When a truck accident happens, the likelihood that devastating injuries will result is exceptionally high. Because a collision between a big rig and a passenger car involves an impact between two vehicles of vastly different sizes, catastrophic injuries are almost a given. If you recently suffered injuries in a collision with a commercial vehicle, you are likely facing hardships you’ve never had, and you should discuss your case with a Clear Lake City truck accident lawyer.
The Responsibilities of Truck Drivers in Clear Lake City
Truck drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. Every driver on the road must abide by the same set of rules and regulations, some of which include yielding to pedestrians, using turn signals, and following posted speed limits. Truck drivers are not exempt from obeying the basic traffic laws that apply to everyone.
Truck drivers who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) must also assume the obligations stipulated by both state and federal laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations regarding the safe operation of trucks. These laws prohibit drivers from traveling more than a certain number of hours every day or week. The maximum weight of a truck on highways and local roads is also limited. A truck driver or their employer found in violation of these laws might be liable should there be a collision.
Understanding Truck Accident Causation in Clear Lake City
Given the size of trucks and the long time they take to slow or stop, it is clear why drivers and passengers suffer more devastating injuries in a truck accident than in an accident between two passenger vehicles.
Here are some of the top reasons semi-truck accidents happen in Clear Lake City, Texas:
Truck driver error accounted for a significant percentage of all crash-related injuries and fatalities in semi crashes. These crashes are caused by many factors, such as speeding, following too closely, mistakes in merging, and errors in turning or backing up.
Long shifts, traveling thousands of miles, and rigorous schedules are a part of truck driving. Many truckers continue to drive even when they are exhausted or otherwise should be resting, despite the law’s limits. The work may be repetitive for long-haul drivers, days and weeks without much change other than driving. As a result, truck drivers might slack off or zone out and disregard safe driving practices, leading to an accident.
Every state prohibits driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Texas, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than the public. Alcohol or drugs of any kind, including some prescription drugs, are unacceptable. Since semi-trucks have enormous size, weight, and force, they pose a threat to anyone sharing the road. This calls for the highest degree of safety. A driver operating their truck while intoxicated is at risk of endangering anyone traveling nearby.
Unsecure Load or Cargo
Texas truckers transport trailers full of goods and products. Regardless of size, these loads must be packed securely and properly so that the weight is equally distributed across the truck. The risk of an accident increases when a truck is not correctly loaded. Particularly at turns or when trying to stop, this becomes an issue. Any items that are not properly tethered to the truck or trailer could become dislodged and result in a collision.
A rear-end semi-truck crash is one of the deadliest types of crashes in Clear Lake City. This can happen when a semi-truck driver fails to slow their vehicle down in time, resulting in a collision with the vehicle ahead. Any vehicle occupants involved in a rear-end collision with a semi-truck are at risk of serious injury. Unfortunately, backseat passengers, often children, are particularly vulnerable to injury or death.
A semi-truck has a wider turning radius than a standard passenger car. Since trucks are long, heavy, and have a minimal turning radius, they are inherently difficult to maneuver. This does not permit a truck driver to drift into other lanes of traffic. Turns must be executed with caution and with due care for others.
A trucker’s job includes intensive concentration on the road, so it is not unusual for driving to become a tiring and boring activity. The availability of modern technology has led to more drivers carrying smartphones, tablets, GPS devices, and other technological devices. All of these items can be a distraction. Technology is not the only distraction to exist. Eating, talking to passengers, or even listening to music can be equally dangerous.
Truck companies face an overwhelming demand for truck drivers; therefore, they sometimes fail to train their drivers and ensure their skills are up to standards.
Truck drivers will not be permitted to operate any vehicle without a current license, much less a commercial vehicle. A Class E license is a standard license for truckers who need to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to begin their careers. In addition, almost all long-haul employers require applicants to have at least a high school diploma or GED, on top of a CDL, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
To become a commercial driver, you must pass the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) test and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) exam, which consists of a physical examination and a written examination on federal traffic laws. In most cases, newly hired drivers are required to complete rigorous in-house training that prepares them for driving vehicles, handling materials, and using equipment.
