Houston Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
We have been winning serious injury and wrongful death truck and 18-wheeler accident cases for over three decades and have an unparalleled track record of winning. Our approach is based on personal service as we limit the number of new trucking accident cases we accept to be able to provide the best possible representation to our clients. If you have been involved in a truck accident-click here to contact us online or call 281-587-1111 for a no-obligation consultation.
Houston is a hub of trucking activity for many different industries. With the Port of Houston and the fastest-growing population in the United States, the trucking industry is thriving in the state of Texas. Truck companies usually pay by the mile, so truck drivers have an incentive to deliver the load as quickly as they possibly can. Unfortunately, this part of the trucking industry can encourage excessive hours and other unsafe activities.
What You Need to Do After a Truck Accident
When you’ve been hit by an 18-wheeler or other commercial truck, often it is difficult to know what you should do to protect yourself and your family. The following are guidelines for what to do after being hit by an 18-wheeler.
Seek Necessary Medical Treatment After an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident
After a truck wreck, it is important that certain evidence gets preserved. This would include evidence regarding the scene of the wreck, such as damage to the vehicles, debris or skid marks on the highway, and computer data from the big rig. We maintain a quick response team for appropriate serious injury or wrongful death cases. By putting our team to work on your case, we are able to combat the insurance carriers and the trucking company on an equal footing. Many trucking companies maintain their own quick response teams that are dispatched to the scene of the crash within hours of the occurrence. Getting critical data such as measurements and preserving the big truck for inspection are very important steps in many cases.
With very serious injury or wrongful death crashes, the investigating officer will usually conduct a thorough examination of the scene itself. This would include measurements and documenting by photographs. For truck accidents where the injuries are not devastating, the investigating officer may or may not do a detailed scene analysis. If you are able to take photographs with your cell phone at the scene on your own, it is a good idea to do so. Especially important would be photographs of the vehicles in their final resting positions and also any skid marks or debris that indicates the direction of the vehicles prior to or after impact.
Usually, the defense will hire an accident reconstruction expert that will attempt to shift the blame from the trucking company and its driver onto the innocent victims or other third parties. Documenting the scene by photographs can help combat this defense technique.
Preserving your own vehicle when the injuries have been severe can be important if your vehicle may have had a defect that contributed to the accident or the injuries. Also, your own vehicle may be important to help determine how the accident occurred. You should always talk with an attorney before your vehicle is totaled out or repaired if injuries were involved.
Early Investigation of a Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Required
One cannot overstate the importance of an early investigation by a truck accident lawyer in Houston, after a truck accident. The condition of the big rig, the accident scene, authority’s findings in the investigation and compliance with the federal regulations all should be investigated as early as possible after an accident. It is important that the truck accident lawyer you select has vast experience in truck accident litigation. The Baumgartner Law Firm has been handling high-profile truck accident cases for over 30 years.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Who Handles 18 Wheeler Truck Collisions
Trucking companies carry commercial policies that protect the company under driver against claims for personal injury or wrongful death. These insurance policies generally carry seven-figure liability coverage amounts and so the stakes are substantial for the insurance carrier. This exposure makes the insurance carrier fight harder to try to protect their money and pay as little as possible on the claim. You are going to need an attorney who has had great success in litigating with trucking companies over the years. You do not want an attorney learning on the job on your case.
The earlier you contact an 18-wheeler accident attorney the better able he will be to fight for your case.
Always conduct a thorough investigation of the attorney you are considering hiring for your truck accident case, before you sign paperwork with that lawyer.
What Compensation is Available to Trucking Accident Victims
Legal damages for victims of a commercial vehicle crash can include the following in Texas:
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses both past and future
- Physical pain and mental anguish, both past and future
- Lost earning capacity both past and future
- Physical Impairment
- Exemplary or punitive damages in appropriate cases
- Wrongful death and survival damages
Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Both truck drivers and truck companies must follow the safety laws contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. One such rule limits the time a commercial vehicle driver can be behind the wheel or on the clock. The hours of service regulations for commercial drivers specify the time a truck driver can actually be behind the wheel.
- 14-hour duty limit (minimum 10 hours of rest after 14 hours on duty)
- 11 hour driving limit (minimum 10 hours rest after 11 total driving hours)
- 60/70-hour duty limit
Professional drivers often feel pressured to deliver the load as quickly as possible either to benefit financially or to appease the company. Driver fatigue can easily occur for truck drivers to follow the rules and is almost a given for those who do not follow the safety regulations. It is critically important that the 18-wheeler truck accident law firm you select have substantial experience in investigating driver fatigue and violations of the federal regulations.
Important evidence after a serious truck accident can include:
- Black box or computer event data
- Documents evidencing the load and prior deliveries
- Inspection of the tractor-trailer
- Inspection of the accident scene
- Poor Training
Many 18-wheeler drivers have a commercial driver’s license and are simply turned loose on the highways to deliver their loads. At the Baumgartner Law Firm, we believe that simply having a CDL is insufficient safety training for a commercial driver operating a vehicle that can weigh 80,000 pounds. Motor carriers have a duty to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and able to safely operate the big rigs. Ongoing safety training must be a part of all motor carrier (trucking companies) operations.
Dangerous Equipment on Big Rigs or Tractor-Trailers
Trucking companies also must ensure that the trucks on the highway or in safe and proper operating condition. Drivers must inspect their tractor-trailers every day and also inspect their loads to ensure that they are properly secured. Further, the federal regulations require truck drivers to inspect the truck prior to beginning any trip. The truck driver must inspect:
- Air Lines and compressor
- Fuel system
- Safety equipment
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and tires
- Numerous other equipment
At the end of the trip the commercial vehicle driver must then re-examine each of the items covered in their driver’s daily vehicle inspection reports. All dangerous conditions or defects must be noted in such reports and reported to the motor carrier prior to taking the big rig out on another trip. An inspection after a serious injury or fatal truck accident can be an important part of an 18-wheeler accident lawsuit by a Houston truck accident lawyer.