have all played a role in these crashes. When searching for a Fort Worth truck accident lawyer that will work to secure the best possible outcome in aftermath of these crashes, victims and their families look to Slack Davis Sanger.
Dallas Truck Accidents Rise In Congested Corridor
Dallas is a major transportation hub, sitting at the crossroads of four major interstate highways. Home to the Federal Reserve, Reunion Tower and many other tourist attractions, this seat of Dallas County was the fastest-growing urban area in the country from 2010 to 2016. Similar to many of the other growing areas in Texas, Dallas has experienced its share of gridlock and road construction, which can increase the likelihood of serious car accidents. Coming in fifth of the most congested roadways in Texas is I-35E in Dallas. Dallas is a prime central location for freight going to major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. Individuals involved catastrophic accidents with large trucks can rely upon the knowledgeable Dallas truck accident lawyers at Slack Davis Sanger for a dogged pursuit of justice in these cases.
A Truck Accident Law Firm With the Resources and Knowledge to Fight for Your Interests
As more of these cases are tried and settled, a larger movement has grown to adopt additional safety measures to protect drivers. With a focus on being proactive, we can avoid many of the common scenarios that often end in tragedy. Some preventative steps could include:
- Lowering truck speed limits at freeway exits
- Requiring devices in these large vehicles that warn drivers about unstable loads
- Mandating rollover prevention training programs for truck operators
- Incorporating video simulation into testing for Commercial Drivers Licenses
Slack Davis Sanger has built a reputation as a top truck accident law firm by successfully representing victims and their families in the aftermath of these tragic incidents. We understand that these accidents can result in lost wages, costly medical bills, and other unforeseen expenses, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. Our compassionate attorneys are here to listen and build a case that will result in just compensation for victims and their families, while fighting for further regulation and stringent safety standards in the trucking industry.