Highways and roads in and around San Antonio have numerous large commercial motor vehicles at all times, including tractor-trailers, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and large box trucks. Busy highways, including Interstates 10, 35, 37, and 410, have large trucks running on them at all hours of the day and night.
Truck drivers, as professional motor vehicle operators, are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers. Specifically, they must operate their trucks and trucking equipment in a reasonable manner and with the standard of care of a reasonable, ordinary truck driver who is driving under the same or similar circumstances. They must also comply with all commercial trucking regulations in addition to regular traffic laws.
Many truck drivers work for large trucking companies. Those companies are responsible for ensuring that they hire and train well-qualified and experienced drivers who do not have a record of driving infractions and citations. When trucking companies fail to hire good drivers, it can lead to serious crashes and injuries. When a serious accident occurs, an employing trucking company can be vicariously liable for the truck driver’s negligence or the failure to properly hire, retain, or supervise the driver.
This is a complex legal situation to navigate, especially for accident victims who are dealing with injuries and stress already. The good news is that an experienced team of truck accident lawyers is ready to help you pursue the compensation that you need for your injuries. Taking this stress off of yourself and allowing a trusted legal professional to handle your claim can often help the success of your case, as well as your physical, financial, and emotional well-being.
Responsibility for Truck Driver Hiring and Training
Trucking companies that employ truck drivers are responsible for making sure anyone who gets behind the wheel of a large commercial truck is qualified to do so. The first step in this process is to make sure that every hired driver has a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) in place when necessary. Further, some vehicles require additional endorsements on a CDL, such as hazardous materials (HAZMAT) trucks.
Whenever a trucking company has someone drive a truck, and the driver does not have the proper license, it can lead to serious handling mistakes and disastrous accidents. It is important to know if any driver involved in a crash has a CDL and any additional necessary qualifications. Not having one is the first sign of liability for an unqualified truck driver.
Companies are also responsible for training their drivers at various intervals and providing continuing education for them. Trucking companies also must ensure that they hire both qualified and capable truck drivers who have a good track record of driving success.
In other words, trucking companies and supervisors must:
- Only hire and retain truck drivers who have good driving records and who do not have a history of moving violations and other infractions.
- Adequately supervise truck drivers and monitor their progress while they are on the road.
- Provide training for truck drivers regularly.
- Require drivers to obtain updated certifications.
When a truck driver negligently causes an accident while operating a vehicle on the roadway, the trucking company that employs the driver can be fully or partially to blame if there was negligent hiring, retention, or the supervision involved.
If you have been injured in a truck accident that a negligent truck driver caused, a truck accident law firm is ready to help. A lawyer will sit down with you and review all of the circumstances of your case and then determine the best way to proceed forward and pursue the compensation that you deserve.
In some instances, that might mean filing a claim or lawsuit not only against the negligent truck driver but also against the trucking company that employs the driver.
How Truck Drivers Are Negligent
Truck drivers can negligently operate their vehicles in many ways. In some instances, the trucking companies that employ these drivers even encourage their drivers to operate their vehicles for long periods while fatigued, offering them bonuses if they can deliver their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule.
Besides fatigued driving, some of the most common types of truck driver negligence include:
- Violating the rules of the road – Just like all other highway drivers, the operators of large trucks are required to abide by the prevailing rules of the road. In fact, some rules of the road are specifically applicable to truck drivers, such as speed limits specifically posted for trucks. Truck drivers must also be sure to refrain from tailgating other vehicles, from weaving in and out of traffic, from driving too aggressively, and from switching lanes without using a turn signal. When truck drivers fail to follow these basic rules of the road, they significantly increase the chances that they will collide with another vehicle and cause serious injuries.
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or drugged – Alcohol slows down a driver’s central nervous system functioning and can prevent the driver from seeing clearly and judging distances. It may also prevent the driver from stopping their vehicle in enough time to avoid a collision. In short, operating a large truck while under the influence of alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Some drivers also take drugs to stay awake for long periods and log more hours on the road. These drugs can also impact the driver’s abilities and can lead to a serious accident.
- Failing to abide by state and federal motor carrier regulations – State and federal motor carrier regulations place restrictions on load limits, describe the proper way of securing cargo to a trailer, and make provisions for the undercarriage and over-carriage lighting on tractors and trailers. When truck drivers and employer trucking companies fail to abide by these regulations, a tractor-trailer might not be visible to other drivers, resulting in a dangerous collision.
