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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

 

Truck Accident Investigation

If you have seen the aftermath of a collision between a car or pickup truck and a tractor-trailer, you know that the results can be life-changing, even catastrophic. If you or someone you love has been involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle, it is important that you get a good truck accident investigation ASAP. This will help win your liability case against the 18-wheeler driver and his company.

The injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain, disfigurement, and disability, and vehicle damage from a collision with a semi truck can be phenomenally high. You will need a substantial sum to reimburse yourself for your damages. This can be a major injury, high-dollar situation that both sides want to win. Almost every personal injury case is settled out of court. You can usually make the insurance company representatives pay a reasonable amount of money, but only after you have proven your case. Getting a fair settlement or a jury verdict from an insurance company or trucking company can be impossible without a strong legal team backing you.

What a personal injury lawyer is looking for

Your injury attorney can create a reconstruction of the accident scene, especially if he is able to view the scene before the police have cleared away the debris. This can provide important information about what each vehicle was doing at the time of the collision. For example, did the semi truck drift out of its lane, tailgate, speed, or fail to yield the right of way at an intersection? Did the weight shift when it should have been properly secured or did an unsecured piece of cargo fly out of the vehicle? Was the truck properly maintained? Was the driver qualified? Were any other vehicles at fault? Was the weather or condition of the road a factor? A fast immediate investigation enables your personal injury lawyer to collect evidence. In a motor vehicle collision, no matter how severe, the police report is primarily an internal document for record keeping. The police often don’t take witness statements, take photographs, reconstruct the accident scene, download vehicle speeds and stopping data, or stop the trucking company from destroying evidence. It also allows your attorney to notify all parties that a lawsuit is in progress. He can notify all parties, particularly the trucking company, that no evidence may be tampered with, destroyed, or changed in any way.

What each side will be doing

The driver is carefully trained and knows what he must do. You don't. He must call his dispatcher, who will alert the company's crash response team, including attorneys and accident reconstruction experts. They will be at the site within minutes and will coach their driver, scour the scene, take photos and measurements, talk to witnesses, and work with the police officer to possibly shape his perception. But you will be injured, dazed, and might even be unconscious. You might be taken away from the scene to the emergency room by ambulance. What do you think will happen in the mean time? Important evidence will be taken that you need. It can possibly be destroyed or lost. The investigation must begin as soon after the impact as possible. Each minute, each day can be critical. But too many people wait for a police report to arrive and then find that it contains insufficient information to prosecute their case. Or they never see the police report and have no idea how to get one. We immediately obtain the report for any one who asks us, at no charge. This protects evidence that can win or lost your lawsuit including the driver's cell phone with text messages about traffic, speed, delivery times, weight, malfunctions, stops, and required rest. And almost all cell phone use while driving is outlawed by the FMCSA.

Text Messages

Berenson Injury Law has filed many commercial vehicle collision lawsuits over the last 39 years. We just resolved one against a major carrier that injured two people, one seriously.

What our law firm does after being hired

  • Go the the site of the wreck to get evidence
  • Work with an accident reconstruction expert
  • Get statements from witnesses
  • Get the police officer's photos and notes
  • Obtain and analyze the police report
  • Research the other driver and company
  • Write a letter demanding that the trucking company preserve the truck and all evidence
  • Mail a letter to the trucking company making it preserve evidence
  • Download black boxes of vehicles involved
  • Helps our client get the medical treatment they need
Commercial truck collisions are often difficult legal battles because they can cause serious injuries. If you have been involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer, it is in your best interest to hire a good personal injury lawyer. If you are looking for a legal team to get a good verdict or settlement from a trucking company, contact Berenson Injury Law. We will help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Trucking 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.

Companies are often not liable for negligence of independent contractors

Ho, 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."

On 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.

Trucker 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.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ridS396W2BY  

When Will These Safe Trucks Hit Texas Roadways?

Five people died and 12 people were injured in Fort Worth a week ago when a tractor-trailer slammed into a group of good Samaritans assisting the victim of an earlier crash. Skid marks indicated that the truck driver attempted to stop, but was unable to do so in time to avoid the semi collision

This tragic scenario occurs commonly on Texas roadways. A driver falls asleep, becomes distracted or is confronted with an unexpected obstacle and and drivers and occupants of other vehicles don't stand a chance. But what if instead of relying on the driver to act, the truck itself could identify the danger and respond quickly? 

