Were you injured in an accident involving an 18-wheeler or another commercial truck that wasn’t your fault? Did you require medical treatment to heal your injuries? Do you want to hold the negligent truck driver or trucking company responsible for your expenses? If so, you should contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP immediately. You deserve to hold the at-fault party liable for their actions and pursue the maximum available compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with an eighteen-wheeler, you know how difficult the recovery process can be. On top of the physical injuries sustained during the wreck, you now have medical bills to worry about and the cost of missing work due to your injuries. Pursuing a personal injury claim at the same time can create even more stress. To make your life easier right now, you need a personal injury attorney experienced with truck accident cases.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston personal injury lawyers have more than three decades of experience getting the victims of negligent drivers the compensation they deserve. If you have been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, make sure to call the truck accident lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP at (713) 333-1030. You’ll get a free consultation, and you can discuss your case with an attorney who knows how to help you get the full and fair compensation you deserve after the accident.
The Dangers of 18-Wheelers
An 18-wheeler is a commercial truck consisting of 18 wheels under a tractor and attached trailer. People also refer to them as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs. The significant size of this vehicle allows the driver to haul heavy materials, a large number of consumer goods, and hazardous substances. These rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when carrying a full cargo load. That’s much heavier than the standard passenger car, which only weighs around 3,000 pounds.
The main reasons 18-wheelers pose a danger to other drivers is:
- Longer stopping distance – Large trucks need more distance than a small car to come to a complete stop. An 18-wheeler traveling at 65 miles per hour will require about the length of two football fields to stop. That means the driver must adequately prepare for an upcoming red light, stop sign, or slower traffic far in advance.
- Heavy cargo – A fully loaded 18-wheeler can contain a significant amount of freight. The maximum weight limit of these vehicles is 80,000 pounds. During a collision with a passenger vehicle, the smaller car occupants are likely to suffer serious physical injuries and even death.
- Big blind spots – Commercial trucks, including 18-wheelers, have large blind spots. They’re not just on either side of the vehicle like the ones compact cars have but occur on all four sides of the truck. That means the truck driver must thoroughly scan around their entire truck before changing lanes, merging, or turning.
- Significantly larger than most vehicles – Commercial trucks are more than ten times longer than the average-sized sedan. Operating an 18-wheeler requires skill, experience, and knowledge. The trucker must obtain special licensing and complete training before getting behind the wheel. They need to know how to navigate around other vehicles, handle emergencies, and avoid collisions.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to predict and avoid a crash with an 18-wheeler. If you’re in the path of an out-of-control truck, you’re likely to sustain severe injuries. It’s critical that you seek medical attention immediately if you end up in an accident. The truck driver or trucking company could be liable for the expenses you incur.
Why Truck Accidents Are So Complex
When a big rid loaded with 80,000 pounds of cargo crashes into a mid-size vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. Eighteen-wheelers can weigh over 25 times as much as a small sedan, and the difference in weight make these accidents far more dangerous than regular collisions.
Nearly one in five accidents involving trucks colliding with cars results in serious injury or death – a much higher rate than collisions between personal vehicles. Additionally, 2019 statistics showed that out of 4,119 fatalities, a whopping 67 percent were the occupants of passenger vehicles, while only 16 percent were truck occupants. The safety features found in personal vehicles are often not sufficient to protect drivers or passengers against the force involved in a collision with a semi-truck.
Because their vehicles are so much more dangerous than regular cars, truck drivers are expected to be much more cautious when driving on roads and freeways. They undergo specialized training to become professional drivers and are obligated to know the complexities of handling their gigantic, heavy vehicles. They are legally required to limit their daily drive-time.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration only allows truckers to drive for a maximum of eleven hours per shift after ten consecutive off-duty hours. Additionally, they’re prohibited from driving beyond the fourteenth hour after starting their shift following ten hours off duty.
Even though safe drivers tend to operate most commercial trucks, the sheer number of semi-trucks on the road at any given time means that accidents involving these vehicles are relatively common. And because these accidents often result in serious injury, trucking companies and their insurers work very hard to minimize the payout on just about every claim.
They will do their best to get you to accept a lump-sum settlement that may be worth only a fraction of what you would receive if a skilled law firm handled the claim. Pursuing a personal injury claim against a well-defended trucking company can be challenging at the best of times and should not be undertaken without a lawyer.
Insurance companies can also use the complexity of trucking accidents to pressure victims to accept settlements worth far less than what they are owed. For example, there are often multiple liable parties in truck accidents, from the truck driver and trucking company to the cargo loading company and the truck maintenance company.
A Houston personal injury attorney can help prevent the insurance companies of any of these entities from taking advantage of you and your family.
Contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP
Steps You Should Follow After Getting Hurt in a Truck Accident
The actions you decide to take after a collision with an 18-wheeler could affect whether you’re able to recover compensation from the at-fault party. It’s vital that you complete specific steps in the weeks, months, and even years following an accident. If you don’t protect your rights, you could end up with a denied insurance claim or dismissed lawsuit. Without the compensation you need to recover, you might not be able to afford your medical bills, prescription drug costs, and other expenses.
An 18-wheeler can cause massive destruction and life-threatening injuries to anyone involved in an accident. Typically, it’s a good idea to exchange contact information and insurance details with the other drivers involved in the collision. It could also be helpful to collect evidence at the scene that could prove someone else caused the crash. However, it might be best to stay put and focus on your recovery if you’re severely injured.
The first step you should take after leaving the accident scene is to visit a hospital or your doctor. Allow them to evaluate your physical condition and determine a diagnosis. You might have broken bones that require a specific treatment plan to heal or internal injuries that require emergency surgery. Your doctor should recommend how to handle your injuries, and it’s vital that you follow their orders.
Some truck accident victims need to attend physical therapy multiple times a week. Others must undergo surgical procedures or receive in-patient treatment. The type of medical care you need will depend on the type of injury you sustained and how serious it is. Regardless of the treatment plan, it’s crucial that you continue to attend your appointments until all your medical providers release you. If you end up with a permanent impairment or disability, you’ll have to continue with treatment even after your case ends.
Another important step following a truck accident is to hire a Houston 18-wheeler crash lawyer. Kherkher Garcia, LLP understands the complexities of cases like this and can take over the legal aspects so you can focus solely on treatment. When you hire us, we can investigate the accident and determine who was at fault. We’ll gather all the available evidence to prove the truck driver, trucking company, or another party should be held liable for your expenses.
You’ll also need to maintain records associated with your case. We can obtain copies of your medical records and other documents but if you receive anything yourself, be sure not to dispose of it. Evidence is vital in truck accident cases. You might think proving fault won’t be much of an issue, but the insurance company will likely search for valid reasons to deny your claim. Their goal isn’t to settle for a fair amount. Instead, they want to avoid a large payout to save money. If there’s sufficient evidence proving the insured caused your injuries, it will be more challenging for the insurance company to withhold the money you’re owed.
Common Types of 18-Wheeler Crashes
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston truck accident attorneys have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We understand the various scenarios that can occur involving 18-wheelers. Commercial trucks are massive in size. They’re much heavier and larger than passenger vehicles. They also contain cargo that can cause physical harm to the occupants of small cars during a collision.
The most common types of 18-wheeler accidents are:
- Wide Turn Accidents – Truck drivers must slow down and check for nearby vehicles before turning. It takes accuracy and attention to turn right or left without colliding with cars. They must swing the truck out wide to make the turn without crashing into anything and end up in the correct lane.
- Head-on collisions – Crashing into a commercial truck head-on can cause significant injuries to the occupants of a small vehicle. Truckers are likely to drift into oncoming traffic and collide with an approaching car if they become distracted or fall asleep at the wheel.
- Intersection accidents – Approaching an intersection requires taking certain precautions ahead of time. The truck driver should adjust their speed and check for other vehicles before proceeding. If they run a red light or fail to yield to another driver, a serious collision could result.
- Underride accidents – An underride accident results from a vehicle crashing into the back of a commercial truck and sliding underneath the trailer. The truck driver braking suddenly or improperly can cause this type of accident.
- Overloaded cargo accidents – Overloading cargo beyond the maximum weight and size limits is dangerous and against federal regulations. When there’s too much weight on the tires, they could explode. Improperly secured items could shift during transport, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
- Override accidents – An override accident happens when a large truck runs over the back of a car. Tailgating is a common reason for this type of collision. Insufficient distance between the truck and another vehicle means the truck driver doesn’t have enough time to brake and avoid a crash.
- Jackknife accidents – Jackknifing results from the trailer and cab of the truck folding into each other at a 90-degree angle. An overloaded trailer, sudden braking, and poor road conditions can lead to an unstable vehicle. The momentum from the truck’s prior movement, coupled with the jackknifed vehicle’s slide, takes the vehicle out of the driver’s control. The trucker can’t maneuver safely around other vehicles, resulting in a collision.
- Rear-end collisions – Tailgating is a common reason for rear-end accidents with all types of vehicles, not just commercial trucks. However, 18-wheelers can end up crashing into the back of cars if the trucker becomes distracted at the wheel and doesn’t notice that the traffic ahead slowed down or stopped.
- T-bone crashes – Vehicles “T-bone” during an accident if the front of one collides with the side of another. A truck driver running a red light or proceeding through an intersection after a crossing car already entered can lead to a T-bone accident.
