In the United States, it’s easy for many of us to take for granted the abundant and ready supplies of products and materials we routinely find in the stores, malls, and marketplaces that dot our landscape. Few of us give any thought to the logistics involved in keeping those store shelves stocked, properly supplying our manufacturing sites with raw materials, and ensuring that all of the critical components that make our economy work get to where they need to be. The fact is that our nation’s fleet of large commercial trucks remain the backbone of the economy, moving goods across the nation on a daily basis.
All of that activity comes with risk, however. Each year, hundreds of thousands of accidents take place across the country and within the state of Texas. Many result in serious property damage. A great number leave victims seriously injured. A sizeable amount end in fatality. In the vast majority of cases involving injury or death, the victims are more often than not the drivers and passengers of the much smaller vehicles involved in the crashes. If you’ve been involved in such a crash in Texas and have been left to cope with property damage, injury, high medical costs, and even emotional trauma, there’s a good chance you’ve wondered whether you need a Texas truck accident attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Truck Accident: A Major Problem
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 3,744 large trucks were involved in crashes that resulted in fatalities in 2014 – five percent less than the prior year. At the same time, however, crashes resulting in injuries increased to 88,000. That represented a 21% increase from the 2013 large truck crash injury numbers. There was also a 31 percent increase in the number of accidents that caused property damage, with 346,000 trucks involved in those crashes.
As you might expect, the vast majority of deaths and injuries were drivers and passengers in other vehicles involved in these crashes. The NHTSA estimates that passengers and drivers in those other vehicles represent more than 70% of injuries and deaths resulting from collisions with these large trucks. The NHTSA has concluded that the drivers of those smaller vehicles are at fault in roughly 75% of all crash incidents.
The Danger in Texas
The streak of deaths and injuries on Texas roadways has been well-publicized recently, though some progress in lowering the death rate was seen in 2015. Still, even with a mild decrease in the number of overall crash deaths in the state – 3,531 people died on the state’s roads and highways last year, the statistics remain grim evidence of the potential danger facing all drivers. 17,011 drivers and passengers suffered what officials refer to as “serious injuries” in accidents throughout 2015.
Each year, hundreds of people die in large truck crashes across the state of Texas, and many thousands more suffer injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to incapacitation. For the victims of those accidents, the physical and emotional pain and suffering can be just the beginning of their worries. In many instances, the economic fallout of a collision with a large truck can be just as devastating.
The Costs Associated with Large Truck Crashes
The average costs associated with those accidents can be incredibly high regardless of who is responsible. By some estimates, that cost averages about $59,000 per incident. So, if you’re one of the 130,000 people injured in a crash with a large truck in any given year, the odds are that you’re going to be facing the type of financial damage that can easily cause financial ruin for the average family. The good news is that there may be a chance that you’re eligible for financial compensation for your injuries. To obtain that compensation, however, you will likely need some help.
Recovering from the Trucking Industry
Like many other large industries, the trucking industry, its lawyers, and the insurers who protect them all are quite adept at fending off compensation claims. In most instances, a trucking company will go into defense mode when an accident occurs, determined to pay out as little as possible – or nothing at all, if that is an option. As is true with many other large industries, you stand little chance on your own of ever overcoming the defenses these companies will raise in their attempts to minimize their financial liability.
To make matters worse, trucking accidents can be complex in nature, and insurance claims or lawsuits dealing with large truck crashes can be too complicated for the average layperson to manage without professional assistance. There are four things that you need to prove to even have a chance at obtaining recovery:
- You must demonstrate that the driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care while operating his vehicle.
- You need to demonstrate that he failed to fulfill that duty in one way or another.
- You have to show that his failure to exercise care contributed to the crash and your injuries.
- You need to show that those crash-related injuries have resulted in financial harm that merits compensation.
Beyond that basic tort concern, you may also have an opportunity to hold the driver’s company responsible for damages. That can happen if you can demonstrate that company policies encouraged unsafe practices, or that the company knowingly hired a driver with a proven record of reckless and unsafe driving. There are also industry-specific issues such as improper loading, truck equipment issues, and other factors that may need to be considered.
Obviously, there are a great many complex issues involved in any effort to secure financial compensation in the aftermath of any collision involving a truck. To understand those complicated concerns, and properly navigate the complexities of this type of recovery effort, you will need all the help you can get. Fortunately, a competent Texas truck accident attorney will have the legal expertise and specific level of experience you need to ensure that your efforts at obtaining just compensation are as successful as possible.