Tractor-Trailer Injuries and Accidents
In one recent year, 268,799,083 vehicles were registered in the United States, and 11,498,561 of them were tractor-trailers. Every person, in every community, depends on these trucks for food, clothing, and the equipment our physicians use to keep us healthy. There is no way for our economy to continue moving forward without tractor-trailers. Unfortunately, another indisputable fact is that commercial vehicle accidents are too common, and often the source of serious injury and or death.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
As with any motor vehicle, drivers are human, and therefore prone to human error. Driver errors can contribute to an accident, but other actions, including failure to follow speed signs, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or driver fatigue can also result in an accident.
Truck drivers must always remain alert on the roadways, because they need more time to slow down or stop in the event there is road debris, an animal suddenly appears in the lane of traffic, and because they have different blind spots than cars to. Tractor-trailer operators must remain focused on the road and the traffic around them.
Truck drivers cannot always foresee issues such as mechanical failure due to poor maintenance, tire failure, or shifting loads in their vehicles which can result in an accident. In cases where a truck driver is not responsible for inspections, or for loading their own vehicles, the driver often is at the mercy of their employer, or others who are responsible for safety inspections and loading trucks.
Serious Injuries and Tractor-Trailer Accidents
The average car weighs approximately 5,000 pounds. In contrast, a loaded 18-wheeler, without an overload permit, weighs 80,000 pounds. There is little doubt which vehicle will suffer the most damage in an accident when a tractor trailer is involved. Some of the injuries victims suffer after a collision with a tractor trailer include:
- Muscle and broken bone injuries – While these types of injuries may be in the least serious category, they cause pain, result in steep medical bills, and nearly always result in loss of time from work. In many cases, recovery from these injuries can also involve weeks, or months of rehabilitation therapy.
- Soft tissue injuries – Glass and other debris from an accident between a car and tractor trailer can embed in the victim’s body and cause serious soft tissue damage. Recovering from these types of injuries may include plastic surgery, a significant expense. Some victims suffer disfiguring scarring which may be impossible to repair with plastic surgery.
- Internal injuries are common – Anytime a larger vehicle strikes a smaller one, internal injury can occur. These types of injuries can mean victims have internal bleeding, and/or damage to internal organs including kidneys and liver. These types of injuries could require multiple surgical procedures to repair and in some cases a victim may require an organ transplant if the organ is too damaged to repair.
- Spinal cord and brain injuries – The weight of a truck is so much greater than that of a car that victims could be violently tossed around their car even when they are wearing seat belts. Victims can bang their heads against their steering wheel or windshield, forward-thrusting can result in concussions and other brain injuries, and in instances, they could suffer a spinal cord injury. Not only are these injuries serious, but they can also cause life-long problems for the victim including an inability to care for themselves.
Tractor trailer injuries are not limited to these injuries, some victims suffer damage to their heart and lungs, crushing injuries which can cause the victim to lose a limb, or pelvic injuries. Unfortunately, in some instances, the victim’s injuries are serious enough they lose their lives in a tractor trailer accident.
Texas Insurance Requirements
Texas is considered an at-fault state that requires the insurance company who covers the at-fault driver to pay legitimate claims filed by victims. Tractor trailers traveling on Texas roadways must carry a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance to comply with Texas DOT regulations.
As soon as possible after a tractor trailer accident, victims should file a claim with the insurance company. This is important to protect your rights to collect compensation from the insurer. Victims should contact the insurer and provide them with the information contained in the police report, preferably with the aid of a truck accident attorney.
Use caution not to accept any blame for the accident, as the information may be used to mitigate your claim. In some cases, you may need to bring a claim in civil court to obtain the compensation you need. Victims of tractor trailer accidents have the right to be compensated for the time they lose from work, their medical expenses, any ongoing expenses including medical tests, nursing care, rehabilitation therapy as well as the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicle. You should be aware you have only two years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
Accident and Injury Statistics in Texas
Texas roadways are heavily traveled. During 2018, 282.037 billion miles were recorded. More than 3,000 deaths were reported on Texas roadways during 2018 and 14,908 people suffered a serious injury in roadway crashes. Truck accidents accounted for 37,515 accidents which resulted in 1,367 serious injuries. Almost 400 injuries were of unknown severity, meaning this number could be higher. These statistics are worrisome, because we understand we cannot survive without the services provided by truck drivers. Looking further into the data, across Texas, 2,479 accidents were a result of failure to control speed, 1,671 were due to driver inattention, and 1,383 resulted from a driver failing to remain in their own lane. In each of these cases, when a truck is involved in an accident, the effects can be deadly.
Recovering from an accident takes time, and you need to focus on recovering your physical health. Victims who are uncertain what they should do following an accident with a tractor trailer should seek a free consultation with an attorney who is well-versed in roadway accidents.