Dallas 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer

18-Wheeler Accident Statistics

18-wheeler commercial trucking accidents happen far too frequently. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 38,149 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles in 2021 alone. Sadly, 630 of those accidents were fatal. 

18-Wheeler Truck Accidents vs. Passenger Car Accidents

A personal-injury claim arising from a commercial truck accident is different than a claim arising from a passenger car accident in a variety of ways.

First, the rules of the road (i.e., “standards of care”) that apply to commercial trucks are different from those that apply to passenger vehicles. Driving a commercial truck is different than driving a car in a variety of ways. For example, there are physical differences between a commercial truck and passenger car, including differences in:

  • height,
  • weight,
  • acceleration time,
  • stopping distance,
  • turn radius, 
  • trailer, and the
  • number of wheels.

Second, commercial truck drivers and the companies that employ them must comply with different   than drivers of standard passenger cars. For example, a commercial truck driver must undergo extensive training in how to safely operate a commercial truck in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license. 

Finally, whereas you probably don’t inspect your car before every trip you take, a commercial truck driver must conduct a pre-trip inspection before driving his or her truck. 

A commercial truck driver must know how to check and adjust their brakes, change the configuration of the axels on the truck, and perform other tasks that other drivers are not required to do.

Common Injuries in 18-Wheeler Accidents Accidents

Drivers of smaller vehicles who share the road with large commercial trucks may feel like mice among elephants.

Because a commercial truck can weigh as much as 30 times the weight of a typical passenger vehicle, truck accidents often result in more severe injuries than collisions between two passenger vehicles. 

Common injuries that may result from a truck accident include:

  • traumatic brain injuries,
  • back injuries,
  • neck injuries, 
  • spinal cord injuries, and
  • broken bones.

Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents

Some of the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents include:

  • driver fatigue, 
  • distracted driving, 
  • speeding, 
  • blind spots,
  • poorly maintained trucks, 
  • vehicle malfunction, 
  • a tire blowout,
  • bad weather, 
  • bad road conditions, 
  • a wide turn,
  • driving while intoxicated,
  • trailer jackknife, 
  • tailgating,
  • unfamiliarity with the road, and
  • aggressive or reckless driving.

18-wheelers also carry loads that may cause an accident. Improper loading may cause a truck accident if the load:

  • is improperly secured,
  • is too heavy,
  • is top heavy,
  • shifts during transportation, or
  • becomes dislodged during transportation.

Rules of the Road for 18-Wheeler Truck Drivers

To recover money for the harms and losses that you may have suffered as a result of a trucking accident, you must first establish the truck driver’s liability for the accident. To do so, first, you will need to establish the rules of the road that apply to commercial truck drivers.

Next, you will need to present evidence that the truck driver’s failure to follow the rules of the road caused the accident. 

The “rules of the road” that commercial truck drivers must follow may be found in the trucking company’s:

  • driver/employee manual, 
  • policies and procedures, and
  • actual practices.

You can also find such rules of the road in driver training materials. 

Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) establishes various rules that truck drivers must follow to protect the safety of other drivers on the road. 

Relevant Evidence in a 18-Wheeler Accident Case

Once you have identified the relevant rules of the road that truck drivers must follow, you will need to obtain evidence that the truck driver who hit you violated one or more of those rules. 

This evidence may include: 

  • the crash report,
  • testimony and recorded statements from eye-witnesses,
  • a transcript of the 911 call from the scene of the wreck,
  • the truck’s dashboard camera footage,
  • information from the truck’s electronic-logging devices or event-data recorder,
  • the truck’s hours of service records,
  • the truck’s route logs,
  • the truck driver’s records of duty,
  • the truck’s maintenance and repair records, 
  • the driver qualification file,
  • the driver’s driving history,
  • the driver’s employment history, 
  • the driver’s post-accident drug and alcohol test results,
  • the investigating officer’s dashboard camera and body camera footage, and
  • the truck driver’s mobile-device records.

Who May Be Responsible for an 18-Wheeler Accident?

Commercial truck accidents are more complicated than regular car wrecks. Often, there are multiple parties that could be responsible. Here’s a breakdown of potential culprits:

Truck Driver

If a truck driver acted recklessly or if issues with the truck or its cargo contributed to the crash, the driver might be at fault.

Trucking Company

The company that employs the truck driver must ensure its trucks are safe and their drivers are qualified. If a trucking company hires a driver with a problematic driving history or does not ensure that a driver has been adequately trained to safely drive its truck, the trucking company might be responsible for any accidents.

Owner of the Truck or Trailer

Some individuals own the truck but operate it for other companies. These owners must ensure the truck is well-maintained. If an accident occurs due to poor maintenance, the owner could be held accountable.

Company that Leased the Truck or Trailer

The Graves Amendment (codified at 49 U.S.C. § 30106), protects companies that lease trucks and trailers to third parties from being held vicariously liable for accidents caused by the truck drivers to whom they leased their trucks as long as the companies are free from negligence or criminal wrongdoing.

One example where the Graves Amendment may not apply is where a company leases its truck to another company with knowledge that the lessee-company would likely hire an unsafe driver to drive its truck.

Company that Loaded the Trailer

If the truck’s load was improperly packed and this led to an accident, the company that loaded it might be responsible for the wreck.

Parts Manufacturer or Distributor

If a truck accident happens because a part (like a tire or brake) was faulty, the part’s manufacturer could be held responsible, especially if it was a design or manufacturing defect.

Third-Party Vendors

Some companies assist with tasks like hiring or truck maintenance. If they were negligent in their duties and that led to an accident, they might be held liable.

Freight Brokers

These individuals coordinate shipping between shippers and trucking companies. If they negligently hire an unsafe driver or carrier, they might be part of the problem.

How Much Can You Recover in a Truck Accident?

The amount of money that you can recover if you’re hurt in a truck accident will depend on the harms and losses that you’ve suffered from the wreck. That said, federal law requires most commercial trucks in interstate commerce to carry insurance policies that will cover at least $1 million in damages.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been in a truck accident, reaching out to a 18-wheeler accident lawyer can answer your questions and help guide you through the next steps.

Call Now to Request a Consultation (469) 810-0473

Do you need to speak to a personal injury lawyer? Whether you live in Dallas, Fort Worth, or elsewhere in Texas, Wagoner Law Firm may examine your claim and advise you on the best way to move forward. Request a free consultation today.