As the largest state in the lower 48, everything seems bigger in Texas. The efficient transportation of goods across on our interstates (among them I-35, I-45 I-10, I-20, I-27, and I-30), not to mention state and rural highways and city streets, seems to require more and bigger trucks. This, in turn, can cause more and bigger Texas truck accidents.
If you are in a truck accident, contact a Texas truck accident lawyer at The Law Offices of George Salinas for a free consultation. We are happy to hear from you and see what we can do to help recover compensation for your injuries.
Injuries You Could Suffer in a Texas Truck Accident
Because of its weight and size, a big rig could cause catastrophic injuries or death if you tangle with one.
Depending on several factors, injuries could range in severity from minor discomforts to death. Injuries could include:
- Bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes;
- Road rash;
- Sprains, strains, torn muscles, pulled muscles, and other soft tissue injuries;
- Simple and compound fractures;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
In addition to physical injuries, victims could suffer from psychological injuries, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sadly, some truck accident victims don’t live through their ordeals. For example, a truck driver rear-ended a small car on I-10 in Texas, then allegedly left the scene of the accident. However, a second person in the big rig did stay behind. The driver, who was since located, reportedly told police that his employer had told him to lie about the accident. The person in the small car died. The driver abandoned the truck about 20 miles away. Parts of the small car were still embedded under the abandoned truck.
In this case, the decedent’s family could collect from the driver and the driver’s employer if the investigation finds that the employer did, in fact, instruct the driver to lie about the accident.
Who Might Bear Responsibility in a Texas Truck Accident?
The truck driver typically bears responsibility for truck accidents. However, others may also play a part in causing the wreck, meaning they could also be partially responsible alongside the driver. This means that, in addition to the driver, you might collect compensation from the company or its insurance company, and any other individual that bears some responsibility for the crash.
Others who could share responsibility include:
- The driver.
- The truck owner or lessee and/or their companies.
- A third-party driver who caused the truck driver to wreck. For example, someone who cut off a truck in traffic and caused the truck driver to swerve into your vehicle.
- The dispatcher, if the investigation finds that he or she told the driver to “get the load delivered” by a specific time, knowing that the driver would have to break the hours-of-service regulations to make the delivery on time.
- The dispatch company, if separate from the driver’s company.
- The maintenance crew.
- The maintenance crew’s company, if different from the driver’s company.
- Auto parts manufacturers.
- Truck and/or trailer manufacturers.
- The city, county, or state, if an issue with the roadway caused the accident and the government agency was negligent in keeping roads, streets, and highways in good condition.
- Any other person who had a direct impact on the driver’s behavior, such as the owner of a bar or restaurant who served the truck driver when the server knew, or should have known, that the driver was far too inebriated to drive.
The number of people and/or companies that may hold some responsibility for a truck accident often complicate these cases. If you suffer from injuries, especially long-term injuries, because of a Texas truck accident, contact The Law Offices of George Salinas for a free consultation.
Truck Accident Recoverable Damages
After a truck accident, you may have medical bills, may not work, and will most likely worry about the financial loss you suffered and will suffer because of the accident. You may recover damages that could help cover the costs of injuries, lost income, and more.
Special damages, or economic damages, are those with a price tag attached. They can include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including medical transport requiring an ambulance or helicopter;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Replacement or repair of personal property, including your vehicle;
- Past and future physical, cognitive, and/or psychological therapy; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
General damages, or non-economic damages, are those that do not have a specific price attached. In many cases, the court awards non-economic damages when the injuries cause long-term disability or when you lose a loved one in an accident.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Physical impairment;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of a body part;
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as eyesight;
- Loss of the utility of a body part; and
Punitive damages, included in exemplary damages, do not reimburse the injured person or survivor of a decedent for actual loss. Instead, the court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages to the plaintiff as a punishment for grossly negligent behavior. The plaintiff must prove to the court that the defendant’s behavior constituted gross negligence. Some actions that a court might consider grossly negligent include driving under the influence, driving while distracted, and excessive speeding.
Texas Truck Accident FAQs
People involved in an accident with a large truck commonly experience pain, fright, and disorientation. While all types of traffic accidents can cause these, truck accidents can carry a high risk of severity due to the large size of CMVs compared to the size of a typical vehicle on the road. Below, we answer some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Texas truck accidents.
Who could bear responsibility for a Texas truck accident?
Truck accidents can stem from many different causes. Under Texas law, the party that caused the accident is typically held responsible. Texas law abides by the concept of negligence. Negligence means that there was a duty of care owed to the public, and the party/parties that owed that duty did not provide it.
