When a semi-truck collides with a passenger vehicle, drivers and riders often suffer severe, catastrophic, or fatal injuries. This is primarily because these trucks are much bigger and heavier and take longer to come to a stop. Unfortunately, these accidents are not as uncommon in Tyler and Longview as you might think.
If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident caused by another party’s negligence, a Tyler truck accident lawyer at Domingo Garcia can assist you in filing a claim. We can help guide you through the complicated legal process and secure compensation for your many financial, physical, and personal losses.
How Can a Tyler Truck Accident Lawyer Help Your Case?
In the aftermath of a truck accident, you may become overwhelmed when confronting the complex insurance and legal processes you must navigate. Fortunately, when you hire one of our Tyler truck accident attorneys, we can help you by handling the following critical tasks and more:
Initiating an Independent Investigation and Collecting Evidence
When an attorney begins examining your case, one of the places they will start is at the accident scene. Our attorneys are ready to begin your accident investigation and collect the evidence needed to build a solid claim, including the following:
- Police reports
- Traffic citations
- Medical bills and records
- Eyewitness statements and affidavits
- Expert witness testimony from police officers, medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists, psychologists, etc.
- Photos and video of the accident scene
- Surveillance video of the collision
- Trucking regulation records
- Driver logs and vehicle documentation
- Black box information
- Cell phone text and call records
- Injury photos
Identifying and Calculating Your Damages
The primary objective of a personal injury claim is to secure a financial award for damages you sustained from the liable party. To this end, we can help you identify your losses and assign them a monetary value. Then, when damages are calculated, one of our attorneys can demand the total amount from the liable party.
Initiating an Insurance Claim and Negotiating on Your Behalf
After collecting the necessary evidence, your attorney can help you build a solid claim and demand compensation from the insurance company liable for your losses. When you first begin seeking compensation after a truck accident, you will most likely be turning to the responsible party’s insurance company. However, you are strongly advised to avoid speaking with a claims adjuster without legal counsel.
There are several reasons why we suggest you do not approach the insurance company on your own, such as the following:
- The company is for-profit and is not on your side. Their priority will be to reduce the settlement they have to pay, regardless of how severe your injuries are or how much you’ve suffered.
- Insurance companies can manipulate your statements and attempt to use your words against you later. They will likely look for reasons to devalue or deny your claim, including asserting you are at fault or at least partially liable.
- Do not expect the insurance company to initially offer you a fair settlement. It is in your best interests to have one of our legal advocates who can understand and deal with insurance company tactics. Compared to attempting negotiations on your own, we are more likely to convince the insurance company to agree on a fair settlement greater than the original offer.
- Finally, the insurance company is more likely to take your claim seriously when you have a lawyer representing you. We will strive to demonstrate your actions did not contribute to the accident or minimize your responsibility.
Represent You in a Lawsuit
The insurance company may repeatedly reject or undervalue your claim, even if it is supported by evidence. Therefore, if you haven’t already, at this time, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney who can file a lawsuit and pursue the compensation you are owed. Our attorneys are not afraid to stand up for you in court and present your case to a jury.
Who Can Be Liable for a Tyler Truck Accident?
Not surprisingly, operator error or negligence are the cause of many semi-truck accidents. However, accidents can also stem from truck maintenance negligence, defective truck parts and systems, and poor road conditions.
Several parties could be considered liable in a truck accident, including the following:
The Truck Driver
Truck drivers may cause accidents by breaking traffic laws, including driving too fast for weather conditions, failing to yield the right-of-way, etc. However, because driver negligence usually occurs when working within the scope of their employment, claims are typically filed through their employer’s insurance company.
The Trucking Company
While the trucking company or carrier employing the driver is often responsible for their errors, they are also accountable for performing regular inspections and maintaining their vehicles. Furthermore, they may be liable for pressuring drivers to violate the hours-of-service restrictions specified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These laws are in place to prevent fatigue and drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.
Cargo shippers and loading companies are entrusted with loading a truck’s cargo and ensuring it is balanced, properly contained, and secured. Failure of one of the companies to secure or distribute a load correctly can be held liable if items fall or spill out onto the road or the truck tips over and causes an accident.
Vehicle and Equipment Manufacturers
The makers of trucks or related mechanical and electrical components may be liable if a truck accident is due to a defective part or system. For example, the manufacturer might be responsible for faulty steering wheels, brake failure, or tire blowouts.
Sometimes trucking companies use third-party mechanic shops to maintain and repair their vehicles. Moreover, if a shop fails to service a truck or replace a faulty part, they can be held liable for a victim’s losses if an accident occurs.
To secure a fair settlement or court verdict, the injured victim and their attorney must hold the correct parties, named as defendants, liable for damages. Therefore, our Tyler Truck accident attorneys must collect and examine available evidence throughout their investigation to determine which parties are at fault.
How Do Tyler Truck Accident Attorneys Determine Negligence and Liability?
