From food to furniture, from computers to construction equipment, almost every aspect of the American consumer economy depends on tractor trailers to haul large loads across long distances. Tractor trailer drivers are often under pressure to bring their cargo hundreds, or even thousands, of miles in a short time. With drivers under this much pressure, mistakes can happen all too frequently. These mistakes often lead to an 18-wheeler accident injury, either to the truck drivers or to other innocent motorists who must share the road with them.
Motorists in Texas are familiar with the occurrence of life-threatening accidents that involve “big rigs,” also known as 18-wheeler trucks. Highway reports have indicated that in 2012, there were 3,702 fatal accidents and 4,183 fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses in the United States. These staggering numbers have many drivers wondering what causes these accidents and why they are so frequent on Texas roads and highways.
Types of Texas Truck Accidents
Many forces contribute to 18-wheeler truck accidents in Texas. Among the varied reasons for crashes are conditions outside of a driver’s control –– such as road and weather conditions –– and driver inattention or negligence. With so many accidents each year, the causes of an 18-wheeler accident injury can be nearly as varied as the people involved in these tragedies.
Any individual who chooses to seek legal assistance after suffering from an 18-wheeler truck accident in Texas should know about the various types of truck accidents, including:
- Jackknife collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Sideswipe accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Wide turn accidents
Between 2018 and 2019, an average of 19,800 non-fatal truck collisions occurred each year in the United States. These serious accidents, regardless of whether or not they were fatal, affect families and victims in many different ways, and some injuries that are sustained as a result of Texas 18-wheeler accidents can be life-changing.
Frequent Injuries from 18-Wheeler Collisions
Commonly, 18-wheelers on the roads in Texas weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 lbs. This depends entirely on whether or not the cab is attached to a trailer and how much cargo is being transported by the vehicle. The weight and size of 18-wheelers can cause severe damage to other cars and their occupants during an accident. Some of the most common injuries that victims suffer during these 18-wheeler accidents include:
- Soft tissue and muscle injuries: Damage that impacts muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue. This can include muscular tension, whiplash, and sprains.
- Damage to the spine: Serious injuries from 18-wheeler accidents can result in damage to the vertebrae and spinal cord that can cause paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Some of the most impactful injuries that happen during 18-wheeler accidents are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) such as concussions, hematoma, coma, or death.
- Broken bones: One of the most commonly reported injuries resulting from accidents involving 18-wheeler trucks is broken or fractured bones. Among the most frequently injured areas are the face, ribs, pelvis, arms, and legs.
Other minor injuries that victims often report include bruises, burns, lacerations, and small puncture wounds. These can occur when the windshield or dashboard is destroyed or damaged on impact. Regardless of the injuries that a victim may have sustained after an 18-wheeler accident in Texas, it is important to prioritize seeking medical care.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents in Texas
There have been a high number of cases in recent years in which motorists have endured serious accidents with 18-wheelers. In 2012, over 100,000 people suffered injuries as a result of truck accidents, an average of 275 people each day. Many of these accidents were due to preventable causes related to negligence, including:
- Operating a vehicle while fatigued
- Engaging in distracted driving
- Driving recklessly or speeding
- Driving with a load over the legal limit
- Turning improperly or illegally
- Failing to signal when changing lanes or passing
- Failing to maintain the upkeep of the 18-wheeler
- Driving in excess of maximum driving hours
- Violating local traffic rules
- Inexperience or lack of training
No matter the cause of a truck accident, these life-changing situations can be some of the most challenging moments that victims and their families have to face. To help you navigate your next steps, you may choose to contact a Texas truck accident lawyer.
How Long Does an 18-Wheeler Lawsuit Take in Texas?
After experiencing a serious accident, victims and their families may be unsure of how to move forward with a claim for their losses. Pursuing a case after an 18-wheeler accident in Texas can be a daunting task if you do not have a familiarity with Texas trucking laws.
In Texas, victims and their families have two years from the date of the accident to move forward with legal action. The resolution of the claim, however, may take weeks to months. In some extreme cases, reaching a fair outcome could take years. This may occur if a claim cannot be resolved through settlement negotiations and winds up in court. Ultimately, the time your claim may take depends on the facts of the case.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Most Common Causes of Texas 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents?