- Rollover accidents – Large trucks, such as 18-wheelers, have a high center of gravity. If the truck driver loses control, the tires can lift off the ground, causing the entire vehicle to tip onto its side, crashing into or smashing any car in its way.
- Blocking accidents – Sometimes, truckers must pull off the road to inspect their truck or address an issue with a malfunctioning system or part. If they don’t pull over far enough or place warning cones, a passing car could crash into them.
Any of these scenarios could lead to severe injuries or fatalities in an accident. The large size and weight of a commercial truck alone can cause significant damage to any vehicle. Even if the trucker travels at low speeds, you could suffer significant physical harm in a crash. Multiple factors can result in an accident, and if the driver or their employer was at fault, you could hold them liable.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Crashes in Houston
It’s not only the truck driver who has a responsibility to avoid accidents on the road. The trucking company is responsible for maintaining every vehicle, perform inspections, replace defective parts, and make sure the trucks operate safely. Failure to follow federal regulations and state laws can result in catastrophic accidents.
Human error is a common reason for accidents involving 18-wheelers. Often, it’s the trucker or their employer that engages in negligent actions that result in a collision. If you get hurt due to someone else’s misconduct, you deserve compensation for the expenses you incur while recovering.
The most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents are:
- Distracted driving – Distractions are dangerous to any driver, but especially to truck drivers. Operating a commercial truck requires attention, focus, and skill. Even a few seconds of inattention can lead to an accident. In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 people.
- Defective parts – 18-wheelers contain various parts that keep them functioning so drivers can arrive at their destinations. Unfortunately, defects can occur, resulting in malfunctioning systems, such as the steering or brakes. When that happens, the driver can’t control the truck and can crash into another vehicle.
- Driving under the influence – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created regulations stating that “driving under the influence” involves anyone operating a commercial truck with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.04%. Alcohol impairs driving abilities and increases the risk of a crash.
- Negligent hiring – Trucking companies should check a prospective driver’s employment history, criminal record, licensing, and qualifications before hiring. Failing to perform a thorough background check could lead to an inexperienced or dangerous trucker operating an 18-wheeler, which places other people at risk of harm.
- Speeding – Whether a truck driver exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for adverse weather or road conditions, they put themselves and others in danger. If a trucker encounters a hazard, slippery roads, or stopped traffic, they likely won’t have enough time to react and slam on their brakes.
- Disobeying signs and signals – Traffic signs and signals are in place to ensure vehicles proceed safely along the road. They indicate when drivers should stop for a pedestrian, yield to another driver, or use caution around sharp bends.
- Tailgating – Large trucks need significant space to come to a complete stop. Truckers following another vehicle too closely won’t have enough time to stop their truck and avoid crashing into a car in front of them.
If one of these or another factor contributed to your injuries in an 18-wheeler crash, you should take immediate steps to pursue legal action. It’s also important to know that the truck driver and trucking company aren’t the only parties that could be at fault for an accident.
Sometimes, the maintenance company is to blame for failing to maintain the vehicle. Other times, the cargo loading company causes an accident by loading the truck beyond the maximum weight limit. Kherkher Garcia, LLP can help you determine who should be held accountable so that we pursue compensation from the appropriate party.
Injuries Most Often Suffered in Accidents Involving 18-Wheelers
When an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler with a full cargo container collides with a passenger car, deadly accidents can result. The occupants of the 3,000-pound sedan will suffer more than the truck driver.
The most common injuries 18-wheeler crashes can cause are:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Internal bleeding
- Burns and lacerations
- Loss of limb
- Psychological trauma
- Broken bones
- Torn ligaments and tissue
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Mental or physical disability
Injuries from truck accidents are typically severe and debilitating. If you don’t recover, you could end up with chronic pain or physical impairment. The medical bills that come with treating these injuries are expensive and could place you in serious debt. The at-fault party should be the one to pay since their wrongdoing caused the crash.
Fault in Semi-Truck Accidents
It can sometimes be difficult to identify the at-fault party in a semi-truck accident. This is especially true if multiple parties are involved, which is often the case in truck accidents. There are state traffic laws and federal guidelines for tractor-trailers regarding weight, hours driven per day, training requirements, and more. Failure to follow any of these guidelines may result in the truck driver, trucking company, or another entity being found at fault in the accident.
For example, the truck driver may be directly liable if they drove negligently and caused an accident. However, if the driver was fatigued at the time of the accident because the trucking company pressured them into driving past their hours of service limits, the trucking company may be held liable, as well. If cargo that was improperly loaded played a role in a truck accident, the cargo loader might be held responsible, as might the maintenance company for failing to find a truck defect that contributed to the accident.
Identifying fault can also be complicated if multiple parties involved failed to follow traffic laws before the accident. For example, if one driver was swerving and another driver was following too close, they might both be found to be partially at fault.
