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Houston Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers

Houston Commercial Truck Accident LawyersAny motor vehicle accident can be devastating, but collisions involving some types of vehicles are especially dangerous. Consider that the average passenger car weighs about 1.5 tons, while a typical delivery truck weighs 6 tons, a standard loaded cement truck weighs 33 tons, and a loaded tractor-trailer can weigh upwards of 40 tons. The passenger car and its occupants are at risk in a traffic accident with any of these larger commercial trucks.

Common Types of Commercial Truck Accident Injuries

The size and weight of large trucks make collisions involving these vehicles more likely to result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities, especially for passenger vehicle occupants. Some of the common injuries that result from commercial truck accidents include:

Amputations

In commercial trucking accidents, amputations can happen when a passenger is trapped in their vehicle, prompting life-saving measures that require the removal of a limb. Sometimes, amputations may also happen if a limb is crushed and damaged so severely that it cannot be saved.

Whiplash and Soft Tissue Injuries

Rear-end collisions caused by commercial trucks result in a sudden jerking motion for the occupants of smaller vehicles. This sudden back-then-forward motion results in soft tissue damage and a specific neck injury called whiplash. Collision victims may also suffer sprains, contusions, bursitis, tendonitis, and stress injuries, which could be mild or severe depending on the collision’s impact.

Spinal Cord and Back Injuries

The force of a collision with a large truck can cause enough impact to throw a passenger forward, causing damage to the back. Spine injuries can happen if a car or truck occupant is thrown from the vehicle or if crushing injuries happen.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Truck accidents are usually high-impact and ruinous and may cause serious injuries to the head. Sometimes, the impact on the skull causes a traumatic brain injury. Accident victims who sustain this injury may experience severe headaches, seizures, or sensory disturbances. In some cases, TBIs result in complications such as cranial nerve injuries, cognitive impairment, and even organ failure.

Traumatic brain injuries often cause complete disruption in a victim’s life. They may lead to emotional distress and life-long cognitive issues, such as difficulty controlling anger and concentrating. Moreover, these injuries lead to financial stress for the victim’s family due to continuous medical treatment.

Burn Injuries

Commercial trucks in the oil and gas industry transport flammable products that can easily result in fires and explosions in a collision. Among the non-fatal truck accident injuries, burns tend to be the most severe, potentially causing permanent scarring and long-term physical pain.

Fires in truck accidents can result in different types of burns, including:

Neck and Back Injuries

In commercial truck accidents, significant inertia changes often result in serious injuries to the neck and back. When the force of the crash is exerted on these parts, victims may suffer fractured vertebrae and lumbar strain.

Torso and Rib Injuries

The violent nature of commercial truck accidents may damage the ribcage. Further, injuries to the ribs and torso can be dangerous due to the potential of injuring the surrounding organs. For instance, it’s not uncommon for broken ribs to cause internal injuries after puncturing a lung.

Internal Injuries

The impact of commercial truck accidents may result in various internal injuries, such as organ damage, internal bleeding, and punctured lungs. These accidents may also lead to ruptured blood vessels and blood pooling in the abdomen.

Cuts and Lacerations

It’s typical for truck accident scenes to be littered with broken, sharp metal objects and other debris. Such objects can cause cuts and torn lacerations. While some cuts may be minor, deep lacerations often necessitate professional medical care.

Seatbelt and Airbag Injuries

Seatbelts and airbags are meant to restrain and cushion vehicle occupants from the impact of a crash. Yet, these safety features could be the main cause of injury in an accident. In the case of defective seat belt straps, victims may suffer injuries such as:

  • Intra-abdominal trauma
  • Intestinal and bowel injuries
  • Pelvic injuries
  • Abdominal wall contusions

Defective airbags may also deploy improperly, resulting in eye injuries, facial trauma, organ damage, head injuries, and potential hearing loss.

Broken Bones

Fractures can happen if a driver or passenger is thrown violently during a collision, impacting a hard surface. Some fractures are simple and heal within a few weeks, while others produce breaks in multiple areas and may require surgery, rehabilitation, and many months of healing.

Emotional Trauma

In addition to the physical injuries of a truck accident, it’s not unusual for survivors to experience flashbacks, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other mental and emotional challenges following the accident.

Wrongful Deaths

Losing a loved one in a commercial truck accident is devastating, and in these cases, it is not unusual for surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim against the liable parties to hold them accountable.

