Guide to Tractor Trailer Accidents in Texas

truck roll-over accident after hitting median

Get the skinny on Texas personal injury and truck crash law

Tractor trailer accidents are some of the most terrifying and serious on the road today. A big rig smashing into you is up to 80,000 pounds of terrifying force.

Even at a speed as low as 20 MPH, the forces involved can be devastating. Many cars are typically crushed during such impacts.

If you’re on this page, you may have suffered an accident with a tractor trailer in Texas. We want to assure you that federal and Texas state law governing tractor trailers are strict and meant to protect the general public.

If the worst happens and you are hurt in a truck accident, however, you have legal options available that we will outline later on this page.

Trucks are big, heavy and dangerous

Even when a tractor trailer is driven perfectly, there is always a risk of a serious accident just because of its weight. That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) strictly oversees the operations of trucking companies.

Some of the ways that the FMCSA enforces trucking regulations includes:

  • Roadside inspections
  • Compliance reviews
  • Complaint investigations
  • Trucking terminal audits

The FMCSA also has strict requirements regarding the following:

  • Driver qualifications: must hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), be at least 21, and speak and understand English.
  • Truck operation: must comply with all rules, including drug and alcohol use.
  • Vehicle repairs and maintenance: trucking companies must ensure truck is safe to drive at all times.
  • Minimum insurance coverage: must carry higher levels of liability insurance than passenger vehicles.

Violations can bring heavy fines. Federal inspectors may order rigs or drivers off the road if they have too many serious safety violations.

What we’re getting at is this: Commercial truckers and trucking companies know what is expected of them under the law, and trucking violations and accidents should be few and far between.

And yet, statistics show that truckers are often getting into trouble and accidents.

Full tractor trailers can take up to 40% farther to stop than a car. Tweet this

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) stated there were 3,660 people killed in the United States in tractor trailer crashes in 2014. Sixty-eight percent of fatalities were occupants of passenger vehicles.

The IIHS also states that one of the biggest causes of truck crashes is brake problems; full tractor trailers can take up to 40% farther to stop than a car. This gets even worse on wet roads.

Other problems in truck crashes include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Inattentive driver
  • Driving too fast

What to do after a Texas truck crash

There are some personal injury cases that you can handle on your own. A minor fender bender with another car is one of them. Who wants to get a lawyer involved? We understand.

However, if you are hit by a tractor trailer, the first thing to do as soon as you get medical attention for your injuries is: Call an attorney!

Enjuris Tip: Commercial truckers and trucking companies know what is expected of them under the law, and trucking violations and accidents should be few and far between. Find a good personal injury attorney in our Texas directory.

You want a Texas personal injury lawyer for a truck crash

Time is of the essence after a big rig crash. Vital evidence – the truck’s black box, GPS data, driver’s logs – has a way of going missing. That evidence is often critical to winning your truck accident lawsuit.

Just minutes after an 18-wheeler hits you, you can bet that the trucking company will be working to prove they are not at fault. Your Texas personal injury attorney needs to have access to all vital evidence regarding the truck wreck.

You do not want any crucial evidence that implicates the truck driver or company to disappear. Call an attorney right away.

Don’t talk to the trucking company

Trucking companies move like lightning after a crash. They are in business to make money, and losing money in truck accident lawsuits is not what they want.

Do not talk to anyone from the trucking company. Don't let your family talk to them, either. Any statement you make about the crash could be twisted and used against you later.

If anyone from the trucking company or insurance company wants to talk to you, refer them to your Texas attorney.

Get medical treatment and keep a truck crash file

Even if you do not have health insurance, get treatment right away.

Keep careful records of all of your injuries and bills. Put all of your bills and expenses related to the crash in a folder. Your attorney can organize it; just make sure everything in there is related to your medical care and bills.

Your truck crash case

The FMCSA has found that a significant number of truck crashes are because of truck driver error, including:

  • Speeding
  • Distraction
  • Failure to yield
  • Impairment
  • Not keeping proper lane
  • Careless driving

If you think the truck driver caused your crash because of negligence, the trucking company should be held legally liable for your injuries: physical, emotional and financial harm that you have suffered due to their carelessness.

As with any personal injury case, you must prove that the trucker was negligent. The truck driver is required to use "reasonable care" to avoid hurting you on the road.

If he doesn’t, he can be held liable in civil court.

Proving negligence is extremely important in Texas; if you don’t, you cannot collect money for your injuries.

Modified comparative fault in Texas law

Texas is one of the states that follows what is called modified comparative fault. This means that the degree to which you may recover damages is limited to your degree of fault. Texas follows the 51% Bar Rule, which means that you cannot recover damages if you are 50% or more responsible for the crash.

If the accident is mostly the trucker’s fault, odds are that the trucking company will settle the suit out of court.

Texas juries are often "law and order" types, and can be harsh with a trucking company that appears reckless or negligent.

Statute of limitations in Texas

The statute of limitations in Texas to file a civil claim is two years from the date of the accident.

Truck crashes are complex, so you'll want to give your attorney as much time as possible to investigate. Get started with your attorney as soon as possible.

Speak to a Texas personal injury attorney (it’s free)

If you were injured in a truck crash in Texas, you should review the case with a qualified personal injury lawyer today.

Don’t have an attorney yet? It’s ok! Here are some guides that can help you:

Have questions about your accident and the law? Get answers!
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