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TX accident attorneyRecently, one man was killed when his Honda Accord collided with a large Penske truck on Medical Drive, near Babcock Road. The small car became wedged under the truck, and the driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver was unharmed, though his vehicle sustained significant damage. If you or one of your loved ones is involved in a crash like this with a large truck, it can feel like you have no options, especially if there is evidence to suggest that you played a role in your own injuries. However, it may still be possible to recover depending on the specific situation.

Accidents Involving Trucks Can Be Severe

Accidents involving large trucks, unfortunately, can be the cause of extensive injury due to the size of these vehicles. An accident involving two cars, or a car and a pickup truck, will often lead to injuries, but neither vehicle has the significant advantage in size or weight most of the time; a large rental truck like the Penske truck, however, has the potential ability to crush a small automobile like a Honda Accord, and obviously, the potential injuries to the driver can be life-threatening. Texas recorded approximately 600 fatal crashes involving large trucks and truck/tractors in 2018.

There are several reasons why accidents involving large trucks happen, despite safety training and strict federal regulations on commercial drivers. Sometimes, of course, an automobile driver will drive recklessly or negligently and totally or wholly cause their own injuries. However, some cases do involve dangerous behavior on the part of truck drivers. For example, it is more common than most people are aware of for truck drivers to drive longer hours than recommended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and that type of fatigue is a serious factor in accidents. Every case is different and requires a dedicated investigation.

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TX injury lawyerRecently, a man was attempting to cross I-35 near 15th Street in downtown Austin when he was tragically struck and killed by a passing 18-wheeler. Law enforcement has divulged few details as of this writing, only stating that the pedestrian did not survive and that the 18-wheeler driver remained at the scene after the collision, presumably cooperating with the investigation. If you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, your medical bills can be very serious, and it can make all the difference if you are able to bring suit to try and recover compensation for your injuries.

Multiple Statistics and Causes

18-wheeler accidents are unfortunately too common in the United States, but some states (like Texas) seem to experience more than others, between larger populations and simply having more roads - the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) estimates that the state contains nearly 80,000 miles of roadways, whereas a small state like Rhode Island has less than 10,000. Texas roads also boast higher speed limits than many, with the average being 75 mph, but some roads have 80 mph limits - and in one case, I-130, the limit is 85 mph.

In addition to environmental factors, drivers can cause many 18-wheeler accidents (both truck drivers and automobile drivers may be culpable). Underestimating the truck is one of the most common reasons for accidents - for example, following too closely, not giving enough stopping time to a truck (particularly those with three-part brakes), and driving in a truck’s blind spots. Other common factors that either cause or contribute to truck crashes are substance use, speeding, and distracted or aggressive driving.

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Posted on in Truck Wrecks

TX accident lawyerRecently, a semi-truck overturned on I-10 near Culebra Road, spilling its cargo of wooden boards out onto the roadway. Law enforcement closed several lanes of I-10 at I-35, ensuring that no one had the opportunity to drive over the cargo while the accident - and the boards - were cleared. While as of this writing, no one appears to have been injured in this accident, it is important to be aware that accidents happen due to improperly secured or loose cargo with regularity. If you are unfortunate enough to be injured in this type of accident, it can be difficult to determine how best to proceed.

Stakes Are High

Accidents involving road debris are much more common than one might think. A 2016 study from AAA’s Foundation For Traffic Safety estimates that approximately 200,000 accidents occurred between 2011-2014 where road debris was a factor, with roughly 500 deaths occurring and almost 40,000 personal injuries. While many factors might play into how an accident happened, the fact remains that road debris can turn a mild accident into a bad one, and it means drivers must be aware of their surroundings at all times.

In general, most state laws hold that no vehicle can drive on a public road if their cargo is not properly secured, because of the potential danger that they would pose to the public. More specifically, federal regulations govern the securing of cargo, and failure to abide by them can lead to serious fines and license suspensions. This is on top of possible civil and criminal liability if the accident is serious enough. The driver of the truck that overturned on I-10 has all this to worry about on top of potentially incurring his own injuries.

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TX truck accident attorneyTruck drivers have difficult jobs, and they work hard. However, there are far too many instances where truck driver fatigue has played a role in causing auto accidents, and too many injuries sustained in situations where they could have been avoided. If you have been in an auto accident involving a large truck, and you suspect that the driver was fatigued, it may be an important fact to help build a negligence case around.

Proving Negligence

Most of the time, auto accidents involving large trucks are brought under a theory of negligence, and establishing negligence requires four criteria to be shown. You must establish that a duty to exercise reasonable care exists on the part of the defendant (in Texas, this is often stipulated; each motorist on the road is presumed to have a duty of care toward every other motorist) and that the duty has been breached. More specifically, the defendant’s conduct (or lack thereof) must be shown to have been the direct cause of the breach - no other intervening cause can have played a role - and you must also be able to show that you have suffered actual harm.

Keep in mind that if you decide to bring suit over your injuries, you should be aware as to which defendant is the appropriate one. Most of the time, plaintiffs will bring suit against the culpable driver, but their employer may be liable as well. Texas honors a doctrine called vicarious liability, which holds that an employer is ‘vicariously’ liable for the torts committed by their employees while in the course and scope of their employment. In most cases, a truck driver on the road is acting within the “course and scope” of their employment, meaning that their employer might be a viable defendant as well.

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Posted on in Truck Wrecks

TX injury lawyerRecent law enforcement operations in Austin have shown that while most people are aware of the laws requiring pulling over for emergency vehicles, very few are aware that this also applies to tow trucks. Drivers are required to either move over or slow down to 20 miles per hour for tow trucks, but Austin police report almost “zero compliance” with this law. If you are ever in an accident involving a tow truck, you would not be barred from recovery solely due to not observing this law. However, it can play a role in reducing a defendant’s liability, so it is important to be aware of all the information in your case.

More Dangerous Than Believed

Statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), show that tow truck drivers are actually in an extremely dangerous profession. Reports released in February 2019 show that tow truck drivers are up to 15 times more likely to die on the job than the average private sector worker, and this manifests itself in a variety of ways. Many accidents occur simply because drivers do not pay enough attention to the road.

If you fail to move over or slow down for a tow truck, and you are stopped by law enforcement, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, usually with a fine of $500 or more, though if you cause an accident or bodily injury, you would then be charged with the appropriate offense (for example, if you struck someone with your car, you would be charged with assault or vehicular manslaughter). If you are struck by a tow truck, your remedy lies in civil law.

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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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