The Collision Warning/Early Braking system being developed by Volvo Trucks Global makes this possible. The system allows a truck to sense an obstacle and to respond appropriately. The truck brakes on a dime without skidding or making the sorts of erratic moves that a human might make during an emergency. The truck is programed to react correctly, taking human error out of the equation.


Earlier last month, a semi-truck driver in training was involved in a serious truck accident on Interstate 45 when he lost control of the giant vehicle in the Wilmer-Hutchins area. According to a report by CBS DFW, the driver was operating an 18-wheeler on the north service road of I-45 when he suddenly and for an unknown reason lost control of the vehicle. Evidently, the truck crossed all three lanes of traffic before it crashed into the center median, where it came to a stop. The truck then burst into flames. Luckily, everyone involved in the accident was able to get out of the truck before they were seriously burned. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. However, several drivers on I-45 southbound did get into accidents due to "rubbernecking" that was occurring as a result of the accident on I-45 northbound.

report by one local news source, the accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. on the northbound side of the Turnpike.The semi-truck was carrying a directional boring machine, which is a 40,000-pound piece of heavy machinery. Evidently, the load on the semi-truck shifted, which caused the load to fall off the truck and onto the highway. Emergency crews spent hours trying to figure out how to move the giant piece of machinery without causing it--or the semi-truck itself--to fall off the overpass onto the highway below. Eventually, crews secured the truck and its cargo with heavy-duty cables. Making matters worse, emergency crews later noticed that there had also been a fuel spill caused by the accident. Luckily, no one was injured or killed as a result of the accident. However, traffic was held up for hours. There were even reports of people running out of gas while waiting in traffic for the scene to clear.
Improper Loading Can Cause Accidents A spokesperson for the North Texas Tollway Authority described the cause of this accident as a cargo-loading problem. This means that the 40,000-pound piece of machinery was improperly loaded onto the semi-truck that was supposed to carry it. Because of this improper loading, the machine fell off the truck and caused a major accident that could have very easily resulted in the loss of human life or at least in serious injury to a large number of people. Luckily, that was not the case this time. Truck drivers and companies have a duty to safely load trucks for transport on our highways. All too often, however, the person loading a truck fails to take the time to really think about what it is he or she is doing and how important a job it is. When this happens, mistakes are made like the one described above. While this accident resulted in little more than an inconvenience for those involved, we can't always get so lucky. When accidents injure innocent people, those at fault can be held responsible for their negligence. Have You Been Injured in a Texas Truck Accident? If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a Texas truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries or losses. In fact, even if you are partially at fault for the accident, the laws of Texas may still allow you to recover for your injuries. To learn more about the laws in Texas that permit accident victims to seek compensation, contact the dedicated Fort Worth personal injury attorney William K. Berenson. Attorney Bill Berenson has over 30 years of experience representing injured Texans, and he knows how to bring a winning case in the Lone Star State. Call 817-885-8000 to schedule a free consultation today. Related Posts: Truck Driver Fatigue Caused Deadly Crash On I-35 N Last Night? Texas DPS Cracks Down on Unsafe 18 Wheel Trucks, July 23, 2014. 18 Wheeler Wreck Kills Driver in Fort Worth, June 27, 2014.

Earlier this month, a tragic accident took the lives of two passengers traveling in a van on Farm to Market Road 917. According to a report by the Crowley Star, the van was heading south on Farm to Market Road 917 at around 7:30 in the evening, preparing to make a left turn into a parking lot when it was struck from behind by a tractor trailer. Police have released a statement that the cause of the accident was the truck driver's failure to control his speed. The trucking company, 3-Star Daylighting, was apparently involved in another fatal accident last year in Fort Worth that claimed the life of a 14-year-old student at H.F. Stevens Middle School. In that accident, the student was struck by the truck and was not found until several minutes later, after the truck had left the scene. For months police looked for the driver of the truck to no avail until a witnesses video recording provided investigators with the clues they needed to identify the driver. Once police spoke with the driver, they were convinced that he did not know that he had hit the child, and therefore did not flee intentionally.
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