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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 truck accident attorneyThe trucking industry is responsible for transporting all manner of cargo throughout the U.S., and in some cases, the type of cargo a truck is carrying can have unique implications if the truck is in an accident. In recent weeks, San Antonio has seen multiple truck accidents involving unusual cargo, including a fatal crash in which molasses was spilled onto the road on Loop 1604, and another accident on I-35 involving a truck carrying beehives in which a swarm of bees was released and had to be contained by pest control.

However, some truck accidents stand out because the truck is carrying particularly hazardous cargo, which can contribute directly to the severity of the crash and the resulting injuries. If you have been injured in a crash with a truck carrying hazardous materials, it is important to work with an attorney who understands trucking regulations and can help you achieve the most possible compensation.

How Can Hazardous Materials Affect a Truck Crash?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) classifies certain kinds of materials as hazardous. Many of these materials are dangerous because they are flammable, combustible, or explosive. If a truck carrying these types of materials is in an accident, the truck and the surrounding area may ignite and cause severe burn injuries or injuries due to the force of an explosion.

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TX accident lawyerEarlier this month, a driver was killed on Highway 71 in South Austin after colliding at a high speed with a semi-truck that was parked on the side of the road. In the crash, which happened at around 2 a.m., the driver’s vehicle ignited on impact and slid underneath the truck’s trailer. The accident is still under investigation, but the unusual combination of circumstances is a reminder of the many dangers that can lead to serious injuries and fatalities in South Central Texas car crashes, especially those involving collisions between passenger vehicles and large trucks.

Severe Injuries Are Common in Texas Truck Wrecks

Among the many factors that may contribute to the severity and outcome of a crash such as this include:

  • Weight and size disparities between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, compared to an average weight of 4,000 pounds for a passenger vehicle. As such, the occupants of passenger vehicles often suffer the most severe injuries in a collision. The large size of a semi-truck also presents the risk of another vehicle sliding underneath. While most trucks are equipped with a rear underride bar to reduce this risk, and federal regulations may soon require annual inspections of underride bars to ensure they are functional, they are not always fully effective.
  • Low visibility at night. The low light in the late night and early morning hours can make it more difficult to detect another vehicle, especially one that is parked on the shoulder. This means that drivers may have less time to react and avoid a collision. Driver fatigue is also common late at night, and this can further dull a driver’s senses and awareness.
  • Traveling at high speed. High-speed crashes have a higher rate of fatality, in part due to the force of the impact. Speeding also makes it more difficult to slow or stop to prevent a rear-end collision.
  • The risk of fire and explosion. Motor vehicles carry many flammable materials, including gasoline and oil, and these can ignite when fuel lines rupture in a high-impact crash. An explosion can cause severe burns and other injuries, and in some cases, immediate death.

 If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a crash involving any of these characteristics, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you identify negligence on the part of any other drivers or parties involved. Evidence of negligence, including unsafe driving or faulty equipment, can help you build a case for fair compensation for damages you have suffered.

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

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