June 07, 2019
Big rigs, 18-wheelers, semis, tractor-trailers – whatever you call them, they are on every road, and one might be in the next lane, looming over you and your family. Big trucks transport cargo across the country, and because they share our roads, they are a risk to all of us. A big rig can weigh up to 80,000 lbs., so when one jackknifes out of control, the result is often massive damage. Traffic can pile up for hours. Many other vehicles can be damaged. Sometimes, tragically, several people can be injured or killed.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017 large truck crash fatalities reached their highest level in 29 years, despite a downturn in overall roadway fatalities. Because 18-wheelers are so large, they cannot stop or maneuver well, and when they are involved in a crash, they cause substantial injury or even death.
Every year there are thousands of truck accidents which can lead to disfiguring injuries and even death.
Let’s take a look at some of the statistics. According to data from NHTSA:
A total of 4,761 people died in large truck crashes in 2017, the majority of whom were occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians.
- Large truck crashes account for 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2017.
- About half (49%) of large truck crashes in 2017 occurred from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Deaths from large truck crashes can occur on any kind of road, not just highways.
- 52% – major roads other than interstates/freeways
- 32% – interstates and freeways
- 15% – minor roads
Truck companies have resources to increase safety, and some are safety-conscious. However, these statistics do not reflect an industry committed to making our roadways safer. Most modern trucks have Electronic Control Modules (ECM) that record the movements of trucks, and these ECMs can also record the speed of big rigs. These ECMs can be used to increase safety and efficiency of big rigs. Some trucking companies use ECMs to promote profits, but not safety. Some trucking companies actually turn off the speed-tracking element of these modules. They do not want to be held accountable for how fast their drivers are driving, if they get into a lawsuit. This is willful ignorance, and from a corporate point of vide, amounts to driving with a blindfold on. Many trucking companies use their resources to avoid legal responsibility in negligence claims, while others are more forthright and know when they should pay claims. Since truck accident cases can pose several unique problems during the personal injury claim process, it is essential that you work with an experienced truck accident attorney in Houston who has knowledge of the many possible causes of truck accidents, and can identify when a case can be resolved, and when it is necessary to fight against an irresponsible trucking company.
That is why Sandoval & Waldman personally analyzes each trucking accident on a case-by-case basis, working to determine all possible options and the best approach to each case, in order to maximize each client’s recovery.
We ascertain at the outset whether the trucking company is going to accept responsibility or attempt to hide from responsibility. When the trucking company knows that they are facing a capable attorney, they will often know that their best course of action is to attempt to reach a fair settlement. However, in each case where liability is disputed, we are prepared to move forward and prove the trucking company was responsible, based on the evidence and our technical expertise.
We focus on the ECM data, the investigation by law enforcement, the statements of witnesses, and expert testimony we obtain from trucking experts. We attempt to build a strong claim, and establishing the negligence the driver, and how the trucking company could have anticipated the crash before it happened.
Truck accidents have many causes, but most of these crashes can be attributed to the driver’s lack of attention and his negligence in operating the truck too fast for the conditions. Truck accident cases also involve the added element of numerous federal regulations that govern the conduct of drivers, both before and during the operation of vehicles.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed and enforce a set of regulations the trucking industry and its drivers must follow. We apply our knowledge of these standards to establish if the trucking companies and drivers were non-compliant, which can establish liability on both the driver and the trucking company. These violations can help us recover compensation for our clients’ damages and injuries.
Negligence of the Truck Driver
Mistakes by the driver, which constitute negligence by both the driver and the trucking company, are the main causes of truck accidents. While many mistakes are unintended, others happen because of conduct that drivers and trucking companies know places the lives of others in danger. Examples of trucker negligence include:
- Reckless and aggressive driving
- Drinking and driving
- Tired driving (inadequate sleep or rest)
- Speeding or driving too fast for the conditions
- Inattentive driving, including texting or using navigation while driving
- Driving in unfamiliar areas or surroundings
- Improper or inadequate training
- Improperly loaded cargo (cargo shifting)
Remember – a small mistake in a car equals a huge error in a giant 18-wheeler!
The FMCSA’s recent survey concluded three major reasons for 18-wheeler and other large vehicle crashes. These causes can easily be traced back to driver negligence as well. They include:
- Running out of the travel lane (into another lane or off the road)
- Vehicle loss of control (traveling too fast, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, poor road conditions, etc.)
- Rear-end collision with another vehicle in truck’s travel lane
The experienced truck accident attorneys at Sandoval & Waldman, PLLC have worked numerous cases of truck accidents in which the negligence of the truck driver was the main cause of the injuries. Our ability to act quickly, our thorough investigations into the background and driving behavior of the truck driver, and our willingness to investigate, allow us to hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for injuries and deaths caused by 18-wheeler negligence.
Non-compliance with Federal Laws
As the main objective of the FMCSA is to ensure roads and highways remain free from the destructive effects of 18-wheeler accidents, the agency has set strict regulations that should be rigorously enforced. The most common causes of truck crashes and accidents include the failure of companies and drivers to comply with FMCSA requirements. These may include:
Truck companies are accountable for the conduct of their drivers. The law also requires them to ensure that their drivers do not use drugs or drink alcohol. They must also provide ample training to their drivers.
Hours of Service
These rules have become major distress in the trucking sector. As tired and overworked drivers cause severe danger to others, the FMCSA has many rules regarding the time a driver is allowed to drive and be on duty. They are also required to keep all records of the driver’s work hours.
Dangerous vehicles, malfunctioning equipment, and other unsafe truck conditions are important factors that cause truck accidents. Because of this, the FMCSA has developed multiple vehicle regulations, together with conditions for the maintenance of a business’ fleet, weight restrictions, and regular vehicle safety checks by the driver.
If trucker negligence or the trucking company’s inability to comply with government laws caused the truck accident, our effective and tenacious team has the ability to ascertain the accident cause.
With determination, the Houston truck accident attorneys at Sandoval & Waldman engage in the fight against insurance and trucking companies seek full and fair compensation for your injuries and damages. We are committed to helping you recover full and fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Support for Truck Accident Victims
The potential for serious injuries places a high level of urgency in the case of truck accidents. At Sandoval & Waldman, we do not delay in seeking information regarding your situation and working immediately on helping you with your case. Trucking companies act immediate after an accident to defend against your claim. For this reason, you should hire an experienced truck accident lawyer immediately after your injury from an 18-wheeler.
With more than 38 years of legal experience, Steve Waldman has helped hundreds of accident victims and their families recover the expenses and compensation they deserve. If you need a firm that does not fear to deal with large trucking companies, then you need Sandoval & Waldman. Get in touch with our firm today.