Considering the bulky weight of trucks and semi-trucks (some are estimated to weigh up to 80K pounds), truck accidents can leave life-altering and catastrophic injuries in its wake. The scariest part is, Austin, TX, is no stranger to frequent truck accidents. In 2017, about 4,761 people were reported to have lost their lives following a collision with large trucks, making Texas one of the top states reporting fatal truck accidents in the same year.
These staggering statistics prove the commonality and the severity of truck accidents. The serious injuries from a truck accident or semi-truck accident can mount piles of medical bills. Thankfully, according to state law, the defendant is liable to pay you for damages.
However, winning truck accident cases is tricky. You’d need the assistance of a notable Austin Truck accident lawyer to understand the personal injury trial law and fight your case. Contact Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, for solid legal representation in a truck case today.
Causes Of Truck Accident
The size and weight of large trucks, tractor-trailers, and semi-truck pose a huge road risk. Even a tiny mistake on the driver’s part could have catastrophic consequences. While in some cases, it’s the blatant negligence of the driver that plays a role in trucking accidents, in some instances, some external factors also contribute to the accident, including poor maintenance of the commercial trucks. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents and traffic accidents in cities like Austin.
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- The poor condition of the road
- The poor state of the weather
- Low visibility (due to darkness or fog)
- Drunk driving
- Driving despite fatigue
- Disregard for traffic laws
- Untrained truck driver
- Poor maintenance of the truck
- Poorly loaded semi-truck
Common Truck Accident Injuries
At times, truck accident injuries can alter a victim’s life forever, for instance, by crippling the victim’s money-earning capabilities. Even if the injury is short-termed, it can nevertheless pile up stacks of medical bills, which can easily take a toll on the victim’s financial stability. Here are some of the common injuries associated with accidents involving trucks.
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Spine injuries
If you’re lucky, you could get away with concussions, but history and statistics prove that in the majority of cases, truck accident victims don’t find themselves to be lucky. Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are way too common following a trucking accident, and these injuries can pave the way for hefty medical bills. Not to mention, they can also severely dent your money-earning abilities and cause loss of present and potential future earnings as well.
If you want to protect yourself from massive financial losses, you need to negotiate the terms with the insurance company deftly. If you’ve been in a trucking accident, now would be the best time to consult an Austin truck accident lawyer. Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC is a personal injury law firm that provides legal advice and representation to truck accident victims and vehicle accidents. Schedule a free consultation with us today to get started.
Federal and State Regulations
Seeing what a huge responsibility driving trucks and semi-trucks is, strict federal laws govern the trucking industry, trucking companies, and commercial truck drivers in the United States. There are also various laws on the state level to be mindful of. The laws have been enshrined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations outlined by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Title 49 in the Code of Federal Regulations tells us all we need to know about the laws and regulations pertaining to the trucking companies and the industry at large. Here is the key highlight of what the trucking regulations say.
- There is a limit to the hours of service of the truck driver. They are expected to maintain a log of their driving time to help them track the hours they’ve driven to stay on the right side of the law.
After a break of 10 consecutive hours, the commercial truck driver can drive a semi-truck or a large truck while hauling property for a maximum period of 11 hours per day. For passenger vehicles, the duty limit for a truck driver is 15 hours, while the break needs to be 8 hours. If a driver has driven the truck for 70 hours in one week, they need to take a break of at least thirty-four hours before resuming the drive again.
A truck driver is legally mandated to undergo alcohol and drug testing in certain cases. The four prime situations where the truck driver must take the test is –
- during pre-employment screening,
- if there is a reasonable suspicion on the driver,
- random drug testing to catch the drivers unawares,
- post-accident screening.
The post-accident screening allows the authorities to conclusively prove that the cause of the accident could have been drunk driving. If an employer has reasons to believe that the driver may have consumed alcohol and drugs before duty, they can make them take the test.
Apart from this, the Federal Trucking Regulations also cover laws regarding the roadside inspection of the truck and the drivers, trucking terminal audits, compliance reviews, maintenance and repairs of the truck, the qualification of the driver, and truck operations.
Before you file a truck accident claim or lawsuit, it’s essential to understand the trucking laws of the state. Studying the laws would help you identify the rules and regulations that the driver violated, leading to your trucking injuries. Only experienced truck accident lawyers can navigate such laws and help you build a case.
If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, you need to consult an experienced truck accident attorney. Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, knows the federal and state trucking laws inside out. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.
Determining liability in an Austin truck accident involving various parties is way tricker than fatal accidents from commercial motor vehicles. Several parties could be tied to the accident, including the trucking company, the trucking driver, the manufacturer of the truck, the cargo company, and the other vehicle involved in the collision.
With these many parties involved, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly who is to be blamed for the accident. In some cases, it’s easy to find the defaulter. If it were a drunk driver’s case, the liability would fall on the negligent truck drivers and nobody else. However, if distracted driving led to the accident, the trucking company could be partly held responsible for poorly hiring drivers.
Although, in most cases, the driver’s employer is held responsible for such accidents and not the driver. Another scenario is that it wasn’t the driver’s fault at all. It could be the faulty mechanism of the commercial truck that led to the accident. Faulty brakes or steering systems could easily cause accidents and lead to fatal injuries. In such cases, the liability would fall on the truck manufacturer. With the involvement of so many parties, it can indeed be difficult to determine liability.
To get at the nitty and gritty of the problem, you’d require the assistance of Austin truck accident lawyers. You cannot walk to the insurance company with a half-baked case. You need to determine liability and pinpoint who is liable to pay the compensation before you approach the officials.
Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC can use its extensive experience in determining liability even in the most complex of trucking accidents. Through our multiple rounds of discussion, we’ll recreate the accident scene and estimate just who is liable and by what degree.
