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How to Avoid Being in a Texas Truck Accident

Because of their size and weight, a Texas truck accident is usually far more serious than the average car crash.  There were about 5,100 fatality collisions involving trucks in the United States in 2018, according to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That is because commercial truck crashes are much more dangerous than those involving smaller vehicles.  Here is a photo from a case we handled recently to give you an idea of the massive damage a jack-knifed 18-wheeler can cause on our North Texas roads.

Texas Truck Accident Causes

Trucks are much larger, heavier, slower, and more difficult to maneuver than cars, but many truck and vehicle drivers seem to forget this. These are some of the common causes of a Texas truck accident that we have seen over the last 40 years:  

Blind Spots

This is probably the biggest factor when it comes to truck accidents. Because of their length, trucks have much larger blind spots than smaller vehicles in these four areas:
  • directly in front of the tractor trailer,
  • directly behind it, and
  • on both sides next to its side mirrors, especially on the right.
Remember that if a smaller vehicle gets within 100 feet of the back of an 18-wheeler, it will usually be invisible to its driver. 

Speed and Stopping Distance

Many tractor-trailers have a gross weight vehicle rating exceeding 80,000 pounds. Traveling at typical interstate speed of 65 miles per hour, a three-axle truck-tractor with a two-axle semitrailer travels over 95 feet per second (or the distance of three first downs on a football field) and can take up a whopping 900 feet to come to a stop.

Driver Issues

Truckers have to cover long distances with their cargo, and often try to travel as quickly as possible for the sake of efficiency. This means 18-wheeler drivers often take to the road in a rushed and even sleep-deprived state, significantly increasing their risk of causing a collision. Substance use is also a problem. Alcohol and prescription medication often have a role to play in a Texas truck accident. Of course, this is not limited just to those behind the wheel of a truck. The CDC reports that alcohol was involved in 28% of all deaths that occurred on American roads in 2016.

Poor or Unsuitable Roads

Tractor-trailers perform best on wide, straight, well-maintained, and dry roads. But when they have to navigate routes with tight turns or roads with potholes or other types of damage, crashes become more likely. These kinds of roads are common in more remote areas. Wildlife Sometimes truck wrecks happen because an animal comes onto the road unexpectedly. This is a particularly pressing issue in rural areas, especially during deer season that starts this weekend. Drivers of large vehicles should be especially conscious of the possibility of animals getting in their way.

Avoiding Texas Truck Accident: Truckers

As a truck driver, there are a few steps you can take to keep yourself and other road users safe. These include the following:
  • Get the proper amount of rest. In Texas, commercial drivers can only legally be on duty for 15 consecutive hours, and can only drive for 12 of these. Drivers must also take 8 consecutive hours off after reaching one of these limits. However, if you feel tired despite having time left before breaching a limit, you should still rest.
  • Make your vehicle visible when you pull over by using flashers or cones, especially in darkness.
  • Make sure your vehicle is running properly by taking it for regular checks and having any issues fixed promptly. Many a Texas truck accident has been caused by avoidable mechanical faults, especially in all the one-truck, owner-operator businesses on the road.
  • Carry different kinds of weather-related equipment in your vehicle at all times. You never know how conditions will change, especially if you are traveling long distances.
Remember, your obligations to other road users are more serious when you drive a large vehicle. The consequences of a simple mistake can be severe.

Avoiding Truck Accidents: Other Drivers 

While truck drivers bear the responsibility for managing their larger and more dangerous vehicles, there are things other road users can do to help them. Small/moderate sized car drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians are most at risk of serious injury from truck collisions. Even if you drive a pickup truck or SUV, it’s a good idea to know how to protect yourself.

Watch Out For Blind Spots

Never cut off a tractor-trailer. Be conscious of the large blind spot trucks have when you’re driving behind or beside one. Be extremely cautious passing them, use your turn signal, flash your headlights, then speed up to get out the way. Stay well behind large commercial vehicles, especially when roads are wet or congested with stop-and-go traffic, as it will take longer to brake fully. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the truck driver in their mirror, they should be able to see you. If you can’t see them, you should try to reposition yourself on the road.

Don’t Overtake a Truck Going Downhill

Trucks take longer to stop than other vehicles due to their weight. They take even longer than usual when going down a slope. Therefore, you should try to avoid passing out trucks and buses while traveling downhill.

Keep a sufficient amount of room ahead of the 18-wheeler

If he or she is tail-gating you, you should move over and let them pass. You don't want to run the risk of being rear-ended by an aggressive driver.

