download-1-300x166Faulty brakes, overloaded cargo, under inflated tires and sleep-deprived drivers are truck accidents waiting to happen.

These are the very safety issues targeted by rigorous Texas Department of Public Safety inspections. DPS officers inspect trucks and drivers and issue decals to indicate the fleet is safe and are required to take unsafe tractor-trailers out of service.

Or at least that’s what usually happens.

But recently the owner of a Dallas trucking company paid off a dishonest DPS inspector in exchange for the required safety decals.

The company claims to be “frequently recognized for its integrity and reliability” and that “safety is our biggest concern.” But instead of fixing any safety violations, the owner forked over $20,000 in bribes to keep his dangerous fleet of tractor-trailers on the road.  Let’s hope that Cruz and Sons Transportation is the only truck company which has done this.

Texans should be angry about this bribery. It’s bad enough that one of our public officials is being paid off, but worse that he potentially put our lives at risk. These inspections are crucial to keep Texas roads safe. Continue reading

Smokey and the Bandit mentality will stop.

images-2-300x132Starting next month, all trucking companies must start complying with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. While this might seem like a technical issue that only people in the trucking industry would care about, it’s an important safety improvement for all of us.

You might not remember the 1977 comedy Smokey and the Bandit. Audiences cheered as the truck driver raced against time and outwitted the police to get beer from Texarkana to Atlanta within 28 hours. He made it with only 10 minutes to spare, then won a big bet by continuing driving to Boston in 18 hours.

Today drivers often race against the clock to get their load delivered by unreasonable deadlines. And they may not stop to take a much-needed rest break either. But tired truck drivers often cause real life tragedies.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 13 percent of commercial drivers were fatigued when they crashed their trucks — so you know the number is much higher. The FMCSA addressed this risk factor by strengthening hours of service (HOS) rules which restrict the number of hours a truck driver is allowed to drive and work each week and mandates rest breaks.

The HOS regulations also require drivers to maintain logbooks that demonstrate they are in compliance. But skirting these rules has been far too easy. Continue reading

So why aren’t big-rig safety features mandatory?

dreamstime_s_72382566-300x178Passing a tractor-trailer on a highway can be a scary experience. What if you are in the driver’s blind spot, he switches lanes, and crashes into your car? It happens all the time.

Equally nerve-racking is seeing an 18-wheeler in your rear view mirror bearing down on you. What if that driver doesn’t brake in time and hits your vehicle with his enormous tractor-trailer?

New technology could make these concerns a thing of the past.

The AAA Foundation just released an enlightening study that concluded four technological features could prevent 77,077 accidents that cause over 23,000 injuries and 500 fatalities every year.

This is exciting news — if trucking companies actually use this technology. Continue reading

tracy-morgan-accident-300x154Truck driver Rene Flores drove long past the hours allowed by law, then he doctored his logbooks to cover it us. And his employers knew.

The truck driver told his story to a journalist at USA Today, claiming he was fired when he complained. Of course, his employer tells a different story, putting the blame back on the driver.

I have seen this type of situation in my law practice many times. Under federal and Texas laws, both driver and employer are liable for violations of hours of service laws and for injuries caused by the inevitable wreck.

That is why I conduct a thorough investigation into the driver’s conduct and the employer’s policies and practices. Does the company set unrealistic delivery schedules? Or employ an unfair pay scheme that encourages its drivers to work dangerously long hours? Does the employer know about the hours of service violations? Is the trucker’s job threatened if he rocks the boat? In a shocking number of cases, the answers to all these questions is “yes.” Continue reading

https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/232/2017/07/Screen-Shot-2017-07-17-at-2.16.56-PM-237x300.pngActress Jayne Mansfield was famous for her sexy image. She starred in many movies in the 50’s and 60’s, won acting awards, and was one of the first Playmates. The Dallas resident studied at UT and SMU where I graduated in the 70’s.

But Mansfield is tragically remembered for the tragic tractor-trailer accident that killed her in 1967.

Mansfield was a passenger in a Buick that slammed into the back of an 18 wheeler. The car slid underneath the trailer’s carriage and killed her and two other adult passengers. She was only 34. Two other people died but miraculously her two children were not injured.

Her legacy survives today, not only in film and photographs, but every time you see a tractor-trailer. Her crash directly led to regulations requiring installation of red and white bars at the rear of semi-trucks. “Mansfield bars” are required on all tractor-trailers to stop cars from sliding underneath the truck.

But here’s the problem. Mansfield bars prevent under-ride in a medium impact rear-end collisions, such as occurred in Mansfield’s case. However, the bars aren’t often strong Acker_McDuff_PD1-Large-300x248enough to stop high-impact crashes.

Nor are they required on the sides of trucks, so they don’t stop cars from sliding under from the side either.

