Truck accident injury victims may need substantial compensation in order to pay for the costs of their injuries. The truck accident attorneys at Patino Law Firm are prepared to provide experienced, knowledgeable legal representation to those who have suffered in truck wrecks as a result of the following:
Truck accidents often have devastating repercussions, and the parties responsible for causing these mishaps need to be held responsible for their actions.
McAllen Truck Accidents: The Injuries and the Aftermath
Trucks exert a great deal of force during an accident, which could leave victims with severe injuries. Many of those injuries may not only cause immediate limitations for the victim, but they might also cause long-term effects that could utterly transform the victim’s life, in many respects.
Drunk Driving Truck Accidents Attorneys in McAllen
There are more than 3.5 million truck drivers crossing the country day in and day out. While many of these drivers perform their jobs responsibly and without incident, unfortunately, far too many truck drivers try to perform their jobs while intoxicated – a potentially fatal combination. Intoxicated truck drivers have the potential to cause accidents and injuries that are nearly unavoidable to other innocent drivers on the road due to the sheer size of 18-wheelers and semi-trucks. If you or a loved one is currently suffering from the negligence of a truck driver learn what our experienced McAllen truck accident attorneys can do for you today.
Our McAllen drunk driver truck accident lawyers, want to protect the rights and interests of McAllen residents in cases of drunk driving, and if you or someone you love has been injured by an intoxicated truck driver, we may be able to help you. Compensation may be available to cover a number of consequences of a drunk driving accident, including medical expenses, vehicular property damages, and lost wages, and our McAllen personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you fight for this much-needed financial assistance.
Truck Accidents caused by Intoxication
While most people use the term “drunk driving” as a catch-all for different types of impairment, there are several different types of intoxication that can make truck drivers a danger on the road. At the Patino Law Firm, we are prepared to defend individuals who have been injured in truck accidents caused by a driver who was:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving on drugs
Both of these types of impairment can cause serious accidents, and if you have been affected by either of these types of impaired driving, you may be entitled to compensation.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A Traumatic brain injury
, or TBI, could occur when the victim experiences a great deal of force to the head during the accident. Most victims of a TBI lose consciousness, at least briefly. However, even if you do not lose consciousness, you may still have a traumatic brain injury
Immediately after the injury, victims can suffer severe disorientation. Victims may have to deal with memory difficulties—not just long-term memory problems or holes in the long-term memory, but short-term memory issues that can make it difficult for the victim to remember the location of a specific object to how to complete a normal task. A TBI can leave the victim with immense challenges in regulating emotions, ranging from overreacting to a situation to reacting inappropriately to emotional stimuli.
The symptoms of a TBI can sometimes fade over time. However, even victims of a mild to moderate TBI can experience symptoms for the rest of their lives. A TBI can make it impossible for victims to return to work because of difficulty in maintaining concentration on the management of basic work tasks, or losing the creative processing necessary to handle their usual job responsibilities. Some victims may need ongoing and constant care as a result of poor decision-making skills they maintained from the accident.
Spinal Cord Injury
After an accident, victims may experience damage to the spinal cord
. Even in the case where the victim’s spinal cord does not sever completely (incomplete spinal cord injuries), the victim can experience decreased function and sensation below the site of the injury. When the spinal cord severs completely (a complete spinal cord injury), the victim can experience a complete lack of mobility or function below the site of the injury. The extent of these physical limitations depends on where exactly the spinal cord injury occurred.
Not only could a spinal cord injury lead to extensive and ongoing medical expenses, it could severely limit the everyday physical capacity of the victim. Many victims with spinal cord injury find it impossible to complete their former job responsibilities after the accident. They may, for example, find themselves unable to handle construction or factory work.
Victims may need to modify their homes and vehicles to increase their independence and to make it possible for them to take on many of the tasks they handled before their injuries. Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries, especially complete spinal cord injuries, can usually cause lifelong limitations.
While explosions or fires are often determined to be the cause of many severe burns, the overturn of a big truck that is hauling chemicals can also cause severe chemical burns in the event of an accident. Burns can cause excruciating pain for the victim. Additionally, burns have one of the highest rates of complication when it comes to auto accident injuries.
The skin provides a crucial layer of protection across the body, keeping bacteria from getting in and causing infections. A burn removes that layer of protection, and can significantly increase the odds of infection. Many victims may need to have more than one skin graft, and failed skin grafts may complicate the recovery process.