Catastrophic injuries caused by a commercial truck accident have not only a financial impact in terms of the medical treatment costs patients face, but they may also be life-changing. Survivors may face lost time at work or have difficulty returning to everyday activities. Some cannot care for themselves and need at-home support.

How Do Commercial Truck Accidents Happen in Houston?

Commercial truck accidents can be single-vehicle crashes where a truck loses control and ends up in the ditch or collides with a solid surface, such as a wall or guardrail. More commonly, commercial trucks collide with other vehicles, leading to:

  • Car accidents
  • 18-wheeler accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

Car Accidents

Smaller cars can be completely hidden from truck drivers’ sight because large tractor-trailers have many blind spots. When a driver can’t see a car, collisions may easily happen. When a large commercial truck, such as a big rig or tanker, collides with a smaller passenger car, the occupants of the car are more likely to suffer serious and even fatal injuries.

18-wheeler Accidents

When two large commercial trucks crash, the impact is considerable, and both drivers may be at risk. These types of collisions may happen due to distracted driving, fatigued driving, or poor driver training.

Bus Accidents

Buses, including city buses, school buses, and charter buses, usually move more slowly than commercial trucks. They also tend to have many passengers who generally do not have access to seatbelts. In a collision, these passengers can be thrown about the inside of the vehicle, leading to serious injury.

Bicycle Accidents

A bicyclist simply has no chance during a collision with a delivery truck or any other type of commercial truck. These collisions may happen if a truck driver fails to see the bike, and unfortunately, these accidents often lead to fatalities.

Pedestrian Accidents

As with bicyclists, pedestrians have no layers of protection. If a truck driver fails to check blind spots, fails to signal, or if, for any reason, a pedestrian accident occurs involving a commercial truck, the pedestrian may face fatal injuries.

Commercial truck accidents can happen for many reasons. In 2021, 5,700 fatal large truck accidents occurred, with 117,300 accidents causing injuries. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, speeding and impairment, including fatigued driving or alcohol impairment, were the most likely causes of these collisions.

How Are Commercial Truck Accident Claims Different Than Other Motor Vehicle Accidents?

If you have been injured in a crash with a delivery truck, dump truck, or any other commercial vehicle, consider consulting a Houston commercial truck accident lawyer. While your collision may seem like any other motor vehicle collision, it is different in a few ways:

  • There are likely multiple parties involved. The truck may be owned by one company and might be carrying cargo belonging to another party. A third party may hire the driver, and all may have a role to play in the cause of the accident.
  • There may be multiple causes of the crash. Mechanical defects, driver error, poor training, poor policies, and other issues may all have contributed to the crash, meaning there may be multiple liable parties. Houston commercial truck accident attorneys may work with accident reconstruction professionals, medical experts, and others to find out what caused your accident.
  • There may be large insurance companies and lawyers involved. Even if you decide not to work with Houston commercial truck accident lawyers, you can be sure the truck driver and truck carrier will contact their insurer and attorneys right away. Commercial trucks carry commercial insurance rather than the type of insurance a car driver is used to. In addition, truck carriers and other parties will usually take steps to try to limit their liability. It’s common for insurance companies or attorneys to get in touch with victims of delivery or tanker truck accidents and even pressure them into signing documents. If you are in this situation, an experienced Houston commercial truck accident attorney may work to prevent you from signing away your rights for less compensation than you may be entitled to.

You are not obligated to work with a Houston commercial truck accident law firm, but working with an experienced attorney may help you review offers, make a claim, and seek the financial recovery you may deserve. Your medical bills after a truck collision may be substantial, and in addition to current and future medical costs, you may be able to seek compensation for current and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

How Often Are Truck Crashes Fatal?

Despite being less common than other traffic crashes in Houston, these accidents often record significant fatalities per crash. Here are some 2022 Houston accident statistics that indicate how fatal truck collisions are:

  • Crashes involving commercial trucks: 2029
  • Total fatal crashes: 15
  • Fatalities: 15

Families who have lost a loved one due to another driver’s negligence can file a wrongful death claim. By talking to Houston commercial truck accident lawyers, such as those at Johnson Garcia, you can boost your odds of receiving satisfactory compensation for losing your loved one.

Johnson Garcia has 35+ years of experience representing victims in personal injury cases, such as commercial truck accident cases. Besides assessing your claim, we will investigate the accident to build a strong case against the at-fault party. Our experience in trial procedures and familiarity with Houston courtrooms means we can zealously advocate for your rights in court if the involved insurance company isn’t negotiating fairly.

