Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

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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

An 18-wheeler driver crashed into a bus carrying the North Central Texas College women’s softball team in 2014, horrifically killing four students and injuring 12 other people.

The truck driver claimed that he was distracted as he reached for a drink in his cooler. However an investigation revealed that Richard Staley, who lived in north Fort Worth, was intoxicated on K2, a synthetic cannabinoid.

The driver was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Last week, just before his criminal trial was set to begin, he committed suicide.

Will Staley’s death affect the civil lawsuits the victims and their families have already filed? And will it impede the new lawsuits just filed against the bus company for manufacturing a defective vehicle and the college for failing to enforce its seat belt rules?

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For the families of two Dallas-Fort Worth women recently killed by a speeding tractor-trailer east of Dallas, the collision was unbelievable. A truck hit their loved ones as they sat in traffic on I-30. The truck driver failed to stop for the crawling traffic and rammed into another semi, an SUV, and two cars.

You might think that an out-of-control tractor-trailer barreling down on a small car is just the subject of action films. Tragically, this scenario is all too common. I hope it never happens to you or someone you love, but last year, 34,000 commercial vehicle accidents killed 601 people and injured more than 17,000 Americans –almost the crowd in a sold out show or game at the AAC Arena in Dallas.

I’m in the middle of a case involving an 18-wheeler crashing into the rear of my client’s SUV, seriously injuring my client and killing her boyfriend who was driving in Fort Worth in 2015. Here’s a scene photo.

I’ve represented many people and the families of deceased motorists in wrecks like this over the past 36 years as a personal injury attorney.

You might think that these are easy cases for an injury lawyer to win but this is not always true. Here’s why.

Proving liability

Being rear-ended by a semi seems like a no-brainer case. Clearly, the truck driver was at fault. But many plaintiffs have lost cases they should have won because they didn’t handle the legal details correctly.

A tractor-trailer collision case is not just a big car wreck case. And the commercial truck driver in the back is not automatically to blame.  I’ve handled cases where the truck driver was paying attention and driving below the speed limit when a motorist suddenly whipped in front of him and then slammed on his or her brakes, or it was rainy and the roads were slick, or a giant box in one and road debris in another flew up  and struck a driver’s windshield or vehicle, and many other scenarios.

Now let’s say the truck driver was clearly to blame, say you were stopped at a red light when a speeding truck hit you. In a court of law, you must prove your claim by a preponderance of the evidence. In layman’s terms this means that it is more likely than not that the driver caused a crash that resulted in your injuries. And Texas has adopted the comparative negligence rule, but here the truck driver would presumably be 100% at fault unless there is other evidence that could be admitted that could reduce his percentage of fault.

Obtaining critical evidence

What evidence do you need and how do you get that evidence and have it admitted at trial? What evidence will the trucking company be using and how can you keep it out of trial? This is where an experienced injury attorney can help.

The truck driver and trucking corporation are not going to admit fault. Just the opposite, they are going to deny liability, blame you and/or other vehicles or causes, conduct their own investigation, hire their own experts, take depositions, delay court dates, and fight you tooth and nail. Only an immediate and exhaustive investigation can prove what happened and who is liable so you can obtain the evidence you need.

To prove the trucker’s liability, some of the steps I might take in a rear-end collision case are to

  • Hire an accident reconstruction expert to go to the scene immediately to get vital evidence
  • Subpoena phone records to check for texting or calls that were placed immediately prior to the collision
  • Review the black box data to determine speed, brake application, steering and other driving behavior
  • File an emergency motion to stop the truck owner from repairing or moving the truck before I have the chance to inspect it
  • Analyze crash debris scatter for clues as to speed of travel and position of vehicles at time of the crash
  • Inspect hours of service logs to determine if the truck driver was sleep-deprived and fatigued
  • Analyze which Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations were violated

I will discuss your 18-wheeler crash case in depth at a free case evaluation meeting where I will carefully review the facts of your collision and advise you on your rights and options for a medical and financial recovery.

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Nearly Half of Worker Deaths Resulted from Transportation Accidents

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its annual injury report which showed that workplace fatalities hit a six-year high. Almost 5,000 workers were killed on the job.

Guess which industry topped the charts? A whopping 745 tractor-trailer drivers died in accidents last year, making transportation the deadliest profession in 2015. No wonder it’s so hard to find qualified truck drivers.

A huge number of workers (2,054) lost their lives while on the clock in transportation accidents, which equals almost half of all worker deaths. 1,264 of the deaths, or more than ¼ of all workplace fatalities, resulted from roadway crashes. 629 of the deaths involved a tractor-trailer or tanker truck.

I am filing a lawsuit for the driver injured in the tractor-trailer pictured here. His rig overturned when another vehicle crashed into it head-on. That driver unfortunately died. My client was seriously injured and could not drive for over six months. Continue reading

Our country is experiencing a historic shakeup as a new administration takes over. With so many high profile changes, one that hasn’t received any attention, but is a top priority for me as a personal injury lawyer, is highway safety.

Just last month, lawmakers blocked important sleep rules for commercial drivers. That’s just the start of it.

In an interview, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board predicted that there will be ”an open season on safety in this coming Congress.” His comment appears to be right on the mark. The American Trucking Association has vowed to fight states that pass roadway safety measures for their residents and federal regulations that limit drive time and truck weight and length. Continue reading

Picture the scene  in a small West Texas town after its small high school’s football team had just won a big playoff game. The mood was celebratory — until the worst tragedy imaginable happened. An 18-wheeler crashed head-on into a bus bringing the school’s cheerleaders home. The sponsor was killed and another adult and seven students sustained severe injuries. It was a Friday Night Lights nightmare.

The heartbreak and injuries from a truck or auto accident can be devastating. Then there are vexing questions for the injured persons, including who is at fault and who will pay for their medical bills, lost wages and damages. And how can we stop this from happening again so others are not injured or killed?

Here, could a median barrier have prevented the head-on collision, not to mention countless others?

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A tractor-trailer crash on I-30 east of Dallas tragically took the life of two women, one from Fort Worth and another from Dallas several weeks ago. An 18-wheeler driver behind them rear-ended a line of vehicles and set off the horrific collision pictured here.

However this barely got an inch or two in our local DFW newspapers. That’s probably because it was just the latest in a long line of fatal big-rig crashes that seem routine.

In 2015 commercial vehicles were involved in more than 34,000 accidents in Texas. The results were devastating: 601 people died and 17,000 were injured.

That crash was very similar to a case I am involved in where an 18-wheeler crashed into my client’s SUV and caused a massive chain reaction on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth last year. My client was seriously injured and her boyfriend died in front of her. A photo from that scene appears below.

You might assume that these are easy cases to win in court, but this is not always true. Here’s why. 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

After an 18 wheeler crash, damages for medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, pain, and other items can be enormous. Who pays for that? How much is available? What happens if there is not enough insurance to pay all injured people?

Minimum insurance levels required

Federal law has mandated that commercial vehicles which drive from state to state have insurance since the trucking industry began back in 1935.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces the law that if the vehicle that drives interstate has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds, it is required to have $750,000 available. Further, if the truck is carrying hazardous materials, up to five million dollars is required.

Buses and other vehicles that carry 15 passengers or less must have at least one million dollars in coverage; those that carry more than 16 people have to have at least five million dollars in coverage available.

Often companies have multiple policies or higher limits. Many have high deductibles and self-retention amounts.

Note that the required minimum limit of $750,000 has not been increased since the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was enacted, while medical bills that cost that amount 36 years ago now cost $4.2 million adjusted for inflation. Clearly the minimum figures are inadequate to protect the public.

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