Truck drivers must drive safely and work without intoxicants or other substances that could impair their driving. They need to pay attention to the road and abide by the traffic laws and regulations. Things like this can constitute their duty of care.
If they fail to adhere to the expectations that make up their duty of care, your Texas truck accident lawyer could argue that they have breached their duty. Breaching the duty of care can lead to the determination that the truck driver was negligent. Plaintiffs can hold negligent parties who cause accidents held liable, or financially responsible, for injuries directly caused by that accident.
Truck accidents, however, can result in complex cases because multiple parties may bear responsibility.
Truck owners, for example, owe a duty of care to keep their trucks in safe working order. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that owners (or companies subcontracted for the purpose) steadily inspect, maintain, and repair their CMVs. Truck owners must also hire appropriately licensed drivers. Drivers in Texas must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), and truck owners must periodically test their drivers for alcohol and other substance abuse.
Failure to do any of these things could open a truck owner or subcontractor to negligence charges, and thus to liability. Why? Because failure to enforce any of these mandates may trigger accidents. Worn tires or defective brakes, for example, could cause an accident despite the best efforts of the driver.
Inspection, repair, and maintenance companies owe a duty of care to perform all these duties reliability. Failure to do so can result in a breach of the duty of care.
Companies often load and secure cargo on CMVs. They owe a duty of care to perform these duties well. Overloads and improperly secured cargo could cause accidents.
Finally, truck and component manufacturers owe a duty of care to manufacture safe trucks and components. They need to issue recalls if they made unsafe products.
Because of the high number of potentially negligent parties in a truck accident, CMV accidents often require investigations to determine fault.
What compensation could I recover after a truck accident?
Injured parties in Texas could receive damage compensation in the following categories:
- Current and future medical expenses – Doctor’s visits, surgery, emergency care, prescription medication, assistive devices, retrofitting a home for disability, and more;
- Current and future lost income – Income lost and that you will lose because you need to recuperate from the accident;
- Loss of earnings capacity – People who can’t work at a former occupation, or to the same degree, may seek loss of earnings capacity over their lifetime;
- Pain and suffering – For both physical and emotional pain and suffering; and
- Property damage – For cars and other property.
How much could I recover for my injury claim?
The dollar amount of your injury claim can depend on two factors: (1) the monetary amount of your bills and lost income from the accident; and (2) any pain and suffering damages you may be eligible to pursue, as assessed by insurance adjusters.
To calculate the monetary amount, add up your economic losses. Current medical expenses, for example, can be arrived at by adding together your charges for allowable medical expenses. Your Texas truck accident lawyer can estimate your future medical expenses based upon expert testimony from medical professionals.
Wages lost from work could be calculated by determining your wages and then multiplying that by the amount of time lost as a result of your injuries. Expert testimony can estimate the amount of time that you will lose from work in the future.
If you are unlikely to work again at the same capacity, expert testimony can help forecast your estimated lifetime earnings.
You can determine property damage by adding up the estimated current value of your property.
Generally, compensation on the lower end of the scale will come for injuries and pain likely to resolve with time. Compensation on the higher end of the scale will go for injuries and pain that may never resolve, such as a spinal cord injury that results in paralysis and the need for life-long care.
What should I do to help make sure my damage compensation is just?
Texas is a fault state, where insurance companies of at-fault parties could be responsible for paying damages to those who their insured have injured, without requiring the injured to go through their own insurance company first.
However, the insurance company may possess strategies or policies that help reduce the amount that they indicate the claims are worth. They may portray the injured as at-fault, or assert that they are not as severely injured as they claim to be.
Because of those potential strategies and the complexity of identifying the potential at-fault parties in large truck accidents (and their insurers), the best way to pursue a just result is to contact a Texas truck attorney. They could counter insurance company strategies, investigate, negotiate on your behalf, and take your case to court if necessary. Contact a Texas truck accident attorney at The Law Offices of George Salinas to discuss the details of your accident.
Contact Our Texas Truck Accident Attorneys Right Away
Keep in mind that, in most instances, Texas has a statute of limitations of two years for filing truck accident cases. Depending on the details of your case, you may want to try to settle with the insurance companies. Negotiations take some time, and if the insurance companies refuse to give you a fair and reasonable settlement, your attorney may need time to file a lawsuit against the driver and others involved in the accident.
It is better to contact our Texas personal injury attorneys as soon as possible to help walk you through your options and to advise you where to go from there.
If you suffer from injuries because of a Texas truck accident, or you lost a loved one in a Texas truck accident, contact us at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation today.
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