We all prefer to believe that professionals like commercial drivers and train operators are exceptionally careful. For the most part, the people we trust to operate semi-trucks and diesel trains are careful and skilled at their jobs. However, tragic accidents occur on our streets – and train tracks – all too often.
Trains Strike Semi-Truck in Small Texas Town
In the quiet city of Angleton, just a forty-minute drive from Houston, morning commuters were confronted with a shocking scene. Just before 8 a.m. on May 20, an 18-wheeler was struck by a pair of locomotives. The trains dragged the damaged asphalt truck several hundred feet before it caught fire. Unbelievably, nobody was seriously injured or killed during this shocking incident. In fact, the driver of the truck was able to walk away from the accident without suffering permanent injury.
While every case is unique, the truck accident attorneys at Williams Hart have noticed a few common causes of truck accidents. These issues tend to include:
Tire Malfunction: Tire blowouts and other related tire failures are the 2nd most common cause of truck accidents. When a truck driver or owner fails to properly maintain their vehicle’s tires, a strain on the tire’s material can lead to a devastating blowout. In cases of blowouts, the truck may swerve or jackknife into oncoming vehicles or even across multiple lanes.
Brake Malfunction: Brakes and tires need to be constantly checked, especially on 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. Brake system failures account for nearly 30 percent of all truck accidents. A runaway commercial truck can cause catastrophic damages to nearby vehicles.
Lack of Inspection: It is legally required that owners and drivers regularly inspect their vehicles before use. This should enable them to catch any potential safety hazards. Failure to do so puts the driver and others on the road at risk.
Failure to Use Visual Cues/Malfunctioning Lights: Because of their sheer size, truck drivers need to use their warning lights, blinkers, and brake lights effectively. When they fail to do so – or if the lights are not working properly – they can easily lead to cars smashing into them at sudden stops.
Improperly Loaded Trailer: In the U.S., trucks are limited to towing 80,000 pounds without special permits for oversized or overweight loads. However, despite these restrictions, trucking companies do not always comply. An improperly loaded trailer can put additional stress on the tires and brakes, which can lead to a serious accident.
Driver Error: There are negligent drivers behind every type of vehicle on the road and, unfortunately, they place others in danger. Truck drivers who are speeding, who fail to use their lights appropriately, who make wrong turns, illegal u-turns, or use their phone or other technology behind the wheel can cause a devastating accident. With hectic delivery deadlines, long work hours, and other diversions, truck drivers must be attentive and vigilant when behind the wheel.
18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles such as dump trucks, passenger trucks, and garbage trucks are substantially larger than regular passenger vehicles. Their sheer size and weight can make them especially dangerous on the road for a number of reasons including:
It’s that time of year again. As the countdown begins for the season of festivity, temperatures drop, stringed lights go up, and--for most holiday shoppers--packages appear on doorsteps and in mailboxes, waiting to be carefully gift wrapped for its recipient. Although it is an exciting time to spread holiday cheer to loved ones, the clatter of gift-giving does come at a cost.
While most of us focus on spending time with family and friends, seldom do we realize the toll it takes on others to deliver our precious gifts with convenience. Unfortunately, as shipping activity skyrockets during the holiday season, so does the risk of trucking accidents as drivers are burdened with fatigue, tight delivery deadlines, and increased road traffic.
Depending on the circumstances of your truck accident, there may be several parties who can be held liable for the damages you have suffered. Your claim may be against an individual or multiple entities that include:
The Driver – If it can be proven that the driver was driving in a negligent manner, such as driving while intoxicated, they can be held liable for the damages you suffered. As previously mentioned, driving records, write-ups, complaints against the driver, a recorded history of accidents, and drug/alcohol tests results can all be used to strengthen your claim.
The Party Responsible for the Driver – If the driver works for a company that failed to adequately train or supervise the individual, or hired the driver despite their bad driving history, they may be held liable for their employee’s actions.
The Party Responsible for Maintenance – This party can include the owner-operator, leasing company, or trucking company. These parties are responsible for maintaining the truck, keeping maintenance records, and complying with federal laws.
Defective Parts Manufacturer – If the accident is the result of a defective part, then your claim may be a product liability issue. This means you may have a right to file a lawsuit against the party who manufactured the defective truck part.
The Trailer Loading Company – If the company that loads the trailer of the semi-truck does so improperly, including overloading, it can have a negative effect on the driver’s ability to handle the vehicle safely. The loading company can be held liable if an improperly loaded trailer led to your accident.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003-2013 the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry experienced unprecedented growth leading to a doubling of its workforce and an increase in the number of drilling rigs by 71%.
Despite the eruption of the energy industry in the last two decades, numerous American oil companies went under in the wake of the oil price collapse in 2014. Only one withstood the assault, and even thrived--the Permian Basin, wedged between Texas and New Mexico.