Be Responsible for Yourself

Don’t assume truck drivers will drive perfectly or obey every rule of the road. As they say, accidents happen, and truck accidents have a far greater impact on car users than trucker. In 2017, 72% of those killed in truck accidents were driving the smaller vehicles. With this in mind, be extra-cautious when sharing the road with a truck. Make sure you always have room to protect yourself in the event of an unexpected movement from a large vehicle. This applies doubly to cyclists. To be entirely safe, you should dismount if you encounter a truck on a challenging stretch of road. Even without touching you or your bike, a truck can cause you to lose control or fall if it gets too close at speed.

What to Do When Something Goes Wrong

Avoiding crashes must be a priority of every person on the road. Whether you’re a big rig operator, a driver of a passenger truck or car, and especially a motorcyclist or pedestrian, there are steps you can take to keep your risk as low as possible. Unfortunately, avoiding truck accidents is not always possible. If you have been involved in a truck crash, whether as a truck driver or the operator of another vehicle, you could be facing significant medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses if you don’t obtain a favorable settlement or jury verdict. For more on this topic: How much money can you receive from commercial insurance after crash? When seeking legal advice in the aftermath of a Fort Worth area truck accident, it is a good idea to hire a good Fort Worth personal injury lawyer.  At Berenson Injury Law, we’ve been helping people injured in a Texas truck accident since 1980. If you have been injured or lost a family member in any type of vehicle collision, contact us for a free consultation. Related post: What you should do after a tractor-trailer crash

One of the first questions accident victims often ask an attorney is “How much is my case worth?” There’s no magic truck accident settlement calculator to get an instant answer. Each case is different. There are different types of damages involved. A number of factors go into the calculation of each to determine the overall value of your case. The best way to get answers is by talking to a personal injury attorney about your case. However, there are some common factors that you might want to consider as you go into this process. Why Truck Accidents Matter

We rely on big trucks to transport all kinds of goods to every corner of the country. Without them, you wouldn’t have access to groceries, clothing, or even the US Mail. Trucks transport raw materials to manufacturers to keep them in business. Laws pertaining to truck safety help us balance the necessity of the services they provide while protecting the truck driver and other drivers on the roads. When the truck driver or trucking company doesn’t obey the laws, accidents are more likely to happen. When they do, the damage is going to be a lot more severe. There are more than 15.5 million trucks on the U.S. roads. Of that number, two million are tractor trailers. These trucks carry all kinds of cargo with a legal weight of 80,000 pounds. That’s about sixteen times the weight of the average passenger vehicle. When you consider the high speeds that these trucks travel, it’s easy to see the potential danger. The faster they are traveling, the greater the impact is when they hit another vehicle. An impact between a truck and a passenger vehicle often has severe consequences. It’s difficult to imagine the kind of terror a person experiences when an eighteen-wheeler is coming at them. Even more difficult to understand is the type of pain and loss that they feel after a serious accident. The severity of a truck accident typically causes more time off from work, more expensive medical treatment, and diminished quality of life.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

There’s an old saying that “There’s no such thing as an accident.” While this may not be 100% true in all cases, it’s reasonably close. Most accidents could have been prevented if someone had taken a different action than they did. When trucking accidents happen, it’s usually the fault of the driver. These are some of the most common reasons that truck accidents occur:
  • Driving While Tired – Truckers have deadlines, sometimes because of carrying perishable items. Sometimes they risk not getting paid if they don’t arrive with their load on-schedule. In the past, truck drivers were known for taking products like No-Doz and other stimulants to help keep them awake. Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places Hours-of-Service rules to prevent the problem of driving while tired. This includes the maximum number of hours the driver can drive. It also enforces time off and rest breaks. Still, some drivers keep inaccurate logbooks and fail to abide by these rules.
  • Cell Phone Use While Driving – The entire country seems to be obsessed with their cell phones. Truck drivers are no exception. While the FMCSA strictly forbids texting while driving, many drivers use their phones to stay in contact with friends and family. Using their cell phone to talk is permitted if they use a hands-free device. There are limitations here as well. The driver is required to stay in a seat-belted position and can’t push more than one button to answer, call, or hang up the phone. Too often, the driver’s confidence in his/her skills overrides common sense and the law. Distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of big-rig accidents.
  • Reckless Driving– The risk of accidents gives truck drivers an even greater responsibility to watch out for the other guy. Reckless driving includes taking unnecessary risks, turning too quickly, or failing to check for traffic before switching lanes. These are just some of the careless mistakes that lead to accidents.
  • Driving Under the Influence– The idea of a truck driver being intoxicated while on the road is frightening enough. Today, a large number of truck drivers are using mind-altering drugs. Many cite poor working conditions as the reason. Some skip the No-Doz to help them stay awake and use amphetamines or cocaine instead. These drugs can change the driver’s perceptions and their reactions times. They also cause vertigo, mood swings, and even hallucinations. Perhaps most frightening of all is the use of opioids while driving. Opioid use, in general, has grown to serious proportions. It’s also hitting the trucking industry. The Department of Transportation (DOT) tests for these other drugs, but opioids have long been overlooked. As of January of this year, that is no longer the case. Testing is expected to deter opioid use. Even so, the issue of drivers who have valid prescriptions will still be a debate for the courts. Don’t take any chances if you suspect the driver who hit you was under the influence. It’s important to have a good personal injury attorney to prove it.
  • Speeding – Speeding is one of the factors that an attorney may put into the truck accident settlement calculator. Speeding reduces the amount of control the driver has over the rig. When driving on wet or icy roads, speeding is an even greater safety risk. It also requires more time for him to stop.
  • Overloaded Trucks– This is another factor that reduces the control the driver has over the truck. There are weight limitations on every truck. The specific limit depends on its braking system, frame, quality of suspension, and more. Failing to follow these limitations increases the chance of getting into an accident.