Nearly 9 out of every 10 Texas truck accidents are caused by driver errors, according to the latest data from authorities. In fact, federal data reveals a lot about the causes of 18-wheeler wrecks in Texas, including the facts that:
- The truck is the critical reason for the crash about 55% of all big rig wrecks. Put another way, in about 45% of all 18-wheeler crashes, the critical reason for the crash is assigned to another vehicle, like a passenger vehicle.
- When trucks are the critical reason for a crash, nearly 1 in 3 tractor-trailer accidents involves an 18-wheeler running into another lane of traffic or running off the road. In some cases, this may result from vehicle equipment failure or drivers’ unfamiliarity with the roads. In others, motorists may be fatigued, inattentive, or impaired.
- When trucks are the critical reason for a crash, the top 3 causes of these 18-wheeler wrecks are brake problems, an interruption of the normal flow of traffic, and prescription drug use.
- Driver decision errors cause about 38% of tractor-trailer accidents. These can include errors like traveling too fast for the conditions, tailgating, or misjudging others’ actions.
- About 1 in every 10 big rig accidents is the result of a vehicle problem, like brake failure, tire blowouts, or other equipment malfunctions. While vehicle equipment may fail because of design or manufacturing flaws, it can also malfunction and cause wrecks when it is not properly maintained or when trucks are overloaded.
- About 3% of all truck wrecks are caused by environmental factors, meaning the weather and/or road conditions. For example, weather can impair visibility while reducing big rigs’ traction with the roads. Similarly, poorly maintained streets, dangerous roadway design, and poorly set up highway work zones can also contribute to wrecks.
Condensing the data, it’s easier to see that avoidable errors cause most Texas 18-wheeler accidents.
When you’ve been hurt in a Texas truck accident, however, it’s not always easy to see what caused it and who’s responsible. That’s when it’s time to turn to an attorney for help getting answers and asserting your rights.
What Should I Look for in a Texas Truck Accident Attorney?
When it’s time to retain a Texas truck accident lawyer, here are the key factors to look for:
- Experience: You want a Texas 18-wheeler accident attorney who has years of experience under his or her belt, as well as experience handling cases like yours. You should also look for a trial-tested lawyer, meaning someone with courtroom experience.
- Honesty: Does a lawyer give you straightforward answers? Does (s)he put you at ease while giving you the truth, so you can make the best decisions for yourself? The best Texas truck accident lawyers will do both, and that’s what you should be looking for when it’s time to retain representation for your claim.
- Skills: How good is a lawyer at winning cases like yours? How communicative are they? What will they do to build you a compelling case? These are all important skills to look for in a Texas truck accident lawyer, and you may need to ask about some of these skills outright (or look to reviews) to get answers here.
- Good reviews: Check out online reviews to see what others have to say about a lawyer. That can give you some fresh insight about what to expect in terms of representation, service, responsiveness, and the overall experience of working with a specific attorney.
To figure out if a Texas 18-wheeler accident attorney is a good fit for you and your case, it’s a good idea to do things like (but not limited to):
- Review websites and testimonials: These online materials can reveal more about a lawyer’s experience, his or her background, client experiences, and more.
- Check a lawyer’s record with the state bar: You want a lawyer who’s in good standing, with no formal complaints or censures. You can look up any Texas truck accident lawyer using the state bar’s search tool here.
- Meet with a Texas truck accident lawyer: Initial consultations are generally free and confidential, and there’s zero obligation to retain an attorney after this meeting. This gives you the chance to feel out an attorney, learn about a potential claim, ask questions, and get the information you need to move forward.
How Long Do I Have to File an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawsuit in Texas?
Texas law gives you two (2) years to file a truck accident lawsuit. That 2 years can begin counting down from the date on which:
- The truck accident occurred.
- The crash injuries are diagnosed.
- The crash injuries result in death.
With this 2-year time limit, known as the statute of limitations, it’s crucial to also know that:
- Different statutes of limitations can apply when the at-fault party is a government entity.
- When motor carriers are at fault, they tend to get right to work building their defense. And they may have teams of people waiting and ready to investigate and push back against victims’ claims.
- Although 2 years can seem like a lot of time, it’s generally best to not to wait too long to initiate a case. That’s because more evidence tends to be available right after a crash, rather than months or a year later.