Determining Fault in a Houston Truck Accident

Fault in commercial truck accidents is determined by evaluating the elements of negligence. In a case where a truck driver slams another vehicle in a side-impact accident, the other driver can prove that the truck driver is at fault by proving the elements below:

  • Duty of care. The other driver should show that the truck driver had a duty to prevent injury to other road users by driving carefully.
  • Breach of duty. They should also prove that the truck driver acted with wanton or willful disregard for other road users’ safety.
  • Causation. The accident victim should also show that the truck driver’s breach of duty caused the accident and their injuries.
  • Damages. The other driver should prove that they suffered injuries and losses exclusively due to that accident.

In truck accident cases, evidence such as visible skid marks, nearby CCTV footage, eyewitness statements, and police reports may be crucial in determining fault.

In some accident cases, more than one party may be liable for the crash. In Texas, courts use the modified comparative negligence rule, which allows a proportionately liable party to recover damages as long as their percentage of responsibility isn’t greater than 50 percent.

Consider this hypothetical case: The plaintiff in a truck accident is determined to be 40 percent responsible for the accident. The court awards damages totaling $100,000. Due to their proportionate responsibility in the accident, the plaintiff will receive damages reduced by their fault percentage. That means they will only receive $60,000 as compensation for their losses.

Proving fault in truck accident cases isn’t always straightforward, as several parties may be responsible. At Johnson Garcia, our Houston commercial truck accident lawyers can help you establish fault by:

  • Reviewing relevant pieces of evidence, including eyewitness interviews, police reports, and accident scene information, to determine fault.
  • Identifying the parties that could be responsible for the accident.
  • Working with experts, including medical professionals and accident reconstruction experts, to understand the accident’s technical aspects.

Compensation in Texas Truck Accidents

Truck accidents may only account for a small percentage of all the traffic crashes in Houston, Texas. Still, they often cause severe injuries, extensive property damage, and even fatalities. Given the high likelihood of injury, victims of truck accidents have various avenues to recover damages after filing personal injury lawsuits against the responsible parties.

Below are the typical damages available to such victims:

Economic Damages

These damages compensate Houston truck accident victims for the financial losses incurred due to the accident. They cover their medical expenses, help them meet their daily household expenses, and facilitate their recovery without much financial stress. Some of the economic damages that can be recovered in truck accident claims include:

  • Past and future medical bills, including medications, doctor visits, emergency room visits, X-rays, physical therapy, and follow-up care
  • Occupational rehabilitation
  • Cost of assistive devices and home modifications
  • Lost wages for the time you’re off work
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Cost of in-home care services

Non-Economic Damages

These damages are awarded to Houston truck accident victims to compensate them for the subjective, non-monetary losses due to the accident. Some of these include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish, which may manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Physical impairment
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are exemplary damages the court may award to punish the responsible party in a truck accident for their egregious behavior. Picture this scenario: A commercial truck driver has a history of traffic violations and is still on the road beyond the acceptable hours of service. Besides being fatigued, the driver is intoxicated.

Further, they drive recklessly and disobey traffic rules. Unfortunately, the traffic ahead slows, and they fail to notice and brake in time. As such, they hit a passenger vehicle from the rear at high speed. The passenger vehicle occupants suffer significant injuries, and the driver files a personal injury claim.

Upon reviewing the case’s facts, the judge finds that the driver’s behavior was a wanton and willful disregard for other road users’ safety. The judge punishes the driver for his behavior and the truck company for skimping over the driver’s background check. In addition to the compensatory damages, the judge orders both parties to pay punitive damages. These damages are meant to send out a strong message that such reckless behavior isn’t tolerated.

How Can the Houston Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys at Johnson Garcia Help?

For those looking for a commercial truck accident lawyer, Houston has many options, but there is a reason why clients of Johnson Garcia recommend us to friends and family. Our law firm was started by attorneys who worked successfully with multinational companies. We’re used to dealing with large insurers, precedent-setting court cases, and powerful defendants. These are skills that may be crucial after a truck accident, where the defendants in your case may be large corporations.

Johnson Garcia was founded to help those in need. To make a difference, we offer 24/7 support, a bilingual office, and convenient meeting times. Our legal team strives to make the process easy for you so you can focus on your healing. We even offer contingency billing, so you don’t pay anything unless we can recover money for you. To discuss your truck accident with our firm’s experienced Houston commercial truck accident lawyers, schedule a free consultation or call 832-844-6700. Let’s see how we may be able to help you.

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