At SJ Injury Attorneys, our Pasadena 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.
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.
Types of Required Truck Insurance for Trucking Companies
Under Texas law, trucking companies are required to provide proof of liability insurance for each of their registered vehicles. However, the minimum amount of coverage depends upon what kind of truck it is, as well as the cargo it’s carrying.
If you are in a collision in Texas, it’s important to contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney so that you know your rights and receive maximum compensation, but this information can help you get started:
- Minimum insurance requirements. Commercial truck liability insurance is intended to cover the cost of victims’ financial damages in the case of an accident. But the amount that insurance covers varies greatly. The amounts are determined by both federal and state law. Trucks that operate only within the borders of Texas might not be subject to federal law, while interstate trucks must be in alignment with both state and national laws.
- 26,000 pounds of cargo or less. Trucks carrying less than 26,000 pounds and transporting only household goods must have a minimum of $300,000 of liability insurance. However, if the goods are being transported beyond state lines and weigh over 10,000 pounds, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires minimum coverage of $750,000.
- 26,000 pounds of cargo or more. If a truck weighs over 26,000 pounds and is transporting only household goods, it must have at least $500,000 of liability insurance under both Texas and federal law.
- Oil transport and hazardous materials. Both Texas and FMCSA rules state that trucks carrying oil must have at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage, and those transporting hazardous materials of any time need to have a minimum of $5,000,000. Other types of insurance coverage may also be required.
Common Texas Trucking Crash Injuries
According to our Houston truck accident lawyer, head injuries are often seen as the most dangerous type of injury to come from a trucking accident, due to how severe the added mass of these large trucks can make them. Head injuries are also overlooked because they may not have symptoms right away, meaning many people don’t realize they have one until days or weeks later. Common signs of head injuries include:
- Blurred vision
It’s important to seek medical assistance if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms following your trucking accident.
The sheer force these trucks have behind them has the ability to cause internal injuries, just on impact alone.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are almost always going to leave a lasting impact, especially when semi-trucks are involved.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a new study that shows that trucking accidents are ten times more likely to kill you than accidents involving other cars.
Reasons to Hire a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Sooner Rather Than Later
Getting a Houston personal injury lawyer on your side as soon as possible is an excellent idea for a number of reasons. Those reasons include:
- Preservation of evidence. While you may be able to collect some evidence on your own, a lawyer will be better able to fully investigate the truck accident and the circumstances that led to it.
- Avoidance of mistakes. Sometimes our emotions run hot after we have been injured in an accident, and this can lead to poor decisions. A Houston personal injury lawyer will make sure you remember not to post about the accident on social media, for example. And they will remind you not to accept a lowball offer from an insurance company.
- Reduction of stress. Having a skilled Houston personal injury lawyer handling the details of your case means far less stress falls on you. And that means you can focus on your recovery.
- A faster resolution. The sooner you have an attorney working on your case, the sooner you will receive fair compensation. Waiting to hire a Houston personal injury lawyer only delays the process of getting you compensated.
How Our Houston and Pasadena Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help in Texas
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 money.
Our Pasadena truck accident 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.