Laws Regarding Truck Accidents
From a legal standpoint, truck accidents are usually more complex than most car accidents. This is because accidents involving 18-wheelers often cause serious injuries. Also, when pursuing a case against a commercial motor vehicle, it is necessary to determine if any Federal or State Motor Carrier Safety Regulations were violated.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Federal Motor Carrier Safety rules and regulations help ensure the safety of truck drivers and the motoring public and must be followed at all times. Here are some of the FMCSA rules:
- All truck drivers must meet the required qualifications and requirements set by the Texas DOT.
- Drivers must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in order to operate large trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
- Drivers must implement a routine vehicle maintenance program to avoid unexpected breakdowns.
- Drivers must conduct a thorough vehicle inspection before and after every trip.
- Drivers must strictly adhere to the federal hours of service limitations for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations that covers personal injuries in Texas states that a person must bring a suit for personal injury or injury resulting in death within two years of the date of the injury or death (Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.003).
A number of different parties may potentially be held liable for a truck accident. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the following parties may be held accountable:
- The Truck Driver: The truck driver may be held responsible for a crash caused by the driver's negligence, including speeding, driving while fatigued, distracted driving, driving under the influence, or improper licensing.
- The Trucking Company: The trucking company may be held accountable for inadequate safety inspections, inadequate training, improper maintenance, inadequate supervision, setting unrealistic expectations, or hiring an inexperienced driver.
- The Truck Manufacturer: The truck or parts manufacturer may be held liable if the accident was caused by mechanical failure, defective parts, faulty brakes, or malfunctioning parts.
- The Cargo Loaders: The individuals who loaded the cargo may also be held responsible if the accident was caused by them failing to secure, inspect, or balance the load properly.
- The Maintenance Personnel: Failure to perform designated duties, such as safety checks, routine maintenance, or inspections of brakes, engines, or fluids may result in a traffic crash. In such situations, the maintenance personnel may be held responsible for the accident.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Texas operates under a "modified comparative negligence" rule with a 51% bar. According to this rule, a person may be compensated for their damages even if they are found to be partially responsible for the accident. However, the amount of damages that may be recovered will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
For instance, if the judge awards $10,000 in total damages, and your share of negligence was determined to be 30%, your damages will be reduced by $3,000. The total compensation you will receive will be 70% of $10,000 ($7,000). However, if you are determined to have been more than 50% at fault for the crash, you will be barred from collecting damages.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
Getting injured in a trucking accident that results in severe injuries can be life-altering. Such an accident may require long-term medical treatment, prevent you from returning to work, or prohibit you from enjoying life. Thankfully, you don't have to go through all of this on your own. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is the first step toward protecting your rights and pursuing rightful compensation.
At Hildebrand & Wilson, LLC, our attorneys are devoted to handling personal injury claims and protecting the rights of truck accident victims and their families. As your legal counsel, we can:
- Review and investigate all of the facts of your accident
- Collect and document relevant details, evidence, and documentation
- Work to establish fault and liability
- Evaluate the full extent of your injuries and other losses to determine case-value
- Help negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies
- Pursue legal action, when necessary
Our attorneys will fight aggressively to represent your best interests and work to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable. Having our team on your side can improve your chances of reaching a favorable outcome in your truck accident case.