Some of the most unusual crashes can occur on Texas highways, but regardless of their rarity, they can cause real issues for commuters and other drivers. Recently, a semi-truck carrying a load of avocados overturned on I-35, near Oltorf Street in Austin. The driver allegedly struck a cement barrier on the edge of the road and lost control. Neither the driver nor anyone else was injured, and no other vehicle was involved, though the road was closed for most of the night, including part of the early morning rush hour. While thankfully there appear to have been no injuries in this particular crash, semi-trucks do cause a large proportion of accident injuries and fatalities in any given year.
Texas Highways Require Caution
A large amount of U.S. shipping goes through Texas, and a large amount of that goes by road. Semi-trucks are common sights on Texas highways, and while the majority of their drivers operates their vehicles in a safe manner, their sheer numbers merit caution for cars and other smaller vehicles. 2017 statistics show 5430 vehicles involved in fatal crashes in Texas, of which approximately 10 percent were trucks. However, the percentage of fatalities in those accidents were markedly higher than those in accidents not involving trucks.
The reasons for such an elevated number of accidents and higher percentage of fatalities when compared to car-only accidents are many, but size plays a role. A semi-truck, especially when it is carrying a load, as the truck on I-35 was at the time, outweighs most other vehicles on the road by more than double, and if the driver loses control, the damage can be devastating. This also ties into the fact that a truck’s reaction time will generally be slower than that of an auto driver, thus leaving less time to brake or take other evasive measures if an accident seems imminent.
Who to Sue?
Depending on the specific facts of your situation, it can be difficult to determine who to try and hold liable for your injuries after an accident. If you believe that you were harmed due to the recklessness or negligence of the other party involved, you may be able to hold them liable. Bringing a suit under a theory of simple negligence is the most commonly utilized way to do just that, but there can be issues about who should be the defendant or defendants. Most of the time, a plaintiff will bring suit against the truck driver, thinking they are the most immediately responsible – but what often gets missed is that in some cases, there may be more than one defendant that could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
If the truck driver in your accident is engaged in work that is in the “scope of his general authority in furtherance of the employer’s business,” otherwise known as within the “scope of employment,” it is possible under Texas law to hold their employer as being at least partly responsible for their actions, under a theory called vicarious liability. An employer is responsible for any intentional torts that an employee might commit while the employee is engaged in business for that employer. Thus, if the trucker was, for example, driving to a family member’s house with no load in the truck, their employer could likely not be held liable for any injuries, because the trucker would not be acting within the scope of his employment.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
While the lanes on I-35 were able to be cleaned up within hours, it is still important to keep in mind the potential damage that truck accidents and cargo spills can inflict on our roads and on us. If you have been hurt in an accident involving a semi-truck, contacting a knowledgeable attorney can be a good first step toward receiving compensation for your bills. The dedicated New Braunfels truck accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm can try to work with you and guide you through what can be a confusing process. Contact us today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.