Your Guide to Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks are common sights on roads across San Antonio and throughout Texas. Unfortunately, accidents involving big rigs and other commercial vehicles are common, as well. Truck crashes can cause severe physical injuries and emotional trauma. Victims are typically left with a mountain of medical bills, car repair bills, and many more questions than answers.
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a semi-truck accident in the San Antonio area or elsewhere in Texas? The truck accident lawyers at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund are here to answer your questions.
Our powerful team of experienced personal injury lawyers and compassionate support staff stand ready to help you demand justice and the maximum financial compensation you and your family deserve. Our law firm will provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case at no charge to you. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation, and get the answers you need.
What should I do immediately after my truck accident?
You should always seek medical care immediately after a crash. This is true even if you are not sure how badly you were harmed, as many injuries can have delayed symptoms. It’s also important to document any and all medical treatment that you receive.
You can also take several other key steps at the scene of your crash:
- Call the police to report the accident.
- Get the truck driver’s name, license number, license plate number, and employer contact information.
- Take as many pictures as you can of everything involved in the crash scene.
- Ask any witnesses for their names and phone numbers.
Finally, make sure to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will investigate the crash, handle negotiations with insurance companies, and ensure that your injury claim is handled correctly from start to finish. Without a lawyer, you run the risk of being pressured by insurance company representatives who are looking to deny or diminish your injury claim.
Protect yourself and protect your right to compensation by hiring a qualified injury lawyer right away.
What kind of evidence should I collect?
You probably will not be able to keep much physical evidence yourself, but the pictures (or videos) you take can preserve important evidence. Keep in mind that first responders usually clean up crash scenes rather quickly, so take multiple pictures from various angles and distances. Get photos of the damage to the vehicles, any identifying information on the truck, the positioning of the vehicles, and any related evidence such as skid marks or traffic signs. Also take photos of your injuries at the scene.
Be sure to talk to witnesses and ask what they saw. Get their names and contact details so your attorney can follow up with them later.
You might also keep a diary to write down anything that you saw or heard at the accident scene as well as keeping track of your progress with ongoing medical treatment.
What are the common causes of semi-truck accidents?
Commercial truck accidents, including those involving semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, can have a variety of causes. This is one of the reasons your attorney will want to conduct an independent accident investigation.
Some of the most common causes generally include:
- Blind spots
- Unfamiliarity with roads
- Inclement weather
- Overloaded vehicles
- Unsafe passing
- Failure to maintain the vehicle
- Hazardous road conditions
- Inadequate driver training
- Driver negligence
- Road construction
- Distracted, reckless, or impaired drivers
- Defective parts
According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were the critical factor in 55 percent of all crashes and 44 percent of two-vehicle crashes between trucks and other motor vehicles. The driver was the critical reason in 87 percent of these cases.
Who can be held liable for my truck accident?
Truck drivers are often at fault for accidents, but they are far from being the only liable parties in such crashes. Assuming the truck driver is not an independent contractor, a trucking company can often be held liable for the acts or omissions of a driver. An employer could also be responsible if an accident was caused by a failure to maintain the commercial truck properly.
Additional liable parties could include a truck owner, shipping agency, or even manufacturers of truck parts when a defective component plays a role in a crash. Cargo loaders can also be potentially responsible. A driver in another vehicle may also have caused or contributed to a truck accident.
What if I was partially at fault?
Under Texas law, a truck accident victim cannot recover damages if he or she is deemed 51 percent at fault in the accident. This means that an individual can recover damages as long as he or she was not more at fault than the other party.
Under the modified comparative fault system in effect in Texas, a victim’s percentage of negligence in an accident is used to reduce the victim’s final award in court. This means, for example, that a victim who is awarded $100,000 in a commercial truck accident, and is found to have been 10 percent at fault, would see his or her award reduced by $10,000, and thus ultimately receive $90,000.
What should I tell my insurance company?
After a commercial truck accident, you should report the collision to your own insurance company. Be careful not to express any fault for the collision or admit responsibility.
Insurance companies may have varying requirements as to how soon you must notify them, so check your policy to ensure that you are in compliance with required procedures. Any such notification should generally be limited to providing the basic information about the big rig accident, such as the date, time, and location. Avoid discussing fault for the truck crash or talking about your injuries until you have legal representation.
What if their insurance company contacts me?
You are very likely to be contacted by the insurer for the truck driver or trucking company. Such phone calls or other forms of communication often occur even before a victim has had the chance to speak with a lawyer. It will generally be in your best interest to let an experienced truck accident attorney do the talking for you. You should be especially sure to avoid providing any kind of recorded statement to any insurance adjuster.
The insurer might be quick to offer you a lump-sum settlement and may try to pressure you into accepting the agreement. Chances are good that the offer is far short of what you are entitled to receive, which is why you should retain a skilled lawyer to represent you in all negotiations.
How can a personal injury attorney help me?
An experienced lawyer will be of immediate benefit to you. Your attorney will conduct an independent and thorough investigation of your tractor-trailer accident and work quickly to preserve evidence before the trucking company can destroy it. This investigation will allow the attorney to:
- Determine the cause of your accident
- Collect all relevant evidence including maintenance, driver logs, and medical records
- Identify all liable parties
Most importantly, a lawyer is going to know what your case is worth and can negotiate from a position of strength for full compensation. When an insurance company refuses to provide suitable compensation, your attorney will be prepared to file a lawsuit and represent you in court proceedings.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Under Texas law, a victim must file a personal injury lawsuit no later than two years after the accident. However, there are nuances to the statute of limitations and its limited exceptions, so make sure you obtain the advice of a personal injury attorney sooner rather than later. Never wait until the last minute to talk to a lawyer.
What types of compensation can I get?
After a truck accident involving serious injuries, you could be owed significant compensation. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of your case, you could be eligible to recover damages including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Repairs or replacement of your vehicle
- Physical limitations
- Pain, suffering, and post-traumatic stress
Surviving family members of those killed in truck crashes could be eligible for compensation including funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, loss of emotional support, and other damages. A wrongful death attorney can guide your family and help you demand justice for your loved one.
Did you suffer severe injuries or was your loved one killed in a commercial truck accident in San Antonio, Bexar County, or elsewhere in Texas? The compassionate truck accident lawyers at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund are here to help.
Call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our team is always available to answer your questions and walk you through your legal options.