The extreme pain suffered by many burn victims can make it incredibly difficult for them to return to their jobs following their accidents. Even once the burns heal, some burn victims may suffer ongoing pain due to stretched or tight skin, or notice mobility difficulties—especially around joints. Burn victims may also suffer emotional trauma related to changes in their appearance caused by those burns.
While plastic surgery can help restore normal appearance, it may not return the victim’s appearance exactly to its state before the accident, which can cause ongoing trauma for some victims. Psychological therapy may help victims learn to cope with those changes.
The force associated with a truck accident could cause immediate limb amputation. In some cases, damage can cause enough injury to the impacted limb that doctors and the patient decide that amputation is necessary to ensure a more complete recovery overall. In other cases, the victim may require amputation after restricted blood flow to the affected limb has caused its tissue to die.
Victims who have experienced an amputation may need extensive occupational therapy to learn how to cope with the missing limb. While some victims choose to use prosthetic devices to improve mobility and function after the accident, others may not have the ability to use a prosthetic.
The victims that do use prosthetics may have to replace them regularly—many of them within the first five years of the accident, since the shape of the remaining limb can substantially change during that time period. Many victims also find that they need to replace their prosthetics every three to five years to keep them functioning properly.
A Lawyer Could Help Seek Compensation After a McAllen Truck Accident
Following a truck accident in the Rio Grande Valley, a McAllen truck accident attorney, like those at Patino Law Firm, could help you better understand your legal rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
Determining the Compensation for a McAllen Truck Accident
It is common for big truck drivers to carry insurance policies designed to help provide a critical layer of protection to the victims of accidents. That does not mean, however, that the accident victim should automatically receive compensation, or are within the limits of that policy. In fact, the severity of your injuries can have a substantial impact on the amount of compensation you may receive after an accident.
Consider these elements to your McAllen truck accident claim following an accident:
- Your medical bills. Medical expenses can play a critical role in the compensation you may receive following any type of serious accident, including a truck accident. An attorney, like those at Patino Law Firm, could work with you to calculate your current and anticipated medical expenses related to your injuries. You may need to factor in emergency treatment, including ambulance transport, and the cost of ongoing treatment after your accident (surgeries and procedures, follow-up appointments, therapies, and durable medical equipment needed to aid in your recovery). In addition, you could include the cost of modifications you may need to make to your home or vehicle to maintain your independence following a serious accident. Examples of such modifications include widening doorways and installing a new roll-in shower in the bathroom, to account for long-term wheelchair use after the accident.
- Your lost wages. In addition to substantial medical bills following an accident, you may notice a decrease in your income due to your inability to work. Many serious truck accident injuries can leave you unable to work, often long-term, while you recover. A traumatic brain injury, for example, may make it incredibly difficult for you to interact reasonably with customers due to challenges with emotional regulation, while a spinal cord injury can leave you with a long recovery before you can reasonably return to work as you handle your new limitations. You may also experience disruptions in your work schedule due to procedures, surgeries, or therapy and other visits that recovery after an accident requires.
- Your pain and suffering. Many victims include pain and suffering as part of their McAllen truck accident claims. Speak to an attorney, like those at Patino Law Firm, to learn more about whether you should include pain and suffering in your pursuit for damages, and about how to quantify that pain and suffering that you faced as a result of your accident. Pain and suffering could include emotional suffering that you experience. For example, many victims struggle with feelings of social isolation, or may feel like they have substantially missed out on activities they had planned to enjoy. Other victims, like burn victims, may have difficulty adjusting to new limitations or changes in their appearance from an accident.
Finding the Liable Party After a McAllen Truck Accident
Working with a McAllen truck accident attorney, like those at Patino Law Firm, could also help you identify all potentially liable parties following a McAllen truck accident. An attorney could help collect evidence against the truck driver who caused your accident. This may, for example, include a truck driver driving while distracted, a truck driver who chose to drink and drive, or one who ignored the rules of the road.
Several scenarios could have contributed to your truck accident.
- A mechanical defect caused the accident. Sometimes, the party that manufactured the vehicle bears liability for a mechanical defect. In other cases, like when the truck is used improperly or goes too long without maintenance, the owner of the vehicle may bear liability for the accident. This includes tire blowouts due to overloaded vehicles or engine failures caused by poor maintenance. In other cases, such as when a mechanic claims to have fixed a truck or certifies it as road-worthy, but does not actually fix a problem with the vehicle or makes a mistake that causes a mechanical malfunction, the mechanic may bear liability for the accident.
