Semi-trucks are heavy, large vehicles that can cause catastrophic injuries and damage to smaller vehicles and their passengers when they collide. In 2019, The Lone Star State was a particularly dangerous state to drive in, especially when it came to trucks. That year, Texas saw 39,193 accidents that involved a commercial vehicle, with 543 of those crashes proving to be fatal. At Amaro Law Firm, our Fort Worth truck accident lawyers are dedicate to defending victims of these types of accidents because we believe that the injured deserve to see justice.
As an experienced truck accident lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas, Attorney R. James Amaro is familiar with the kind of devastation commercial trucks can cause when they are involved in a crash. If you’ve been hurt in a Fort Worth truck accident, you can count on our firm for legal guidance.
Common Types of Tractor Trailer Accidents We See in Fort Worth, Texas
As the population in Texas continues to grow, more and more trucks appear on our roadways each day. These 18-wheelers may take up a lot of space on our highways, but they are necessary for hauling the goods we need to survive. However, with each truck added to our roads, the risk of becoming involved in a truck crash rises.
Semi-trucks carry heavy cargo thousands of miles each week across our state, and these heavyweights do not have the ability to stop on a dime. Under ideal conditions, it would take a typical, fully loaded tractor-trailer 525 feet (nearly the length of two football fields) to make a complete stop from a speed of 65 miles per hour. This is one of the reasons why sharing the road with 18 wheelers can be so dangerous.
In the Fort Worth area, we often see these types of truck accidents:
- Jackknife accidents: A jackknife accident occurs when a big rig folds itself so that the cab and trailer form a 90-degree angle, resembling a pocket knife. Jackknifes often occur after a truck driver hits their brakes too quickly, causing the trailer to skid and push the towing vehicle from behind until it spins around and faces backward.
- Rollover crashes: When semi-truck drivers lose control, the truck can roll over, causing both the truck and its cargo to become a hazard for other motorists. The leading cause of a truck rollover crash is a truck driver failing to adjust their speed to the curves in a road (often on highway on- and off-ramps).
- Tire blowouts: A tire blowout is the sudden bursting of a tire, often happening when a vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed. We all have seen remnants of these blowouts littering the shoulders of our highways. While these blowouts can happen with any vehicle, large trucks are especially vulnerable–leaving truckers in danger of losing control.
- Rear-end crashes: Since large trucks require so much more space to come to a complete stop than cars, collisions where the front of a truck hits the rear of a car are extremely common. The sheer weight of 18-wheelers can cause severe property damage and tragic injuries, as well as loss of life when involved in a rear-end crash.
- Underride accidents: When large commercial trucks come to a sudden halt, smaller vehicles traveling behind the truck can become lodged under the truck’s trailer. These types of accidents can be some of the deadliest. A 2008-2009 study found that 70% of the 934 fatalities from crashes where a vehicle struck the rear of a truck involved some underride.
- Runaway trailers: When truck trailers are not carefully secured or were loaded improperly, trailers can loosen and become extremely dangerous to nearby motorists. Runaway trailers can also occur when the speed of the trailer does not match the speed of the truck, causing the vehicle to veer out of control. There is no stopping a trailer that has detached from a truck, so these crashes can be particularly deadly.
- Blindspot accidents: Blind spots on trucks are much larger than blind spots on the average vehicle, leaving passenger vehicles to frequently become invisible to drivers of semi-trucks. When sharing the road with big rigs, always remember that if you can’t see the truck driver, then they can’t see you.
No matter what type of truck accident you have experienced, a Fort Worth truck accident lawyer can help you navigate your options.
What are Common Injuries after a Truck Crash in Fort Worth?
The average passenger vehicle weighs in at about 5,000 pounds. In comparison, a fully loaded big rig can clock in at up to 80,000 pounds. This means that when these massive tractor-trailers are involved in a crash, they can produce about 16 times the impact power of your everyday vehicle.
Despite recent advancements in auto safety, victims often find themselves having to recover from cataclysmic or permanent injuries after a truck accident. Steel, glass, and plastic can impact a person’s body at high speeds during an accident. Not to mention that fire, explosions, and toxic chemicals from a vehicle’s reservoirs can take an accident from bad to worse.
Injuries sustained in truck accidents frequently force victims to have to rearrange their whole lives in order to accommodate their injuries. A few examples of injuries that victims may sustain include:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Abdominal injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
State and Federal Regulations for Truck Drivers in Fort Worth, Texas
Commercial trucking has been the backbone of interstate and intrastate commerce for decades. Today, trucks account for 4% of all of the vehicles on our roads and are fundamental in keeping the Texas economy afloat. Unfortunately, trucks are a hazard to everyone who shares a road with them. Although trucks account for just 4% of all vehicles, trucks are involved in 11% of all auto fatalities.
