According to a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), approximately 500,000 trucking accidents occur every year, with 5,000 truck accidents resulting in fatalities. One out of every eight traffic-related fatalities occur as a result of a truck accident. There are many different circumstances or situations that can cause a devastating truck accident and life-threatening injuries. One of the most common causes of truck accidents is truck driver negligence which can include driving while distracted, driving while under the influence, driving while fatigued, driving in excess of maximum hours and other various acts and omissions.
If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident, you may feel confident that the truck driver was at fault for the crash yet have no idea how to prove it. More often than not, the insurance companies for truck drivers and trucking companies will deny a trucker is liable for a collision. They may even suggest that your actions contributed to the crash.
Proving truck driver negligence can be challenging if you do not have an experienced truck accident lawyer in Houston to help explain your rights and the law that applies to trucking cases. The Amaro Law Firm can conduct a thorough investigation of your accident, obtain and analyze all evidence, determine the cause and liable parties, and secure you the fair compensation you deserve.
What Actions Constitute Truck Driver Negligence?
A truck driver is considered negligent for causing personal injuries or damage when violating an expected duty of care. Among the most common examples of trucker negligence in Houston are:
- Distracted Driving: Distracted truck drivers cannot concentrate solely on the road ahead. State and federal laws outlaw the use of phones or other mobile devices while driving. Texting, talking on the phone, or searching the internet is illegal in Houston. Additional distractions can include music, eating, the GPS, and passengers.
- Lack of Training and Experience: Truck drivers must pass the commercial driver’s license (CDL) exam and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) exam, as well as complete in-depth, in-house training. Without necessary training and certifications, certain driving maneuvers may be attempted dangerously, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Speeding: Truck drivers operating over posted speed limits require longer stopping distances and may be at higher risk of losing control. Speeding is not only against the law but also a breach of one’s duty of care to others.
- Reckless Driving: A truck driver engaging in reckless driving fails to consider the results of their actions. In other words, a reckless driver willfully disregards the safety of others. Reckless driving behaviors include texting while driving, following too closely, aggressively speeding, or weaving across traffic lanes.
- Hours of Service (HOS) Violations: Hours of Service (HOS) are rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations aim to reduce and prevent truck accidents caused by drivers and companies who fail to obey safe driving practices. Simply stated, limits are imposed on the amount of time a driver can be on duty before they have to take a break.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Before hitting the road, truck drivers must inspect their vehicles. There could be an underlying mechanical defect that could have prevented a crash from occurring if it had been properly identified or repaired by the maintenance vendor or department of the trucking company.
- Driving While Intoxicated: It is illegal to use alcohol or drugs while driving a motor vehicle. In fact, truck drivers are subject to more stringent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits than others. For general license holders, a BAC of 0.08 is illegal. Truck drivers, on the other hand, are considered over the legal limit with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.
Damages Caused by Truck Accidents
Negligent driving on the part of truck drivers is an extremely dangerous offense, as the truck’s increased height and mass on the road means they can cause more harm than they face. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tracks injury statistics, and in 2019 truck accidents cause 5,005 of 36,096 traffic deaths. Considering that they only make up 4% of vehicles on the road, this represents a sharp increase in fatalities when they are involved in a collision.
Since truck drivers are protected by their large metal cabs, they are far less likely than the average driver to suffer a severe injury in such an accident. Of all truck crashes, 74% of injuries and 82% of deaths were in passenger cars, and in one-on-one collisions, that rate climbs to 97% of deaths suffered by other drivers. With these elevated risks in mind, it is of paramount importance that truck drivers exercise the utmost caution on the roads, making it a grievous offense when negligence results in bodily harm.
How to Prove Negligence in Houston Truck Accident Cases
At the Amaro Law Firm, our Houston truck accident lawyers know how to gather the evidence needed to establish a trucking company or driver’s liability. It will always be in the interest of the driver and their employer to prove you wrong, so it can be an uphill battle. To prove negligence, you need substantial evidence demonstrating the following four elements of negligence:
- Duty of Care: The truck driver had a legal duty to operate safely and reasonably so as to avoid endangering the victim.
- Breach of Duty: The truck driver violated that duty by not conducting themselves responsibly.
- Causation: The truck driver’s breach of duty caused the accident and led to the victim’s harm.
- Damages: The victim’s injuries resulted in losses.
An individual who successfully proves these elements may be awarded compensation for their medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. While this may not appear difficult on paper, understand that you will have insurance companies and trucking companies working against you. Our personal injury lawyers can protect your rights and prepare your case carefully and effectively.
Preventative Measures Houston Truck Drivers Should Take
We cannot assume a functioning economy without truck drivers, who are vital to supporting the transportation of critical supplies and goods across the United States. The presence of truck drivers on our roads makes it imperative for employers and truck drivers alike to adhere to appropriate guidelines and play their part in keeping themselves and other road users safe. The following preventative measures are essential for safe hauling:
- Ensure trucks are properly maintained and inspected
- Do not drive in excess of the regulated hours of service as per Federal Motor Carrier Regulations
- Keep an accurate and complete driving log
- Take steps to ensure their truck is properly loaded and secured
- Follow the posted and legal speed limit
- Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Do not engage in any distracting activities such as eating, texting, or talking on the phone while driving
- Obtain the necessary training and experience to operate their vehicle
- Keep a safe distance between their truck and the vehicles around them
- Avoid driving while fatigued
- Avoid driving in extreme weather conditions
Contact a Houston Negligent Truck Driver Accident Attorney
Despite efforts by truck drivers, trucking companies, or the trucking company’s investigators to hide or limit their liability in an accident, our Houston truck accident attorneys have experience handling all manner of truck accident cases and we know how to uncover the negligence and mistakes made by truck drivers in order to determine the real cause of the accident. Contact us now by calling (713) 352-7975 or by filling out the free case evaluation form on this page.