Truck accidents carry severe consequences. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a total of 34,320 crashes involving large commercial vehicles occurred on our state’s roads in 2016. These crashes caused 601 deaths and 1,522 incapacitating injuries.
Commercial 18-wheelers are huge vehicles. They can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, or about 20 times the size of an average car. Due to their massive size, they can cause significant damage when they are involved in wrecks.
If you are hit by an 18-wheeler in East Texas, you may wonder about what comes next. Here, we provide important information about large truck accidents, the determination of liability and your right to seek damages for the full extent of your losses.
What Causes Large Truck Accidents and Who Could Be Liable?
If you are hit by an 18-wheeler, determining liability for the accident is a critical part of the process. Liability will depend on many factors. Some of the common causes of truck accidents are:
Truck driver errors
Truck drivers can make many different types of errors while driving their large vehicles. These errors include:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Taking a turn at an unsafe speed
- Driving while distracted (including texting or using a cell phone while driving)
- Driving while intoxicated or impaired
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving aggressively (such as tailigating or refusing to yield).
When truck driver errors cause an 18-wheeler crash, potentially liable parties could include the truck driver and/or the trucking company.
If the truck driver is an independent contractor, then he or she may be held independently liable. However, if the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, then the company may be held responsible as well under the theory of vicarious liability.
Cargo shifts or spills
Another common cause of large truck accidents are cargo shifts or spills. These incidents typically result from improperly loaded and/or secured cargo. Sometimes, a cargo spill can result from a truck driver’s negligent driving such as taking a turn too quickly.
If a cargo-related issue is the cause of the truck accident, the liable party may include the truck driver, trucking company, loader of the cargo or manufacturer of the cargo.
Sometimes, a truck driver has nothing to do with an accident’s occurrence. The accident is completely out of the driver’s control. This may be the case when a vehicle defect serves as the cause.
Vehicle defects that could lead to a crash include:
- Tire defects (such as tread separation)
- Defective brakes
- Engine malfunctions.
If a vehicle defect is to blame for a crash, liable parties could include:
- The manufacturer of the defective part
- The distributor of the defective part
- The trucking company (if the accident would not have occurred had the company inspected or maintained the truck as required by law).
You should get help from an attorney as soon as possible after a crash involving a large commercial vehicle. The lawyer can launch an immediate investigation into the precise cause of your accident, including taking steps to ensure that all evidence is preserved.
What Damages Can I Seek If I’m Injured by an 18-Wheeler?
The amount of money that you may receive in a truck accident lawsuit will depend on the circumstances of your case. Generally speaking, the potential damages in a lawsuit against a trucking company or other liable party can include:
- Medical expenses. You have the right to pursue compensation for the full value of all expenses related to your medical care, including past and future costs.
- Lost wages. If you are injured to the point where you cannot return to the job you held before the accident or cannot return to work at the same capacity, you deserve to be compensated for the value of your lost wages. You can also seek compensation for any benefits that you will potentially lose as a result of the accident such as the value of a yearly bonus or retirement benefits.
- Pain and suffering. You may also deserve to be compensated for your non-economic losses, including the value of your pain, suffering, loss of quality of life, disfigurement, loss of consortium and psychological injuries.
In some cases, punitive damages may be sought as well. These damages go beyond compensation for your losses. They seek to punish defendants for especially wrongful conduct.
For example, if the truck driver who hit you was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash – and the trucking company knew of the driver’s history of impaired driving – punitive damages certainly would be warranted.
Get Legal Help after an 18-Wheeler Accident in East Texas
If you have been hit by an 18-wheeler in East Texas, pursuing full and fair compensation for the harm you have suffered will be a top priority.
You do not want to accept just any settlement offer. You want to make sure that any settlement offer that you receive from a trucking company or other parties addresses the full extent of your losses.
In order to determine how much you should pursue in a claim, you should work with an experienced East Texas truck accident attorney.
The attorney will know how to calculate the amount of your losses – both economic and non-economic losses. The attorney also will take all necessary steps to pursue your claim, including dealing with the insurance companies and filing and litigating a lawsuit in court.
At The Sloan Firm, you will see how our truck accident attorneys truly care about you when we take on your case. We pride ourselves on putting our clients’ needs first. We want you to know that what matters to you, matters to us.
If you are injured in a truck accident and want more information about what to do next, contact us today. You can schedule your free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys by calling us or contacting us online.