Austin Truck Accident Lawyer
Semi-truck accidents are responsible for a tremendous number of fatalities and serious injuries in central Texas and across the nation. Big trucks include commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. However, some 18-wheelers weigh more than 40 tons. When one of these massive, heavily loaded trucks strikes a passenger vehicle or light truck, the damage can be catastrophic. In fact, nearly 98 percent of big rig accidents cause fatalities. Even a minor truck accident can alter your life. If you’ve been involved in such a crash, your truck accident attorney can help you recover compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering.
If your car was totaled, you incurred significant medical expenses or you lost a loved one, we can help you recover compensation. Trucking companies have a team of lawyers and crash investigators fighting to clear their name, and you should be entitled to the same aggressive representation. At the law office of Joel A. Levine, we excel at handling complex vehicle accident injury cases. As an established truck accident lawyer, Joel Levine has the resources and experience needed to investigate your case, gather the facts, and develop a successful litigation strategy. Whether we reach a fair settlement or take your case to the highest court, we are committed to recovering the full compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Texas 18-Wheeler Truck Injury Law
The law in Texas which applies when an 18-wheeler truck hits another vehicle and/or person, and someone is injured or killed as a result, is fairly straightforward on one hand and yet complicated on the other. A collision between an 18-wheeler truck and a car, motorcycle, or pedestrian is governed by the same law which generally applies to any motor vehicle accident. The most common claim that a person brings in such a case is a “negligence” claim. Negligence is perhaps the simplest of all claims to bring.
Legally, under Texas law, a person must prove the following in order to prevail on a negligence claim:
All 18-wheeler truck drivers owe a duty other people using our roadways to act safely and not harm others. A truck driver is liable, or responsible, for injuries pursuant to a negligence cause of action when the truck driver fails to fulfill that duty and ultimately causes someone to be injured. When this occurs, all four elements of a legal negligence claim have been met.
Truck drivers and their employers may also be held liable for legal “gross negligence.” Generally, a truck driver and/or his or her employer are liable for gross negligence when the driver and/or employer act in a manner that shows conscious disregard for the rights, safety, or welfare of other people on the road. This conscious disregard can take many forms. If a truck driver chooses to drive longer than the time period allowed by regulations and/or law, he is likely showing conscious disregard for the safety of others. The truck driver should recognize that legal limits as to the amount of time he or she may drive are put in place in order to avoid having tired truck drivers on our roads. A jury may also find that a trucking company is liable for gross negligence because the trucking company forces drivers to violate rules or regulations, or because it fails to properly maintain its trucks. 18-wheeler trucks are huge vehicles compared to other cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the road, and truck drivers and trucking companies need to exercise sufficient care to avoid injuring others.
The more complicated issues arising in trucking cases are the applicability of rules and regulations which apply solely to commercial motor vehicles. Truckers and trucking companies are governed not only by state law, but by federal law as well. A personal injury lawyer handling a trucking case must do the best that he or she can to locate all appropriate evidence and fit that evidence within state and/or federal rules, statutes, causes of action, and/or regulations. Therefore, in that sense, a trucking injury or death case can be more complicated than other car and/or truck accident cases.
Semi Truck Accidents in Central Texas
Passenger cars and motorcycles share the roads every day with commercial trucks, but the sheer size and weight of the latter make any incident involving tractor-trailers, tankers, cement and garbage trucks, big rigs, and 18-wheelers disastrous. National statistics show that there are about half a million truck accidents annually, resulting in over 100,000 injuries that range from minor bruises to life-altering physical impairment. But an even more important reason to hire a highly-qualified truck accident attorney is to help cope with financial and emotional consequences.
Texas is the unfortunate national leader in the number of annual truck accidents. This statistical ranking holds year after year in part because Texas has more miles of public roads than any other state. In 2013, the state saw 531 fatalities and 29,356 accidents involving commercial vehicles. By Texas county, Commercial Vehicle crash numbers vary widely. Travis County had a total of 574 commercial vehicle crashes, but Bexar County had 2,081 crashes, including 12 fatalities. Although many drivers share the road with trucks on interstates and major highways, accidents are more likely to occur on secondary state routes and smaller farm-to-market roads.
