If you spend any time out on the Texas roads, you’ve probably seen your fair share of large trucks driving around. There are many commercial trucks on the road, and many different kinds of them, too.
If you or someone you love was injured in a commercial truck accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and more. But filing a personal injury claim for a truck accident in McAllen or San Antonio is complex. To get the maximum possible compensation you’re entitled to, you’ll likely need the help of a commercial truck lawyer.
What Types of Commercial Trucks Are There?
Commercial trucks come in all shapes and sizes, and some are truly enormous. The size and type of truck can present unique hazards and affect the type of accident you might be in, so it’s important to understand the different types of commercial trucks.
Tanker trucks are among the most common on Texas roads. You can likely head out and see one on its way to your local gas station. These trucks transport hazardous gases and liquids and sometimes non-hazardous materials.
Dump trucks carry loose materials and are headed to and from construction sites. It’s common for people to get into backup accidents with dump trucks because these they create blind spots, so drivers are prone to backing into other cars nearby.
Everyone knows what garbage trucks are for, and you’re not going to escape them on the road any time soon. You may not have considered the possibility of getting into an accident with a garbage truck, but it can and does happen.
Tractor-trailers usually have 18 wheels, so they’re frequently called eighteen-wheelers. Likewise, tractor-trailers with 16 wheels are called sixteen-wheelers.
These large vehicles consist of two separate but connected parts. The trucks have front segments that drive and support the back trailer or truck trailer, which is loaded with cargo at the rear.
Tractor-trailers present unique risks on the road, even compared to other large trucks. This is because of the tractor-trailer’s two-part construction. These commercial trucks can prove difficult to control because their back sections can move independently.
Common Injuries after a Commercial Truck Accident
There’s no way to predict or summarize the injuries after a truck accident. Every commercial truck accident survivor’s experiences are different. Some people are fortunate enough to walk away from serious accidents with relatively “minor” injuries. In other cases, someone may be involved in an accident that appears minor but results in permanent and catastrophic injuries.
Some examples of injuries after commercial truck accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Spine injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding.
This list doesn’t include every possible injury in a commercial truck accident, as every situation is unique. If you’ve sustained any injury after a truck collision, you could be entitled to compensation. A commercial truck lawyer can assess your accident and chances of success.
In most personal injury cases, the question of who’s responsible for an accident is usually straightforward. For example, if you’re in a car accident where the other driver was using a cell phone at the time of the crash, it’s clear that the driver was distracted. But in a commercial truck accident, the cause isn’t always so clear.
The truck driver might be responsible if they were fatigued or intoxicated, but the truck company or cargo company could be equally liable. A commercial truck lawyer can help you determine the liable party so that you can pursue compensation.
Some Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
It’s difficult to safely operate a vehicle that weighs up to 80 thousand pounds — just one of the many reasons why truck drivers are required to have special licensing to drive their trucks.
The difficulty of navigating a commercial truck is also the cause for another rule: the limit on how much and when commercial truck drivers are allowed to drive. There are countrywide restrictions that limit how long truckers may drive.
Despite this, American truck drivers still clock a lot of hours. Federal driving guidelines and work-hour restrictions essentially imply that most truckers drive between two and three thousand miles per week.
These regulations are in place to keep truckers and other people on the road safe. Ideally, following these standards prevents truck driver fatigue. But many commercial truck drivers work more than these maximum limits.
The regulations include the following provisions:
- Commercial truck drivers cannot drive for more than 11 hours following a 10-hour break.
- Commercial truck drivers must not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after returning to duty (following an off-duty period of 10 hours).
- Commercial truck drivers may only drive if eight hours or less have passed since the end of their last off-duty or sleeper-berth period. (The period needs to be a minimum of 30 minutes.)
If you’re on a roadway near a fatigued truck driver, you run the risk of being involved in an accident. Most statistics indicate that commercial truck drivers who drive while fatigued put everyone at risk:
- Overworked and/or fatigued truck drivers are the leading cause of commercial truck crashes.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published findings that show truck drivers are more likely to drive fatigued than the general population, making them riskier to drive near.
