After an 18 wheeler crash, damages for medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, pain, and other items can be enormous. Who pays for that? How much is available? What happens if there is not enough insurance to pay all injured people?

Minimum insurance levels required

Federal law has mandated that commercial vehicles which drive from state to state have insurance since the trucking industry began back in 1935.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces the law that if the vehicle that drives interstate has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds, it is required to have $750,000 available. Further, if the truck is carrying hazardous materials, up to five million dollars is required.

Buses and other vehicles that carry 15 passengers or less must have at least one million dollars in coverage; those that carry more than 16 people have to have at least five million dollars in coverage available.

Often companies have multiple policies or higher limits. Many have high deductibles and self-retention amounts.

Note that the required minimum limit of $750,000 has not been increased since the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was enacted, while medical bills that cost that amount 36 years ago now cost $4.2 million adjusted for inflation. Clearly the minimum figures are inadequate to protect the public.

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IMG_0604I spent several days in Nashville last week learning the latest laws and procedures regarding 18 wheel and other commercial truck crash cases.

The first annual symposium of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorney featured some of the top injury attorneys in the country. Some of the topics were

  • Accident investigation and reconstruction

2015-12-30 Pics- Caldwell

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just released a report that shows the dangers of distraction and sleepiness on our roads.

More than one fourth of all 18-wheeler accidents are caused by driver inattention or fatigue. This is just what’s reported. Based on what I’ve seen as a personal injury lawyer, I believe the number is much higher.

I am filing suit on behalf of a woman who was seriously injured when a distracted tractor trailer driver shown here crashed into her vehicle and killed her boyfriend as they were at a complete stop on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth.

Several years ago, I represented the family of a young tow truck operator who was tragically killed when an 18 wheeler driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered off of I-35 north of Dallas-Fort Worth and crashed into another tractor trailer he was underneath.

In June, three people were killed on I-30 in Royse City in East Texas when a tractor-trailer veered into the path of another tractor-trailer. The eastbound travelling rig dragged a small car with it as it jumped the center median into oncoming traffic. The driver fell asleep at the wheel.

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TT MaysTrucker Gets 20 Years for Hitting School Bus While Naked Wife in Cab

I am constantly surprised by what some truck drivers do while operating a 40-ton tractor-trailer. As a personal injury lawyer, I have handled many truck crash cases in which the trucker was texting, surfing the net, chatting on the phone, eating lunch, reaching down for a soft drink, and/or not watching the road in front of him.

Yesterday I wrote about a Fort Worth collision I’m filing suit over where the 18 wheeler driver was distracted and slammed into my client’s stopped SUV at 68 MPH.

But a Florida truck driver took distraction to a whole new level.

The 37 year-old truck driver plowed his log-hauling rig into an elementary school bus that had slowed to drop off kids. The driver was so distracted he failed to notice the bright flashing lights and the “stop” arm jutting from the side of the bus. No wonder!

After listening to the heartbreaking testimony of the seven severely injured school children on Wednesday, the judge showed the distracted truck driver no mercy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2014 crash. Continue reading

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 3.35.19 PMTruck crash cases are difficult high-stakes litigation that involve complicated liability issues and massive damage. Finding out what happened and who is responsible is the first step in filing a claim. Meticulously gathering evidence and presenting it in a way that jurors can understand are key to winning a tractor-trailer claim.

Since I’ve handled car and commercial truck crash cases for the past 36 years, This is a photo in a case I am about to file suit on where my client was seriously injured and her boyfriend was tragically killed.

I have refined investigative techniques and trial preparation to help my clients win the compensation they deserve. Here are a few things I do.

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CltCDBaUgAEx7PHPotential disaster averted

In a harrowing close call, an intoxicated truck driver was arrested early Saturday morning when witnesses spotted his tractor-trailer speeding down C.F. Hahn Highway in the eastbound lanes — going west.

The driver was pulled over at Buckner Boulevard where Dallas Sheriff deputies administered a field sobriety test.

Due to the quick action of the deputies — and luck —  nobody was hurt before the intoxicated driver was stopped.

Which company hired this man and allowed him to be driving a 80,000 pound vehicle drunk at 3:00 a.m.?

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fw-crash_1466449410250_3220112_ver1.0If you were driving anywhere in North Texas in the past few days, you may have gotten stuck in some lengthy back ups. Police had their hands full helping victims, clearing the wreckage and investigating two major truck crashes.

On Monday on Loop 820 in Fort Worth, a westbound tractor tumbled over the barrier and crashed to the ground level embankment between the two elevated lanes. The trailer teetered precariously along the edge of the guardrail for hours, with its back wheels still propped over the road. Here’s a photo of this crazy crash. Four people sustained injuries, one serious, but miraculously nobody was killed in the crash. Several lanes of the highway were shut down for hours while crews removed the Texas Lone Star Materials 18-wheeler.

On Tuesday there was a second catastrophic wreck between a dump truck, a trash truck and a tractor-trailer in Arlington. Tragically, the driver of the trash truck died in the crash. The trash truck was speeding around a corner when it clipped the tractor-trailer and overturned. The dump truck then rammed into the wreckage.

And I was just retained in a major collision case where a trash truck and truck collided in Fort Worth last week, causing serious injuries to two people. Continue reading



You guessed it — Texas

Why do we manage to win the top spot in every category, year after year? And what are we doing about this horrific problem — if anything?

The latest available Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2014” statistics show that no other state comes close to Texas in these statistics. The crash data covers the decade ranging from 2004 to 2014.

Texas shockingly took the top spot every single year in every single category.

In 2014, the last year that tractor-trailer crash statistics are available,

  • 481 fatal tractor-trailer crashes in Texas had at least one fatality
  • 553 total fatalities resulted from Texas tractor-trailer crashes
  • 101 tractor-trailer deaths in Texas occurred from single-truck crashes
  • 380 fatalities resulted from multiple vehicle crashes in Texas

There is no reason other than 18 wheeler driver and company negligence that the number of tractor-trailer crash deaths increased by 77 percent in Texas since truck crashes hit a statewide and nationwide low point during the study period in 2009.

Across the United States, the number of fatalities increased from 3,211 to 3,744, only an increase of 17 percent.

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An employer can’t claim it didn’t know about driver’s past safety violationsdreamstime_xs_54664492

Employers cannot blindly hire truckers without reviewing their work history and safety record.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has detailed regulations to help prevent unqualified drivers from being hired.  This minimizes the possibility that a driver jumps from job to job to hide his history of crashes, safety violations, drug and alcohol use,  medical issues, or other problems that create dangerous driving conditions.

As an injury lawyer, I see companies failing to follow FMCSA regulations.

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dreamstime_xs_5561245Proposed New Rule Should Be Implemented 

You have probably experienced that terrifying moment when a tractor-trailer is barreling down on you at high speed. If you needed to apply the brakes in anticipation of a road obstacle or slowed traffic or the truck driver misjudged your speed, he couldn’t possibly slow down in time to avoid crashing into you.

Truckers need substantially more time than other motorists to stop because of the larger size and heavier weight of the vehicle. The faster the truck is travelling, the greater time needed to slow down or stop.

A three axle single unit tractor (GVWR more than 10,000 pounds) and trailer travelling just at 60 miles per hour with average brakes  needs up to 404 feet to come to a stop, compared to 246 feet for a standard size automobile. Of course, slick roads require even more braking time.

To force truckers to slow down, the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule that requires big-rigs to install speed limiters that limit the trucks’ speed to 68 mph.

It’s about time.
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