When you pursue a claim for a truck accident, you and your attorney will have to prove the driver or other party was negligent. This requires establishing the following elements:
Duty of Care
All motorists, including truckers, are responsible to others on the road for obeying traffic laws and driving cautiously and reasonably. This obligation, also known as a duty of care, is intended to hold drivers liable for the injuries of others should their negligence cause them harm.
Similarly, trucking and loading companies, truck maintenance shops, and manufacturers owe a duty of care to those who encounter the semi-trucks they make, own, load or maintain.
Breach of Duty
A breach is a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care, often through acts of negligence or willful misconduct. For example, a driver breaches a duty if they violate a traffic law, such as by going too fast for existing conditions or driving recklessly.
Your attorney must also demonstrate that the responsible party’s breach of duty caused your injuries. While proving this may seem relatively straightforward, if the insurance company has reason to believe your injuries were pre-existing, they can use this to cast doubt on your case.
Financial, physical, and subjective losses are represented in accident claims as damages. Damages must have a monetary value assigned and be calculated into a demand for compensation. Losses can be proven using evidence such as medical bills, income records, expert witnesses, and more.
Accident victims seeking to file insurance claims often have difficulty establishing these four elements independently. Your attorney can help you calculate your financial expenditures and estimate personal losses, such as emotional anguish and diminished quality of life.
What Compensation Can a Tyler Truck Accident Lawyer Recover?
When another party causes a truck accident in Tyler or Longview that leaves you severely injured, you may be entitled to receive restitution for your losses. Damages are specific losses than can be assigned a value. Some losses are purely financial, such as medical bills. Others must be estimated due to their personal, subjective nature, such as emotional anguish.
Common damages pursued in truck accidents include the following:
- Medical bills, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s visits, rehab, medications, etc.
- Lost income due to missed work
- Diminished earning capacity for lost future income
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical limitations and disability
- Diminished quality of life
The Texas statute of limitations for personal actions (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003) allows you to file a truck accident lawsuit up to two years following your accident and injuries. However, keep in mind that it can take considerable time to negotiate with insurance companies and file the paperwork required to initiate legal proceedings. For this reason, you are encouraged to consult with one of our Tyler truck accident attorneys as soon as possible.
An Example of One of Our Trucking Accident Settlements
A former client of Domingo Garcia, Abraham Guajardo, was injured when an 18-wheeler truck collided with his vehicle. The truck’s operator was approaching an intersection when he failed to yield the right-of-way. He tried to turn around unsafely and struck the car that Mr. Guajardo was driving. Upon court appeal, the plaintiff was eventually awarded $573,477 from United Van Lines and netted $326,572 after attorney fees.
Our Tyler personal injury lawyers have a long history of representing clients who’ve been injured in truck accidents and securing them the compensation they deserve. If you need us to fight for your legal right to pursue injury-related damages, we can help you, too.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim for a Loved One Fatally Injured in a Truck Accident
If you lost a spouse or other loved one in a truck accident, you could pursue compensation for losses suffered by your family and the decedent. In Texas, you can file a wrongful death claim (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.002) for up to two years following your loved one’s passing. Damages you can recover can include the following:
- The decedent’s outstanding medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of decedent’s earnings
- Loss of decedent’s love and companionship
- Loss of the decedent’s household services
- Emotional suffering caused by the decedent’s death
Most Common Causes of Tyler Truck Accidents
A semi-truck accident can happen for various reasons, including driver carelessness, mechanical failure, or unsafe road conditions. Some of the most common causes of Texas truck accidents include the following:
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of vehicle accidents involving semi-trucks. Truck drivers may become distracted by their cell phones, radio, GPS, food, or checking their trucking logs. Being distracted for even a second can spell disaster on the road.
Again, truck drivers have deadlines to meet and money to make. This can incentivize drivers to drive too long or skip sleep. Tired drivers tend to have decreased attentiveness and slower reaction times, both of which are required to drive safely. On top of this, a highly fatigued driver is at risk of falling asleep while driving and causing an accident.
Trucking companies are supposed to vet each newly hired driver to ensure they are sufficiently trained to drive a semi-truck safely. However, this costs time and money, so some companies casually overlook it. In addition, big rigs are not easy to operate, and an inexperienced truck driver may be at a heightened risk of causing an accident.
Speeding and Other Traffic Violations
Truck drivers have deadlines for their assigned deliveries and are often paid per delivery. So, if the driver gets behind during a delivery, they may speed or run stop signs to meet a deadline or earn more money. Unfortunately, the faster a large truck travels, the longer it takes to stop. Therefore, speeding can lead to devastating accidents.
Trucking companies often have zero-tolerance policies for driving under the influence of alcohol or other legal or illegal drugs. Additionally, being fired for such an offense can permanently black mark a driver’s record and ruin their career. For this reason, intoxicated driving is not that prevalent. Yet when it does occasionally happen, it dramatically increases the risk of an accident.
Inadequately Maintained or Inspected Trucks
A trucking company must thoroughly and routinely maintain all trucks it allows on the road. Furthermore, they must also undergo government or trucking association safety inspections to ensure the maintenance is done right.