- Around 13% of commercial truck accidents each year are caused or influenced by driver fatigue.
But commercial truck accidents happen for lots of reasons. One truck accident may look different from the next, and their causes will significantly impact how they play out in the legal field.
Improper Cargo Loading
The amount and type of cargo on a commercial truck will directly impact the severity of a truck accident. When cargo is improperly loaded, it automatically becomes riskier. Improperly loaded cargo can and does lead to truck accidents. Cargo can spill into roadways, cause trucks to lose balance, and more. When this happens, the cargo company may be held responsible.
Improper Truck Maintenance
It’s vital that truck drivers and companies properly maintain their large commercial trucks. Even a small sedan is risky to drive if it’s not maintained correctly. It’s even more important for large commercial trucks to be well-serviced. But sometimes, it’s difficult to track every truck in a fleet’s status or to complete required maintenance, and such failure puts everyone at risk.
Anyone driving a vehicle can make an error, but this is especially dangerous when it happens in a commercial truck. Commercial vehicles are large and pose a lot of risk on the road. Someone driving a commercial truck can make the same mistakes as anyone driving a car, including driving under the influence, acting aggressively, and driving while distracted.
What Should You Ask a Commercial Truck Lawyer?
There are certain questions you should ask any commercial truck lawyer you meet with — whether in-person or on the phone — to discuss your accident. It’s like a job interview: it’s always best to ask questions to ensure the person you’re talking to is the right fit for you.
You can’t know for sure that you have a valid truck accident claim until you win. But the best way to ensure you succeed is to partner with an experienced commercial truck lawyer.
Here are some things you should consider when meeting with prospective attorneys:
- The right commercial truck accident lawyer for your case should clearly explain why (or why not) they believe that you are eligible to pursue compensation.
- You should never assume that you don’t have a claim.
- Provided you were involved in a commercial truck accident, you must determine whether you meet the primary requirements to file a truck accident claim.
- Your accident doesn’t need to have involved significant damage or loss for your claim to be valid.
How Long Will a Commercial Truck Lawyer Take to Settle My Claim?
Keep in mind that a commercial truck lawyer can’t tell you exactly how long your truck accident claim will take, as it will depend on the specific circumstances of your accident and injuries.
You want to have some idea of a timeline, though, so feel free to ask, but remember that a commercial truck lawyer can only offer an estimate regarding the length of time that your case will take and whether you will succeed.
Your case may take longer than the average accident case, as commercial trucks often cause more damage than standard vehicles when involved in accidents. Multiple parties may also be liable, leading to long investigations and negotiations.
What Damages Might a Commercial Truck Lawyer Be Able to Get for Me?
A seasoned commercial truck lawyer will help you calculate your losses and determine how much compensation to pursue. Nothing is guaranteed, but a good lawyer will tell you what they view as the best path forward when seeking damages.
You can also use a personal injury calculator to get an estimate of what you may be entitled to.
Examples of the damages that you may recover after your accident include:
- Previous and current medical expenses: You can pursue compensation for a wide range of medical expenses after a commercial truck accident. They often include emergency transport, surgeries, rehabilitation, therapies, and equipment.
- Future medical expenses: You should also pursue future medical expenses in your claim, if applicable. Your commercial truck accident attorney can tell you more about how this process works.
- Lost earning capacity: If someone’s tractor-trailer accident permanently changed their ability to earn an income in the future, they should pursue compensation to account for the lost earning capacity.
- Lost wages: Some accidents cause a person to miss time from work and therefore lose out on wages. These lost wages are compensable following a crash.
- Pain and suffering: Nobody wants to endure physical pain and suffering, but unfortunately, people involved in tractor-trailer accidents don’t always have a choice. You may have the right to pursue compensation for pain and suffering following your accident.
- Mental anguish: It’s often difficult to recover mentally after a commercial truck accident. Mental anguish damages are meant to account for some of that process, even though no amount of money will completely repair the emotional damage that you’ve suffered.
If you’ve been in a truck accident, a commercial truck lawyer can advise you on your case to give you the best chance of getting a fair compensation payout. Contact our personal injury lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio for a free case review. We never charge a fee unless we take on your case and win.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501