On the evening of March 30, one person was killed in a crash with an 18-wheeler in Caldwell County, southwest of Lockhart. That person has since been identified as a San Antonio man, who was the driver. He was killed when his truck flipped and struck a guardrail, and was allegedly not wearing a seatbelt. While it can often be stereotyped as a problem only seen in reckless teenagers, not wearing a seatbelt can contribute to injury and death, especially when dealing with enormous vehicles like 18-wheelers.
Seatbelts Save Lives
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) name auto accidents as one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. for those between ages 0-54 every year, and since statistics have been kept regarding seatbelt use, they have been illuminating, to say the least. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that approximately 14,000 lives can be estimated to have been saved through seatbelt use in 2015, with even more being saved if usage were 100 percent. While this percentage might drop somewhat if one examines only truck crashes, given an 18-wheeler’s heft and forward velocity, it is still noteworthy.
Truck drivers, in particular, have been found to be somewhat lax about seatbelt use, and this culture may have contributed to this San Antonio man not wearing his. For example, 2015 data from the CDC shows that as many as one-third of truckers who die in vehicle crashes do not wear a seatbelt at all, and one in six overall admits to not wearing a seatbelt regularly. There is also some research indicating that a lack of seat belt use among long-haul truckers can be linked to an increased rate of moving violations and other traffic offenses, partly due to lack of enforcement. This can pose a serious danger not only to truckers themselves but to those who share the road with them.
After an Accident
If you are in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it is obviously preferable if you were wearing your seatbelt, but even if you were not, you may still have a chance at recovery for your injuries. Texas operates on what is referred to as a comparative fault system, meaning that even if a judge or jury finds you were somewhat at fault for your own injuries, you may still be able to recover if your percentage of fault is not more than 50 percent. So, for example, if you were not wearing your seatbelt, but otherwise conducted yourself safely and reasonably in driving your car, the judge may find you were 20 percent at fault and reduce any recovery by that amount – but you would still recover.
In a case involving an 18-wheeler, it is also important to keep in mind that you may be able to bring suit against more than one defendant. Texas honors a concept in law called respondeat superior or vicarious liability, which holds that if a defendant causes an accident (or is otherwise negligent) while acting within the scope of their employment, their employer may also be held liable for any damages that occur. If it can be shown that the driver of the truck was acting within the scope of their employment, you may be able to bring their employer into your suit under this rule.
Call Our Experienced Attorneys
Road accidents happen, but it is possible to engage in behaviors that maximize or minimize your risk. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, you may be able to recover. Our talented New Braunfels accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm can sit down with you and try to help answer any questions you may have. Contact our office today to set up an appointment.