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San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyers

Did you know that every eighth fatal car accident affects big trucks like big rigs, tractor units, and other commercial vehicles? Did you also know that four percent of all motor vehicle accidents are due to large trucks? When a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, a large percentage of the injured are drivers and passengers of the smaller vehicles involved in the accident. In the aftermath of an accident, victims can be left confused, scared and traumatized. Accidents with trucks involve a very different set of issues than normal automobile accidents. Our lawyers for personal injury are familiar with the peculiarities of accidents involving tractor units and semitrailer tractors. We have the necessary resources to track your case. It can be costly to track and properly investigate truck accidents. The resources needed to accomplish these tasks are essential. So, if you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident involving a semi-truck, you have rights and we’re here to make sure you have all the help you need.

Causes of Truck Accidents

As with any other type of vehicle, tractor-trailers are sometimes the cause of accidents and sometimes the victims. In addition to the normal roadside hazards such as distracted drivers and speeding, truck drivers often have to put up with the risk of fatigue that can develop after long stretches on the steering wheel. This is because truck drivers are often paid by the load. So, to earn more money, you have to make more deliveries. This can only be achieved by driving longer. This lack of calm is regulated by various government agencies, but these rules are not always followed.

In addition to the risk of negligence on the part of a truck driver, the vehicle itself may present a danger to other drivers. Occasionally, trucks are incorrectly loaded or insufficiently inspected before the driver begins his route. Mechanical failures during operation may result in loss of control over a 40-ton vehicle. Sometimes badly loaded cargo can fall off the truck and damage unsuspecting drivers. These are just a few of the unique problems commercial vehicles face.

The extent of a car accident with a truck is another variable in such cases. The sheer size and weight of these large utility vehicles increase the risk of fatalities and serious injury to persons involved in a truck accident (including the truck driver). Commercial vehicle accidents often lead to traumatic brain injury, broken limbs and broken bones, severe damage to the neck and back, and neurological damage.

Determining the Cause of Your Truck Accident

Like car accidents, most commercial truck accidents are caused by something the driver did wrong or failed to do. Sometimes a trucker wrecks while performing an unsafe or illegal maneuver, such as executing an improper lane change, running a stop sign, or otherwise failing to yield the right of way. Sometimes it is as simple as not looking long enough or closely enough and turning into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Some of the common types of truck driver negligence include:

  1. Speeding is the most common cause of truck driver accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the trucking industry. It is well understood how speeding or driving too fast for conditions, such as inclement weather or congested traffic, makes it more difficult to slow down or stop in time to avoid a collision. Speeding combined with tailgating leads to many rear-end crashes involving trucks
  2. Distracted driving is the second-most common reason truckers cause accidents. Distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, continues to be a problem despite the increasingly documented danger and regulations prohibiting any use of hand-held cellphones while operating commercial motor vehicles. Inattention can also refer to daydreaming or thinking about anything that causes a trucker to neglect the operation of his or her vehicle while behind the wheel.
  3. Drugged driving is far more prevalent in the trucking industry than drunk driving because of strict testing of commercial truck drivers for alcohol consumption. Truckers involved in crashes have been found to have used stimulants like amphetamines, cocaine, and methamphetamine (“meth”) to stay awake and keep driving, often in violation of HOS regulations. At the same time, truckers can overlook the fact that certain prescribed and over-the-counter drugs cause drowsiness and other adverse reactions that impair driving ability. Drunk driving accidents, though rare, occur in the trucking industry, as well.
  4. Cargo Shift. In a truck rollover accident or a jackknife (when cab and trailer slide toward each other like a folding knife), investigators consider whether a sudden cargo shift may have caused the accident. If it is improperly loaded and/or not secured, cargo can move and possibly break free and change the truck’s center of gravity. This may lead to a rollover, a jackknife accident, or simply loss of control, which causes the truck to crash.
  5. Vehicle-related factors contribute to fewer truck accidents than human error, but they do occur. Crashes may be due to the failure of brake systems, tires, power trains, wheels, coupling systems, lighting, and/or other parts and components. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) cites a 2010 study that says post-crash inspections of trucks indicated that more than half had at least one mechanical problem that violated FMCSA regulations, and almost 30 percent had at least one condition that should have resulted in the vehicle being taken off the road. Trucks may also crash due to ignored maintenance needs or faulty manufacturing of parts and systems.
  6. Occasionally, faulty design or lack of maintenance of a roadway contributes to an accident. For example, overgrown trees at an intersection may obscure the view, or neglected potholes can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash. Local governments and/or contractors responsible for roadways may be held liable for road conditions that contribute to truck crashes.
  7. When contractors set up restricted areas for highway construction or maintenance, they must follow design protocols that provide adequate warning and time to slow down, as well as space and barriers between traffic and workers. Work zone setup must consider the additional distance required to stop a large truck, as well as posted highway speeds, anticipated traffic congestion, and more.

How Our Lawyers Can Help After a Truck Wreck

After a truck accident, our lawyers can help you and your claim in many ways. We can investigate what really caused the crash, identify who should be held liable, calculate the full extent of your losses, negotiate for a fair settlement, and, if needed, represent you in any court proceedings.

One of the most important things our lawyers can do is to determine why the accident happened and who was at fault. We know what goes into building a truck accident claim and what types of evidence a claim requires. This may include everything from crash scene reconstruction to review of maintenance and driver logs, for example. Our lawyers can work with experts to figure out who was at fault and who should be held responsible for your injuries.

We know how to assess your injuries and calculate the compensation you deserve. When you’re injured, it may be more difficult than you think to determine how much compensation you may be entitled to. State rules, evidence of your injuries, and predictions of how your injuries will affect your future may all come into play. Our experienced truck accident lawyers know how to review your medical records and other evidence of your losses to build a claim for the compensation you deserve.

