Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that Texas is consistently ranked number one in the country for having the highest number of truck-related fatalities year after year. Catastrophic collisions often occur in Dallas, with motorist injuries tied to truck accidents numbering in the thousands.
If you or someone you care for has recently been hurt in a serious accident involving a commercial vehicle such as an 18-wheeler, you might be wondering how to start the process of holding the responsible parties accountable. Victims and their families have a limited period in which they can pursue a claim in Texas, so it is important to take prompt legal action after experiencing a severe truck accident in Dallas.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Dallas, Texas
The size and weight of most commercial trucks can make them difficult to maneuver on the road; and, while truck drivers must legally abide by several regulations, the difference in size and weight between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles undeniably contributes to the severity of these crashes.
Truck drivers are instructed to maintain certain levels of safety and care, both on and off the road, to prevent any risks that could cause an accident. In the city of Dallas, Texas, some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Traffic rule violations
- Distracted driving (such as using a GPS, texting, talking on the phone, watching videos, etc.)
- Operating a commercial vehicle over maximum driving hours
- Driving while fatigued
- Impaired driving
- Inexperience driving a commercial truck
- Lack of training on proper truck handling and safety
Long-haul truck drivers are usually trained to uphold a certain standard of performance while navigating with or without cargo. This training often highlights the importance of state and federal trucking regulations. Often, trucking companies may be liable for employing untrained drivers or for providing inadequate training.
Types of Commercial Truck Accidents in Dallas
Commercial trucks can cause a variety of accidents that may result in severe injuries to all parties involved. Some of the more common types of commercial truck accidents in Dallas include:
- Head-on collisions
- Wide turn accidents
- Sideswipe accidents
- Truck rollover accidents
- Jackknife truck accident
Reports show that 17.9% of all accident-related fatalities in the United States occur at an angle, which can be difficult for drivers to avoid in any circumstance. It is important to understand the type of accident you or the person you are caring for was involved in so that you can obtain all of the necessary details for your Dallas truck accident case.
What is Truck Jackknifing?
Truck jackknifing is one of the most frequent types of truck accidents, and it can be more dangerous than any other collision. A “jackknife,” named for the V-shape that it creates that resembles a pocketknife, occurs when the trailer on an 18-wheeler bends at a 90-degree angle at the point where it is connected to the cab of a truck.
Jackknife accidents can happen if a driver is speeding, their brakes are faulty, if their cargo is too heavy, or if the conditions on the road are dangerous, among other reasons. An accident that involves a truck jackknife can result in serious damage for all drivers involved.
Trucks Often Cause the Most Damage in a Crash
The size of an average 18-wheeler on the road means that they can have a devastating effect on regular passenger vehicles involved in a collision. While a commercial truck is protected by the frame of their cabs, even the most advanced safety systems and careful driving habits by commuters often provide little defense from a wreck involving a truck.
Though large trucks make up just 4% of the vehicles on the road, they account for 13% of all traffic deaths, per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Though they are also more likely to cause multi-car pileups, one-on-one crashes occur more often. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Commission reports that 97% of deaths in car accidents involving large trucks are of the occupants of the passenger vehicle. When a truck hits a car, the forces involved can often be fatal or cause long-term injury in most victims.
Although trucks have been known to cause 13% of traffic fatalities, they are responsible for just 6% of accident injuries. Crashes that involve commercial trucks and vehicles are more likely to put other drivers on the road in danger, with reports indicating that 74% of injuries and 82% of fatalities that occur as a result of accidents involving trucks are experienced by the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Managing the complexities of liability becomes more challenging when victims and their families must face trucking and shipping companies, insurance claims, and manufacturers. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer can make the legal claims process easier for victims who are recovering from their accident-related injuries.
What Should I Do After a Dallas Truck Accident?
