On May 14, an 18-wheeler jackknifed onto the access road of I-35, near Loop 410, after the driver lost control of the vehicle due to the slick roads. The truck remained upright, though at one point firefighters were called, as a minor fuel spill created the risk of fire after making contact with a battery. These types of accidents are not ubiquitous, but they are definitely not uncommon, especially in inclement weather, as 18-wheelers are notoriously difficult to handle even for experienced drivers.
Truck Statistics Are Sobering
While Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) statistics only show approximately 400 fatal crashes involving a truck or semi-truck in 2016, this does not count the number of fatalities, only the number of accidents. If one examines the statistics for the number of crashes which produced injury (both incapacitating and non-incapacitating), the number is closer to 3,000, and that also does not illustrate the total number of injuries, only crashes.
If one looks at the statistics for crashes involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), one can see similar numbers, with approximately 2,517 CMV-involved crashes taking place in Bexar County – the third highest total in Texas. Of those crashes, it can be assumed that a significant portion are due to driver error – or error on the part of both auto driver and trucker. It can be difficult to tell, but the crux of the matter is that there are countless accidents each year in which injured motorists may be able to seek compensation for their injuries.
How Many Defendants?
If you are unfortunate enough to be in a truck accident, something that you may wish to consider is that the trucker may not be the only defendant you are able to bring suit against. Texas recognizes a doctrine called vicarious liability, which means that if a worker causes an accident or injury while on the job, their employer may be liable if certain criteria can be proven. The main issue is whether or not the worker was acting “within the scope of employment” when the accident occurred. It need not necessarily be on the clock – just acting in furtherance of an aim of their employer’s.
The rationale for allowing vicarious liability in personal injury suits is that very often, the employee is what is called judgment-proof – they have little or no assets to reach in the event of a verdict against them. An employer is not, and it is considered good public policy to allow the injured person to bring suit against defendants that stand the best chance of making them whole if evidence leads to the conclusion that they might have been able to help prevent the accident.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers
The driver on the I-35 access road was lucky in that he was relatively unharmed, but you may not be so lucky. If you or a loved one is harmed in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you will no doubt have questions and concerns about how to proceed from that point. The skilled New Braunfels truck accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm may be able to help. Contact the office today to set up an initial appointment.