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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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TX crash lawyerRecently, a motorcyclist was killed after becoming stuck under an 18-wheeler on I-35 South. The accident happened near Kyle Crossing, and the highway was shut down for almost two hours while the accident was cleared. This accident, while a tragedy, does illuminate some of the safety hazards present for both truckers and cyclists, especially when traveling at a high rate of speed. If you have been in a crash with a truck or with a motorcyclist, there are certain particular features of that accident that are different than having been struck by another automobile.

High Fatality Rates for Motorcyclists

Because of the sheer lack of protection between a motorcyclist and the road, motorcycle riders have a significantly elevated risk of injury and death compared to automobile drivers and passengers. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that in 2016, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in accidents than drivers or passengers in other vehicles - many of the fatalities caused simply by being unprepared to be struck, or to strike something, at such velocity.

Many of the causes of motorcycle accidents do in fact trace back to rider error - in the accident on I-35, law enforcement surmised that the motorcyclist had been speeding and struck the rear of the truck’s trailer without being able to stop. However, in many cases, driver error will also play a major role - for example, many accidents with motorcycles occur because automobile drivers fail to see their slimmer, often darker colored vehicles. This can lead them to turn in front of motorcycles or drive too close to the side of the road, which may crowd out a cyclist.

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TX accident lawyerRecently, a multi-vehicle accident closed all lanes of I-10 near the North Frio Street exit, after a box truck entered the freeway and cut across all the lanes of traffic. Only the box truck driver was injured, being transported to San Antonio Military Medical Center in “priority one” condition. The accident could have been much worse and caused many more injuries, given how common fatalities are from accidents of this type. If you have been injured, or you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, know that you have some options as to seeking compensation for your medical bills and other harm you have suffered.

Box Trucks Cause Crashes

Box trucks, also known as box vans or cube vans, factor in many types of accidents and can cause significant injury and death. While any large truck can be dangerous on the road, box trucks, in particular, have a higher likelihood of tipping over than, say, a standard 18-wheeler, because their center of gravity is often different. Rollover accidents occur more often in vehicles where the center of gravity is higher because it takes less force to take the vehicle off its wheels. Blind spots are also more of a problem with box trucks than with other types of larger trucks like semis because very often the ‘box’ is too tall or too broad for the driver to see around it.

While Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) statistics do not distinguish between semi-trucks or 18-wheelers and box trucks, there is no mistaking that large trucks are disproportionately more likely to cause fatalities than crashes that only involve normal-sized vehicles. Deaths in truck- or bus-related accidents rose approximately nine percent between 2016 and 2017, but large vehicles of this type make up less than half the number of cars on the road at any given moment.

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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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