Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Houston
Were you injured in a truck accident in Houston? Did another person’s negligence cause the crash? You may be entitled to claim compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses incurred due to the accident.
The Houston truck accident attorneys at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, have the knowledge and resources needed to navigate the most complex truck accident cases. We’re prepared to thoroughly investigate the accident, identify the liable parties, and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a consultation to discuss the details of your claim and review your legal options.
Factors Contributing to Houston Truck Crashes
Any number of factors can cause truck accidents, but many of them are related to negligence. Often, the cause of a truck crash is a negligent truck driver, but in some cases, another party’s negligence may lead to a truck crash.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue – Truck drivers are often overworked and exhausted. They operate on extremely tight deadlines, and many truck drivers fear losing their jobs if they don’t make deliveries on time. That can lead truck drivers to stay on the road beyond the legally allowed hours of service limits, designed to prevent truckers from becoming fatigued. Driver fatigue is a massive contributor to truck accidents. When truck drivers become fatigued, they may doze off behind the wheel, causing the truck to veer off the road or into oncoming traffic. They may also experience impaired judgment and slowed reaction times, which can lead to a crash.
- Speeding and driving too fast for conditions – Truck drivers are often rushing to get to their destination and meet their delivery deadline. As a result, they may drive recklessly, engaging in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding or driving too fast for conditions. When they encounter inclement weather or other hazardous conditions, truck drivers must adjust their speed to account for these factors. When they don’t, accidents can easily happen.
- Impaired driving – Truck drivers who drive while intoxicated on alcohol or drugs. Even some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications may cause poor judgment, an inability to focus on the task of driving, and delayed reaction times. If a vehicle in front of the truck driver suddenly stops or slows down, for example, an impaired truck driver may not react quickly enough to avoid rear-ending it.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents in Texas and across the United States. Truck drivers are certainly not immune from distracted driving, which can take many forms. Common driving distractions include texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, adjusting a GPS, talking to passengers, reaching for items, daydreaming, eating and drinking, personal grooming, and more.
- Following too closely – Because truck drivers are often in a hurry, they may tailgate other vehicles in an attempt to get them to move out of the way. Tailgating can lead to dangerous rear-end collisions if the driver in front suddenly brakes. Trucks take longer than cars do to come to a stop, and this is especially true for tractor-trailers hauling heavy loads.
- Failure to check blind spots – Large trucks have much bigger blind spots than passenger cars and pickups. Blind spots exist directly in front of the truck, directly behind the truck, as well as alongside both sides of the truck. When truck drivers fail to check these blind spots before changing lanes or making other maneuvers, they can easily hit a passenger vehicle.
- Poor driver training – In some cases, truck drivers aren’t the only negligent party in an accident. Trucking companies will sometimes provide inadequate training to new truck drivers or may put drivers on the road before they are ready to make more deliveries and increase profits. A lack of proper training can easily lead to an accident.
- Overloaded trucks – Trucks must fall below a certain weight limit when they are fully loaded with cargo. Trucks carrying heavier loads than the truck can handle are more prone to being involved in a jackknife, rollover, rear-ender, or other types of accidents.
- Improperly secured loads – Sometimes, cargo loaders are responsible for truck accidents. Cargo that is improperly secured can shift around in a trailer, and if the trailer is a flatbed, the payload could become loose and fall from the truck. Even if the load remains on the truck, the shifting weight could cause the driver to lose control or trigger a rollover.
- Bad brakes – Faulty brake systems on either the truck or the trailer can result in accidents. Brake issues could be the result of poor maintenance or defective parts, in which case the manufacturer of the part could be liable for an accident.
- Poor maintenance – Sometimes, trucking companies neglect to adequately inspect and maintain their fleet because they know they could use that time to make deliveries. Trucking companies that fail to check their trucks properly could be liable if an accident occurs due to poor maintenance.
- Defective roadways – Potholes, cracked pavement, insufficient signage, a lack of proper guardrails, and other road defects could lead to a truck accident. If a truck accident occurs due to inadequate infrastructure, a government entity may be liable for an accident.
If you have been injured in a truck accident due to another party’s negligence, you could be eligible to recover compensation. Contact our truck accident attorneys at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, today to discuss your case.
Who’s Responsible for a Truck Crash in Houston?
Determining liability for a truck wreck can be challenging since there may be multiple liable parties. While it might seem obvious that the truck driver is at fault, other potentially responsible parties could be involved, such as:
- Trucking company
- Truck’s owner, if different from the trucking company
- Truck maintenance company
- Cargo loaders
- Defective truck, trailer, or parts manufacturers
- A governmental agency
If you were involved in a truck accident, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will have the necessary resources to identify all responsible parties and all potential sources of compensation.
Federal Regulations on Drive Time
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established hours of service regulations that set limits on how many hours a truck driver can work in a given period:
- Truck drivers are allowed to drive for up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- Drivers are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty.
- Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after 8 cumulative hours of driving if they have not taken at least a half-hour break during that period.
- Drivers may not drive more than 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days.
- Drivers can extend both the 11-hour driving limit and the 14-hour driving window by 2 hours if they encounter hazardous conditions while driving.
Truck drivers who fail to abide by these limits or trucking companies that pressure truck drivers to ignore regulations can be liable for any accidents.
Evidence to Show Trucker or Other Negligence Caused Crash
If you were involved in a truck accident, your attorney may use various types of evidence to establish that the truck driver or another negligent party caused the accident. Some types of evidence may include:
- Truck inspection reports
- Black box data
- Cell phone records
- Truck driver’s logbooks
- Dispatch instructions
- Truck driver’s qualifications and driving history
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony on accident reconstruction and other issues
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Surveillance camera footage
- Drug and alcohol test results
Truck accidents are highly complex and involve many different types of evidence that take time to gather and analyze. Trying to investigate the accident on your own is never a good idea. By consulting with a truck accident attorney, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney gathers evidence to support your claim on your behalf.
Houston Truck Accident Statistics
According to data from the Texas Department of Transportation, a total of 32,562 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV) occurred in Texas in one recent year. Of these, 4,915 crashes occurred in Harris County, where Houston is located.
Among the large truck accidents in Harris County, 41 were fatal, resulting in 46 fatalities, and 94 crashes resulted in 121 serious injuries. Altogether, close to 2,000 people in Harris County suffered injuries in CMV crashes that year, according to TxDOT.
Across the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 5,005 trucking accidents involving fatalities in one recent year. This number was up from the previous year when there were 4,909 truck accidents in which fatalities occurred.
Talk to a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer Now
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident due to another party’s negligence, reach out to the Houston truck accident attorneys at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, today to review your case and go over your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.