DALLAS TRUCK ACCIDENT
Q: What is a commercial truck?
A: A commercial truck can include: eighteen wheelers, tanker trucks, deliver vehicles and other large freight trucks that are in the business of transporting commercial goods.
Q: What are some unique characteristics of a truck accident?
A: Unique characteristics of trucks include:
- Truck driver has 10 minutes to set out emergency signals after the truck is disabled;
- negligent hiring my impose liability on a truck drivers employer;
- there may be multiple insurance policies and multiple individuals and entities that may be responsible for the truck accident;
- some of the federal regulations can impose automatic liability for some truck accidents; and
- there are specific rules on how to load a truck to prevent the cargo from falling off.
Q: Whose insurance will compensate me for my injuries and damages?
A: Many individuals and entities may have insurance that will provide compensation including the truck driver, the truck owner, and the shipper of merchandise.
Q: What type of liability insurance must a commercial truck carry?
A: By law, commercial trucks that travel interstate must carry $750,000.00 in insurance for bodily injuries and property damage. Some states impose different minimum insurance limits for trucks that do not travel interstate.
Q: What are causes of truck accidents?
A: Causes of truck accident can include:
- lack of truck driver training;
- running off the road,
- aggressive driving,
- truck drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs,
- driving in bad weather conditions such as fog, snow or rain, reckless drivers with long histories of accidents,
- unsafe safety systems such as no reflectors, lights or warning devices;
- lack of under guard protection,
- poorly maintained brakes;
- overloaded trucks and oversized trucks;
- driver inexperience and fatigue, and
Q: How can truck driver fatigue be avoided?
A: Fatigue can be avoided by following the federal regulations that discuss hours of service and by the installation of devices that monitor whether a driver is too tired to drive. These devices can cost less than $1,000.00 and can prevent injuries and deaths.
Q: How can hours of service rule violations be reduced?
A: Violations can be reduced through the installation and use of electronic onboard computers that cannot be manipulated and falsified by drivers, which occurs in handwritten logbooks.
Q: What is the “no zone” area and how is it dangerous?
A: “No zone” area refers to areas near a commercial truck where the driver has no visibility, which include left rear quarter, right rear quarter, and directly behind the commercial truck. Obstruction of the mirrors or dashboard can also affect a truck drivers line of sight. The inability for the driver to see these areas can lead to an accident.
Q: What is an “underride” accident involving a commercial truck?
A: An underride is an accident where a truck suddenly stops, a passenger car either behind or perpendicular to the truck is unable to stop before crashing and the crash impact cuts off the entire cab of the car resulting in personal injuries or death.
Q: How can commercial trucks are made more visible to others at night?
A: Adding reflective sheeting or reflectors to commercial trucks increases the ability of other drivers to see commercial trucks at night, gauge the commercial trucks speed and distance and avoid accidents.
Q: How are commercial truck brakes different?
A: Commercial trucks require more distance and time to stop because of their size. This distance and time is increased during bad weather. If a trucks brakes lock up, its trailer may swing to the side; trucks traveling downhill may have its brakes heat up and fail. Accidents can occur because of lack of stopping distance and poor brake maintenance.
Q: What types of defective equipment can cause truck accidents?
A: Studies show that commercial trucks with defective equipment are twice as likely to be involved in an accident as a maintained commercial truck. Examples of defective equipment can include brake defects and steering equipment.
Q: Who can be responsible parties for truck accidents?
A: Responsible parties can include: drivers, truck owners, employers of drivers, supervisors, mechanics, truck inspectors, and loaders of trucks.
Q: What is the difference between an auto accident and a truck accident?
A: Differences between these types of accidents include:
- higher safety standards for truck drivers,
- financial incentives for drivers to speed and drive longer hours,
- higher liability insurance limits for trucks,
- truck operators are required to comply with various federal regulations,
- background and driving record searches are performed on truck drivers,
- drivers are limited to the number of hours they can drive per day,
- drivers are subject to alcohol and drug tests, and
- the use of truck company investigators to immediately investigate the accident scene
Q: How does the size and weight of truck make it different from an auto accident?
A: The weight of commercial trucks can be more than 10,000 pounds, dump trucks can weigh 70,000 pounds when loaded, and semi trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds. The size and weight of these vehicles, which are 20 times heavier than cars, require longer time periods to brake and stop, which can result in jackknifes.
Q: What are common accidents involving trucks?
A: Common accidents include: truck drivers rear ending another vehicle, railroad/truck collision at railroad intersections, and accidents occurring when truck drivers back across a street into a loading dock.
Q: Are there special rules that apply to truck drivers?
A: Yes. Truck drivers must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules which address things such as driver qualifications, driver training, hours of service, maintenance and documentation. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than a person that drives a passenger automobile.
Q: What are the driving time limits for truck drivers?
A: By federal law, drivers on interstate roads cannot drive for more than 11 hours or drive 14 hours until they take a 10 hour break. Drivers cannot drive without rest if they drive more than 60 hours during a 7 day period or 70 hours during an 8 day period.
Q: Why is a law firm investigation important to a truck accident?
A: An investigation by a law firm is important to a truck accident to establish whether the truck driver properly kept his driving log; whether the truck driver exceeds his driving time limits, and whether a mechanical failure was a cause of the accident. Investigations are needed to preserve the evidence before a truck company repairs or disposes of the truck and other physical evidence.
Q: Why is an expert witness needed in a truck driver case?
A: An expert witness is needed to assist in the investigation, analyze the information and determine who is liable for the accident and for what reason. Expert witnesses may need to investigate the design of the truck, its operation and to determine if the driver or his employer followed trucking industry rules.
Q: What persons and entities can be sued from a truck accident?
A: Truck driver, trucking company, shipper of commercial goods, manufacturer of the truck or trailer, manufacturer of truck equipment and tires, and any entity that leased or loaned the truck to the driver.
Q: Is it normal for a truck driver, truck company, or its insurance company to deny responsibility for the accident?
A: Yes. All of these entities deny responsibility to create confusion and frustration on your part in hopes that you will not pursue a claim. Other motives may include the truck drivers desire to keep his driving record clean and a truck companys need to hide facts such as faulty maintenance or worn out brakes and tires. You should contact a truck accident attorney for assistance.
Q: If a truck company insurance company wants me to sign some papers so I can get medical care, should I sign the papers?
A: No. You should sign nothing and make no statements until you have spoken to an attorney about the accident and your injuries.
Q: What should I do if I am contacted by an insurance company for a truck driver?
A: Claims adjusters for insurance companies are more experienced than you in investigating accidents and determining who is at fault. They will send investigators to the accident within minutes after the accident has happened. Insurance adjusters are not your friends and do not care about your injuries. They are only concerned with helping the truck driver and setting up a defense to the accident. You should not give a statement to an insurance company for a truck driver, give them access to your medical records or sign any piece of paper they request from you.
Q: Should I retain a truck accident attorney?
A: Yes. It is necessary to hire a truck accident attorney to impose liability against all possible individuals and entities and to seek the maximum amount of compensation and damages available.
Q: If a person dies from a truck accident, can a claim still be pursued?
A: Yes, under a wrongful death statute a claim can be pursued by spouses, children, and parents of the deceased.
Q: What types of compensation can I receive for a truck accident?
A: You can receive compensation for lost wages, medical bills, future medical care, loss of earning capacity damages, pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and impairment.