When truck drivers engage in one or more types of negligence, they place all other drivers on the road at risk. If you or a person you care about has been injured in a truck accident, you might assert a legal cause of action against both the negligent truck driver as well as the employer trucking company.
While proving the truck driver was negligent might be straightforward if they received a citation or faced criminal charges for unlawful conduct, it is not always this simple. Sometimes, it takes additional evidence, such as witness statements or the analysis of trucking technology, to prove the negligence of the driver.
Once you can show the driver was negligent, you can hold the employing company vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence. However, in cases when the driver was unlicensed or unqualified, you can bring negligence claims against the trucking company, as well.
The right legal team can help you determine if you are eligible to assert a claim based upon the facts of your accident. If so, they can help you file a claim with the negligent truck driver or trucking company’s insurer.
Common Injuries in San Antonio Trucking Accidents
When someone is involved in a trucking accident, they can suffer serious injuries that take a long time to treat and from which to recover. Whenever a truck accident victim is injured, the accident victim might incur high medical costs and other expenses that last for many years to come. The amount of medical treatment that is needed typically depends upon the severity and extent of the injury or injuries that the accident victim sustains.
Trucking accidents also sometimes occur at high rates of speed. The force of an impact can cause the accident victim’s body to move around inside the vehicle or even strike something in the vehicle, such as the headrest, steering wheel, or window on the driver or passenger’s side.
Common injuries that victims of truck accidents sometimes sustain include:
- Broken ribs or pelvis
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- Brain injuries
- Fatal injuries
Some of the most serious injuries occur when a large truck or tractor-trailer collides with a smaller motor vehicle head-on. This might happen if an unqualified truck driver loses control and veers into oncoming traffic.
At other times, the front of a truck might collide with the side of another motor vehicle in a T-bone accident, such as when an unqualified driver runs a red light or fails to look before they turn.
In some instances, the front of a truck might collide with the rear of another vehicle, which, in turn, can bring about a chain-reaction collision that involves many vehicles and numerous injuries. This can even lead to a deadly override collision.
Filing an Injury Claim Arising From a Truck Accident
If you have suffered one or more injuries in a trucking accident that was caused by a driver or trucking company that is negligent, you or your attorney can file a claim for monetary compensation. The claims process typically begins by sending out a demand package, along with a demand letter for settlement.
As part of the package, your attorney will typically include a monetary demand for settlement, along with copies of your medical records and bills, lost wage documentation, photographs of your injuries, photographs of property damage, and sometimes a victim impact statement that relates how your life has been affected by the accident and injuries.
Once the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer receives this documentation, it will decide whether to accept liability for the accident. If liability is accepted, the adjuster might make an introductory offer to resolve the case. In most circumstances, the case will not settle until several rounds of negotiation have occurred. Even then, litigation may be necessary before the insurance company will offer full and fair compensation for your truck accident injuries.
The litigation process begins when the accident victim files a complaint against the truck driver or the trucking company in the court system. The act of filing may be enough for the insurance company to offer additional settlement money. However, in some cases, the case will need to be litigated to a conclusion, either at trial, mediation, or arbitration.
As part of a personal injury case, a judge, jury, or arbitrator can award you various damages for the injuries that you suffered in your truck accident. Those damages can include economic damages, which compensate you for your out-of-pocket costs, lost earnings, and medical bills. You might also receive non-economic damages, which compensate you for the inconvenience, pain and suffering, mental distress, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, impairment, disfigurement and loss of spousal companionship, in some instances.
Finding the Right Legal Help
You want a knowledgeable and experienced truck accident lawyer who makes it their priority to pursue as much monetary compensation as possible on behalf of truck accident victims. The amount of damages that you might recover depends primarily upon the extent of your injuries, as well as your pain, suffering, impairment, and inconvenience.
A skilled legal team will work zealously to pursue monetary compensation in the form of a settlement. However, if the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation that you need, they should welcome the opportunity to litigate your case in the Texas court system.
Truck accidents and other motor vehicle accidents occur every day on highways and roadways in the San Antonio area. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury because a truck driver or trucking company behaved negligently, you want a legal team on your side that has a proven track record of success in litigating truck accident injury cases and will do everything possible to get you full and fair compensation for your truck accident injuries.
Time is of the essence in these situations, so you should never wait to start the legal claim process. Trucking companies have destroyed evidence in the past, and you want to prevent that from happening in your situation.