On June 15, 2023, in Bexar County, at approximately 8:45 pm, a San Antonio truck accident on Interstate Highway 35 left one man with possible injuries.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Crash Records Information System, the collision happened when two vehicles traveling west attempted left turns.
The first vehicle involved was an International tractor truck driven by a 50-year-old male with a Class A commercial driver’s license. He suffered no injuries, although the full trailer attached to the vehicle sustained left-back-quarter damage.
The second vehicle was a 2004 silver Volkswagen Passat driven by a 33-year-old male. The driver sustained possible injuries and right-front-quarter damage.
Neither driver was intoxicated, although the passenger car motorist was issued a citation as he lacked car insurance and a valid license.
San Antonio Personal Injury Attorney Dr. Patino’s Legal Analysis
This information from TxDOT provides a picture of how the accident happened, but what does this data tell us about who is liable and which party might be entitled to compensation?
San Antonio personal injury lawyer Dr. Patino considers the legal factors at play.
The Contributing Factors
When the police arrive at the scene of a truck accident, they speak to the parties involved and any witnesses to determine how the accident happened. This information goes into a document called a police accident report — or crash report — and it can be a vital piece of evidence when recovering compensation.
A crucial component of the crash report is the contributing factors. Law enforcement can choose from 70 factors — such as driver fatigue, driving under the influence of alcohol, road rage, and texting while driving — or input their own. A personal injury attorney and insurance adjuster can use this information to demonstrate who is at fault for an accident.
In this accident, authorities identified one contributing factor — notably attributed to the truck driver, not the Volkswagen driver — “failure to drive in a single lane”.
Driving within a single lane is a fundamental rule, ensuring the safety of road users. It mitigates the risk of a collision by requiring drivers to remain within their designated path and avoid crossing into adjacent lanes or straddling multiple lanes.
The contributing factor indicates that the truck driver may be liable for the accident.
To successfully claim compensation, the injured party must demonstrate that the other driver was negligent.
To establish negligence, a person must show that another person or party owed them a duty of care and breached that duty. A duty of care is an obligation to act reasonably and avoid causing harm to others.
For example, motorists owe a duty of care to one another on the road to obey traffic laws. Breaching that duty might look like running a red light or speeding.
Likewise, a restaurant owes a duty of care to patrons to keep the environment safe. If a staff member fails to clean a spillage on the floor or place a wet floor sign to prevent slips and falls, they have breached their duty.
The injured party must also show the breach resulted in their injuries.
However, Texas law has the doctrine of negligence per se, which automatically establishes negligence if a party violates a statute or regulation designed to protect people from harm.
When negligence per se applies, a person only needs to prove the breach of duty resulted in their injuries. They do not have to show the duty of care and breach existed.
But does negligence per se apply to this San Antonio truck accident?
TxDOT lists the traffic control type as “marked lanes.” Marked lanes exist to guide road users and regulate traffic flow.
An operator on a roadway divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic:
- shall drive as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane; and
- may not move from the lane unless that movement can be made safely.
In failing to maintain his position within the designated lane — a violation of Texas law — the truck driver put himself and the other driver at risk, ultimately resulting in a collision.
A San Antonio truck accident attorney could argue that the truck driver violated a traffic regulation enforced to reduce the risk of accidents, meeting the burden of proof for negligence per se.
The property damage sustained is also helpful for determining fault.
The crash data shows the full trailer sustained rear damage, and the passenger car sustained front-right damage.
We also know both vehicles traveled in the same direction and attempted a left turn. Logic dictates that the passenger vehicle was on the left and sustained front-right damage as the truck driver on the right made a left turn.
Accident reconstructionists can use this data to simulate the accident and determine factors such as who had the right of way and, therefore, who is liable for the accident.
Numerous traffic violations exist that may be relied upon to prove negligence per se, so it is always advisable to speak to a San Antonio personal injury attorney with extensive knowledge of the law.
The Driver Citations
So far, the crash data indicates the truck driver may be responsible for this San Antonio truck accident, but is he the only one at fault?
The driver of the Volkswagen was issued citations for driving without a license and insurance, and he would likely face penalties for this violation. These penalties vary depending on whether it is a first offense. A Texas resident caught driving without a license for the first time faces a fine of up to $200. Subsequent violations carry additional financial penalties and, potentially, jail time.
Driving without insurance carries more severe penalties. Initial fines range between $175 and $300, but repeat offenders face fines of up to $1,000 for each ticket and a driving ban for up to two years.
However, these citations do not necessarily prevent the driver from recovering compensation.
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, meaning individuals can seek compensation if they are less than 51% at fault for their accident. Their payout is then reduced proportionally to the level of liability.
For example, if the Volkswagen driver is 20% liable, they would receive 80% of the compensation award.
In disputing a claim, the truck driver’s attorney or insurance company could argue that by driving without a valid license and insurance, the passenger car driver violated traffic laws and put others at risk.
Police officers document the extent of injuries sustained in a crash using the KABCO scale created by the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA). Each letter — K, A, B, C, and O — corresponds to a severity level.
In this San Antonio accident, the report lists the injury severity as “C – Possible Injuries”. In Texas, this severity applies if an individual does not have visible wounds but reports an injury or exhibits behavior indicating they are hurt.
Realistically speaking, a possible injury can be minor or catastrophic. For example, a person injured in an accident might complain of a sore back, which could indicate a minor sprain or severe nerve damage. One is worse than the other — nerve damage can have long-term implications and leave an injury victim with permanent loss of function.
Because potential injuries vary widely, accident victims must seek medical treatment after an accident. In this accident, the Volkswagen driver could increase his chance of securing maximum compensation by going to the hospital and documenting his injuries.
It is not surprising that the truck driver was not hurt. In this case, the trailer bore the brunt of the impact and suffered minor damage. However, truck drivers often walk away from severe accidents unscathed because of the protection offered by the cab and the truck’s weight compared to smaller vehicles.
This accident report does not list the truck model, but we know the driver held a Class A license. This license is required to operate a single truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds — just under 11,800 kg — or more. For comparison, a 2004 Volkswagen Passat has a gross weight of between 1,750 and 2,340 kg.
We also do not know the extent of the second driver’s injuries, but truck crashes tend to result in catastrophic injuries to motorists operating smaller vehicles. If the driver can prove the trucker is majorly responsible for the accident and his injuries, he could be entitled to significant compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and pain and suffering.
This San Antonio truck accident demonstrates the complexity of auto accident claims. If you sustain injuries in an accident that was not your fault — or that you are not majorly responsible for — it is crucial to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in San Antonio.
Contact San Antonio truck accident lawyer Dr. Louis Patino today to explore your legal options. We offer a free, no-obligation case review to discover if you have a claim. You don’t pay fees until we win. To get started, call 855-LAW-NINJA, submit a confidential contact form, or visit our offices on NE 410 Loop or Nacogdoches Road, San Antonio.