A large truck can easily weigh 20 times as much as the typical car, up to 80,000 pounds. Because of their mass, Austin truck accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries. Texans should be particularly aware of the risks associated with truck accidents as the state has more fatal truck accidents than any other one.
This guide to truck accidents in Austin lets you know some fundamental laws and what to do if you are unlucky and end up in an accident with a truck.
Some relevant statistics can help you gain perspective on truck accidents in Austin. The National Highway Safety Administration reports that in 2017, 4,761 people died in crashes with large trucks, with only 18 percent of those fatalities being the occupants of trucks. Seventy-two percent of the deaths were in other vehicles, and 10 percent were not occupants. Texas had the largest number of fatal truck accidents in 2017.
Texas law classifies a truck as a motor vehicle that is mostly used for transporting property or items. Additional qualifications may also play a role in some specific regulations. Most people will use the term truck accident to refer to accidents with larger commercial trucks, such as semi-trucks, box trucks, tow trucks, dump trucks, 18-wheelers, and other similar vehicles.
The size of trucks means that they require a significant stopping distance. This means that even seemingly small mistakes can lead to an accident. While a regular 4,000-pound car needs 316 feet to stop from 65 mph, an 80,000-pound truck would require 525 feet. This makes it hard to stop quickly if a situation arises.
With that in mind, the most common causes of truck accidents include distracted driving, poor weather, and improper maintenance. Other reasons comprise inadequate inspections, lack of training for drivers, driving under the influence, ignoring traffic regulations, speed, and driver fatigue.
There are federal and state laws that require truck drivers and trucking companies to meet specific standards. These are known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and are Title 49 in the Code of Federal Regulations.
The laws cover everything, including roadside inspections, trucking terminal audits, complaint investigations, compliance reviews, minimum insurance coverage, maintenance and repairs, driver qualifications, and truck operations.
There are also limits as to how much time commercial motor vehicle drivers can spend behind the wheel. In vehicles with property, they can work a maximum of 14 hours on duty with 10 consecutive hours off. This will change to 15 and eight for passenger-carrying vehicles. Each 14-hour duty period for property-carrying vehicle drivers can only include 11 hours of driving time. For either type of truck, if the vehicle operates daily, they cannot have more than 60 on-duty hours in seven consecutive days, which increases to 70 hours for eight straight days if the vehicle does not operate daily.
One of the biggest challenges in truck accidents in Austin is determining liability. The most likely parties to have liability include the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo company, and the manufacturer. For example, distracted or unsafe driving would make the truck driver liable. Negligent hiring would lead to liability for the trucking company, while improperly loaded cargo would cause the cargo company to be accountable. Vehicle defects would give the auto manufacturer liability.
Some of the more common injuries from truck accidents include burns, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, lacerations, and death. In Austin, you can receive economic as well as non-economic damages. Economic damages are easily calculated, while non-economic ones are things such as pain and suffering that are harder to price.
Statute of Limitations
For most situations in Austin, the statute of limitations requires that you file any civil claims within two years of the truck accident. If the government is involved, however, and in some other cases, this period decreases. As such, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What to Do
If you are in a truck accident, be sure to document everything and get medical attention. Then contact an Steven C. Lee & Associates, a seasoned legal team that will fight for every penny you are owed.
Steven C. Lee is a personal injury lawyer in Austin, Texas specializing in truck accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, drunk driving accidents, motorcycle accidents, construction site accidents and wrongful death cases.