According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), about 1 out of every 10 fatal highway accidents involves a commercial truck or tractor trailer. In these accidents, 82 percent of the victims are occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians. However, when excluding single-vehicle accidents, 97 percent of fatality victims in truck collisions are occupants of passenger vehicles.
While truck accidents can have numerous causes, cases involving driver error are particularly tragic because, in many cases, they are completely avoidable. Due to their immense size and weight – often 20 to 30 times that of a typical car – commercial trucks require experienced, alert and defensive driving at all times.
When a negligent truck driver causes an accident, victims and their families may be entitled to financial compensation not only from the driver, but from his or her employer as well. At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, our lawyers regularly pursue truck accident cases against trucking companies in the Houston area.
Seeking Compensation for Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Error
Driving an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer or other commercial truck is a difficult job. Truck drivers often work long hours, deal with traffic constantly, and they are entrusted not only with moving expensive cargo, but with transporting it over long distances in extremely large vehicles that most people could not maneuver out of a parking lot.
However, these difficulties do not absolve truck drivers from liability for accidents. In fact, due to public safety concerns, truck drivers and their employers can actually face heightened scrutiny for their mistakes.
Driving Under the Influence
For example, did you know that truck drivers are subject to a zero tolerance rule for alcohol and drugs? While other drivers in Texas over age 21 can still legally drive (generally speaking) with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of up to 0.08, truckers cannot have any alcohol in their systems while behind the wheel.
Truck drivers are also prohibited from driving under the influence of other drugs, including No Doze and other stimulants. Truckers who cause collisions while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs can be held financially liable for accident victims’ injuries.
Driver Inattention and Fatigue
Inattention and fatigue are also common culprits in multi-vehicle truck accidents. As a result of working long hours – often at their employer’s request – many truckers drive well past the point when they should stop and rest.
Studies have shown that even moderate sleep deprivation causes impairments equivalent to those resulting from a BAC over the legal limit. Falling asleep behind the wheel and causing accidents due to inattentiveness can be potential grounds for personal injury claims and wrongful death claims as well.
Other Common Forms of Truck Driver Error
Along with driving under the influence, inattention and fatigue, other common examples of truck driver errors that can give rise to claims for financial compensation include:
• Aggressive driving
• Failure to yield
• Braking too late
• Losing control of a trailer
• Talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel
• Other forms of distracted driving
• Unsafe driving for road or weather conditions
Houston Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You With Your Case
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we are passionate about helping our clients win just compensation for their losses. If you or someone close to you has been seriously injured in a truck accident in the Houston area, contact us today for a free consultation.