A semi-truck might weigh as much as 80,000 pounds or more when fully loaded, making it at least 20 times heavier than the average motor vehicle. When drivers, trucking companies, and owner-operators fail to maintain these large trucks, accidents can happen. Because of the weight and size of a large truck, truck accidents tend to cause massive damage, severe injuries, and a high rate of fatalities. In Bexar County, where San Antionio is located, truck accidents killed eight and severely injured 69 in a recent year.
If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident caused by poor truck maintenance, Texas law entitles you to seek compensation for your losses. Contact one of our skilled truck accident lawyers in San Antonio at The Law Offices of George Salinas at (210) 225-0909 to discuss the details of your accident and learn how we might be able to help you after a truck accident.
Maintenance Regulations for the Trucking Industry
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) oversees many aspects of driving, maintaining, and repairing large trucks. The agency develops, mandates, and enforces rules and regulations for the trucking industry with the long-term goal of improving safety and reducing accidents, injuries, and deaths on the nation’s roads. FMSCA regulations address a wide range of topics that fall under the category of maintenance, such as proper lubrication, pre-road inspections by truck drivers, and required qualifications for those who repair safety-sensitive systems on trucks.
Maintenance Issues that Lead to Truck Accidents
A wide array of maintenance issues can lead to a truck accident, but not all of them are a result of poor maintenance. Some scenarios where the failure to maintain a truck might lead to an accident include:
- Worn tires that haven’t been properly rotated, aired to the right level, or changed might result in a tire blowout—a leading cause of truck rollovers.
- Faulty braking systems including worn brake pads, the failure to change or fill braking fluid, and the failure to check air brake systems might result in lowered brake function that causes a driver to lose control of the truck.
- Headlights, tail lights, and turn signals that need to be replaced make it difficult to see a truck when it maneuvers at night, which may lead to an accident.
- Worn axles that haven’t been tested for their weight-bearing capacity may break at any time causing a devastating collision.
- Mandatory reflectors that don’t work make it challenging for motorists to see trucks at night, especially in rural areas that aren’t well lit.
- Improperly secured freight might fall on the road, putting others at risk for a multi-car collision involving severe injuries depending on the size and nature of the cargo.
Truck Accident Injuries
When a poorly maintained truck causes a traffic crash, victims might suffer the following injuries:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Deep cuts and lacerations that might leave scars
- Neck injuries such as whiplash
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from impact or blunt force head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries that may result in temporary or permanent paralysis
- Back injuries
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Crushed limbs or amputation
Recovering Damages After a San Antonio Truck Accident
If you were harmed in a traffic accident because an owner-operator, driver, or trucking company didn’t carry out scheduled maintenance or perform necessary repairs on a truck, you might be able to recover compensation for losses related to your injuries, including:
- Medical costs such as ambulance rides, emergency department visit, hospitalization, surgery, radiology, and prescriptions
- Future costs for medical treatment for injuries that require multiple surgeries, extending time to heal, or around-the-clock healthcare
- Rehabilitation costs for physical therapist visits and assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes, crushes, and artificial limbs
- Lost wages and benefits when an injury and/or hospitalization prevents a victim from working
- Future lost wages when a severe injury causes permanent disability and prevents a victim from returning to work
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages in rare cases of intentional misconduct or gross negligence
If you lost a loved one in a San Antonio truck accident, you may have the right to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim. Speak with one of our experienced, compassionate attorneys today.
Shared Liability in Texas Truck Accidents
For a court to award damages after a truck accident caused by a poorly maintained truck, your attorney must prove the defendant’s negligence caused the accident and led to your injury. If the court rules in your favor, it determines the amount of the award by applying a so-called “modified comparative fault rule.” This means the court assigns a percentage of blame to each party. If the plaintiff bears some of the fault for the accident, the court reduces the award by that percentage.
For example, you sue a trucking company for $600,000 after a tire blowout caused an accident. The court determines that you were speeding and you might have avoided the accident if you were obeying the speed limit, so it rules that you are 20 percent responsible for the accident and reduces your award accordingly. You may then only collect 80 percent of the damages ($480,000).
In addition, under Texas law, a plaintiff who is at least 51 percent at fault for an accident cannot recover any damages. This gives the defense the incentive to shift blame to the victim to partially or wholly avoid liability.
A skilled truck accident attorney can fight to hold liable parties accountable and demonstrate that poor maintenance practices caused a truck accident. This may require investigating the truck’s maintenance records and pre-trip inspection logs, which owners and trucking companies are required to keep for at least 30 days.
Get the Legal Help You Need After a Truck Accident
Don’t wait to seek the legal help you need to recover compensation after a truck accident caused by poor truck maintenance. The sooner you act, the better the chances an attorney can preserve evidence critical to proving your case. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio at (210) 225-0909 to schedule a free consultation today.