In mid-August, two trucks collided on I-35, headed toward Austin, clogging up the frontage road. A dump truck and an 18-wheeler had parts of I-35 blocked off for some time, though no one was injured. While no civil or criminal charges have been brought in this specific incident, it does raise interesting questions, not least of all that the unique nature of trucking as a profession lends itself to negligence cases that are not particularly open and shut. Truckers may participate in behaviors that car drivers can engage in with little consequence, because of the size and the stability (or lack thereof) of their vehicles.
Overwork Is a Factor in Negligence
One very common cause of trucking accidents is driver fatigue, and fatigue is caused almost exclusively by overwork in the industry. There has been a long-standing shortage of drivers, going back some years, with no indication that the trend will reverse itself. In addition, new federal regulations have been passed in the last five years which impose new burdens on truckers and trucking companies – for example, the implementation of an electronic logging device requirement, and changes to limits for hours permitted per driver.
As a result of these factors, truckers are arguably more overworked than ever before, and trucking companies are encouraging – or in some cases, demanding – drivers cut corners to make ends meet. Almost 20 percent of truck drivers surveyed for a 1992 study in the Journal of Public Health Policy admitted falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the past month, and one can only conclude that this practice has worsened over time.
Negligent Maintenance of Vehicles Is Common
In the I-35 accident between the two trucks, the dump truck was found to have tires in poor condition, as well as a few other minor issues which could stand correction – however, none of the issues were deemed severe enough to cause the accident. This is certainly not always the case, especially with large vehicles like commercial trucks – it is depressingly common to find that either the driver or the trucking company has neglected its duty of care by failing to maintain their trucks.
If you are injured in an accident with a truck, you may be able to bring suit against the trucker under Texas law, but you may also be able to bring suit against his or her employer, under a theory called vicarious liability. If the trucker is involved in an accident while operating their vehicle within the scope of employment, the Texas Administrative Code holds them responsible for the tortious acts of their agents (by adopting the relevant portions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations). Defining “the scope of employment” can sometimes be difficult, but it is an avenue which is generally worth examining, especially if your injuries are severe.
Ask Our Truck Accident Lawyers for Help
Truck accidents can lead to extremely severe injuries or fatalities, solely because of the weight and velocity of the vehicles involved. If you have been injured in an accident with a truck, the dedicated New Braunfels truck accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to try and help you seek the compensation you need.