Truck Accident Attorneys San Antonio – South Texas
There is no doubt that many commercial truck drivers are skilled professionals. But even those with the coveted million-mile jackets cannot avoid all accidents. The statistics are stacked against them – with over a half-million accidents involving semi trucks every year on U.S. highways, it becomes a numbers game – the more miles, the greater the chances of an accident.
When a tractor trailer accident happens, there is a high probability that the passenger vehicle will sustain extreme damage. The weight and structural differences between a big rig and a car or SUV are just too great. Serious injuries will result in most of these accidents and about 10% will be fatal.
Strict trucking regulations have improved the situation, but unfortunately, trucking accidents continue to be a major hazard on the highways. Some of the reasons for this are:
Perhaps the most common cause of error and accidents involving semi trucks, driver fatigue was the focus of the most recent updates to federal regulations. Drivers are required to limit their working hours and document these in their log books. But the pressures of tight delivery schedules and a paycheck that may depend on miles driven mean that some drivers bend or break the rules.
When there is a claim against a trucking company, a good trucking accident attorney will obtain a copy of the log book to examine – before the information is lost or destroyed. Even when the allowed hours have not been exceeded, an accident that happens near the end of a shift could have fatigue as a contributing factor.
Unfamiliar route or equipment
Driving a big rig is a complex task. When drivers are using equipment that is unfamiliar or driving a route that either has construction or is one they haven’t driven before – the likelihood of an accident increases.
Your accident lawyer will inquire into the recent history of the truck driver to see if these contributed to the accident. They will also check to see if safety inspections are current and look for any significant equipment failures that might have existed at the time of the crash.
Modern semi trucks come with many distractions. Besides paying attention to road and traffic conditions, drivers are also confronted with a host of electronic devices. Most have CB radios along with the normal radio and electronics. Many also now have cell phones and even laptops with Internet access. Any or all of these can distract a driver at some critical moment and lead to an accident.
Your attorney may pull cell phone records or look for other evidence that a truck driver was not paying attention. Unfortunately, commercial truck drivers are tempted to lie because if they are found at fault for an accident, they may lose their driving privileges.
In some cases, a truck will not be completely up to standard. We are all familiar with truck tire pieces littering the road. Accidents may be caused by a shifting load, improperly adjusted mirrors, faulty signal lights, an improperly secured cargo, and other causes.
Drivers may not have the proper brakes or fail to check their blind spot before changing lanes. Regular equipment inspections are part of the regulations truckers must follow and if a driver has falsified his records or failed to keep proper records, this can be grounds for a negligence claim.
In the trucking business, time is money. The faster a load reaches its destination the better. While responsible drivers will obey all posted speed limits, there is a real temptation to push the envelope. Because a 40-ton tractor trailer cannot stop in the same distance as a passenger vehicle, a truck that exceeds the speed limit puts everyone else on the road at risk.
It is also important to know that the speed limit is governed not only by the posted signs, but also by road and traffic conditions. An 18 wheeler that is going too fast to stop safely may be at fault even though they were not exceeding the posted speed. For this reason, a trucking accident attorney may try to obtain the ‘black box’ information from the trucking company. Many modern semi trucks are equipped with satellite/GPS and other monitoring equipment that might have key data.
A semi truck driver can be impaired in many of the same ways other drivers are. They may be on medication that lessens their abilities, or they might be abusing illegal substances.
There are several medical conditions that make commercial driving dangerous. Some drivers will attempt to conceal these to keep their licenses intact. However, if they are operating a big rig with a medical condition that impairs their ability to drive, this becomes a significant fact when filing a claim.
While the list above represents some of the main causes of trucking accidents, it is by no means exhaustive. Each semi truck accident has to be evaluated on its own merits. An experienced truck accident attorney will examine the facts and look for any factors that may have contributed to the accident. Any flaw found can be used to help get a full and fair settlement on a claim.