- A shifting load accident caused the accident. Shifting loads can pose a serious hazard, both on flatbeds, where falling cargo can pose a serious hazard for anyone on the road, and inside the truck, where shifting cargo can lead to jackknife accidents and even cause the vehicle to tip over. Sometimes, the truck driver may bear liability for some of those accidents. The driver must, for example, check the security of the cargo regularly to ensure that it was tied down properly. In other cases, however, another company may load the truck, leaving that entity potentially liable for any accidents caused by shifting cargo.
- The driver’s employer failed to adhere to reasonable regulations and precautions. A truck driver’s employer often shares liability for what the driver does while out on the road. This includes, in particular, an employer who forces a driver to continue driving in unsafe conditions, or who asks the driver to modify his logbook or to drive beyond the federally restricted number of hours he can spend behind the wheel each day.
You may not initially care who, beyond the driver, caused your accident. In many cases, however, identifying all parties who contributed to your accident could allow you to file a McAllen truck accident claim against each one, which may ultimately increase the compensation you could receive for your injuries. By working with an attorney, you could more effectively identify all parties that may share liability for your accident. The attorney could also help piece together the evidence that could help prove your claim.
Frequently Asked Questions About McAllen Truck Accidents
When a large truck zooms by in McAllen or the rest of the Rio Grande Valley, drivers may tend to drive a bit more defensively. If you’ve ever witnessed a collision involving a commercial truck, you understand that the potential consequences can be devastating. The commercial trucking industry plays a critical role in the nation’s economy, and in particular, McAllen’s economy.
McAllen serves as an international transportation gateway that facilitates distribution throughout Texas and nationwide. Of course, the benefits of the trucking industry are well-known, but it is also important to understand the risks related to increased commercial trucks on the nation’s roadways.
In a collision with an average passenger vehicle, the sheer size and weight of a commercial truck can cause devastating consequences. The force of the impact can cause extensive property damage, oftentimes resulting in catastrophic injuries for passengers. On the other hand, truck drivers are typically more well-protected, and may suffer only minor injuries, if any. While the injuries sustained by the occupants of passenger vehicles often require life-saving medical treatment, truckers frequently walk away unharmed.
Whether completing your daily commute or enjoying a Sunday drive, it’s likely that at some point, you will share the roadway with a commercial truck. Because trucks and the dangers they pose are unavoidable, we created a McAllen Truck accident FAQ. Read on to learn about the risks and legal implications associated with collisions involving commercial trucks.
Who is responsible for my injuries when a truck crashes into my vehicle?
When accidents involve a commercial trucker, oftentimes, the driver is legally responsible if the collision was caused by his or her negligent behavior.
However, because truckers are acting within the scope of their employment when distributing goods, other parties and entities may share liability for the accident.
- Transportation company: If a trucker is an employee, he is usually operating under his employer’s instructions. In some cases, an employer may be legally responsible for the trucker’s actions. An employer will be responsible if they knew or should have known that their trucker had a bad driving history. As an employer, the trucking company must take steps to ensure that its employees comply with federal industry regulations.
- Truck owner: Sometimes a trucker is driving a vehicle that’s owned by another third-party entity, rather than their employer. Depending on the terms of the leasing contract or other agreement, the owner may share liability for a driver’s accident. If the accident was caused by a mechanical defect or inadequate maintenance, the vehicle owner may be liable.
- Maintenance/repair contractors: If improper maintenance or repairs contributed to an accident, the contractor may share responsibility.
- Truck Manufacturer: A truck manufacturer is legally responsible when a vehicle defect causes an accident.
- Shipping/loading contractor: Shippers and loaders are often responsible when they load a truck improperly. Improper loading often causes jackknife or overturn accidents.
Do I need an attorney if I’m injured in a truck accident?
Accidents involving commercial trucks may become extremely complex if they involve multiple potentially liable parties. It’s important to consult a McAllen truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Experienced truck accident attorneys regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to.
When you consult our McAllen truck accident attorney, the initial appointment is free. A consultation will determine whether a claim is viable and how you should best proceed.
How do McAllen truckers cause accidents?
Truckers have accidents for the same reasons as non-commercial drivers. A large truck driver must obtain a commercial driver’s license, attend formal classes, and meet extensive qualifications. Despite the comprehensive requirements of obtaining a commercial driver’s license, accidents are not always preventable.
