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Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

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If you were injured in a truck accident due to truck driver negligence, you should seek compensation for your injuries. Along with evidence of your injuries and related expenses, you will need to demonstrate how the driver was negligent or reckless. Evidence is the foundation of your case, and the more you have is better.

Preservation of evidence is crucial when dealing with the aftermath of a truck collision. Here is guidance on what evidence is important and how to make sure it is preserved.

Important evidence

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Throughout the school year, students across the country travel for sporting events. Their parents anticipate their safe return home at the end of every event. For the parents of one boys track team here in Texas, a near head-on collision shattered that expectation.

The parents of the 18 students injured in the crash have the track coach to thank for their survival. The bus was headed south on Highway 271 in Texas when a semi-truck careened into its path. The coach managed to avoid a head-on collision with the truck, but the two large vehicles still collided. The 30-year-old assistant coach for the girls track team was in a car behind the bus. Her vehicle was also involved, and she died from the impact.

The 50-year-old driver of the 18-wheeler also died. The coach who was driving the bus remained hospitalized in critical condition at last report. The 18 students injured were all taken to the hospital for a variety of unknown injuries. One of those students was hurt seriously enough to be taken from the scene by helicopter. The conditions of the survivors were not reported.

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In any personal injury case, a plaintiff is required to prove certain elements at trial in order to build a viable case. These elements vary from claim to claim, but any negligence claim must generally involve proof of four basic elements: duty; breach; causation and harm.

Together, these elements essentially involve demonstrating that the defendant failed to abide by a legal duty and that this caused harm to the plaintiff. There are a variety of ways to demonstrate breach of duty in personal injury claims depending on the specific facts of the case. In cases involving commercial drivers, it is important to explore the possibility of regulatory violations as an avenue of establishing breach of duty.  

We’ve specifically been speaking in recent posts about the hours of service rules. Truck and commercial bus accident victims who work with an experienced legal advocate will invariably consider whether there any regulatory violations at play in the accident. In commercial vehicle accidents where the facts suggest fatigue as a potential cause for the accident, a thorough attorney will use the discovery process to gather as much evidence as possible regarding the truck driver’s compliance habits, as well as the habits of his or her employer, who may or may not be involved in the accident. Trucking and commercial transportation employers can also be held accountable for failing to ensure their drivers comply with federal regulations.

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Recently, we’ve been looking at the topic of drowsy or fatigued driving and its effects on motor vehicle safety. As we’ve noted, researchers have compared the impairment caused by fatigue to impairment caused by alcohol, and the consequences of this impairment are potentially very serious for commercial vehicle drivers given the size and weight of these vehicles and the number of people potentially impacted.

As we’ve previously pointed out, federal regulators are well aware of these risks and are responsible for administering the hours of service rules. These rules apply to most commercial vehicle drivers and govern the number of hours truckers can be behind the wheel on a daily and weekly basis, as well as rest breaks. Truckers are required to comply with these rules or face penalties, and employers are expected to monitor employees for compliance as well.

The hours of service rules are different for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers. The requirements for the former can be summarized as follows:

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As a follow up on our recent post about driver fatigue, we look at rules designed to prevent it.

Truck driving is a job that requires long hours and pressure to be on time. Maneuvering a large rig down busy city streets or a crowded highway is no easy task. Being sleepy on the job isn’t good for anyone. But in the trucking industry driver fatigue is especially dangerous.

Setting the rules

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All of our readers have probably, at some point, experienced drowsiness or fatigue while driving. Those who have experienced significant fatigue behind the wheel know that it is a very dangerous state in which to drive, and that it can quickly and easily lead to serious motor vehicle accidents.

The impact of fatigue on driving is significant enough that authorities say it can be compared to alcohol intoxication. The Governors Highway Safety Association provides the following estimates: 18 hours without sleep is like having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%; 21 hours without sleep is like a BAC of 0.08%; and 24 hours without sleep is like a BAC of 0.10%. 

Whether or not these numbers are completely accurate, the point is that fatigued driving can have a serious adverse affect on driving ability. The greater the degree of fatigue, the more likely a driver is to have reduced alertness, attention, and reaction time, and the more he or she is going to be impaired in judgment and executive ability. All of this can lead to performance errors.

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The weight differential between big rigs and passenger vehicles is an obvious cause of serious injuries and death in these cases. Why our state leads the nation in fatal trucking accidents is more nuanced.

Recently, a jury decided that surviving family members of a young truck-accident victim deserved many millions of dollars in damages. The 42-year-old Fredricksburg man was killed near Burnet in February 2015. His minivan crashed into an 18-wheeler that had slid to a stop across State Highway 29 after its driver lost control and hit a guardrail on the icy roadway, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The victim left behind his wife and two daughters as well as his mother.

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Driving a semitrailer truck in Texas is a big responsibility. Trucks can be very heavy. Some weigh as much as 40 tons. When these trucks get into a collision with smaller vehicles, serious injuries and enormous property damage can result. This is why truck drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license and why they and their trucking companies may incur major liability for an 18-wheeler accident.

Truck accident victims may wonder if there is a way to capture information about the operation of the truck at the time of an accident. There may be.

Since the 1990s, many trucks made in the United States have Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) installed. These ECMs record a variety of data about the truck’s operation. Information recorded may include highest speed, average speed, total time driven, amount of time driving over 65 mph, average engine revolutions per minute, idling time, seat belt usage and air bag performance.

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Anyone who spends any amount of time on the roads and highways of Bexar County knows that semitrailer trucks are commonly encountered there. Fortunately, the vast majority of truck drivers are responsible professionals who exercise the appropriate amount of caution while driving. There are a few bad apples out there, however, and a recent accident in another state shows the problems that they can cause.

Eyewitnesses reported that a truck ran a red light at an intersection and collided with a pickup truck. One of the occupants of the pickup truck was killed in the crash, while the pickup’s driver suffered minor injuries in the semi truck accident, according to reports.

Especially disturbing is the alleged behavior of the semitrailer driver after the collision. The pickup truck was reportedly lodged under the trailer of the big rig. The truck driver allegedly unhitched the trailer from the tractor and drove away without reporting the accident or assisting the injured parties. The police have identified a person of interest in the accident and have asked members of the public to contact them if they have information about the crash or the location of the person of interest.

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As Bexar County residents might well imagine, truck accidents can inflict serious injury and death on victims. The federal government has compiled some statistics showing the terrible toll that truck accidents take on the nation’s drivers and passengers each year. Below is a quick summary of some of the government’s findings.

In 2014, the most recent year for which this information is available, nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in deadly crashes. Although this represents a decrease from the prior year, there had previously been a steadily increasing number of fatal crashes from 2009 to 2013. As for buses, among all fatal crashes involving buses, 41 percent of these involved school buses, 33 percent of these involved transit buses and 13 percent of these involved intercity buses.

As for crashes with injuries but no deaths, the number increased a staggering 55 percent between 2009 and 2014. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of large trucks involved on these crashes increased from 73,000 to 88,000, a 21 percent jump. Finally, for large truck crashes with property damage but no deaths, the number of these increased to 346,000 from 265,000 between 2013 and 2014. This represents a 29 percent increase.