Sometimes the trucking company is equally to blame. The employer might hire a driver who has an unsafe driving record and/or a long history of previous accidents. They may have poorly maintained tractor-trailers or practice policies that result in unsafe driving practices. Some go even further and manipulate their logbooks to cover up hours of service violations. A truck accident attorney needs to prove both the driver’s and the trucking company’s fault in your accident case. Most insurance policies have an upper limit of one million dollars. Because of the severity of many truck accidents, the damages and injuries often exceed this amount. The truck driver probably can’t afford to pay a judgment that goes above the limit. The majority of large corporations have cash and assets to cover the entire judgment amount. Factors That Go into the Truck Accident Settlement Calculator - Cost of Medical Treatment – This number starts with your trip to the emergency room immediately after the accident. If you were taken by ambulance or airlifted, these costs are included. In addition, any diagnostic procedures, emergency medical treatment, hospital stay, surgeries, or care by specialists are considered part of your medical treatment expenses. - Future Medical Expenses – Sometimes it is difficult to predict how much your medical expenses will be in the future. You may learn early on that you require medication, physical therapy, or that you will require additional surgeries down the road.

There’s also the potential for your injury to get worse instead of better. You could develop a secondary condition or injury that stems from the original one. The cost of any future medical treatment needs to be figured into the cost too. Your attorney will help you make an estimate based on your current situation and the potential for ongoing treatment. - Loss of Income – All of the income you lost due to your truck accident injuries go into the truck accident settlement calculator. You and your attorney can determine the right amount based on your pay stubs. Determine your rate of pay and multiply it by the time you had to be away. This includes sick days or vacation days you took off to heal. If you have serious injuries, you may not be able to return to work. You could also be ‘partially disabled’ and have to take a position that pays less. Any income that you won’t be able to earn in the future because of your injuries is considered as damages. - Property Damage – When you look at a vehicle that’s been struck by an 18-wheeler, it isn’t hard to see the degree of damage they do. Property damage includes your vehicle and any property on you or in your vehicle that was damaged or lost. If the amount of damage to your car costs more to replace than to repair, it is considered ‘totaled.’ If you don’t know your vehicle’s value, check a guide like Kelley Blue Book to get an accurate figure. -Pain and Suffering – Determining a fair value for the person’s pain and suffering is more challenging than other factors. Unlike the value of property damages, it is hard to decide on a number that is based on the individual traits of the person. People react differently to an accident and to the injuries they receive. Some manage their physical injuries and move forward without additional complications. Others may develop physical complications like infections that also require medical treatment.

There’s also the emotional impact an accident can cause. Some accident victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and relive the accident. They may have difficulty driving or even riding in a vehicle with another driver. Others may have depression because of their injuries. More serious injuries might prevent them from doing things they enjoyed before the accident. These experiences and others are part of the pain and suffering that your attorney will figure into the value of your case. Some attorneys use a formula that assigns your injury a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your pain. This number is then multiplied times the sum of your economic damages.

When a Loved One’s Accident Results in Death

When a loved one’s injuries are so severe that they result in death, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Dealing with the loss of your loved one can be devastating. You shouldn't be left worrying about your finances and caring for your family. When an accident occurs, someone is at fault. If that accident results in a wrongful death, the at-fault party is liable for all the losses that result. You can’t put a price on the loss of someone important in your life. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the compensation you need to take some of the financial burden off of your shoulders.

Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

There’s no simple way to calculate your losses from a truck accident. It takes an experienced truck accident attorney who has gone through the same process many times before. Depending on his ability to prove the value of your case, the value could be six figures or higher. It depends on the total cost of your damages combined. It doesn’t cost anything to talk with an attorney for an evaluation of your case. An initial consultation is your chance to learn more about the laws and your rights. Your attorney will help you understand the potential value of your case. He will also advise you on whether you have enough evidence to go forward. If you decide to pursue your case, your attorney will begin to collect evidence. You never have to worry that your legal fees will only add to your financial problems. Your truck accident attorney won’t charge any fees unless you win. He will only pursue those cases that he feels he has a good chance of winning. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in the Fort Worth area, contact Attorney Bill Berenson to schedule an evaluation. He has nearly forty years of experience helping injured victims and he only handles motor vehicle accident cases. He can explain to you the damages that will go into your truck accident settlement calculator and the possible value of your case. Let Berenson Injury Law help you get compensation for your truck accident injuries.

Potential 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.?

A jury found a trucking company grossly negligent last month in a 2011 crash on Interstate 30 that caused serious personal injuries to a woman from Mississippi. Bobbie Bush, 41, was violently rear-ended outside of Weatherford by a tractor-trailer barrelling through a construction zone at 65 miles per hour. Her pick up truck was hit so hard that it flipped over. Ms. Bush apparently was rushed to the ICU where she spent days, had to undergo multiple surgeries and lengthy physical therapy, and is still injured. Further, her dogs were ejected from the truck and were killed, adding to her emotional trauma. The truck driver had caused two previous rear-end collisions and was found to be grossly negligent. His employer, Greenwood Motor Lines Inc., doing business as R&L Carriers, was also found grossly negligent for failing to properly supervise and train its driver.

Earlier this year, the Senate unanimously passed a bill blocking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration form making a rule that would require overweight and obese truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea. According to a report by Transport Topics, the bill is supported by the American Truckers Associations which estimates that, had the rule taken effect, it would have cost the trucking industry $1 billion dollars. The American Truckers Associations spokesperson claimed that the rule was a result of "hastily issued guidance." What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a serious breathing-related sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. The disruptions can last up to ten seconds in length and can occur hundreds of times over the course of a night. The result is that those who suffer from sleep apnea notice the following symptoms:
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability and/or feelings of sadness or depression
Sleep apnea is a treatable disease. However, it must first be diagnosed in order to be treated. Without treatment the symptoms can become exacerbated, decreasing a driver's ability to safely be on the road. One study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that nearly 28% of commercial truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea.

This law firm has aggressively represented many people over the past 33 years who have been injured in tractor-trailer collisions. They can be catastrophic. I hope that you have not been injured in a crash with an 18 wheeler, but if, God forbid, you have been hurt in one it is essential that you hire the best local lawyer to fight for you immediately. Why?

I just took a key deposition in an 18 wheeler crash case in which my team rushed out to obtain damning evidence against the trucking company and I wanted to stress just how important it is for an innocent victim to hire the best attorney. How do you know who to hire? Here are a few tips. STEP 1: Meet with several lawyers. See if you like them. Ask them these questions:

Truck driver fatigue is a factor in a shocking number of truck accidents. The risk of an 18 wheeler driver crashing dramatically increases as he drives longer hours. The driver is more likely to nod off and rear end another vehicle or drift into the next lane or across the centerline. But his company wants to increase its profits, and he wants to up his take home pay, so he keeps on trucking. In an attempt to improve highway safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that new federal regulations that will further crack down on driver fatigue.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just announced that 3,757 of fatalities from motor vehicle collisions were the result of crashes with tractor trailers and other commercial trucks in 2011. Even though they only comprise 3% of the vehicles on the road, these giant trucks caused a disproportionate 12% of the deaths. And worse, 72% of the people killed were in the smaller vehicle. Consider these facts as you drive next to a tractor-trailer: * They can weigh as much as 40 tons fully loaded. * They require up to 40% more distance to come to a stop. * Their drivers can drive up to 11 hours in a day and 77 hours in a week. Here are some safety tips to avoid being hit an 18 wheeler: keep your distance by leaving enough room for braking and maneuvering, stay out of their blind spots, be careful when passing, and get out of their way if they are tailgating you. If you have been involved in a collision with a large commercial truck, call the Texas Trucking Accident Lawyers at Berenson Law Offices at 817-885-8000 or 1-888-801-8585. We have handled tractor-trailer and commercial vehicle cases in Texas and in other states for over 33 years and are here to answer any questions that you might have.
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