Although they occur less often than car accidents, collisions involving 18-wheelers—also known as semi-trucks, big rigs, and tractor-trailers – and other large, freight bearing commercial motor vehicles produce some of the most devastating results. Due to the sheer size and weight of these trucks, they are unable to maneuver and brake as quickly as the average passenger vehicle. The majority of truck-involved accidents can be attributed to driver carelessness or negligence. The mechanical components of commercial trucks are also dangerous in that they wear down and break rapidly. As a result, trucking companies and truck drivers all bear a heavy responsibility to ensure that their trucks are in good operating condition, and that these vehicles are operated safely. Negligent operation, poor maintenance and other types of carelessness can lead to deadly accidents.
In addition, truck accidents also carry with them the added element of potentially numerous federal regulation violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes and enforces many federal laws to regulate the trucking industry. The primary objective of the FMCA is to reduce collisions, injuries and deaths related to large buses and trucks. The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program of the FMCSA provides compliance audits and The CSA program is divided into 7 main areas of focus:
- Unsafe driving (lack of seat belt, improper lane change);
- Crash indicator (if a driver has frequent crashes this could indicate a significant problem);
- Hours of service compliance;
- Vehicle maintenance;
- Alcohol and drugs;
- Hazardous materials compliance; and
- Driver fitness (licensure, medical issues, etc.).
If you have been the victim of an accident with a truck, there are several things that you can do to improve your likelihood of recovery against the driver of a truck:
- Call the police and get a police report at the scene: if the police issue you a traffic ticket (citation), it is your duty to sign it. This is not an admission of guilt. Remember to get the police officers’ names and identification.
- Get the contact information from the other drivers involved.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene
- Take pictures and write down key information: take photographs of both the accident scene and any vehicles involved in the accident.
- Seek medical attention: it is vital to see a qualified medical professional for all of your bodily injuries immediately following your accident. This will provide Texas insurance companies with necessary documentation of your injuries for an insurance claim.
- Do NOT sign any accident related documents: you should not sign any documents or other papers prior to retaining experienced legal counsel like the Houston truck accident lawyers at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC. Such documents may act as a waiver of your rights in the future.
- Do NOT discuss the accident with anyone at the site of the accident or any party with whom you are not intimately familiar: insurance companies or the other driver may seek to get information from you that could adversely affect your claims (just get their contact information).
- Do NOT try to handle things with the insurance companies alone: remember the insurance companies are not on your side. The primary objective of insurance companies in Texas following a car accident is to deny or minimize your claim.
- Consult the experienced attorneys at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC: call our Houston, TX offices for a consultation to discuss your rights and the best course of action. We can greatly improve your likelihood of success by properly preserving the evidence and acquiring the requisite witness statements and affidavits.
The experienced and well-respected Houston truck accident lawyers at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC will compile and analyze evidence such as cell phone records, driver toxicology results, accident reconstruction experts and rules compliance/safety experts to determine the cause of the crash and the extent of the harm you have suffered. We will use this knowledge to push for a timely settlement with the insurance companies and demand full and fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and more.