Who’s Responsible for Truck Accident Injuries?
Those who are severely injured have to cope with massive medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma. Family members, on the other hand, may have to struggle with hospital expenses and adjust their lives to become caregivers, and in the event of death, they may be left to deal with the loss of companionship, emotional turmoil, funeral expenses, and perhaps loss of a vital income stream.
Innocent victims of truck accidents who have been injured or bereaved due to the negligence of another person or organization should retain an aggressive Austin injury law firm to help them get the justice and compensation they deserve.
There are many things that can contribute to trucking accidents, but the most cited reason is truck driver fatigue, which accounts for about 30 percent of all truck accidents. There are many other things that can lead to trucking accidents, including driver inattention, aggressive driving, excess speeding, overloading or imbalanced loading, intoxicated driving, distraction, lack of proper training, mechanical failure, and defective components, among others.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
Determining responsibility after an accident is a complex process that requires an in-depth investigation. Using available information about the crash site, weather conditions, and damage sustained, your tractor-trailer accident lawyer will determine who is responsible for the accident and whether it could have been prevented. Nearly all truck accidents are related to these causes:
- Driver fatigue or error
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Poor maintenance
- Improper loading
- Excessive weight
- Tire or wheel detachment
- Driver fatigue or error
Truck driver fatigue or error
Driving an 18-wheeler truck for a living can be a monotonous and tedious task. It can involve long hours on the road, and significant time away from a truck driver’s family. This, combined with the pressure to make money and pressure imposed by some trucking companies to drive more than the allowed number of hours, can lead to driver fatigue. Driver fatigue/exhaustion is probably one of the greatest causes of 18-wheeler trucking crashes.
Driver inattention is also a leading cause of 18-wheeler truck accidents. Once again, the long hours of driving and monotony can result in some drivers reading, texting, and/or watching movies while driving. When truck drivers become inattentive, the result is the same as with any other driver who drives while distracted.
Poor truck maintenance
Inadequate maintenance of 18-wheel trucks can also lead to truck crashes and resulting injuries. Virtually everyone has been driving down a highway at some point when an 18-wheeler truck tire blows, is shredded, and flies down the highway. If truckers and trucking companies fail to assure that tires are in good repair, drivers and passengers in other vehicles might be injured as a result.
Your truck accident attorney will also review official records and logs documenting how the truck was loaded, how many miles were driven, and whether the driver had adequate rest. Driver fatigue and driver error are responsible for nearly 45 percent of truck accidents. Without rest, operators are more likely to drive at excessive speeds and make reckless decisions. However, the driver isn’t the only person who might be responsible for your injuries. Tractor-trailer accident lawyers who work for trucking companies often try to blame other parties. They might say the company or person who loaded the vehicle is responsible. They might blame the tire manufacturer or maintenance provider.
Because it’s so challenging to establish liability in truck accident cases, you need an aggressive, knowledgeable 18-wheeler accident lawyer who will investigate the accident, review all relevant documents and reconstruct the scene to prove your case before a jury. Our team of investigators and semi-truck accident attorneys will work tirelessly to examine all of the facts, determine responsibility, and help litigate your case.
18-Wheeler Truck Accident Evidence
The evidence in most car, small truck, and/or motorcycle collisions is generally straightforward. However, when an 18-wheeler truck is involved in a highway collision with another vehicle, and there is injury or death as a result, there is generally a significant amount of evidence regarding the truck, the truck driver, and the trucking company which is important to investigation and prosecution of an injured person’s claims.
The truck itself can be a significant source of evidence. Truck drivers in essence live in their trucks when driving across the country, and they tend to have a lot of personal belongings which are kept in the truck. If there are full or empty containers of alcohol in the truck or items in the cab which the driver might have been viewing or reviewing (thus leading to distraction), it is important to learn that information early in the case and document it appropriately.
A truck driver will also have logs in accordance with federal motor carrier safety regulations. Drivers’ logs provide critical information regarding where the driver has been, how long he has been driving, and other potentially-relevant issues.
