Involved in a semi-truck accident?

Unfortunately, trucking accidents are all too common in the United States. From overtired, negligent drivers to side-swipes during lane changes, private citizens often find themselves the victim of an unwieldy 18-wheeler. Below, we outline what to do if you’re involved in a semi-truck accident and how a good lawyer can help.

Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents

semi-truck driving on highway

Because of their weight, size, and relatively poor visibility, semi-trucks are governed by a much stricter set of rules and regulations than standard Class D vehicles. Ideally, proper maintenance is done on a regular basis to keep the trucks in good shape, and professional drivers are hired and trained to obey the laws of the road and control their vehicle properly.

 

Unfortunately, not all trucks or drivers fall within these standards and, even when they do, there is still the risk of accident. Whether it’s caused by an act of nature or by the fault of the driver or trucking company, the results of an accident can be equally devastating.

 

The following are just a few common causes of 18-wheeler accidents:

  • Failure to compensate for blind spots
  • Reckless driving on the part of the trucker (speeding, swerving)
  • Shifts in load weight due to unsecured cargo
  • Failure to consider poor road conditions (ice, snow, rain)
  • Fatigued driving
  • Mechanical failure (brakes/tires)
  • Trucker driving under the influence

18-Wheeler Accidents Statistics

Under the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), an 18-wheeler is considered a “large truck,” a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 10,000 pounds. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keep official records of accident data for such trucks, from which the statistics below have been taken.

 

Large Truck Accident Trends and Key Insights

Unfortunately, not all trucks or drivers fall within these standards and, even when they do, there is still the risk of accident. Whether it’s caused by an act of nature or by the fault of the driver or trucking company, the results of an accident can be equally devastating.

  • The rates of large truck involvement in both fatal and injury-causing crashes have declined overall since 1975. However, both have seen a slight increase in recent years.
  • Approximately one-quarter of fatal large truck accidents occurred on an interstate.
  • 61% of fatal crashes occurred in rural areas.
  • 95% of fatal accidents occurred outside work zones.
  • In 2014, large trucks accounted for roughly 4% of all vehicles involved in injuries and/or property damage crashes.

 

About the Victims

  • Individuals killed in large truck accidents included vehicle occupants, pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorists.
  • The total number of fatalities in large truck crashes did not change much from 1975 to 2016 (4,483 and 4,317, respectively).
  • Most injuries and fatalities in large truck crashes were suffered by vehicle occupants, but many others were also killed or injured. In 2014, 389 non-occupants were killed and approximately 2,000 were injured.

 

About the Vehicles

  • Common vehicle types in fatal large truck accidents included passenger cars, light trucks, motorcycles, and buses.
  • In crashes between passenger vehicles and large trucks, those in the passenger vehicle generally suffered more injuries than those in the trucks.
  • Fatalities were more common in multi-vehicle crashes than single-vehicle crashes. 81% of fatal large truck accidents in 2014 involved multiple vehicles, and 45% of them were head-on collisions.

 

About the Truck Drivers

  • Compared to drivers of light trucks, passenger vehicles, or motorcycles, drivers of large trucks in fatal crashes showed the highest percentage (14.9%) of previous crashes on their records.
  • 16% of large truck drivers had at least one prior speeding violation—roughly the same ratio as passenger vehicle drivers.

 

Additional statistics and more detailed information can be found on our 18-Wheeler Accidents Statistics page.

What Should I Do After an 18-Wheeler Accident?

When you’ve been in a truck accident, the entire situation can be overwhelming and difficult to comprehend—especially if you’ve been injured. Situations like this can be extremely emotional and involve a lot of adrenaline, so the most important thing you can do in this situation is to keep yourself as calm as possible. Once you feel you are calm enough to proceed in a rational manner, you can begin to gather information and deal with the truck driver face-to-face.

 

If you’ve been involved in an 18-wheeler truck accident, there are a few things you should do right away:

 

  1. red 18 wheeler semi truck on freewaySeek immediate medical treatment, if necessary. Call 911 and be as clear as you can about your medical needs, as well as those of any passengers in your vehicle. If you are seriously injured, you need to worry about your health and survival first and foremost.
  2. Gather evidence. If you, a passenger, or a nearby witness are able to do so, take lots of photos of the accident scene, making sure to capture the final resting location of the vehicles, property damage, skid marks, debris, and other elements that may prove fault or provide context.
  3. Talk to authorities when they arrive and make sure a thorough police report is made.
  4. Obtain necessary insurance and vehicle information.
  5. Contact an experienced Houston trucking accident attorney as soon as possible to make sure you get what you deserve as a victim of the accident (compensation for medical bills, vehicle damage, etc.).
  6. Contact the insurance company to begin filing a claim.

 

Houston Trucking Laws

Houston truck drivers are bound to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) laws, as well as the standards of the state of Texas. Semi-truck drivers are required to avoid driver fatigue, secure cargo so that it does not shift in transit, drive defensively, and follow all traffic laws including proper signaling and allowing sufficient space between vehicles (not tailgating). If a trucker ignores these regulations and causes an accident, he or she is absolutely at fault.

 

The Physical, Emotional and Financial Repercussions of an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident

Even if your vehicle is only slightly clipped by an 18-wheeler, truck accidents are no small matter. Due to the size and power of the vehicle, even the slightest collision can have life-threatening repercussions, not to mention the damage it can cause to both vehicles. In many cases, victims in much smaller vehicles suffer injuries like concussions, whiplash, crushed or broken limbs, skull fractures, abrasions, internal bleeding, and more.

 

In addition to the physical repercussions of trucking accidents, victims also face a variety of mental, emotional, and financial issues as a result. In some cases, the trauma of the event can trigger serious anxiety and even cause victims to develop conditions like PTSD. Meanwhile, the costs of automotive repair, medical bills, physical therapy, counseling, and other bills begin to add up. For those whose injuries leave them unable to work for a time, this can also mean a loss of important income.

 

The Importance of Having an Experienced Attorney: How Johnson Garcia LLP Can Help

signing legal document

Filing a lawsuit against a trucking company for damages can be an intimidating process. For that reason, it’s important to have an experienced, reliable 18-wheeler accident lawyer on your side. At Johnson Garcia LLP, we know what your rights are as a victim and can secure all the information needed to build a solid case. Our attorneys can do everything from retrieving black box information and obtaining toll tags to securing accident scene photos and analyzing GPS tracking systems.

 

Our trusted attorneys have helped numerous semi-truck collision victims seek the damages they needed and deserved after their accident. Are you struggling financially with medical bills, loss of income, and difficulty covering other monthly expenses during accident recovery? The experienced semi-truck accident lawyers at Johnson Garcia Law can help you seek insurance payments up to the full policy limits, as well as seek compensation from the trucking company responsible.

 

Hurt in an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident? Trust the Reputable Houston Attorneys at Johnson Garcia LLP

Johnson Garcia LLP is proud to provide reliable legal representation to victims of semi-truck accidents, construction accidents, maritime injuries, workplace accidents, car and motorcycle accidents, and more. Whether you’re dealing with an insurance coverage dispute or are seeking additional damages from a responsible party, our Houston lawyers have the knowledge and experience to make a difference in your case. With a total of more than $100 million recovered for our clients, our results truly speak for themselves.

 

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a truck accident in the Houston area, trust the knowledgeable attorneys at Johnson Garcia LLP to help you fight for what you deserve. For your free initial consultation with one of our personable, professional lawyers, call us today at (832) 241-5465.