April 23 saw gridlock around Round Rock after a truck carrying a load of materials lost control and dumped its load on I-35, near the northbound Westinghouse Drive exit. While no one appears to have been hurt in this particular incident, carrier trucks and dump trucks of this type do feature often in fatal accidents, and many of them are caused by drivers losing control of their loads. It is important to be aware of the potential for this to happen when driving on Texas highways.
Statistics Are Vague
The term ‘dump truck’ is a vague one, and federal statistics do not track specific incidents involving this particular type of truck, though Texas statistics do track statistics involving load-hauling trucks and semis. Fatalities and injuries in these types of accidents number approximately 3,400 in 2016, the most recent available data, which is roughly the same as in previous years. Nonetheless, only passenger cars and pickup trucks have been responsible for more combined casualties on Texas roads in the past years.
Trucks, especially load-hauling trucks, are generally larger than passenger cars, and their drivers may not always have the training and ability to handle their vehicles. It is not uncommon for trucking companies to push their drivers to drive longer hours than is recommended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, or to push trucks out onto the roads without sufficient maintenance in order to meet quotas. While obviously the majority of commercial truckers are able to manage their rigs effectively, the frequency of accidents involving trucks does indicate that they are more unpredictable than passenger cars.
If You Are Hurt
If you are involved in an accident with a dump truck or with a lost load from a dump truck, there are multiple legal theories under which you may be able to bring suit to seek compensation. The most common is negligence, and to establish liability in negligence, a plaintiff must be able to establish three things – 1) that the duty of care owed between motorists was breached; 2) that the breach is directly due to the defendant’s conduct; and 3) that the plaintiff sustained actual harm – in other words, harm lasting longer than mere shock or a few cuts and bruises.
Another possible legal theory under which one might bring suit to seek compensation is called vicarious liability, also known as respondeat superior. This is a doctrine that holds, in certain situations, that an employer can be held liable for the misdeeds of their employees if the employee can be found to be acting within the scope of their employment. While jurisprudence holds that criminal activity is generally outside that ‘scope of employment,’ it does not hold that civil negligence is. Thus, it is plausible in many cases that an accident might fall under conduct that can be held against both employer and employee.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
Any truck can behave unpredictably, depending on different factors. If you have been harmed in an accident with one, consulting a knowledgeable attorney is a good first step in determining how to proceed. The skilled New Braunfels truck accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are experienced in these types of cases and are happy to try and help you with any questions. Call our offices today to set up an initial appointment.