Trucks will also have onboard electronics and/or diagnostic equipment, electronic control modules, and/or electronic control units. These might provide critical information about the operation of the truck. Trucks might have speed control equipment installed. There might also be equipped on an 18-wheeler truck that allows a trucking company to monitor both the location and speed of the truck. The amount and type of electronic equipment on a typical 18-wheeler truck is significant and must be explored by a personal injury lawyer when someone is injured as a result of a trucking accident. This page provides only a general, broad-brush overview of some evidence that might be obtained in a trucking injury case.
Legal Damages for 18-Wheeler Truck Injury Cases
Whenever a person is injured or killed as a result of an 18-wheeler truck crash, the last thing the injured person and/or the family of a deceased person thinks about is how to categorize the harm and losses they have suffered. However, an 18-wheeler truck injury lawyer’s job is to take both tangible and intangible economic loss, pain and suffering, and injury and compare losses to categories of legally-compensable damages. By doing so, the trucking injury lawyer can attempt to assure maximum recovery for an injured person and/or the family of a person killed by an 18-wheeler truck.
Lost Wages or Profits
If a person is injured, even moderately, as a result of an 18-wheeler truck accident, the person may be unable to work for days, weeks, or years. The law recognizes that an injured driver should be compensated for any wages lost as a result of the inability to work. The law also recognizes that a self-employed person, who is losing lost profits, should receive compensation for profits that were lost due to the 18-wheeler truck accident. The law also recognizes “loss of earning capacity” damages. Loss of earning capacity damages are those damages that flow from a person’s inability to earn money in the future to the same extent as they were able to earn money prior to the 18-wheeler truck collision.
Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish/Physical Suffering and Pain
It is not enough that a truck driver and/or trucking company compensate a severely injured person by just paying the person’s medical bills. A person injured by the negligence and/or gross negligence of a truck driver and/or trucking company will usually suffer more than just an economic outlay for medical expenses. An injured person will also suffer physical pain and suffering as a result of the injuries. The person might also suffer mental anguish and emotional distress due to the inability to provide for his or her family, and/or depression might set in due to the inability to work. Texas law recognizes that a person injured as a result of an 18-wheeler truck accident should recover from all physical pain and suffering and mental anguish resulting from the truck wreck.
The most obvious category of damages that a truck driver or a trucking company should be responsible for paying to an injured person is money for medical treatment. A person injured in Texas as a result of a truck accident is entitled to obtain from the responsible party or parties money paid or incurred for medical expenses resulting from the accident. The types of medical care for which a person can obtain compensation are virtually unlimited, as long as the treatment was reasonable and necessary as a result of the truck driver’s actions. Therefore, a person can recover from doctors’ office visits, chiropractic care, surgery, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, x-rays, CT scans, home healthcare, and a host of other categories of healthcare treatment.
Loss of Society/Loss of Household/Loss of Consortium
The law also recognizes that, as a result of a person being injured from an 18-wheeler truck collision, that person’s relationship with his or her spouse might be affected. If the physical relationship between a husband and wife is materially and adversely affected as a result of an 18-wheeler truck crash, then the law recognizes “loss of consortium” monetary damages for damage to that relationship. The injured person’s spouse can also obtain damages for loss of household services if, for example, the injured person can no longer do things around the house that he or she was previously able to do. Thus, if a man or woman was previously able to mow the yard and/or paint the house, the non-injured spouse can obtain damages as a result of the loss of household services. Finally, if a person dies as a result of an 18-wheeler truck crash, that person’s children can obtain loss of society damages for loss of the parent-child relationship. Children of a deceased person can assert claims through the Texas Wrongful Death Statute.
Most people who are seriously physically injured as a result of an 18-wheeler truck crash experience some type of legally-compensable physical impairment. Physical impairment simply refers to the inability of an injured person to do what the injured person was able to do prior to the 18-wheeler truck collision. The injured person might have previously been able to sew and/or play sports. If the injured person is no longer able to sew and/or play sports, and/or do any other things which the injured person was able to previously do, then a jury might determine that damages for physical impairment are appropriate.