Here’s a photo from a case I handled where my client was lucky to survive a crash with an 18 wheeler that suddenly cut in front of her.

Under-ride crashes are exactly as awful as the word implies. During a collision with a tractor-trailer, the car slides underneath the semi, either sheering off or crushing the top of the car. The occupants of the car don’t stand a chance.

But what if these under-ride collisions could be close to totally avoided?

Continue reading

Congress should put public safety above trucking industry demands

dreamstime_xs_85719919-300x200Trucking companies want bigger trucks and unfortunately many national lawmakers agree with them. Trucking companies want to increase 18-wheeler weight limits from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds on interstate highways, an increase of 14 percent.

After a similar bill was defeated in 2015, sponsors promised to reintroduce this bad idea again this year. Increasing truck weight limits flies against all reason. Tractor-trailer accident deaths jumped 26 percent between 2009 and 2015, a frightening trend that shows no sign of slowing down. In 2015, truck accident fatalities increased by eight percent from the previous year to 4,050 people.

We should expect our lawmakers to strengthen safety regulations, not weaken them. Continue reading

https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/232/2017/06/DeadlyMtPleasantCrash-6_1490370616611_9036475_ver1.0-300x169.jpegOn Friday the Dallas County Medical Examiner released its autopsy report that revealed that the truck driver who caused this crash was high on meth.

The Mt. Pleasant High track team was headed home after a meet recently when a tractor-trailer crossed the center line and headed straight for their bus. The track coach fortunately swerved out of the way, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision. However the assistant coach following the bus in this car was struck head on and tragically died.

The school bus toppled over and skidded across the road, resulting in injuries to 18 students and the coach driving the bus. The 18-wheeler driver also died.

Continue reading

I am again representing a client who was badly injured by a reckless trucker in the same spot where another client was seriously injured recently. Here’s a photo of thePicture1-300x170 18 wheeler dangling off a bridge on I-35 from CBS-11 television after it crashed into five vehicles.

distracted trucker plowed into my client’s car and others in the exact same location a year and a half ago, seriously injuring her and killing her boyfriend.

Several years ago, I represented the family of a young tow-truck driver who was struck and killed by a fatigued trucker just up the road on I-35 who fell asleep at the wheel — or had a heart attack, as his insurance company attorneys claimed in federal court.

These wrecks are never-ending. Last week, a tractor-trailer barreled into six vehicles on I-35 in north Fort Worth and caught fire, injuring nine people and shutting down the highway for six hours. The truck driver was speeding and could not stop in time to avoid the crash. I’m sure that an investigation will show he was also distracted.

My law firm has represented many people who were injured and the families of those who were tragically killed by 18 wheelers.

When the same problem occurs over and over again, it’s time to fix it.

We know the dangers. How do we fix it?

4,067 people died in 2015 in tractor-trailer accidents, a huge increase of almost 10 percent over 2014. These fatality statistics includes pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, motorists and the truckers themselves.

Why are deaths increasing and how can we stop this terrible trend? Continue reading

Watch This Video

Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 12.25.50 PMIt’s hard to believe that no one died in this horrific tractor-trailer crash. I’m letting you know before you watch this, because otherwise the video of a woman trapped in a burning car might be too disturbing to watch. A wreck like this can happen in the blink of an eye. Hopefully not to you.

You can see the tractor trailer barreling through a construction zone and ramming into a line of cars like pin balls. To the left of the screen, you can see a car erupt into flames. It had been crushed against the center barricade. The driver was not able to get the door open as a fireball shot 10 feet in the air billowing black smoke.

The quick thinking of fellow motorists and a nearby construction crew fortunately saved her life. And somehow the woman suffered only minor cuts and bruises. So much for the age old insurance company argument that only big collisions can cause big injuries and small crashes yield minor injuries, right?

Continue reading

https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/232/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-05-at-1.14.47-PM-300x159.pngThe National Transportation Safety Board issued its annual Most Wanted list for 2017. The wish list comprises easily implemented regulations that could prevent tractor-trailer deaths and injuries.

Safety regulations are important for the well being of truckers, but the general public is the real loser of lax regulations. Occupants and pedestrians account for 84 percent of tractor-trailer collision deaths versus 16 percent of trucker deaths. When the trucking industry claims that regulations will increase costs of transporting goods, which will be passed to the consumer, it is obvious that consumers already bear the costs of not implementing effective regulations.

Truck crash fatalities were 22 percent higher in 2015 than they were just six years earlier. Technology has improved by leaps and bounds in that time. We also have definitive studies that identify the causes of tractor-trailer crashes and yet the death rate continues to increase. Why is this happening? The ineffectiveness of trucking rules is a big reason.

Here are the NTSB’s suggestions for new procedures and devices that would make our roads safer. Continue reading

Contact Information