20170511_140036-Small-300x225

A crash with a tractor-trailer or other commercially owned truck can often cause a person to suffer from a catastrophic injury and even death. Victims can sustain debilitating injuries that require a lifetime of medical care and physical therapy. Here is a photo from a I-35 crash where I have filed a lawsuit to collect my client’s damages.

The key to recovering compensation in a Texas trucking accident is proving negligence. You need to know who was at fault for causing your injuries. There are different people and companies who may be liable.

1. The truck driver 

In most big-rig accidents, the truck driver is at fault. Depending on their cargo, tractor trailers weigh tens of thousands of pounds. As a result, drivers need to be properly trained and supervised, alert, and alcohol and drug-free.

These are their most common violations of federal and state law that I see: 

Continue reading

truck-300x180

Garbage and recycling trucks are extremely dangerous to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The combination of their giant construction, improper maintenance, and poor drivers can make them accidents waiting to happen.

These behemoths have caused many deaths and serious injuries in our area. Just a few months ago, another person died in a Fort Worth collision with one.

These vehicles are inherently dangerous for many reasons, especially their massive size. The average truck weighs over 60,000 pounds versus the average car’s weight of 3,000 pounds.

Garbage truck drivers must have a commercial drivers licenses and are held to a higher standard of care under transportation statutes. Unfortunately some fail to live up to the more vigorous rules.

Waste management is an enormous $100 billion a year industry and clearly has the resources to insure that safe trucks and drivers are on the roads.

Our law firm has handled all types of commercial truck collision cases in Dallas – Fort Worth for the past 37 years and understands their complexities. We are fighting for our clients in a substantial garbage truck case now and have successfully handled others in the past.

Continue reading

dreamstime_s_58314215-300x200You hear about our drug epidemic all the time. The U.S. had an estimated 64,000 deaths due to drug overdoses just in 2016. These are government statistics so you know the numbers are higher.

It’s crazy that as more and more people are popping these highly addictive drugs — sometimes before or while they drive –most commercial truck companies were not even being tested.

The Department of Transportation has long required testing of other drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and the illegal opioid heroin, and of course alcohol.

Finally the DOT has caught up with the times. Semi-synthetic opioids were added to the mandatory panel starting January 1. Finally.

Employers at 18-wheeler companies must now test their drivers for four popular prescription medications: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.

How many truckers take opioid drugs? Because testing was not required, there is no way to know. Often truck drivers were only tested after they crashed their tractor trailers and hurt others. But, 11.5 million people abused opioids in 2016 and as the DOT announcement noted “transportation industries are not immune to this trend and the safety issues it raises.” Continue reading

What your attorney can do to protect you

walmart-truck-accident-300x200Most big trucking corporations have a legal team ready to jump into action as soon as an accident occurs. They keep a playbook of tactics for minimizing liability. I know these tactics well; I have encountered them time and time again. But I have my own playbook of strategies to protect my clients’ rights.

Not hiring an experienced attorney right away can put the victim at a disadvantage. An attorney can counter these common defense tactics:

1. Be first to the scene

The tractor-trailer company retains private investigators to immediately show up on the scene. These investigators walk around without restraint, taking photographs, interviewing witnesses, chatting with police officers, and looking for mitigating evidence.

A company investigator may even give the false impression that he is a police officer so victims are more forthcoming. They then use the statements made in the frightening aftermath of the accident and often twist around the victim’s words or take them out of context.

This is why I also head to the scene for my clients. I gather evidence at this crucial stage and prevent the defendant from speaking to my client. Continue reading

DSC_0430-300x200Trucking companies are subject to strict rules regarding the inspection, maintenance, and repair of their vehicles. These laws serve the primary purpose of keeping dangerous trucks off the road. That’s good for the rest of us drivers — as long as those rules are enforced.

When a tractor trailer causes a crash, its inspection records serve a valuable role in proving negligence, which is the key to a successful truck accident settlement or trial.

To best use this evidence here, a Fort Worth injury attorney studies safety regulations and knows where to locate inspection reports, past violations, and the truck’s and company’s crash history.

Truck companies have a duty to maintain safe vehicles

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the authority to pass and enforce maintenance and inspection regulations concerning commercial vehicles. These trucking regulations apply to motor vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 lbs. or more and to trucks that carry hazardous materials.

Any company, whether a one-man operation or a large multinational corporation, is responsible for inspecting and maintaining its vehicles and repairing problems before putting its trucks back on the road. The company is also required to keep its records for one year and make them available to inspectors. Failure to do so is a violation of the FMCSA regulations.

Continue reading

Companies are often not liable for negligence of independent contractors

dreamstime_s_44128933-300x200Ho, ho, ho. Tis the season when we get together with our families, go to church, and of course shop. More than ever, that means we buy items online and get them quickly delivered to our door steps.

Amazon hires thousands of delivery drivers under a program it calls Amazon Flex. These people have the flexibility to work seven days a week and as many hours as he or she can handle – even after working all day somewhere else.

But it is Amazon which gets the real advantage of flexibility. The company is able to increase its pool of drivers without paying job benefits, health insurance, and vehicle liability insurance.

How does it do this? Flex drivers are somehow not classified as employees but as independent contractors.

So who is liable when there delivery truck drivers cause a wreck? This issue is winding its way through different courts with predictably conflicting results. The Texas Supreme Court rendered a decision on a related case in 2015.

The problem is that allowing delivery drivers to be classified as independent contractors shifts liability and compensation from the company to the individual who may not even have auto insurance. If he does, you can bet it is the minimum coverage. In Texas, that is only $30,000 per one person injured, $60,000 for everyone injured (excepting the driver) and $25,000 for all vehicle damage (excepting the truck). That’s usually not enough money to pay for everyone’s medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

This disturbing trend is not limited to Amazon. FedEd, UPS, WalMart and other retailers and delivery services also rely on a fleet of independent contractors to make their deliveries.

Oh, Uber and Lyft do this too, but that’s a separate story that happens frequently in our new “gig economy.”

Continue reading

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

Contact Information