Articles Posted in Safety Violations

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.

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Faulty 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.

Starting 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

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 the18 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

It’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?

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The 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

Tractor-trailer carriers are rated by the federal government and their safety records are important evidence for personal injury lawyers when their big rigs crash into other vehicles and cause personal injuries and sometimes deaths.

However a new FMCSA rule changes what evidence will be available to prosecute tractor-trailer companies. Giant companies like J.B. Hunt and Federal Express can now ask the FMCSA to remove crashes from their histories to improve their safety reputation at trial. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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

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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Self-Reporting Must Be Ended

An 18-wheeler driver was killed when he plowed into a strip mall and his cataract surgery was cited as a possible cause of the accident.

A tractor-trailer driver ran out of his blood pressure and diabetes medication blacked out, and rammed into a tour bus, killing two passengers.

Greyhound bus wreck that injured this woman and 34 other passengers after the driver blacked out and rolled the bus over an embankment. Investigators discovered the driver had sleep apnea, a condition he didn’t disclose on his application.

A bus collided with a pickup truck, killing the driver. The bus driver also didn’t report his sleep apnea and had also stopped using a machine that would have kept the condition under control.

There are thousands of other crashes like this every year involving commercial vehicles like 18 wheelers.

These nightmarish stories highlight the ineffectiveness of the current commercial driver self-reporting system. The inadequate process fails to identify drivers who have dangerous medical conditions. Often, the driver’s condition is only discovered once he has caused a crash.

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