Every day, commercial trucks travel millions of miles to deliver vital goods throughout the country. Because of the vital role they play in our nation's economy, truck drivers and their employers are held to very high standards when it comes to operating and maintaining commercial trucks.
When a truck driver is negligent while operating their vehicle, they are liable for any injuries and damages that result. However, these claims are often more challenging than a typical car accident case. At SJ Injury Attorneys, our truck accident attorneys are committed to providing reliable representation for Texas residents who've been injured in accidents involving commercial drivers.
The Role of the FMCSA in Regulating Commercial Trucks
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates how drivers operate their vehicles, including how long they can be on the road at one time in order to prevent driver fatigue. The FMCSA imposes a 14-hour workday limit for all truck drivers. Once a trucker has worked 14 hours, they must rest at least 10 hours. Truckers, however, can't drive for the full 14 hours; they are only allowed to drive for a total of 11 hours in this 14-hour window. The remaining time must be spent on meal and rest breaks. Trucking companies are also responsible for training and testing their drivers, as well as maintaining their vehicles. Negligence in any of these areas can result in a serious accident.
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Commercial drivers can cause accidents in a number of ways:
- Talking on the phone or texting while driving can result in a rear-end accident.
- Careless truck drivers who change lanes without checking their blind spots can cause side-swipe accidents.
- Drivers may make dangerous mistakes if they are fatigued from working long hours—especially if they haven't taken the FMCSA mandated breaks.
- Inexperienced drivers may not understand how to adjust to changing traffic or weather conditions because of sub-par training before receiving their commercial license.
- Drivers may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- A medical issue that wasn't properly reported could cause the driver to be unable to react in time to avoid an accident.
Potentially Liable Parties
Unlike car accidents where the negligent driver is usually held liable for their injuries, several people could be found liable for a truck accident. Potentially liable parties include the:
- Trucking company. Since employers are responsible for their employees while they are at work, the trucking company is often held responsible after an accident. In fact, trucking companies are most often the ones pushing their driver to violate FMCSA regulations in order to help the company's bottom line.
- Driver. There are cases where the truck driver can be held responsible for an accident, such as in cases where the driver is an independent contractor instead of an employee or when they own their own truck.
- Owner of the truck. If the trucking company is leasing the vehicle involved in the accident, the owner of the truck could be responsible for maintenance-related defects that contributed to the accident. Poor maintenance can cause a tire to blow out or the brakes to fail, resulting in anything from a jackknife accident to a runaway truck accident.
- Cargo loaders. If an accident is caused by cargo that shifts during transport or falls out of the vehicle, the company in charge of loading the cargo may be legally responsible.
- Part manufacturers. If parts of the truck failed as the result of a manufacturing defect, such as an accident caused by faulty brakes, the manufacturer might be liable.
How Our Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help
Trucking companies and their insurance providers are particularly hard to deal with. Trucking companies will readily deny liability in order to prevent their insurance rates from rising, and insurance companies simply want to save the money.
SJ Injury Attorneys will fight tirelessly to win the compensation that you deserve. One of our lead attorneys, Chris Soileau, has former experience as a nurse. This gives us a unique advantage in ensuring that your injuries are properly evaluated.
Contact our team today to get started on your personal injury claim. Our truck accident attorneys serve clients throughout Texas, including those in Houston, Pasadena, Baytown, Clear Lake, Webster, Friendswood, Deer Park, LaPorte, Texas City, League City, Galveston, Pearland, Spring, Katy, Channelview, Jersey Village, and Missouri City.