Lack of Maintenance
The federal government requires trucking companies and owners to maintain their vehicles regularly and to ensure they are in a safe condition before being driven. Nonetheless, maintaining semis and trucks costs money and time. This impacts profit margins and time that might be used for delivery. This results in poor vehicle maintenance being one of the leading causes of truck accidents in Texas.
Most Commonly Sustained Injuries in Truck Accidents
When a truck weighing over 80,000 pounds collides into a road user or passenger vehicle, it is quite easy to visualize the catastrophic injuries that may result. We have handled numerous truck accident cases in Clear Lake City, Texas, and have learned that these accidents often cause the following injuries:
- Broken bones: A person may sustain any of the following broken bones due to the blunt force trauma in a truck crash: leg, foot, ankle, arm, hand, collarbone, pelvis, sternum, face, or ribs. Someone with a broken arm or leg could potentially need several weeks in a cast. Several fractures can require surgery and the person may have an extended hospital stay.
- Soft tissue injuries: Soft tissue injuries are often sustained by vehicle occupants when being struck by objects such as broken glass or shards of metal.
- Whiplash: In a truck crash, the force of a collision can cause a person’s head and neck to be jolted forward and/or backward, past the normal range of motion. As a result, whiplash injuries can form and affect the muscles, ligaments, and joints in the neck and upper back. The symptoms of whiplash usually clear up within a few weeks. Occasionally, people with whiplash develop chronic pain or a more severe neck problem.
- Concussions or brain injuries: Concussion, short- or long-term brain damage, or traumatic brain injury may result from injury to the head or from impact during a truck accident. The effects of TBI on a person’s cognitive and physical abilities are often permanent. Survivors may need long-term medical care and assistive care for daily life functions. The consequences of major TBIs may lead to death prior to a full recovery.
- Spine injuries: Due to the positioning of the body and the mechanics of the wreckage, an unexpected blow to one’s back in a truck crash may cause the vertebrae to be crushed. Even after surgery and treatment, a broken back could result in ongoing pain and reduced mobility. Some spinal injuries can be so severe that they result in paralysis.
- Emotional anguish: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and overall decreased well-being can result from a catastrophic injury, a loved one’s serious injury, or coping with the loss of a loved one after a truck accident. As with physical injuries, these types of injuries deserve to be compensated.
Many of these conditions may be fatal if complications develop.
Increased Risk of Death and Injury
Accidents involving semi trucks are far more dangerous for highway drivers than nearly any other type of collision. There are high rates of death in these cases, and serious injuries are common. In 2019 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 36,096 auto accident fatalities, and 5,005 of these came from truck accidents.
Seeing as 4,116 deaths in these specific cases were of drivers in the other vehicle, it goes to show that the massive size and build differences of trucks both protect their drivers from harm, while causing more to others. Regular commuters and drivers are over 4x more likely to die in these accidents than truck drivers.
Truck accidents are also much more likely to cause pile ups on the roadway which may be less serious than direct impacts with a semi but can lead to serious injury and deaths all the same. Multi-car collisions can also complicate the insurance claims process, making it much more difficult to navigate in the wake of an accident.
Who May Be Liable in a Semi-Truck Accident Case?
While assessing liability can be relatively uncomplicated in some motor vehicle accidents, collisions involving trucks can be more complex. This is because there is often more than one party who may be legally liable.
For example, if the truck driver was speeding, the driver could be liable for the injured party’s damages. However, if a vehicle issue, such as bad brake pads, made it impossible for the truck driver to stop, the manufacturer of the defective part also could be liable. The cargo company and the trucker’s employer also may be potentially liable parties in this type of claim. A Clear Lake City trucking attorney could help get to the bottom of the cause of the truck accident and which parties may be liable for your injuries.
Sometimes, the court may find not only the defendant liable for a truck crash but the injured party as well. In cases such as these, the claimant would still be able to recover compensation according to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 33.001. This law states that an injured party can be partially liable for their damages and still recover compensation if they are no more than 50 percent responsible for their injuries. The court would then deduct the claimant’s percentage of liability from their compensatory award. However, if the injured party is more than 50 percent liable, the laws say that they are automatically barred from financial recovery.
Contact Our Top-Rated Clear Lake City Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Speaking with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Clear Lake City, TX can allow you to fully understand the legal options available that are available to you. Call one of our top-rated attorneys at Amaro Law Firm to setup your free consultation.