Accidents between a car and a commercial truck are some of the most serious types of collisions, often resulting in death, life-altering injuries with a permanent loss of quality of life, and high damages. What’s more, commercial truck accidents are often quite complex because they may involve several different liable parties. Not uncommonly, motor carrier negligence or even intentional mismanagement and dangerous policies are contributing factors to the collision.
Truck accidents include those involving commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers and semi-trucks, dump trucks and other construction vehicles, rental trucks, and even smaller commercial flatbed and pickup trucks. The variety of factors involved in these accidents means that every Austin truck accident case is truly unique — one reason that it’s in your best interest to speak to an Austin truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Travis County Trucking Accident Statistics
According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2020 there were nearly 600 commercial vehicle crashes in Travis county alone. Out of those accidents, more than 15 fatalities and almost 140 suspected injuries occurred.
What Factors Might Affect Your Truck Accident Case?
Trucking crashes are often more complicated than an wreck between two transports. The weight and size of these vehicles can have a significant impact on the severity of injuries. Additionally, due to the involvement of commercial motor carriers, multiple insurance providers, and the likelihood of higher damage amounts than accidents involving non-commercial vehicles, identifying and proving liability can be quite complex. These are just a few things to consider as you begin to resolve your case.
Here are some additional circumstances that may factor into your truck accident case.
- Driver error. Trucks — especially large trucks — are much more difficult to operate, requiring intensive training and licensing. Trucks can be difficult to maneuver even for experienced drivers, however, and under the right set of circumstances, this fact can easily contribute to an accident. And of course, not all drivers follow best practices for safety while driving. In fact, a significant percentage of Austin trucking accidents occur because of driver error.
- Vehicle malfunction. Commercial vehicle mechanical failures can also be a factor in accidents between private cars and trucks. According to data from the American Trucking Associations, commercial vehicle failures are a contributing factor in 7 percent of commercial trucking accidents. However, that research also reveals that brake problems, while not necessarily a causal factor, were present in approximately 27 percent of all commercial vehicle accidents.
Commercial drivers are responsible for inspecting and noting vehicle maintenance when necessary, while commercial carriers have a duty to carry out the required repairs and upkeep. If either party fails to do so, and that failure is proven to be a contributing factor in your accident, these parties can be held responsible for negligence.
- Improper loading and failure to secure freight. Truck accidents in Austin frequently occur when drivers fail to adequately distribute loads or do not secure freight properly. While professional truck drivers are trained on this process, the drivers of smaller trucks — such as certain construction vehicles — may not take the time to learn how to properly secure equipment and loads. Further, some professional drivers may fail to load freight correctly, particularly if the motor carrier offers inadequate training on this practice. This behavior might be classified as negligence if it is proven to have partially or fully caused your accident.
- Truck driver fatigue and stress. Motor vehicle and truck carriers frequently encourage truck drivers to work long hours, often without adequate rest. In fact, trucking companies may go as far as training drivers to falsify records documenting rest periods. Stress is another factor, and many truck drivers involved in accidents cite work stress as a contributing factor. When motor carriers mismanage drivers — or worse, train truck drivers to ignore federal regulations — they can be held responsible for these negligent practices.
- Reckless and distracted driving. Unsafe driving causes a huge portion of trucking accidents in general, and it is often a factor in trucking accidents. Commercial truck drivers work long hours and may be in a rush to reach their next destination, causing them to speed, tailgate, change lanes unsafely, and otherwise engage in reckless driving. Additionally, because drivers spend so much time on the road, they frequently engage in distracted driving, using their phones or eating while behind the wheel. An experienced truck accident lawyer will be able to determine whether the driver’s poor decision making played a role in your accident, and will help you prove that these behaviors contributed to the accident if necessary.
- Vehicle weight and size. Truck-related accidents more frequently result in serious injuries and fatalities than other types of collisions, which in turn cause high damages, particularly medical bills, or in some cases permanent physical impairment or fatality. When there are a significant amount of losses or damages at stake, insurance providers and commercial carriers will fight harder to lower your settlement. A committed Austin truck accident lawyer will stand up for your rights against these parties and will look out for your best interest as you navigate your case.
- Trucking company negligence. When motor carriers mismanage employees, neglect vehicle maintenance, or institute harmful company policies, those practices may contribute to accidents on the road. Particularly unscrupulous commercial vehicle carriers may even falsify or destroy records that could be pertinent to your case. Investigating motor vehicle practices like these takes the assistance of a dedicated Austin personal injury lawyer — one who is willing to dig deeply into a company’s history and management practices.