Unfortunately, over 90% of motor vehicle accidents are caused due to negligence, and when truck drivers are careless with their driving, innocent, unsuspecting motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians often end up paying the ultimate price. State and federal agencies have implemented regulations for truck drivers with the intention of making our roads safer for everyone.
All commercial vehicles engaging in interstate commerce must follow guidelines set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Any vehicle that satisfies any of the following criteria must abide by the FMCSA’s rules:
- Any vehicle used on public highways for interstate commerce to transport passengers or property
- Any vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds or more
- Any vehicle transporting more than eight people (including the driver) for compensation or more than fifteen people (including the driver) without compensation
- Any vehicle used in the transportation of hazardous materials that require placarding
A skilled truck accident attorney could help victims suffering from truck accident injuries determine whether the vehicle they were struck by would be considered to be a commercial vehicle by the FMCSA. Any proof that a driver did not comply with state or federal trucking regulations could be used as evidence of liability against them.
Texas state laws predominantly regulate intrastate commerce, but they also regulate interstate truck drivers. For instance, under Texas law, truck drivers are prohibited from driving more than eleven hours consecutively. Interstate truck drivers must also have at least ten hours off duty before beginning their next shift after working for fourteen hours total. However, intrastate truck drivers are permitted to work for twelve hours in succession but only after having eight hours off duty. Intrastate truck drivers may only drive up to seventy hours within seven consecutive days.
How Do You Determine Who is Liable for a Fort Worth Truck Accident?
Commercial trucking is a complex area of law that is regulated by federal and state entities that covers their vehicles, drivers, and operations. Fort Worth victims who are not represented by a knowledgeable truck accident attorney may take a considerable risk when pursuing justice.
By hiring a Fort Worth truck accident attorney from Amaro Law Firm to represent your interests, you can ensure your rights are protected. Your attorney will begin their own investigation into the incident to determine liability for the crash. When it comes to commercial trucking accidents, liability could be held by any of the following entities, such as the:
- Truck driver: Especially if the driver violated any traffic laws (such as speeding, driving under the influence, or distracted driving) or disobeyed regulations for hours-of-service.
- Trucking company: If they failed to adequately train their drivers or maintain their fleet.
- Owner of the cargo: When cargo is too heavy or hazardous, it can be dangerous to fellow motorists.
- Cargo loaders: When cargo is loaded into trailers improperly, it can disrupt the truck’s balance and lead to an accident.
- Manufacturer of the truck or its components: If any truck components are found to be faulty and result in a crash, such as bad brake pads that made it impossible for the driver to stop, the manufacturer may be liable for damages.
- Trucker’s employer: Employers that allow drivers with previous infractions on roadways could be found liable if their driver causes a wreck.
Truck crashes could be caused by any of these parties, a combination of several of them, or something different entirely. Your attorney may call in an accident reconstruction specialist to perform a scientific analysis and interpretation of the crash. These experts have specialized training in accident reconstruction engineering and physics and will be able to determine what happened during an accident and who should be held liable.
There may be high-tech devices inside the cab of the truck that could help with accident reconstruction. Most trucks manufactured after the 1990s have a black box integrated into their engines. The black boxes, also known as electronic control modules (ECM) or event data recorders (EDR), store data such as:
- The truck’s speed
- Any sudden acceleration or deceleration
- If the brakes were applied and when
- Tire pressure
- If cruise control was being used
- Whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt
- GPS location information
- If the airbag was deployed
Victims can also aid in the process of determining fault by providing any evidence they were able to collect after a crash. Helpful evidence could include:
- Documentation of the accident scene: Photos or videos of the crash scene, including photos of the vehicles involved, injuries sustained, and any damaged property will be useful throughout your case. When taking photos of the scene, don’t forget to document the overall scene, including any skid marks on the road or traffic signals/signs involved in the accident.
- Witness contact information: Your truck accident lawyer will want to contact any witnesses of the incident to help prove liability. Try to collect any names, phone numbers, and addresses of witnesses at the scene before they leave.
- Police accident report: Police that arrive on scene will create an official accident report detailing the crash. Make sure to obtain a copy of this report for your own records and to provide it to your Fort Worth truck accident attorney.
Your Fort worth truck accident lawyer may be able to help you recover evidence that could be vital in holding negligent parties accountable for your truck crash. Whether it is data from a truck’s black box, hiring an accident reconstruction specialist, or contacting trucking companies for more information, your attorney will work diligently to ensure that your rights are being protected throughout the process.