Houston 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys
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, and you’re also no doubt getting a larger and larger stack of medical bills. You’re probably frustrated that someone else caused you all this pain and expense and wondering what to do about it. 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 are 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—and the amount of time their drivers spend on the road.
Because of their sheer size, anyone struck by an 18-wheeler is likely to 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, there are usually only two parties who may be at fault: the two drivers. In an 18-wheeler accident, there can be multiple parties because of the way 18-wheelers are owned, operated, and used in transporting 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 is working for them and for any vehicles they own. If they own the 18-wheeler, then they are liable for the maintenance of the vehicle and for 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 malfunctioned that came from the manufacturer and had not been tampered with.
Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
18-wheelers can suffer the same kinds of accidents as any car, but they are 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 roll over.
- Jackknifing happens in slippery or icy conditions when a driver hits the brakes too hard. If the brakes lock, the trailer can continue forward after the tractor stops, pivoting around the trailer 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 blind spots on the sides 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 contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney right away. You will need certain information from the company and the driver besides the driver’s insurance information. 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 performance activity of the vehicle, much like the black box on an airplane. However, the company is only required to 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 in hand, your attorney can begin working on your insurance claim. Your compensation could include:
- Medical expenses, both current costs and future care, such as additional surgery, rehabilitation, and long-term care.
- Lost wages and income. If you become disabled and will be unable to 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 to the court. You worry about getting your health back, and let us worry about your claim or case.