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TX accident lawyerTruck wrecks are a serious problem in Texas. In 2019, the state led the country in fatal accidents involving commercial trucks, with 543 crashes resulting in 613 deaths, and thousands more Texans suffered truck wreck injuries of varying severity. Truck accident injury victims have the right to pursue compensation from both negligent truck drivers and the companies that employ them. However, a bill under consideration in the Texas House of Representatives could make doing so more difficult.

Trucking Company Liability in Texas

Often, when a commercial semi-truck is in an accident resulting in injuries, fault does not lie entirely with the truck’s driver. While a driver could be considered negligent by way of behaviors such as distracted driving, drunk driving, or driver fatigue, the driver’s employer can also be considered negligent for contributing to the circumstances leading to the crash. Common situations that may involve trucking company liability include:

  • Improper maintenance or repair of the truck
  • Improper loading or securing of the truck’s cargo
  • Insufficient record-keeping regarding the truck’s maintenance or the driver’s service hours
  • Failure to follow drug testing protocol for drivers

When a trucking company is found to be negligent, they may be liable for a portion of an injury victim’s compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages in some cases.

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TX accident lawyerLast week in New Braunfels, an accident on I-35 involving a bus and multiple passenger vehicles injured at least two people and blocked highway traffic for several hours. The cause of the accident is unclear, and fault has not been determined, but the crash raises important questions regarding what may happen in personal injury cases involving buses and other forms of public transportation.

Texas Bus Accidents and Personal Injury Claims

The way that a personal injury claim plays out after a bus crash depends on which party was injured and which party’s negligence was responsible for the accident. Here are three possible scenarios:

  • The driver or passenger of another vehicle is injured in a collision with a bus. In this case, the injured party may have a case for compensation for damages if they have evidence to demonstrate the bus driver’s negligence. Multiple Texas appellate court rulings have affirmed that buses are considered common carriers, meaning that bus drivers have a higher standard of care than drivers of personal vehicles, which may make it easier for the injured party to establish negligence. In some cases, the organization that employs the bus driver could also be partially liable. This may be a private company or a government agency.
  • A bus passenger is injured in an accident. When a bus passenger is injured, there may be several at-fault parties, potentially including the bus driver, their employer, and other drivers whose negligence contributed to the crash. When pursuing compensation through a settlement or trial, each negligent party’s liability will likely be determined based on their percentage of fault in the accident.
  • The bus driver is injured in an accident. A bus driver who is injured while performing driving duties for their job will often be entitled to workers’ compensation through their employer no matter who is at fault for the accident that caused the injuries. However, if the driver’s employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, the driver can pursue a personal injury claim against the employer. If the wreck was caused by a negligent third-party driver, the bus driver may also be able to pursue a personal injury claim against this person to recover additional compensation.

Any of these parties who are injured should seek immediate medical attention after the crash and hire an attorney who can help them gather timely evidence from the scene of the collision. Bus accidents also often have many witnesses, including all of the passengers on the bus at the time, and their testimony can be valuable in helping an injured party build a case.

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TX accident lawyerLast week, two 18-wheeler trucks and one passenger vehicle collided on I-35 in Austin, impeding traffic and, as happens in many large truck crashes, injuring the driver of the passenger vehicle. Whenever you travel on I-35 in Texas, you should be aware of the accident risks and be sure to know how to contact an attorney if you are injured.

Accident Risks on I-35

Interstate 35, especially the stretch between San Antonio and Austin, has been a source of trouble for Texas drivers for decades. Despite attempts at improvements over the years, collisions on I-35 are still common due to the high amount of traffic and congestion that the road sees every day. In 2019 alone, there were 562 fatal crashes on Texas interstate highways, 80 of which occurred in Bexar, Comal, Hays, and Travis Counties.

As a major north-south U.S. highway that extends from the Mexico border and through six states, I-35 is also a common shipping route for commercial trucks. When operated negligently, trucks can cause accidents resulting in severe injuries due to their size and weight, and while truck drivers themselves are often injured, the occupants of other passenger vehicles tend to bear the brunt of the injuries in many cases.

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TX injury lawyerAfter a 2018 accident in which a mother and daughter lost their lives on the way home from Austin City Limits, their surviving family members are petitioning for a law that would require 18-wheelers and other large trucks to take measures to increase their visibility. The family feels that this law could prevent similar collisions to the one that affected them, which involved a tanker truck at night. If passed, this law could give drivers injured in truck accidents another option for claiming negligence and pursuing compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.

Federal Regulations for Big-Rig Truck Drivers

Current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations specify standards for headlights, taillights, brake lights, and reflectors depending on the type of commercial motor vehicle, and they also require that these lights be operable and unobstructed at all times. If an accident occurs because a truck does not follow these regulations, the driver and his or her employer may share responsibility for failing to install the proper equipment and inspect it to make sure it is working.

The Austin family mentioned above seeks to expand these regulations by adding more lights to the sides of large trucks and requiring they be painted with light colors. Their goal is to reach 10,000 signatures on the petition and send it to the U.S. Department of Transportation. If they are successful, trucks throughout the United States could be required to update their equipment after legislation passes.

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TX truck accident lawyerIn September, one person died and another was injured after a semi-truck failed to stop at a red light after exiting I-35 in San Antonio. Police have reported that the truck’s brake failure was a factor in the accident. Unfortunately, accidents due to failing or malfunctioning truck equipment are not uncommon, and liability can be complex in these cases. If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by brake failure or improper maintenance, an experienced attorney can help you build the case you need for compensation.

Dangers of Failing Brakes in Texas Truck Accidents

Because of their large size and weight, big-rig trucks often require a longer stopping time and distance even with properly working brakes. At a highway speed of 65 miles per hour, a fully loaded truck can take up to 600 feet to come to a complete stop, and without working brakes, this distance can increase significantly. This can be a major problem on I-35 exit ramps, which often require trucks to decelerate in a short amount of time.

To combat the dangers of failing truck equipment, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires trucking companies to inspect and maintain trucks regularly to ensure they are safe for the road. They also must keep detailed records of maintenance and repairs performed, and drivers must always ensure their vehicle is safe before driving. Despite these regulations, accidents still happen, and multiple parties may be liable.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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