Negotiating with insurers and the at-fault parties is another important way that our truck accident attorneys can help. When you’re injured, insurance companies and those who were responsible for the accident will frequently try to avoid their responsibility. Even if they accept liability, their goal is to pay as little as possible for your claim. During negotiations, our experienced truck accident lawyers can advocate for the recovery you deserve.

If necessary, our truck accident attorneys are prepared take your claim to court and represent you in any proceedings. We know the process, the requirements, and what goes into building the strongest case possible. If your case needs to go to court, make sure you have an experienced lawyer who can be your voice throughout the process.

Key Questions for Truck Accident Victims

Medical bills combined with lost wages can add up quickly after a truck accident. A situation like this can have a major impact on your welfare, and many things can contribute to your legal rights and to the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. It is our job as experienced attorneys to investigate your claim, and make sure we cover “all the bases” in handling your case and getting you maximum compensation. We will go over this when we speak with you, and some examples of questions we regularly discuss with potential clients include:

  • Are there medical and insurance costs to pay?
  • Did the police issue a citation or arrest the truck driver?
  • Were the police involved and did you give them a statement?
  • Do you still need ongoing treatment?
  • Are there residual effects from your injuries?
  • Are you dealing with pain or impairments?
  • What do you remember right before the accident?

We know the important questions to ask and how to evaluate your rights after an accident. If we believe the truck driver and/or trucking company can be held responsible for the crash, we will proceed with getting more information about your situation to determine the potential value of your claim.

Because the losses resulting from truck accidents are often very large, you don’t want to risk losing important compensation because you were not sure how to navigate the system or how to deal with difficult insurance companies. The best way to protect your rights after an accident is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Whate are some common injuries after a truck accident?

Trucks can crash in many ways, and the nature and severity of the resulting injuries often depend on the type of crash that occurred. While every accident is different, one thing for certain is that truck accidents have the potential to cause a wide range of serious injuries to victims and sometimes those may require immediate medical treatment. A crash can twist, stretch, and jolt your body in unnatural ways, as well as cause you to hit the inside of the car or even get ejected from the car.

You may suffer multiple injuries from the chaotic and violent nature of the impact with a large truck. Some common injuries that may result include:

  • Soft tissue tears, sprains, or strains
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Facial injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding

Which types of collisions are common for trucks?

Any time a truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, the result can be devastating. Even at slower speeds, the size and weight of a semi-truck can mean a serious risk of damage and injuries. There are many ways that trucks can crash that can affect other vehicles and motorists. No matter how a crash occurs, however, there is always the potential for life-changing injuries. Some of the most common types of truck accidents are listed below.

  • Jackknife Accidents
  • Rear-end Accidents
  • Head-on Collisions
  • Rollover Accidents
  • Tire Blowout

What is the typical process in a lawsuit?

The Accident

If the crash is not your fault, you will want to contact an attorney as soon as you can. While you are doing this the trucking company is already searching for the way to pay you as little as possible, so the sooner you call, the better.

Discovery

The discovery phase is integral to your claim and can often take several months. During discovery, we will collect all relevant information surrounding your case, including medical expenses, lost wages, police reports, witness statements, background info on the driver and more.

Depositions

An extension of the discovery phase, depositions are face-to-face, videotaped interviews with all relevant parties. Because of the logistics and scheduling involved, this can also take some time to complete.

Initial Settlement

Once discovery and depositions are completed, both sides will take some time to evaluate all the collected information. At this point, all parties should have an accurate understanding of the facts and can then make an informed decision. Normally, we will discuss what we feel is a fair amount with you and present the defendants with a settlement offer. If an agreement can’t be reached, your case will more than likely go into mediation.

Mediation

Mediation is a process where both sides meet with a third party who specializes in facilitating a discussion between disputing parties in order to come to a fair agreement. While many cases are settled in mediation, you can rest assured knowing that, unless you are 100% satisfied with the offered amount, we are willing to go to trial for you.

Trial

The majority of cases don’t go to trial. They are time consuming, unpredictable and expensive. Sometimes, though, going to trial is necessary in order to get you the best compensation possible. There are attorneys who shy away from the courtroom. Mike and Greg do not. We prepare every case as though it’s going to trial. Mike and Greg have more than 40 years of combined, proven trial experience and are skilled and persuasive when fighting for clients in front of a judge and jury.

How do I prove my truck accident claim?

Even if you are sure that your accident occurred because of a dangerous truck driver, your word is not enough to hold a driver or trucking company legally liable. Instead, you must present evidence that a party was negligent and caused the crash and your injuries. Evidence that can prove a claim can differ significantly from case to case.

To identify and gather evidence in your truck accident case, and to determine the cause of the crash, you will need an investigation. This can include

  • Reviewing police reports
  • Reviewing logbooks and delivery receipts
  • Obtaining documents and records from the trucking company
  • Analyzing data from the truck’s “black box”
  • Obtaining any video footage of the crash, whether from a truck’s dashboard cameras or external cameras
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Obtaining any arrest, charging, or conviction records if a driver is accused of a crime
  • Using accident reconstruction experts

All these investigative tasks can be challenging and time-consuming—especially since a trucking company will likely be less than cooperative in providing records and other requested evidence. Our legal team has the resources to conduct a thorough investigation to build as strong of a case as possible in support of your claim.

San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyers

Experienced San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyers

If you’ve been injured in an accident, let Ketterman Rowland & Westlund help you. We understand what you’re going through and we offer a free case evaluation to discuss your options. Contact us today online or by phone for more information.

 

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