Much like any other accident, if you find yourself involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler or a long-haul truck in Dallas, there are a few necessary measures that you should take immediately after the incident if you are physically able. Regardless of whether the accident occurred on a crowded highway or a city street, you must take the following steps:
- Obtain medical care. The first thing you should do is ensure that you and your passengers are safe and unharmed. If you find yourself injured after a truck accident, call for medical assistance as soon as you are able.
- Tip: Be sure to provide clear direction to where the accident occurred. In many cases, emergency response personnel will also send out law enforcement officers to help reroute traffic, clean up the road, and create a police report at the scene of the accident.
- Gather evidence. If you have not left the scene due to crash-related injuries, take photos or record video footage from the crash site for your personal records. Use your phone, or one of your passengers’ phones, to capture photos and videos of:
- Damage to the vehicles involved
- Any debris that was in the road
- Tire and skid marks
- Visible injuries that you or your passengers sustained during the crash
Depending on where the accident occurred, you may have several bystanders who can act as witnesses and provide statements about the collision. You can ask for their written or recorded statements, which can be taken with video or voice memos, to be used later as evidence. If you can do this, be sure to save the contact information of the witnesses and their full names in case they need to be reached for further questions.
Frequently Reported Injuries from Truck Accidents in Dallas
Many drivers are cautioned about the dangers of potential car accidents when they are learning to navigate a vehicle, but the consequences of a collision with a commercial truck are much more devastating. We have served a variety of clients in Dallas who have experienced truck accidents and learned that some of the most frequently cited injuries include:
- Broken bones: Many victims experience fractures or breaks due to the impact of the collision. Most breaks occur in the legs, arms, collarbones, ribs, and face.
- Scratches and cuts: Debris from truck accidents, such as metal and glass, can cause significant damage such as serious lacerations, burns, punctures, and other wounds.
- Soft tissue injuries: Truck accidents often result in damage to a victim’s soft tissue, which can cause sprains, torn ligaments, muscle pain, strained tendons, and whiplash.
- Spine damage: Injuries that affect the spine have the potential to cause serious, long-term problems for a victim’s mobility. These injuries can include a damaged spinal cord, broken vertebrae, or even paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Among the more damaging injuries that victims report after truck accidents are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can include concussions, comas, or hematoma (bleeding in or around the brain).
Victims of truck accidents can experience a range of physical and mental symptoms after their truck accident in Dallas. Some injuries can cause life-changing repercussions such as dismemberment, coma, disability, or cognitive impairments.
How Long Does a Truck Accident Lawsuit Take in Dallas?
Reports show that fatal truck accidents have increased by 16% since 2016, with more families choosing to take legal action. The deadline for pursuing a case after a truck accident in Dallas is two years following the date of the collision. However, the length of time that it requires to pursue a truck accident case in Dallas depends on several details regarding the incident.
If a victim chooses to pursue a claim, there are several steps involved that may be alleviated with the assistance of a qualified legal representative. After choosing to seek legal counsel, the following stage of a truck accident claim in Dallas involves an investigation into the collision, which is known as the discovery process. Discovery may last several weeks to months depending on the complexity of the accident.
The discovery stage is followed by negotiations, which may involve a neutral third party to facilitate mediation. If a case makes it to trial, it may take longer to resolve than a case that is resolved through mediation.
Legal Help for Dallas, Texas Truck Accident Cases
It may be possible to improve the outcome of your Dallas truck accident case when you work with an experienced legal professional. Your legal representative has access to certain resources that most citizens do not, which means that an experienced and skilled Dallas truck accident lawyer will be able to:
- Use their resources to strengthen your case by requesting evidence such as dashcam footage or trucking logbooks
- Use information from police reports and even truck maintenance logs to prove negligence on the part of the truck company or driver
- Obtain relevant data recorded by the onboard black box
In Dallas, victims of truck accidents give themselves a distinct advantage in the courtroom by having a knowledgeable trucking lawyer on their side when facing large trucking companies and their insurance representatives. These cases can be often overwhelming for families who have never had to experience the legal system before. Working with a reliable truck accident lawyer in Dallas can make it easier for victims and the people close to them to move past this challenging time.