Hit by an 18-Wheeler in Texas – What Should I Do and What are My Options?
No one ever expects to be involved in an 18-wheeler accident.
But the fact is, 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths involve an 18-wheeler or other large semi-truck. The occupants of smaller vehicles account for 97% of those killed in truck and 18-wheeler accidents.
Because 18-wheeler accidents are more likely to cause severe injury and death, resulting verdicts and settlements tend to be far larger – and often break records — than those awarded in a typical car accident case. As a result, the trucking company, its insurer, and their teams of attorneys will do almost anything to avoid responsibility for a crash, even when it’s absolutely clear the company and its driver were at fault.
For that reason, the actions victims take in the hours and days after the crash are often the difference between winning fair compensation for all of their injuries and losses and walking away with nothing.
Why 18-Wheeler Accidents aren’t Like Other Motor Vehicle Crashes
There are several reasons an 18-wheeler accident is nothing like a typical car crash:
- Commercial truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to federal and state regulations that don’t apply to passenger vehicles.
- Several parties that may be liable for an 18-wheeler accident aren’t ordinarily responsible in other types of crashes.
- Because an 18-wheeler typically weighs 20-30 times more than an average passenger vehicle, the occupants of smaller cars, trucks, and SUVs are more likely to sustain severe and even deadly injuries.
How Trucking Regulations Affect 18-Wheeler Accident Cases
In Texas, trucking companies and their drivers must comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations and the state laws located in Title 7 of the Texas Transportation Code. These regulations set standards for everything from vehicle inspections and maintenance to the number of hours a trucker can remain behind the wheel without taking a break.
If either the company or its driver violates any of these regulations and an accident results, proving fault becomes much easier for injured parties.
Liability in Texas 18-Wheeler Accidents
Depending on the circumstances of a crash, several individuals and entities may be found liable for an 18-wheeler crash:
- The truck driver may be held liable if their negligent action – running a red light, driving while intoxicated, etc. — contributed to the accident.
- The trucking company may be at fault if it violated federal or state regulations (for example, allowing a trucker to drive more hours than permitted).
- The cargo company can be found liable if improperly loaded or overweight cargo contributed to a crash.
- Manufacturers can be held liable if a defective 18-wheeler or vehicle components caused the accident.
Sometimes, the actions of both the truck driver and another motorist contribute to a crash. In such cases, Texas follows what is called the modified comparative fault rule, which limits the damages an injured victim may recover by their degree of fault.
For example, if the judge or jury determines an injured victim was 30% at fault, they can only recover 70% of their damages. But if they’re more than 50% at fault, they can’t recover any damages.
What to Do After a Texas 18-Wheeler Accident
Because trucking companies and their insurance carriers will do almost anything to avoid responsibility for a crash, it’s essential to take steps to ensure vital evidence is preserved and your rights are protected.
- Check on Your Vehicle Occupants and Call 911: Make sure your family or other occupants of your vehicle are safe and call 911, even if you think no one is hurt. Not only is 911 the quickest way to summon help to the scene, but it also ensures police will arrive to take statements from the truck driver and witnesses and review the damage to the vehicles and other evidence at the scene. Their written crash report will help you prove the truck diver was at fault and refute any attempts by the trucking company to blame you for the accident.
- Record as Much Evidence as You Can: If you can, take photos and videos of the crash scene, including damage to vehicles, the roadway, any skid marks, stop signs and other traffic controls, and the lighting on the highway.
- Collect as Much Information as Possible: Try to get the truck driver’s name, the name of the trucking company and its DOT number (located on the driver’s door), the license plate number of all vehicles involved in the crash, the name of the truck driver’s insurance company and the policy number, and contact information for any witnesses.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t believe you or others in your vehicle are hurt, everyone should get checked out at the emergency room. After any accident – especially one that involves an 18-wheeler — victims are shocked and filled with so much adrenaline that they often don’t recognize how injured they really are. But the fact is, some injuries aren’t always immediately apparent, and seemingly minor injuries can be just the first sign that something is seriously wrong. If, as is likely, the trucking company attempts to downplay your injuries, heading to the emergency room will ensure they’re fully documented.
- Contact Your Insurance Company: You should always notify your insurance company after an 18-wheeler crash, no matter who you think was at fault. Not doing so could result in a detail of coverage and prevent you from receiving PIP, Med-Pay, and other benefits that could otherwise be used to help cover your medical bills and other expenses.
- Don’t Speak with the Trucking Company’s Insurer: Shortly after the crash, you’ll probably receive a call from the trucking company’s “claims rep” or insurance adjuster promising to do whatever they can to “make things right” or “take care of you.” But no matter what they say, their only priority is to avoid responsibility by minimizing your injuries and blaming you for the accident. Not only are you under no obligation to speak with them or give a recorded statement, but it’s also in your best interest not to do so.
- Don’t Speculate About Fault: Whether you’re speaking with your insurer, the police, or other witnesses at the crash scene, now is not the time to speculate about fault. Even if you believe your actions were partly to blame, you shouldn’t make any statements until you’ve talked to an Experienced Texas 18-wheeler Accident Lawyer.
- Follow All Medical Advice and Keep All Doctor’s Appointments: Attorneys for the trucking company and its insurer will use any failure to follow medical advice or skipped appointments as an excuse to question your injuries pay you less than your case is worth. Make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations and go to all scheduled appointments.
Contact an Experienced Texas Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney
Trucking companies and their insurers will do just about anything to avoid paying truck and 18-wheeler accident victims the compensation they truly deserve, even if that means blaming you for the crash and destroying or “losing” driver logs, training records, and other vital evidence proving the company and its driver were at fault.
To avoid mistakes that could end up reducing your recovery by MILLIONS of dollars, it’s CRITICAL that you hire an Experienced Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer who regularly handles cases against large trucking companies and knows the tricks and tactics that the trucking company’s lawyers will use to try and avoid taking responsibility for your injuries.
Undefeated Texas 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers with Billions Won for Our Clients. Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult.
While many lawyers claim to be “truck accident lawyers,” very few have actually gone up against big trucking companies, and even fewer have taken them to trial and walked about with record-setting verdicts and settlements.
In addition to being Undefeated, our 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers have won the largest truck and 18 wheeler accident settlements in history, including the Largest Truck Accident Settlement in Texas for 2019.
If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in an 18-wheeler accident, call 1-888-603-3636, use the “chat” button on our homepage, or click here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form.
Our Experienced Texas Truck Accident Lawyers will answer your questions, explain your rights and your options, and provide you with the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.
All consultations are free, and you won’t owe us a dime unless we win your case.