Accidents involving large trucks—also known as 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and big rigs—have devastating consequences. Due to the sheer size and weight of a commercial truck, passenger vehicle-large truck collisions frequently result in extensive personal injuries and property damages. Furthermore, 18-wheeler accidents are rarely as straightforward as those involving only passenger vehicles. There are typically multiple parties involved, and determining fault can be a complex process. For these reasons and many others, it is essential to work with an attorney experienced in large truck accidents if you have suffered damages in an 18-wheeler wreck.
Why You Need a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer
Commercial truck drivers spend significant time behind the wheel. In many cases, they spend too much time. Accidents caused by truck drivers who had fallen asleep behind the wheel continued to climb until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted ‘hours of service’ rules, imposing strict limits on the amount of consecutive hours truck drivers can drive without a break.
‘Hours of Service’ Rules
Currently, tractor-trailer drivers can be behind the wheel for no more than 11 hours, and they must have 10 consecutive off-duty hours before they begin their next driving shift.
Although these ‘hours of service’ rules have reduced the number of large truck collisions, these accidents continue to occur with shocking frequency. For one thing, it is not uncommon for truck drivers and trucking companies to ignore these limits. But even when the rules are followed, driving for 11 hours without a break could make Superman tired. Drowsy and fatigued driving continues to be one of the leading causes of 18-wheeler wrecks.
If you were injured or suffered property damage in a collision involving a commercial truck, an experienced Houston trucking accident lawyer can help you determine the next steps. Although it is in your best interest to work with an attorney following any type of motor vehicle accident, legal representation is especially important in a large truck accident case. At DeHoyos Law, we will help you determine the at-fault party or parties and gather evidence to substantiate your claim so that you can focus on healing.
How a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
18-wheeler wreck injuries often have devastating physical, emotional, and financial consequences. The last thing you want to worry about while recovering from a traumatic event is dealing with trucking companies and insurers. It is important to present your story to the trucking companies, insurance companies and a jury in order to understand the past and future impact to your life. At DeHoyos Law, we will shoulder this burden for you and work tirelessly to help you obtain the fair compensation you deserve.
Multiple Parties in Trucking Accidents
In addition to the likelihood of costly personal injury and property damage claims, commercial trucking accidents can be highly-complicated because of the potential for multiple parties to be involved.
Take the following scenario for example: Harold is injured when a tractor-trailer driver crashes into him while he’s stopped at an intersection. An initial investigation shows that the truck’s brakes failed. However, upon further investigation, it is determined that the driver was on his 12th consecutive hour behind the wheel. In this case, the faulty brakes may not have been the only contributing factor; driver fatigue may have prevented the driver from veering away from Harold’s car when the brakes failed.
In the hypothetical scenario above, it is possible that the truck driver was at fault for fatigued driving, the brake manufacturer was at fault for producing faulty brakes, and the trucking company was at fault for encouraging the driver to clock excessive hours in order to make a timely delivery. As confusing as that may sound, it can quickly become even more convoluted; these are just a few examples of potentially-liable parties in commercial trucking accidents.
A Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyer can help you determine fault if you have been injured in a truck accident. At DeHoyos Law, we will analyze the details of your case, gather evidence, perform a thorough investigation, handle all parties involved, and handle the big insurance and/or trucking companies on your behalf.
Claims Process Following an 18-Wheeler Accident in Houston
If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, there are certain steps you can take to improve your chances of a favorable outcome in a personal injury lawsuit. Some of these steps are also necessary for your safety and well-being.
- Seek medical attention even if injuries are not immediately apparent. Many potential-ly life-threatening injuries, such as internal bleeding and organ damage, may be asymptomatic for days or weeks. In addition to getting the treatment you need, seeking medical care also creates a medical record and timeline, which can be of immense benefit if you choose to file an injury claim.
- Call the police. Doing so will create an official record of the event.
- Photograph injuries, property damage, and the scene of the accident if you are able to do so.
- Ask any witnesses for their contact information.
- Seek legal counsel from a personal injury attorney experienced in large truck accidents. Limit communications about your case to only your attorney. Do not talk to insurance companies, answer questions from anyone other than your attorney, or sign documents.
As part of the claims process, your Houston truck accident attorney will:
- Review police reports and medical records
- Perform an investigation of the accident, including accident reconstruction when necessary
- Identify at-fault parties
- Gather evidence, including eyewitness testimony
- Deal with insurance companies and all involved parties
- Negotiate for a fair settlement
Our goal is to obtain a fair settlement, but if the at-fault parties are unwilling to be fair, we are prepared to take your case to trial and seek justice from a jury of your peers.
Possible Damages Following a Houston 18-Wheeler Accident
If you have been injured in a trucking accident due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to damages for your injuries and financial losses. Common damages include:
- Medical costs for emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medications, doctor visits, and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Lost wages—current and future income
- Property damages
Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Despite efforts of agencies such as FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reduce collisions involving 18-wheelers, these accidents continue to occur at an astounding rate. There are about 500,000 large truck accidents each year. In 2017, a total of 4,102 people were killed in tractor-trailer collisions, and most of the fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants. Common causes of accidents involving commercial trucks include:
- Lack of driver training
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Defective or faulty truck parts
- Braking problems
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Prescription drug use
- Driver’s lack of familiarity with roadway
- Roadway hazards
- Trucking companies allowing unsafe truck drivers to continue driving
These are just some of the potential causes of tractor-trailer accidents. If you have been injured, contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney at 832-745-4878 today.
Texas Statute of Limitations on Commercial Trucking Accidents
As with all personal injury claims in Texas, the statute of limitations on commercial trucking accidents is two years from the date of the accident. The statute of limitations refers to the time window within which you must file your injury lawsuit. Failure to do so within the specified period will likely result in the dismissal of your complaint. There are some exceptions, however, including accidents involving a fatality. If you have lost a loved one in a collision with an 18-wheeler, the statute of limitations begins on the date of your loved one’s death, not the crash.
That being said, it is not a good idea to wait until the last minute to file your complaint. For starters, memories fade with each passing day—your recollection of an event that happened nearly two years ago is certain to be compromised. Furthermore, essential evidence may be difficult or impossible to obtain a year or two after the accident. Waiting until the last minute may also make it appear that your injuries are not particularly serious. A jury may wonder why you waited so long if damages suffered were so bad.
Contact DeHoyos Law Today
If you have been injured in an accident involving an 18-wheeler, the legal team at DeHoyos Law can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for 10 years, and our highly-skilled, compassionate attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining timely compensation for our clients. Do not attempt to handle a complex truck accident claim on your own. We will deal with all parties involved so that you can focus on getting your life back on track. Contact DeHoyos Law today at 832-745-4878 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.