Recently, the northbound lanes of SH-130 were blocked near Manor, just south of Highway 290, after an 18-wheeler overturned. The driver apparently lost control of the empty truck and it rolled, which also caused a rupture of one of its fuel tanks. The driver was hospitalized, and Austin firefighter and hazmat crews were able to contain the scene to ensure no explosions occurred. While this accident was contained, with only the truck driver sustaining injuries, sometimes innocent drivers will be caught in the crossfire. If this happens to you, it is important to understand your rights and understand whether or not you have a claim to compensation.
Serious Injuries and Fatalities Result
Because of the sheer weight involved when a truck crashes, the likelihood of injury or death is greater, as a general rule, than in accidents involving two smaller vehicles, such as automobiles or pickup trucks. Even when an 18-wheeler’s trailer is empty, the body of the truck is capable of inflicting crushing damage on you and your vehicle in certain types of accidents. Some of the most common types of injuries from trucking accidents include whiplash and other soft tissue damage, brain injuries, broken bones, and spinal injuries.
There are just as many potential causes for truck accidents as there are injuries, especially in urban areas – approximately one-fourth of all truck crashes occur on international highways. Many can be traced back to driver distraction or being physically compromised; for example, it is not uncommon for truckers to be pushed beyond the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s guidelines for maximum hours, which can lead to sleep deprivation and impaired driving. Other common reasons include substance abuse, improper maintenance of the truck, speeding and other unsafe driving practices, and poorly maintained roads.
Bringing a Negligence Case
If you decide to bring suit against the trucker for your medical bills, you will probably do so under the legal theory of negligence. To prove a civil case in negligence, you need to ensure that four criteria are met. You must show that the defendant (the trucker) owed a duty to exercise reasonable care for the plaintiff (you), which in Texas is stipulated in the law. You must show that the defendant breached that duty of care and that they breached it directly by their conduct – in other words, that no other intervening cause was responsible for the accident – and while it seems self-evident, you must also tangibly show that you suffered harm because of the defendant’s conduct. All of these factors have to be shown in court before liability can be found.
Keep in mind that the trucker is not the only potential defendant in many truck accident cases; if poor maintenance or poorly kept roads were a factor in your crash, the trucking company or even the city could be brought into your suit. If the truck driver was acting in the scope of their employment, the doctrine of vicarious liability can be applied, which means that the trucking company might be on the proverbial hook for the torts of their employee (a tort is basically the civil equivalent of a crime). If this is the case, you may wind up with a larger award, as truckers are often judgment proof, but their employers are not.
Seek Experienced Legal Help Today
While no bystanders were injured in the accident on SH-130, many truck accidents do cause injury and death to those unlucky enough to be involved. If you have been harmed in a truck crash, calling a dedicated New Braunfels truck accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. The Bettersworth Law Firm has been handling these cases for many years and will work hard to see yours through to an appropriate ending. Call our office today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.