Unfortunately, some people who are severely injured as a result of an 18-wheeler truck crash receive marks, scars, and/or indentions on their body that last for a period of time, or for the rest of their lives. If the way a person looks is changed as a result of the actions of a truck driver and/or trucking company, then the person might have suffered legally-compensable disfigurement. Society, courts, and juries recognize that the way a person looks can be important to that person. Therefore, if the way a person looks changes as a result of the negligence of a truck driver and/or trucking company, the person should be appropriately compensated for the change.
Texas Trucking Accident Lawyers
Depending on the cause of the accident, multiple parties may be held liable for a truck accident, and you need a skilled truck accident lawyer to not only investigate the cause of the accident but also determine whether any state or federal codes were broken. Some of the entities that may be responsible include the truck driver, truck owner, truck driver employer, truck or trailer manufacturer, cargo loader, maintenance company, municipality in which the crash occurred, and a third party vehicle if the accident involved multiple vehicles.
The Law Office of Joel A. Levine, Personal Injury Attorney, is dedicated to representing accident victims and helping injured individuals and their family members receive the compensation that they deserve. Semi-truck accident attorney Joel Levine studied law in Texas and has been a practicing trial attorney since 2008. Our law firm serves accident victims in Austin TX and the surrounding area. We’ll give you fair advice and an honest assessment of your case. Because you should know what we’re doing to help, our team strives to make each step as transparent as possible.
To give yourself the best chance for a complete physical and financial recovery, hire a truck accident lawyer who understands what it takes to win a case. You can contact our office for a free consultation, or we can come to you. It takes time to recover from truck accident injuries. We’ll focus on fighting for your rights. You can concentrate on getting well.
Truck Accident FAQ
If you’ve been in a truck accident, you may wonder how to proceed. It is best to get a lawyer so that you can be compensated for the expense and suffering caused by the accident. However, many people have questions about how to find the right lawyer, how much a truck accident lawyer will cost, and more. Read on to learn the answers to these and other common questions about truck accident lawyers.
Should I get a lawyer for a truck accident?
If you’ve been in a truck accident (even a minor accident), hiring a lawyer is the right course of action. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, property damage, and more. Hiring a lawyer will also give you a layer of protection if the other party sues you.
How do I find the best truck accident lawyers in the area?
It may seem difficult to find the best truck accident lawyers in the area, but it’s actually fairly straightforward. You need to look for an attorney that practices in this area and has experience handling such cases. You should also look over their website to see if they have recently won sizable settlements for clients in similar situations or ask them directly.
How much does a truck accident lawyer cost?
A reputable truck accident lawyer will not charge you anything upfront. Lawyers that handle personal injury cases like truck accidents get paid through a contingency fee. This contingency fee is a percentage of the settlement. The percentage usually ranges from 25% to 45%. If the lawyer is unsuccessful in winning you a settlement, you will not be charged for their services.
How can I get help paying medical bills from a truck accident?
If you have medical bills as a result of a truck accident, this will be taken into account when determining the amount of the settlement. When you get your settlement, you can use some of the money to pay any medical bills you may have incurred.
What sort of settlement will I get from a truck accident case?
The settlement you may get from a truck accident case can vary so widely that it is hard to even quote a range. One thing that it is important to keep in mind is what percentage of the accident is your fault. If the accident is deemed to have been 100% your fault, you won’t get anything. If the accident was deemed to have been 25% your fault, you are entitled to 75% of the monetary value of your financial losses and suffering. Usually, fault will be determined by negotiations between your attorney and the other party’s representative. It is possible that the case goes to court, where the damages and fault will be determined by a judge or a jury.
Get a Free Consultation From Joel A. Levine Today
With a good Austin truck accident lawyer, injured parties can recover financial damages for accident injury-related expenses, including hospital costs, lost earnings, possible non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, and punitive damages in some cases, from the at-fault party, in addition to the full PIP compensation from your own insurance.
If you’ve been in a truck accident and you think you may be entitled to damages, contact the Law Office of Joel A. Levine today. We can provide you with a free consultation so that you can get a better idea of how to proceed with your case. Give us a call at 512-982-1510 for a free consultation.