If you’ve been injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler that wasn’t your fault, you’re probably still shocked that it happened. You are no doubt getting treatment for your injuries. You’re also undoubtedly getting a larger stack of medical bills. You’re probably frustrated that someone else caused you all this pain and expense and wondering what to do. You don’t have to go through this alone. The Houston 18-wheeler truck accident lawyers of Gibson Hill Personal Injury are here to help.
18-wheelers are everywhere on our roads today. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, although they represent only about five percent of vehicle traffic, they have the same accident and fatality rate as passenger vehicles. This is because of their size. An 18-wheeler can be 50 feet long and weigh 80,000 pounds fully loaded. Fatigue is also a factor due to their drivers’ time on the road.
Because of their sheer size, anyone struck by an 18-wheeler will likely suffer serious injuries. You can expect to spend many days in the hospital recovering. At Gibson Hill Personal Injury, we want to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at (713) 659-4000 for a free consultation and review of your case.
Who Is Liable In an 18-Wheeler Accident?
An insurance claim can’t be paid or settled until a determination is made about who was at fault for the accident. In a car accident, only two parties may be at fault: the two drivers. In an 18-wheeler accident, however, multiple parties can be involved because 18-wheelers are owned, operated, and used to transport goods.
- The driver may own their own 18-wheeler and provide their own insurance for the vehicle itself. In that case, they would be liable for any accident they cause or problems with the vehicle itself.
- The trucking company is responsible for all hours the driver they employ works for them and for any vehicles they own. If they own the 18-wheeler, they are liable for the vehicle’s maintenance and any accidents related to the entire 18-wheeler.
- Shipping companies may pack their own goods into their own trailers and hire companies to hook a truck to the trailer, creating a hybrid 18-wheeler. The shipping company would be liable for any accident stemming from issues with the trailer or the load.
- A maintenance company might be liable if they failed to perform the service on the vehicle properly or missed a faulty part or system during the last maintenance.
- The vehicle’s manufacturer may also be liable if it turns out that something on the 18-wheeler that came from the manufacturer had not been tampered with or malfunctioned.
Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
18-wheelers can suffer the same kinds of accidents as any car. But they are often worse because of the size and weight of the vehicle. Some of the same things that would cause your car to swerve off the road can cause an 18-wheeler to swerve or rollover.
- Jackknifing happens when a driver hits the brakes too hard in slippery or icy conditions. If the brakes lock, the trailer can continue forward after the tractor stops, pivoting around the hitch.
- Rollovers can happen for a number of reasons, including high winds, uneven pavement, or speeding, especially on sharply graded on- or off-ramps.
- Blowouts can be hazardous for everyone. We have all seen the semi-circles of rubber in the road left behind when a semi’s tire peels free of the rim. If the tire separates completely, it can travel the length of a football field before it stops.
- Blind spots on an 18-wheeler are much larger than you may realize. The side blind spots extend backward from the cab, with two lanes on the right and one lane on the left. The other blind spots are 30 feet directly behind the trailer and 20 feet in front. Any car sitting in these blind spots is at high risk of being struck if the driver doesn’t see them and moves into the smaller vehicle’s space.
The two biggest direct causes of accidents are driver error and mechanical failure.
An 18-wheeler is only as safe as the person driving it. Distracted driving is as common among commercial drivers as it is among regular drivers.
Because so many individuals may be responsible for inspecting and maintaining the vehicles and their various parts, mechanical failure can be a real problem for 18-wheelers. A company may keep its own vehicles in good repair but cannot always ensure that the trailers they pick up are in the same condition.
If you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it is important to get identifying details on all parts of the 18-wheeler, the trailer, vehicle, driver, and company. This way, you and your attorney will know where to begin in filing your claim.
When You Need an 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you should immediately contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney. You will need certain information besides the driver’s insurance information from the company and the driver. Getting this information is not always as simple as asking.
Since 2018, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) has required electronic logging devices (ELDs) on most large commercial vehicles. These devices record the vehicle’s performance activity. Much like the black box on an airplane. However, the company must only keep this information for six months after an accident.
This information can help show whether the driver was taking the required breaks, when the vehicle was last serviced, and other important information. With that information, your attorney can begin working on your insurance claim.
Your compensation could include:
- Medical expenses include current and future costs, such as additional surgery, rehabilitation, and long-term care.
- Lost wages and income. If you become disabled and cannot return to work, you may be able to claim future lost wages or loss of earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering.
- Wrongful death, if a loved one has been killed in an 18-wheeler accident. You may also be able to claim that person’s lost wages if you are a spouse or minor child.
Why You Need Our Team
When you need a skillful 18-wheeler accident attorney in Houston because you were injured in a crash that wasn’t your fault, call Gibson Hill Personal Injury. We want to help you get the compensation you need to get back on your feet following your accident.
Our team will work with you to assemble your case and present it to the insurance company and the court. You worry about getting your health back, and let us worry about your claim or case.