According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people ages 1 to 54. In 2018, approximately 1 in 10 motor vehicle accident fatalities in the U.S. occurred in collisions involving large trucks.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) sets forth stringent regulations regarding an individual’s requirements for obtaining and maintaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which they must have to drive a tractor-trailer. Once they have undergone the training and passed all necessary exams, their certification serves as their agreement to follow specific safety guidelines to operate a semi-truck in a safe, responsible manner. When they fail to do so, they may cause serious accidents.
If you suffered injuries or a loved one died as the result of a tractor-trailer driver’s negligent or reckless behavior, a tractor-trailer accident lawyer in Edinburg, TX can help you pursue financial recovery for your losses. Contact D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ today at (713) 850-8600 to speak with our legal team about your case.
The Dangers Associated with Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Because of their large size, tractor-trailers are inherently dangerous, it requires the driver to use their specialized training to ensure the safety of themselves and others on the road. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists some of the primary hazards associated with semi-trucks.
- Weight: Large trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than passenger cars, making passenger car occupants more likely to suffer serious injuries or fatalities than truck occupants.
- Ground clearance: Without the proper guards, cars can slide underneath trailers in collisions known as underride accidents.
- Braking time: The weight of tractor-trailers requires them to have more time and distance to stop, which can make stopping quickly difficult.
While not directly related to the structural dangers of semi-trucks, the IIHS also emphasizes the role of fatigue in truck collisions. Drivers can legally operate their vehicles for up to 11 hours at a time, which increases their risk of causing an accident.
If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in a tractor-trailer accident in Hidalgo County, contact D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ at (713) 850-8600 today to discuss your case with a member of our team.
Establishing Liability in a Tractor-Trailer Accident Case
As a tort state, Texas requires that the party responsible for causing an accident provides financial recovery for the victims’ injuries. A tractor-trailer accident lawyer in Edinburg, TX can help you seek sufficient awards for your losses.
The Insurance Company Agenda
In truck accident cases, the victims will pursue a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company for damages related to the accident, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. However, insurance companies do not want to help victims; they want to increase their bottom line. They often attempt to achieve this goal by investigating the case right away to determine fault and then offering victims a low settlement.
Especially during such a difficult time, victims may feel that the immediate settlement seems generous or convenient. Unfortunately, many find after accepting it that it does not cover all of their losses, which they had not yet had a chance to evaluate before the insurance company stepped in to undervalue their injuries. An attorney can communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf and help you seek the financial recovery you need to stabilize your finances and your life.
Legal Criteria for Negligence
To file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a liable party in a tractor-trailer accident case, you must first prove that they acted in a manner consistent with the legal definition of negligence, which consists of four criteria.
- Duty of care: The truck driver had a responsibility to provide you with a reasonable level of care to protect your safety.
- Breach of duty: The truck driver breached their duty of care through either a reckless act or by failing to act appropriately.
- Causation: The truck driver’s breach of duty caused your injuries or the loss of your loved one.
- Damages: Your injuries or loss led to significant damages.
Establishing liability on your own may present a challenge, but an attorney can manage the process for you.
Liable Parties in Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Who you can file a claim against in a tractor-trailer accident case depends on who holds responsibility for the accident. This could include one or more parties, but in Texas, the party that had the most substantial contribution to the collision must cover the victims’ injuries.
In most cases, a driver causes tractor-trailer accidents. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck collision caused by the driver’s negligence, a lawyer can help you establish fault and seek financial awards from their insurance company.
Local and state governments have an obligation to keep roads safe, and failure to do so can lead to serious accidents. If your tractor-trailer accident resulted from a deteriorated roadway, lack of signage, or another road hazard, you may have the option to file a claim against the government agency that caused your collision.
Between 2005 and 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted their Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTTCS) to determine the reasons tractor-trailer accidents occur. Of the sample of collisions they studied, researchers found that vehicle failure contributed in 1 of 10 cases.
Vehicle manufacturers must ensure the safety of their products before releasing them onto the consumer market. If they discover a defect in a specific line of vehicles, they have to issue a recall to alert the vehicle owners. It often takes a number of the same incidents occurring for manufacturers to realize the issue.
If the failure of the truck or another vehicle involved in your accident caused your injury, a tractor-trailer accident lawyer in Edinburg, TX can help you determine if you can hold the manufacturer accountable for their negligence.
D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ Can Help You Pursue Financial Recovery
Tractor-trailer accidents often leave victims and their families with more than just physical and emotional pain. The financial struggle that results from time off work and mounting bills can take a serious toll on your well-being, but you may qualify for financial recovery to help you get back on your feet.
If a truck driver’s negligence caused an accident that left you with injuries or resulted in the loss of your loved one, D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ can help you determine if you have a case and seek financial awards on your behalf. Contact us today at (713) 850-8600 to get started.