Comparative Negligence In Truck Accident Cases
While determining negligence and liability in Austin truck accident cases, one of the essential things to consider is the principle of comparative fault. The principle of comparative fault is only applied in a handful of American states, with Texas being one of them. Therefore, the percentage of the driver’s fault would be considered while determining liability.
The judge would begin by determining the degree of fault of every individual or party involved in the accident. The judge would decide based on the evidence that the truck accident attorneys of the plaintiff and the defendant present. This is where an experienced attorney would help you the best.
Then, you would be awarded the compensation based on how much of the responsibility was placed on the driver, the trucking company, and the truck manufacturers (if they were also involved).
Several kinds of comparative negligence help the decision-maker determine the percentage of negligence in truck accidents. Texas follows the clauses of modified comparative negligence instead of pure comparative negligence. This means, even if you were 50% at fault, you would still receive some compensation. However, if your fault exceeds the 50% marking even by a single percent, you would lose your entitlement to the compensation.
To know whether you are entitled to any compensation at all, contact Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC. Based on past trends and our own experience, we would help you estimate the precise compensation you could ask for.
We would also take it upon ourselves to gather evidence to prove that you were less than 50% at fault and, thus, deserve compensation. Although, our efforts would be directed towards getting you maximum compensation for your injuries.
Statute Of Limitations
The statute of limitations puts a limit on how long you can take before filing a truck accident lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a truck accident is two years in Texas, not a day after that. However, it’s advised to file the lawsuit as soon as the accident occurs if you want to recover maximum compensation.
The sooner you file it, the more evidence you’d have to support your case. Waiting up to 2 years to take action might dent your case due to lack of evidence. Right after the accident, contact Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, so that we can begin collecting the evidence while it’s still fresh.
What To Do After A Truck Accident
Accidents involving trucks can throw everyone in a frenzy and even bring the traffic to a standstill. You need to take all the proper steps to ensure that the injured gets the due attention and the culprit is charged for their negligent behavior. Here are a few steps to take right after the accident.
#1 – Call 911
As soon as the accident occurs, call 911 and report the crash. The police and the ambulance would arrive at the scene and do the needful. It’s possible that multiple commercial vehicles could be involved in the accident as well, so it’s vital to ensure that all the people who sustain injuries are tended to.
If you are injured, and can’t make the phone call, ask someone else to do it. Even if the crash appears to be minor to you, calling the police is imperative so that everything can be documented.
#2 – Consult a physician
Whether you suffered minor or major injuries, you need to consult a physician as soon as possible. At times, the symptoms of an injury could take time to become visible, and certain victims even experience delayed pain.
So don’t skip an appointment with a doctor just because you “think” everything is fine. In case you’ve been severely injured, document your injuries. Take pictures, videos, statements of the doctors and nurses. These statements could be used as evidence to produce in front of the judge and jury to prove the extent of your injuries.
#3 – Document the scene of the accident
If you’ve suffered minor injuries, before you go to the hospital, take a look at the scene of the accident, and document certain parts of it. You can begin by clicking pictures of the accident. If there are any witnesses around you, take their phone numbers. They could be contacted if your Austin truck accident attorney thinks that their statements could positively impact the case.
If your vehicle sustains severe damages, take pictures of that too. In addition to this, gather information on the truck that caused the serious accident. Apart from taking the name and number of the driver, note down the make, model, and number of the truck. Jot down the name and number of the driver’s employer and trucking companies as well. In a nutshell, document anything that you believe could be used to provide evidence against the defendant.
#4 – Contact a truck accident lawyer
Contact Austin truck accident lawyers immediately after the accident. They would know how to use the evidence you’ve collected to build a case against the defendant. If you were too injured to collect any evidence, it’s fine; an experienced truck accident attorney would take care of that too. Experienced truck accident attorneys know where to dig for proof, even if they weren’t present at the accident scene.
Recollect the events that led to the accident to your lawyer. It will help them to understand the semi-truck accident case a bit better. Contact Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, if you don’t have a lawyer. We are a personal injury law firm in Austin. We have fought our fair share of trucking accident cases, so you can count on us to do everything to ensure that you receive a fair settlement. You can also contact us on behalf of someone if one of your loved ones suffered fatal injuries in the car accident.
Why Contact Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC
Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, has practiced personal injury law in Texas for about two decades. Our years of expertise have helped several victims of semi-truck accidents in getting justice. We employ all our resources in ensuring that an undefeatable case is prepared for our clients. We don’t ask for payment unless and until the case has been won and justice has been served. You can rely on us to gather evidence, organize proof, prepare your statement to present in front of the insurance companies and the court.
If an out-of-court settlement appears to be elusive to us, we will also effectively represent you in court and ensure that your compensation justifies the damages that you suffered as a result of the accident. Call us today for a free consultation.
Apart from commercial vehicle and semi-truck accidents, we also provide legal advice and representation in the following types of cases;
- Dog bites
- Car wrecks
- Construction site accidents
- Slip and fall cases
- Boat accidents
- Uber and Lyft accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Commercial motor vehicle accident
Apart from Austin, our services are also extended in Houston, Victoria, Baytown, Katy, Pasadena, Spring, Sugar Land, and The Woodlands.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a truck accident cost?
On average, large-truck accidents could cost about $120,000; meanwhile, accidents that involved tractor-trailers cost about $382,000. If the accident also involved fatalities, the figure could easily soar up to $4.8 million. If you want to have your truck accident case valued, you need to contact Austin truck accident lawyers.
What are the four critical crash categories?
There are four critical crash categories where maximum damage could be involved. These are lane-change crashes, loss of control crashes, read-end crashes, and run-end crashes. Such crashes could prove to be fatal even when motor vehicles are involved, let alone trucks when the chances of fatalities are very high.