Being in any crash is an ordeal, but a Fort Worth tractor trailer accident can be a nightmare. Commercial truck wrecks cause serious injuries or deaths as well as complex legal issues. This photo shows a horrific 10-vehicle crash that our client was in that we successfully resolved for him after we filed a lawsuit against the 18-wheeler company and its driver.
You will need the help of a good Fort Worth tractor trailer accident lawyer if you were injured in one of these collisions and expect to be paid for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Fort Worth Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer Advice
According to statistics from the National Safety Council, Texas was the state with by far the most deaths resulting from truck crashes in 2021, with a shocking 806. The second-highest number of deaths, in California with 10 million more people, was 437.
Clearly, collisions involving commercial trucks are a serious problem in the Lone Star State.
Tractor-trailers are more dangerous than ordinary cars because of their size and weight. There are other risk factors as well including:
- Increased stopping distance: Because of their size, it takes tractor-trailers much longer to come to a complete stop after braking than passenger cars and trucks.
- Blind spots: The blind spots for tractor-trailer drivers are much larger than for the drivers of ordinary passenger vehicles.
- Competence of drivers: Due to a national trucker shortage, many drivers are unqualified to operate such mammoth and complex machines. We are currently representing a woman who was seriously injured after she was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler driven by an 82-year-old man on Interstate 35, for example.
- Profit motive of companies: Many trucking companies pressure their drivers to drive fast, not take required rest breaks, and deliver cargo quickly.
- Dangerous cargo: Some commercial trucks carry hazardous materials like gasoline and toxic chemicals.
Key Steps to Take from a Fort Worth Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer
The steps you take in the hours, days, and weeks after your crash will have a large bearing on how successful legal action against the at-fault party will be.
1. Document the Accident Scene
Evidence from the scene of tractor-trailer accidents is crucial in lawsuits arising from these crashes and you have a role to play in preserving this evidence.
You should not move your vehicle unless it is interfering with the flow of traffic and even then, wait for the police. Experts will be able to use its position to verify the details of how your crash happened. You should also take pictures and videos of the aftermath of the accident.
If you contact us directly after your collision, we can come to the scene, document the most important pieces of evidence, speak to police officers, and gather evidence from witnesses at the scene.
The driver of the tractor-trailer is required to contact their employer immediately after a crash, and that the employer will send an accident response team (including an attorney) to the scene.
If you are reading this after your crash and realizing you didn’t follow all these instructions at the time of the collision, don’t panic.
While it’s useful for a Fort Worth tractor-trailer accident attorney to gather as much crash-site evidence as possible, there are other ways to build strong cases that secure favorable compensation for accident victims. We also look at police reports and files, footage of the accident (such as from dashboard cameras, CCTV or cell phones), and evidence from other sources
2. Seek Medical Attention
It is critical that you seek medical attention as soon as possible after the collision. If emergency services treat you at the scene of an accident, you should go to the hospital and be tested. You must follow the advice they give you about further examinations and ongoing care.
You should make an appointment to see your physician or another doctor as soon as possible. Your personal injury lawyer can help you find a good doctor or therapist who can help you and arrange a deferred payment schedule.
This advice applies even if you feel okay afterward. Some health conditions, including serious head injuries, can take a number of days to make themselves apparent.
3. Hire a Board-Certified Personal Injury Lawyer
As we discuss here, Texas is not a no-fault state. This means the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be liable to pay all damages.
Insurance companies do whatever they can to prove their policyholders are not to blame after tractor-trailer accidents, making things more difficult for plaintiffs with injuries that were not their fault.
Hiring an experienced accident lawyer who has handled many commercial truck cases before will make you more money and resolve the many legal, financial, and medical issues that will arise.
4. Contact Your Insurance Company
You must let your insurance company know about your accident as soon as you can. When doing this, you should stick to the facts. Answer any questions honestly, but don’t give any more detail than you have to. We can explain how this process works. You may be able to secure funds from your own insurance policy too.
It is imperative that you consult an attorney before making any recorded statements or signing any documents the insurance company presents to you, as these can and will be used against you in any legal action.
Who is Liable After a Tractor Trailer Accident in Fort Worth?
As noted above, accidents involving commercial vehicles are different from normal car accidents when it comes to filing lawsuits.
Drivers of 18-wheelers are typically working for companies and these companies, rather than the drivers themselves, are often liable to pay damages when accidents happen. This is called vicarious liability.
Whether vicarious liability will apply in a given situation depends on the particular circumstances of the crash, including:
- Whether the driver of the tractor-trailer was working under the direction and control of an employer at the time of the accident.
- Whether the driver was operating as an employee or as an independent contractor. The wording of their contract is relevant here, but it is not the only factor courts take into account.
- Whether the tractor-trailer driver displayed egregious negligence, such as by operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Common law rules in Texas can present issues for plaintiffs trying to prove vicarious liability in truck accident claims.
As we discuss in detail in this post, the state Supreme Court set a high standard for vicarious liability in the 2015 case of Gonzalez v. Ramirez, making it more challenging for similar subsequent tractor-trailer accident claimants to recover damages.
In addition, the state legislature rewrote the laws in 2021 to make it harder to prove that the trucking company should pay compensation.
Another possibility is that some entity other than the truck driver or their employer may be held liable for your crash.
For instance, if an accident was caused by a defect in the truck, the manufacturer could be held responsible.
Or if an accident came about because of the negligent loading of cargo onto the truck by logistics workers, their company could be liable.
Speak to a Fort Worth Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer Today
Tractor-trailer accidents are complex and the idea of pursuing legal action shortly after an accident can be intimidating.
That’s why hiring a good tractor-trailer accident lawyer is so important.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation. We will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.
You can reach us via the form on our website or over the phone at 817-885-8000.