Truck drivers commonly contribute to causing accidents in the following ways:
- Alcohol impairment. Truckers and their employers must comply with the Federal Transportation Controlled Substance and Alcohol Use Testing standards. The statute requires employers to administer regular alcohol tests, oftentimes without notice to the driver. In addition, employers are responsible for recognizing whether drivers are exhibiting behaviors associated with alcohol abuse and manage those drivers accordingly. Perhaps, because of these rigorous standards, truckers cause fewer DUI accidents than non-commercial drivers. Of commercial drivers involved in fatal accidents, only 3 percent had a BAC of 0.08 or greater. For private passenger vehicle drivers, the rate was 21 percent. The trucker DUI rate is low, but any incident of impaired driving is extremely dangerous for truckers who operate heavy, technically complicated machinery. Studies have found that alcohol affects functional and cognitive behaviors long before a driver reaches the legal limit. Therefore, truckers who operate commercial vehicles after consuming any amount of alcohol may contribute to causing an accident.
- Drug use. Of course, illicit drug use can contribute to causing motor vehicle accidents, but illicit drugs are not the only problem. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can interfere with drivers’ ability to safely maneuver and maintain control of their vehicles. Whether a drug is legal or illegal, if it causes cognitive impairment, it becomes problematic for drivers of large commercial vehicles. Although sometimes difficult to detect, a variety of drugs can alter a driver’s mental and physical state, increasing the chances of an accident. Unlike alcohol, law enforcement authorities don’t have the tools, technology, or testing standards to determine drug impairment’s role when a trucker causes an accident.
- Cargo securement. Accidents sometimes occur when a trucker, loader, or shipper fails to follow Cargo Securement Rules. An improperly secured load may shift when a trucker changes lanes or makes a tight turn or curve. When a load is improperly secured, truckers may jackknife, overturn, or scatter their cargo across the roadway.
- Speeding. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that speeding is a common contributing factor in the majority of motor vehicle accidents. In 2018, speed-related vehicle accidents contributed to 9.378 traffic deaths nationwide. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s report shows that high-speed driving isn’t necessarily a problem for large trucks. Over one-third of the truck accidents analyzed occurred at speeds between 50 and 55 miles per hour. Speed is more of a problem for truckers when they drive too fast for environmental, pavement, or weather conditions. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Long Stopping Distances guide, which explains the risks associated with road conditions and excessive speeds. When traveling at 65 miles per hour, a loaded tractor-trailer requires a distance of two football fields in length to safely come to a stop. The distance required to safely stop becomes problematic when unexpected roadway hazards or emergencies appear without adequate warning.
- Distracted driving In 2010, the FMCSA issued texting and mobile phone restrictions for commercial truck drivers. The agency determined that phones contributed to near-crashes and lane departures. The guidelines prohibit texting and handheld device use while driving. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) advocates for stricter guidelines, proposing a total ban on the use of digital devices while driving. The NTSB recognizes distracted driving as a major problem across all modes of transportation. The agency’s official position is that digital devices have no place in a driver’s hand or in their cab.
- Drowsy driving. Accidents may occur when truckers drive for extended periods in violation of FMCSA Hours of Service guidelines. Drivers may avoid compliance if they feel pressure from their employers to meet shipping deadlines and maintain efficiency. In addition, truckers in the long-haul driver workforce are aging collectively. Sleep apnea, medication, lack of sleep, and other health concerns may be related to drowsy driving issues. The NTSB investigators believe that fatigue-related accidents occur frequently, although driver fatigue is hard to verify. After an accident occurs, law enforcement authorities have no way to prove that drowsy driving was a factor. To reduce the risk, most truckers are now required to use mandatory Electronic Logging Devices to track drive-time compliance.
Where do most McAllen truck accidents occur?
The NHTSA tracks and analyzes data from truck accidents across the country. The statistics provide location data and time information for fatal accidents as reported by law enforcement agencies.
The location and timing of truck accidents remain consistent, and includes:
- 26 percent occurred on interstate highways.
- 57 percent occurred in rural areas.
- 43 percent occurred in urban areas.
- 5 percent occurred in work zones.
- 75 percent occurred during the week.
- 71 percent occurred during the daylight hours.
How does a truck’s weight contribute to catastrophic injuries?