- Wrongful death. Fatalities are an unfortunate reality of many truck accidents. In Texas, for instance, there were over 550 truck accident fatalities in 2017. When truck accidents result in death, survivors must attend to the deceased’s final details, including settling the estate. Additionally, in Austin (and all of Texas), surviving relatives have the right to sue trucking companies to seek compensation for losses on the behalf of the deceased, loss of companionship, loss of household income, medical bills, and other damages.
Litigating for these losses and navigating the probate process is a complex and confusing process — one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to consult with a truck accident lawyer. San Antonio and Austin residents dealing with a wrongful death case can benefit from partnering with a law firm that has experience in both personal injury law and the Texas probate process, like our team at FVF in Austin.
How Can an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer Help With Your 18-Wheeler Accident Case?
Hiring a lawyer may not be the right decision for every accident victim, but it is wise to at least consult with a lawyer so that you can make the most informed choices about your truck accident case. A lawyer offer incredible value to personal injury cases, providing support and education for collision victims. The advice of an Austin truck accident lawyer can significantly alter your case outcome, helping you receive reasonable compensation for your injuries and losses.
More specifically, here’s how speaking to an ethical and qualified personal injury can help your case.
- Education. First and foremost, a truck accident lawyer should be an educational resource as you navigate your insurance claim, medical bill payments, and settlement. Not only can a truck accident lawyer advise you on your rights, he or she can also help you pursue medical treatment and identify ways to pay for procedures and doctors’ visits. A lawyer will also help you identify which parties may be liable for your truck accident, understand what you are entitled to under the law, and investigate and settle hospital liens, among other things.
- Investigation. As you can see from the factors above, some truck accidents are more “accidental” than others. Proving that negligence or recklessness was a factor in your case takes experience, patience, and commitment. A good Austin truck accident lawyer is not afraid to delve into the details surrounding your case, obtaining evidence that proves liability.
- Expertise. Negotiating with insurance companies by yourself can be extremely difficult, as insurance employees are trained to exploit a collision victim’s ignorance of their rights and options. An expert personal injury law firm understands how to protect your case in the face of these tactics. They will help you pinpoint who is liable and what damages the law allows for in your case.
- Dedication to positive case outcomes. A truck accident lawyer has the incentive to pursue the best commercial vehicle settlement outcomes possible for their clients. Most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency basis, which means they do not collect payment unless the client receives compensation. At FVF, we pride ourselves on our willingness and dedication to positive semi-truck accident trial outcomes rather than solely relying on insurance company settlement offers. Jurors often understand the impact egregious employer behavior can have on everyday life. A highly reputable firm will be committed to helping clients be successful in their case with the highest degree of ethical integrity and transparency.
- Support. The aftermath of a collision is a difficult time, especially if you or someone you love has sustained serious, life-changing injuries. A compassionate legal advisor, like those at Austin’s FVF Law, will assume the role of negotiating and communicating with at-fault insurance providers, truck drivers, and motor carriers so you can focus on taking care of yourself or your loved one.
- Financial counsel. Accidents and their resulting injuries and losses are not only emotionally draining but also a burden on your financial well-being, causing permanent or temporary loss of income and high medical bills. The right attorney will be a financial resource, helping you seek out and pay for medical treatment, as well as attend to household finances, in the period following an accident.
Why Hire FVF to Handle Your Austin Truck Accident Case in Austin?
The advice of a lawyer is a valuable asset for many truck accident victims. However, FVF stands out among truck accident lawyers due to our strong commitment to ethical counsel and compassion for truck accident victims. More specifically, here’s how we can help you during this difficult phase of your life.
- Strong ethical mission. At FVF, we are actively working to overturn the poor reputation of personal injury law. We offer clients full transparency and work to resolve cases with the highest degree of integrity and honesty.
- Reputation for excellence. We stake our name on our commitment to our clients, and that dedication has led us to obtain not only excellent case outcomes but also sterling reviews on Yelp, Google, and AVVO.
- Knowledge and experience. We have successfully litigated hundreds of personal injury cases, many of which involved accidents with trucks and other commercial vehicles. Our Austin truck accident lawyers have been supporting personal injury clients in central Texas since 2014, with over 70 combined years of legal expertise shared between our team.
- Willingness to fight. At FVF, we believe that one measure of a lawyer and their worth is his or her willingness to fight for clients. Our team will do the legwork, going above and beyond to investigate the cause of your accident and hold negligent and liable parties responsible.
- Client-centered approach. We strive to handle each case with compassion and understanding, tailoring our advice to meet the specific circumstances of your case. We understand how stressful and confusing a truck collision can be, and we work to make the whole process as efficient and straightforward as possible. We’ll also help you improve your quality of life after an accident, helping you obtain financial resources and medical treatment that will protect your financial well-being and health.
