Truck accident liability laws dictate who can take legal action against a party that caused an accident. Big rigs, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers transport products and cargo throughout the country every day. When these massive vehicles share the roads and highways with smaller passenger cars, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are much more likely to suffer life-changing or life-ending injuries.
Seeking compensation after an accident means understanding truck accident liability laws and the role they play in your request for financial compensation. On your own, it may seem hard to understand all the laws that apply to your case. When you hire a truck accident attorney, they can clarify the applicable laws and build a case for you.
Federal and Texas Commercial Truck Regulations and Insurance Requirements
Truckers in Texas must follow state and federal trucking regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) develops the rules, regulations, and laws for all commercial vehicles traveling the nation’s roads. These requirements cover everything from licensing requirements and insurance coverage to cargo standards and hours-of-service regulations, which set the number of hours drivers can be on the road before taking mandatory breaks.
In addition to these, truckers must also abide by the state’s regulations, which Texas Department of Public Safety highlights on its website. The FMCSA sets requirements for minimum liability insurance coverage for registered vehicles as well as coverage for bodily injury and property damage. Commercial liability insurance covers accident expenses, such as medical bills, property damage and pain and suffering, along with other damages.
In Texas, trucking companies must show they have liability insurance for each registered commercial vehicle they own or operate. The minimum liability coverage will vary according to the truck’s weight and cargo it transports.
- Trucks weighing less than 26,000 pounds must have at least $300,000 of liability insurance.
- Trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds and carry household goods must have at least $500,000 of liability insurance under state and federal law.
- Trucks weighing 10,001 pounds and carry non-hazardous materials must carry $750,000 of liability insurance.
- If trucks weighing 10,001 pounds carry hazardous materials, they must carry at least $5 million of liability insurance.
- State and federal laws require trucks carrying oil to have at least $1 million in liability coverage.
Coverage limits may differ for trucks that travel only in Texas. In those cases, federal laws may not apply. A Texas attorney can verify coverages for those vehicles and advise you accordingly.
Comparative Negligence Laws Play a Role in Truck Accident Liability
Some states operate under contributory negligence laws, while others are comparative negligence states. States like Texas, for example, are modified comparative negligence states, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001. This means if you are more than 50 percent liable in a truck accident crash, you can’t recover compensation.
Potentially Liable Parties in Truck Accident Cases
Truck accident cases are complex right from the start since financial liability can fall to one or more parties. To define truck accident liability, a Texas personal injury lawyer will collect evidence that proves the following elements of negligence:
- Duty of care: The at-fault party owed you a duty of care to drive their vehicle in a safe manner.
- Breach of duty: The at-fault party breached their duty by driving erratically, exceeding hours-of-service allowances, or otherwise compromising your safety.
- Causation: The at-fault party caused the truck accident that injured you.
- Damages: You sustained serious injuries that caused you to suffer losses.
While you focus on getting better, your lawyer will collect evidence that identifies the at-fault party and allows you to recover monetary damages. At-fault parties may include:
The Truck Driver
We may find the driver who operated the truck at the time of your accident liable if they drove in an intoxicated, distracted, fatigued, or otherwise reckless manner.
The Trucking Company
The trucker’s employer may bear liability if their driver operated in the scope of their employment, but did not receive proper training or carry the correct license.
Truck and Parts Manufacturers
A truck is a large piece of machinery that should be in good working order each time it takes to the road. If a manufacturing or design flaw renders the truck dangerous, liability may fall on the manufacturer. If the brakes, windshield, or tires caused or contributed to the accident, the parts maker may share liability.
Cargo Loading Companies
Trucks carry a wide assortment of products that must be carefully loaded to create a balanced load with evenly distributed weight. If the truck accident occurred because of improperly loaded cargo, you could have a case against the company responsible for cargo loading.
Truck Maintenance and Repair Facilities
If a truck took to the road after a faulty or insufficient repair or if the truck did not receive proper maintenance, you can hold the repair and maintenance facility accountable.
Government and Municipalities
Sometimes, road conditions contribute to truck accidents. You may decide to act against the local municipality responsible for repairing potholes and other road hazards. If they failed to properly maintain the street or highway, your lawyer will clarify their potential financial liability.
Your Evidence Collection Indicates Truck Accident Liability
Your post-accident expenses may fall to more than one liable party. The evidence your lawyer collects will help establish negligence and liability and can include:
- Truck accident report
- Accident scene photos
- Accident scene reconstruction
- Witness statements
- Trucker logbooks
- Truck maintenance records
- Trucker’s driving history
Your lawyer will also compile evidence that proves the accident’s resulting costs. This evidence category can include your medical bills and proof of income. They will compile, sort, organize, and present your evidence file rather than taxing you or your family with this daunting task. They will leverage truck accident laws, personal injury laws, and insurance laws to ensure you receive fair compensation in a timely manner.
You Have a Limited Time to Hold the At-Fault Party Liable for a Truck Accident
Settling your truck accident case can take time. If settlement negotiations take too long or an acceptable settlement offer is not forthcoming, your lawyer will file your lawsuit. This step prevents the statute of limitations from expiring which could leave you with no legal avenue that compels the at-fault party or parties to compensate you.
Contact Our Truck Accident Team for a Free Review of Your Case
Truck accident liability laws can make your fight for monetary recovery difficult. We founded our law firm 35 years ago to help injured clients hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. When you are ready to fight for the financial compensation you need and deserve, our contact our truck accident team at Domingo Garcia for your free case review. We have specialized:
All ready to serve you.