As the NHTSA’s Large Truck Safety Facts report explains, of the trucks involved in fatal crashes, 80 percent weighed 26,000 pounds or greater. When speed combines with weight, commercial trucks can generate forceful impacts that cause significant damage. The destruction a commercial truck is capable of causing is vividly apparent when a 26,000-pound truck collides with a much smaller car, pickup truck, motorcycle, or bicycle.
The average weight of a private passenger vehicle is around 4,000 pounds. Due to the significant weight difference, reinforced passenger compartments, airbags, and safety belts do little to protect passengers. A 26,000-pound vehicle can easily destroy a small vehicle causing serious injury to passengers, even at low speeds. Large truck accidents frequently cause life-threatening or fatal injuries. Survivors must manage life-altering limitations, permanent disabilities, high medical bills, and lost income.
What are underride and override accidents?
A side underride accident occurs when a small vehicle changes lanes and ends up underneath a semi-truck’s trailer. The trailer’s bottom sits high above the road surface, so a car can easily roll beneath it during a sideswipe incident. In this type of accident, the trailer sometimes crushes or penetrates the vehicle compartment. Underride accidents commonly cause serious and fatal injuries to vehicle occupants.
An override accident occurs when a vehicle collides with a large truck’s front end or the truck strikes a vehicle in the rear. The truck’s height allows it to ride over the smaller vehicle’s front or rear, often causing serious damage and injuries. Truckers can prevent both underride and override accidents by installing the appropriate underride guards.
Are truckers more prone to accidents?
When you examine national and regional accident statistics, you see that truckers are among the safest drivers on the road. NHTSA’s statistics show that trucks accounted for only 658 of the 5,222 motor vehicle accident fatalities.
However, truck accidents remain problematic for several reasons, including:
- One crash sometimes involves multiple vehicles.
- A truck’s weight contributes to the increased severity of the damage.
- A private passenger vehicle’s occupants often sustain severe or catastrophic injuries.
- When a truck is involved in a crash, the victim count is often higher.
- In truck accidents that occurred during 2018, 71 percent of the fatalities were in the other vehicle involved.
What is a large commercial truck?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration defines trucks based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). A large truck has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more, which represents the lower side of the weight range. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles’ Permissible Weight Guidelines allows trucks loaded with cargo to weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Trucks on the higher end of the weight range must also meet specifications related to the vehicle’s length and number of axles. The state’s guidelines comply with federal regulations pertaining to the commercial trucking industry.
Does the “large truck” designation apply to other vehicles?
Many drivers associate the term large trucks with tractor-trailers and cargo trucks intended for long-distance distribution.
Trucks are assigned a vehicle class and weight to determine whether the truck is classified as a large truck or a heavy large truck.
- Class three trucks, 10,001 to 14,000 pounds: City delivery vans, walk-in vans.
- Class four trucks, 14,001 to 16,000 pounds: Commercial vans, landscape utility trucks.
- Class five trucks, 16,001 to 19,500 pounds: Bucket utility trucks, large delivery vans.
- Class six trucks, 19,501 to 26,000 pounds: Stake body trucks, beverage vans, single-axle vans.
- Class seven trucks, 26,001 to 33,000 pounds: Garbage trucks, large tow trucks, furniture trucks, and home fuel vehicles.
- Class eight trucks, over 33,001 pounds: Cement mixers, dump trucks, fire trucks.
Because commercial trucks are commonly spotted by everyday drivers, individuals may become comfortable sharing the roadways with them. Garbage trucks often drive slowly and carefully as they navigate local roads. Dump trucks drive cautiously when they’re loaded with gravel or construction materials. However, passenger car drivers should remain aware of the dangers associated with commercial truck collisions. Garbage and dump trucks frequently overturn due to weight distribution issues, and even minimal acceleration can increase their capacity to cause harm.
What do the truck accident statistics say?
Several agencies document, track, and analyze large truck accident data.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s commercial vehicle Crash Data Analysis and the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts: Large Trucks provide the following insights from their truck accident data:
- In Texas, 39,193 commercial motor vehicle crashes occurred in 2019.
- Of the 3,610 accident fatalities in the state, 613 involved a commercial vehicle.
- In the McAllen area, 568 commercial vehicle crashes occurred, causing 354 confirmed or suspected injuries and 2 fatalities.
- Texas has more large truck-involved fatal accidents (658) than any other state.
- More truck drivers (137) in Texas sustained crash-related fatal injuries than in any other state.