- Pressure-free consultation. Our goal at FVF is to help Austin accident victims make informed choices for their case — regardless of whether they decide to pursue legal representation. We offer a free case evaluation in a pressure-free environment so that clients are able to understand their rights and options without any obligation to engage our services.
At FVF, we believe that it is every truck accident victim’s right to be as informed as possible. That’s why we invite Austin and San Antonio truck accident victims to contact our experts for a free initial case evaluation. Our team will help you through this difficult time so you can begin putting your life back together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a Lawyer After Being in a Crash With an 18-wheeler?
If you’ve been in an accident with an 18-wheeler, hiring an attorney may be helpful, as the lawyers and insurers that represent trucking companies may do their best to limit their responsibility. That means that the compensation they offer you may fall short of what you need. An experienced attorney can do their best to prove liability and get you the compensation you need to get back on your feet.
How Much Is a Truck Accident Settlement Worth?
Every trucking accident is different, so settlement amounts are highly individualized. Factors that impact your settlement amount include the severity of your injuries, who was involved, how badly your vehicle was damaged, and more. An attorney with experience in helping trucking accident victims can review all factors that apply to your case to come up with a settlement amount that makes sense for you.
What Is the “Black Box” and How Is It Important to My Case?
Big rigs have black boxes, also known as electronic control modules (ECM). These devices can reveal critical details, including the truck’s speed at the time of the accident, the direction in which the truck was traveling, and any sudden changes in velocity. Your attorney can use such details to build a favorable case on your behalf.
What Damages Can I Recovered After Being Hit by a Commercial Truck in Austin?
Victims of accidents involving trucks can seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering, to start. We understand how much damage a truck accident can do, not just to your vehicle and body, but also to all parts of your life, and we’re here to help ensure you have what you need to get back to your life.
Who Is Responsible for My Truck Accident?
Potential parties who could be held liable for Austin truck accidents include the driver, the trucking company, the cargo company, the maintenance crew, and the truck manufacturer. It’ll really come down to looking at other factors, such as what caused the accident. An experienced attorney can help you determine responsibility as an early step in filing a suit on your behalf.
What if the Driver Was an Austin Contractor and Not an Employee?
Many trucking companies will try to claim that they are not responsible for truck accidents because their drivers are independent contractors who don’t actually work for their company. However, federal regulations are in place to protect you from that false claim.
Who Must Pay for My Medical Bills?
Even if someone’s negligence is the cause of your accident, you’re still responsible for paying your medical bills. A truck accident settlement will hopefully help you recover most, if not all, of the medical expenses. Some insurers may also cover the costs, as long as the victim pays them back out of the settlement they receive. This is something that the attorneys at FVF law can help with, so you can focus on recovering.
What Are the Most Common Causes of 18-wheeler Collisions in Austin?
There are many common causes of 18-wheeler collisions, including driver distraction, driver fatigue, driver intoxication, driver negligence, and failing to meet 18-wheeler regulations. A trucking accident can be a jarring, life-altering event, so it can be difficult for the victim of such an accident to assess the cause on the scene. An experienced attorney may be able to help identify the cause by seeking out evidence and evaluating it while you focus on your recovery.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?
Following an 18-wheeler truck accident in Austin, victims can seek damages for things such as medical expenses, lost wages, wrongful death, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering. However, that can be rather difficult to do when you’re dealing with injuries, loss of your car, etc. An experienced attorney can help establish what damages you may be owed.
What Makes a Truck Accident Different From a Car Accident?
Simply because of their sheer size, 18-wheelers can do a lot more damage than your average vehicle. As a result, accidents involving 18-wheelers typically result in higher damages than standard passenger vehicle accidents, both to those involved and to their vehicles.
The Insurance Company Offered a Settlement for My Truck Accident Injuries.
Insurance companies for trucking companies often try to minimize responsibility, liability, and damages. After all, they are in the business of protecting their bottom lines. If you’ve been offered a settlement, it may be helpful to discuss your case with an attorney who can evaluate whether the settlement is sufficient or not. Remember, even if you walk away from an accident with a truck, internal injuries may become apparent later on, so it’s rather important to ensure that the responsible party provides enough coverage to help you fully recover.
If I Contributed to Causing the Accident, Can I Still Recover Damages?
In Texas, which is a comparative negligence state, even if a victim is somewhat responsible for their accident, they can still recover damages as long as they are less than 50% responsible. An experienced attorney like those at FVF Law can help with that calculation.