In Texas, a standard of comparative negligence is used to assign fault. This means that if you are found to be partly responsible for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of shared fault. For example, if the court finds that you are entitled to $100,000 in damages but finds you were 20% at fault, you could only recover $80,000.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP will bring decades of experience with trucking accidents to bear on your case. We will review the details of your case with you and give you an honest assessment of what your claim is worth.
Truck Accident Statistics
Statistics related to truck accidents in Texas show just how pervasive and damaging these crashes are in the state:
In 2019, there were 452 fatal crashes in Texas involving semi-trucks. There was an additional 844 crashes involving semis that resulted in a suspected serious injury and another 2,267 truck-related accidents that resulted in non-incapacitating injury crashes.
6% of all truck accidents in Texas resulted in fatalities, and 3% resulted in severe injuries, compared to a .3% fatality rate and 1.7% serious injury rate for crashes that only involved passenger cars.
There were 26,150 crashes involving trucks statewide.
Kherkher Garcia, LLP has an excellent track record of success. We’re proud of the compensation we’ve earned for our clients, and we would like to get the same great results for you.
- We received a 5.5 million dollar settlement for two men who were badly injured in an accident after a careless delivery driver rear-ended their car.
- We won 6.5 million dollars in a jury trial in Tarrant County for the parents of a young man who was killed by a commercial semi-truck.
We received a 5.5 million dollar settlement for two men who were badly injured in an accident after a careless delivery driver rear-ended their car.
We won 6.5 million dollars in a jury trial in Tarrant County for the parents of a young man who was killed by a commercial semi-truck.
Possible Compensation in an 18-Wheeler Accident Case
If you were injured in an accident with a semi-truck, the value of your claim would depend on many factors, such as the circumstances of the crash and the severity of the injuries suffered.
It is easiest to calculate the economic losses you incurred as a result of the accident. Economic losses may include:
- Medical expenses
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages
- Transportation to and from medical visits
Calculating the non-economic elements is less straightforward. A skilled attorney can assess the value of non-economic factors that may apply in your case, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional trauma and distress
The lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP can carry out an in-depth investigation of the circumstances surrounding your accident. We have the resources to consult with experts and investigators to determine how much your claim is worth. We will gather all available evidence to show the extent of your losses due to the accident, and we will present the strongest case possible to prove that you are entitled to compensation.
Why Should I Seek Compensation?
Truck accidents are serious – the expression “I feel like I got hit by a truck” is popular for a reason – and can have wide-ranging financial consequences. While the trucker’s insurers’ first offer may cover some of your losses, such as the repairs of a vehicle and the initial medical expenses incurred, it usually does not account for the full financial toll of the accident.
Loss of work following a serious injury can cost families tens of thousands of dollars, as can the long-term medical expenses involved in recovering from those injuries. The psychological and emotional strain of the recovery process can also create significant pain and suffering for an individual or a family and should factor into the compensation you’re owed for the accident.
A negligent truck driver should fairly compensate the injured party for the pain and suffering they have endured due to the accident. The parties responsible for your injuries should bear the cost of those injuries. You should not have to pay money for the consequences of a horrible accident that was not your fault.
Why Should Kherkher Garcia, LLP Represent Me?
The attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP have over three decades of experience representing the victims of truck-involved accidents in the Houston area. Our firm will bring in experts to assess the circumstances of your case, while our lawyers employ their detailed knowledge of personal injury accidents to determine the value of your claim, as well as the best way to go about pursuing that claim so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Our partner Steve Kherkher has a national litigation practice. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters numerous times. He’s been named a Top Mass Tort/Toxic Tort Lawyer and certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer.
Founding partner Jesus Garcia is highly experienced in wrongful death, trucking accidents, premises liability, and other negligence actions. He has collected millions for his clients, including a verdict and judgment of $11,162,529 for the widow of a man killed by a drunk driver.
When you work with the lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP, you’re in capable, compassionate hands. Our goal is to see that you get the compensation you deserve.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we operate on a contingency-fee-basis, which means if you don’t receive compensation for your claim, you don’t owe us anything. Unless a settlement or jury verdict is reached and you get money, there are no attorney’s fees.
18-Wheeler Accident Frequently Asked Questions
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we understand that the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming and confusing. You’re suddenly faced with insurance companies, doctor’s bills, and physical pain. Not knowing how to handle the legal process could lead to a dismissed lawsuit or denied insurance claim. Below we have answered some of the most common questions clients ask us, so you’re better prepared for what’s to come.
Contact an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in a collision or other accident caused by an eighteen-wheeler, it’s important to find a personal injury attorney with truck accident experience as soon as possible.
Call the lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP at (713) 333-1030 or contact us via our website for a free, confidential consultation with a personal injury attorney today.