Few truck accidents in East Texas are random events. Instead, they are the products of careless and reckless decisions. If you were recently involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler, you should contact The Sloan Firm today. We can launch a prompt, careful investigation that reveals where the bad choices occurred in your case and who should be held responsible for them.
Our law firm brings more than 150 years of combined legal experience to our clients, including work on numerous cases involving large semi-trucks and other commercial motor vehicles. We know how to pinpoint the causes of truck accidents. We also know how to use that information to seek the compensation that our clients deserve.
As we investigate and litigate truck accident cases, we always focus on our clients. What matters to them, matters to us. In your case, we will take the time to find out what is important to you, and we will strive to meet your goals. Call or reach us online today and receive a free consultation about your truck accident case from our offices in Longview, Houston or Santa Fe.
How Do You Determine the Cause of a Texas Truck Accident?
Truck accidents typically involve serious injuries. If negligence caused the crash, a trucking company – and its insurer – could end up paying significant damages to anyone harmed by that negligence. With the stakes so high, insurance companies aggressively investigate and defend these cases.
Within hours after a crash, an insurance company may have a team of investigators, adjusters and lawyers on the case. They will be looking for ways to minimize the company’s losses. They may even make a settlement offer for an amount that is far below what a claim is actually worth.
This is why you should have a skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. The lawyer can move quickly to preserve, collect and analyze evidence that points to the cause of the accident and reveals whether another party’s negligence contributed to it. The lawyer can also determine the full extent of your losses and assess the amount of compensation that a full and fair settlement offer should provide.
At The Sloan Firm, we will get to the scene of your truck crash right away. We can take measurements and shoot photos of the vehicles, skid marks, debris and other items. We can also inspect your vehicle and the tractor-trailer involved in the wreck. As we move forward, we can gather other evidence as well such as:
- The truck driver’s logbook
- The vehicle’s inspection and maintenance records
- The truck’s electronic data recorder (also called a “black box”)
- Shipping documents such as bills of lading
- The truck driver’s cell phone records
- The truck driver’s toxicology test results
- Trucking company hiring and training records
- Statements from eyewitnesses.
Our law firm often consults with experts in accident reconstruction, engineering and other fields. They know how to examine evidence and determine the cause of truck crashes. They can also prepare reports and present their findings to the insurance company or a jury.
At The Sloan Firm, we believe that the time and resources we invest in truck accident investigations makes a major difference for our clients. When insurance companies realize that the odds are against their insured truck driver or trucking company, they are more likely to agree to a full and fair settlement. A settlement avoids the need to go to trial. If the insurer refuses to settle, then we are always ready to put on the strongest case possible.
How Do Negligent Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?
When The Sloan Firm investigates a truck accident, we often discover that one or more negligent acts by a truck driver led to the crash. Some of the common ways that truck drivers cause 18-wheeler accidents in East Texas and across the country are:
- Speeding and driving too fast for conditions – Speeding is the leading driver-related factor in truck accidents in the U.S., the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports. All too often, truck drivers break the speed limit or go faster than traffic, weather and road conditions allow. When a driver goes too fast, the driver can lose control or lack braking distance that the driver needs to avoid a crash.
- Tailgating and aggressive driving – In a rush to meet delivery deadlines, truck drivers often tailgate, run red lights, make dangerous passes, refuse to yield the right of way and engage in other forms of reckless driving. Jackknifing accidents often occur when truck drivers have to suddenly hit their brakes or swerve because their aggressive driving has put them in a dangerous situation.
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway – A truck driver who is driving on an unfamiliar stretch of road may be unaware of certain features such as dips, tight turns, speed limit changes, highway construction zones or changes in the number of lanes. If the driver fails to pay close attention to the road, the driver can easily cause an accident.
- Driving while distracted – All too often, drivers operate their big rigs while talking or texting on a phone. Truckers can engage in many other distracting activities such as eating, drinking, smoking, grooming, playing with the radio or looking up directions. In fact, distraction ranks as the second-leading driver-related factor in commercial truck accidents, the FMCSA reports.
- Driving while impaired – Texas law prohibits commercial motor vehicle operators from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher. Unfortunately, many truck drivers drive after drinking. Some drivers consume illegal drugs or medication which impairs their mental and physical faculties and leads to accidents.
- Driving while overly fatigued – FMCSA regulations limit the number of hours that drivers can be on the road during certain periods of time. Many drivers violate these hours-of-service regulations and drive for prolonged periods without sufficient rest. As our lawyers have seen, a fatigued driver can be as impaired and dangerous as a drunk driver.
- Improper loading – The decision to hit the road with a loaded tractor-trailer ultimately lies with the driver. If the driver leaves a warehouse without ensuring that the truck’s load has been properly secured, the driver should be held responsible for any crashes caused by cargo shifts or spills.