If a truck escapes maintenance or inspection too long, it may fall apart or fail on the road. To illustrate, the rusted or overly tightened lugnuts on a truck’s tires could snap, launching the tire into a nearby driver and causing them to run off the road and crash.
A semi-truck is composed of hundreds of components made by many different manufacturers. Occasionally, one of these components will be defective and later fail on the road, causing a crash. For example, a truck company could have purchased a new set of brake pads for a truck, only to have them immediately fail and cause an accident.
Improperly Loaded Trucks
Commercial trucks deliver tons upon tons of cargo every day. The cargo they bear must be loaded evenly and securely, or it could cause an accident. For example, if the load is stacked too high, this could make the trailer top-heavy and cause a rollover if the truck turns too sharply. Alternatively, a rollover could occur if the cargo is not secured and slides to one side during a sharp turn.
The condition of the road often plays a role in a truck accident. For example, the road could be poorly maintained or under construction. Similarly, it could be wet, icy, or snowy, or the traffic could be particularly congested. These potentially hazardous conditions can make it more difficult for a truck driver to navigate safely.
What Are the Most Common Factors in Truck Accidents?
FMCSA routinely gathers statistics concerning large truck crashes. According to recent estimates, the top ten most common factors are the following:
- Brake problems: 29%
- Traveling too fast for conditions: 23%
- Unfamiliar with roadway: 22%
- Roadway problems: 20%
- Over-the-counter drug use: 17%
- Inadequate surveillance: 14%
- Fatigue: 13%
- Felt under work pressure from the carrier: 10%
- Made illegal maneuver: 9%
- Inattention: 9%
Our Tyler truck accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident to identify the factors that contributed to the crash and determine the party liable for your damages.
Large Trucks and the Accidents They Cause
In addition to semis, many other large trucks and vehicles can cause massive property damage and serious injuries. At Domingo Garcia, we can help if you were injured in an accident involving any of the following trucks in Tyler or Longview:
- Cement trucks
- Rental trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Dump trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Utility trucks
- Commercial trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Construction vehicles
Semis and other large commercial trucks can be involved in a variety of accidents, such as:
- Truck or semi-trailer rollovers
- Tanker truck or chemical spill accidents
- Override or underride accidents
- Jackknifing accidents
- Sideswipe accidents
- Blind spot and cut-off accidents
- Wide right turn accidents
Semi-Truck Specifications and Trucking Regulations
- Semi-trucks are also called big rigs, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers. According to JD Power, semi-tractors have an unladen (unloaded) weight of 10,000-25,000 pounds. An unloaded “53-foot semi-trailer weighs about 10,000 pounds, accounting for a total unladen weight of about 35,000 pounds.” Under federal law, semi-trucks are limited to a maximum laden (loaded) weight of 80,000 pounds. Trucks are also subject to federal maximums regarding width and length.
One of the critical differences in truck accidents versus passenger vehicle-only collisions is that owners, loaders, and drivers of large trucks and subject to federal trucking regulations issued by FMCSA, such as the following:
- Drivers must undergo training to drive specific trucks and cargo
- Drivers must not have a blood alcohol concentration limit .04% or higher
- Trucks must be subject to regular inspections and maintenance as federally required
- Shippers and others responsible for loading are required to secure cargo per federal specifications
Also, under Texas trucking laws, a driver must have eight consecutive hours off-duty before starting a shift. They may be on duty for 15 hours maximum, with no more than 12 hours of truck operation.
FMCSA allows up to 14 hours on duty and 11 consecutive hours of operation, followed by a minimum of 10 hours of rest.
Our attorneys will examine all evidence needed to determine if a federal regulation was violated so that we can identify the negligent and liable parties.
Common Injuries Suffered in Truck Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, an estimated 159,000 people were injured in large truck accidents, followed by another 147,000 in 2020. Furthermore, 4,842 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash, a 33% increase since 2011.
Truck collisions tend to be more severe than typical auto accidents and cause more damage. Therefore, many victims suffer catastrophic, life-threatening, or lethal injuries. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Head and traumatic brain injuries
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Collar bone injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Crush injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Vision or hearing loss
- Limb loss/amputation
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Internal bleeding
- Blunt force or penetrating trauma
- Organ damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Psychological trauma
Regardless of the nature or severity of your injuries, you should not have to forgo medical treatment because you are struggling to pay your bills and out-of-pocket expenses. We can help you recover the money needed to pay for ongoing care so you can work on healing and reclaiming your life.
Call Domingo Garcia for Help Today
At Domingo Garcia, we know that no amount of money can fully make amends for your many losses. However, with our help, you can focus on your recovery while we handle your case and seek damages on your behalf. In addition, you can rest assured that knowing you do not have to face liable parties and insurance companies alone.
If you were injured in a Tyler or Longview truck accident due to another party’s negligence, we can help you exercise your right to seek fair compensation for your losses. Please contact us for your free, no-obligation consultation to learn more.