- Failure to use emergency flares and/or triangles – If an 18-wheeler breaks down, the driver must pull over the vehicle to a safe area and put out warning flares and/or triangles in order to give proper warning to other motorists. Many collisions occur because other drivers cannot see a tractor-trailer on the side of the road until it is too late.
If a truck driver engaged in these or other negligent acts and caused a crash that harmed you, you can sue the driver for your past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other losses. If the crash occurred while the driver was acting in the course and scope of his or her employment, the trucking company could be held liable as well.
How Do Negligent Trucking Companies Cause Accidents?
Typically, a trucking company pays damages after a crash because of the negligence of one of its drivers. However, trucking companies can engage in their own negligent conduct that gives rise to liability. Examples include:
- Negligent hiring – Many trucking companies put unsafe drivers on the road. They may hire drivers who lack a commercial driver’s license (CDL), or they may fail to conduct a proper background check. Additionally, many companies bring aboard drivers without administering a pre-employment alcohol and drug-screening test, which FMCSA rules require.
- Negligent training and supervision – Although a driver has a CDL, the driver may still need additional training and oversight in order to operate certain types of tractor-trailers or to transport specific types of cargo such as hazardous materials. A trucking company can be sued if a driver’s lack of proper training and supervision causes an accident to happen.
- Negligent retention – Even though a driver may have been involved in a crash or engaged in other dangerous conduct, a trucking company may ignore those red flags and keep the driver on the road. By failing to terminate or suspend the driver, the trucking company puts others at risk and exposes itself to a lawsuit if a crash occurs.
- Failure to inspect and maintain vehicles – FMCSA regulations require trucking companies to routinely inspect and repair the vehicles in their fleet in order to ensure those vehicles are in safe condition. If a trucking company ignores those rules, and an accident occurs due to a blown tire, faulty brakes or other equipment failure, the company or a contractor it hired to perform truck maintenance can be held liable.
- Encouraging drivers to violate FMCSA regulations – Many trucking companies engage in business practices that violate FMCSA regulations. For instance, they may routinely set unreasonable delivery deadlines, forcing drivers to speed or stay on the road for long stretches of time.
A truck accident investigation may reveal that a trucking company has engaged in a pattern of careless and reckless conduct over several months or years, which may serve as grounds for a punitive damages claim. Punitive damages are intended to punish and deter especially wrongful conduct.
The design or manufacture of certain trucks or truck parts can create serious safety issues. For instance, the defect may cause a mechanical problem that leads to a crash, or it may cause a driver who is unfamiliar with the features of that particular truck to misjudge stopping distance or turning radius, which in turn causes a collision.
According to the FMCSA, the leading vehicle defects that contribute to large truck accidents involve:
- Tires and wheels
- Brake systems
- Power trains
- Truck couplings, trailer hitches and safety chains
- Steering columns
- Windows and windshields.
If a defective truck or truck part caused your accident, The Sloan Firm can help you to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the responsible manufacturer, distributor and/or retailer. We have the experience and resources that it takes to take on large corporations.
Defective Road Conditions
An investigation of a tractor-trailer accident in East Texas should also examine whether a poorly designed and/or maintained road contributed to the crash. For example, a crash may result from:
- Potholes or uneven pavement
- Dangerously steep grades
- Lack of warning signs
- Trees or other obstacles that reduce visibility
- Lack of properly placed guard rails.
Defective road conditions can easily cause a truck driver to lose control of a tractor-trailer and collide with another vehicle, motorcycle, bicyclist or pedestrian. The consequences of these accidents can be devastating.
If you believe that defective road conditions caused a truck accident that harmed you or a loved one, a truck accident lawyer from The Sloan Firm can help you to bring a claim against the federal, state or local government agency responsible for the road (or the contractor that the agency hired).
These claims can be highly complex. They may require filing notice within a few months after the accident. So, in order to preserve your rights, it is crucial to get in touch with The Sloan Firm as early as possible.
Get Help from Our Longview Truck Accident Attorneys Today
If you have suffered serious injuries in a truck crash in East Texas, or if you have lost a loved one in one of these accidents, talk to a truck accident attorney at The Sloan Firm as soon as possible. As your attorneys, we will promptly investigate the cause of your accident and start amassing the evidence and documentation necessary to pursue a settlement or take your case to trial.
Our legal team consists of experienced and compassionate lawyers, investigators, paralegals and support staff who will care greatly about your case. We always see the person behind the injury and work hard to address our client’s unique goals. What matters to you, matters to us. To learn more, contact us today and schedule a free consultation through our offices in Longview, Houston or Santa Fe.