Houston Truck Accident Lawyer
Every year, nearly half a million trucking accidents occur on American roads. Thousands of those crashes result in at least one death.1 Many more lead to injuries, property damage, and hefty insurance bills.
Since accidents are a fact of life in the United States, you should be aware of the dangers posed by large vehicles. Almost everyone, including bicyclists and pedestrians, come into daily contact with trucks and buses. Since we all share the same road, it’s important to understand the risks.
It’s also imperative to know your rights and responsibilities if you have been involved in a truck accident, beginning with the necessity of contacting a truck accident attorney immediately after an incident.
When Should You Contact a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you’ve been in an accident with a large truck or bus, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney at SMS Legal as soon as you are able. Regardless of who was at fault, regardless of your involvement (whether you were a truck driver, car driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist), you need to seek professional legal help immediately.
While handling any and all medical emergencies takes precedence over everything else, hiring a team of vehicle accident lawyers should also be at the top of your priority list. That’s because a skilled car accident lawyer can help you handle your insurance claims, advise you on the proper course of action, and evaluate your legal case. The earlier you call, the more help you can receive.
How Common Are Truck and Bus Accidents?
Everyone knows large trucks (any vehicle over 10,000 pounds) and buses (any vehicle built to transport at least nine people) are common sights on both urban and rural roads throughout the country, but how common are accidents involving these behemoths?
Here are some basic statistics, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Administration:
- The police reported 415,000 large truck crashes in 2015 alone.
- For every million people in the U.S., there were 11.2 fatal large truck accidents in 2015.
- Fatal crashes involving large trucks increased by 6 percent between 2010 and 2015.
- In 2015, the number of both large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes rose to 4,311.
How Serious Are Most Large Vehicle Crashes?
Experts generally divide large vehicle crashes into three categories according to the severity of the accident: 1) fatal accidents; 2) injury accidents; 3) property damage accidents. While only a small percentage of crashes are fatal, the number of incidents resulting in at least one death remains far too high.
- 1 percent (3,598) of all large truck accidents were fatal.
- 90 of those crashes involved only one fatality.
- 20 percent (83,000) of incidents with large trucks resulted in injuries only.
- 79 percent (328,000) caused only property damage.
What Types of Accidents Are the Most Common?
Each accident is different. Buses can strike pedestrians. Trucks can run over bicyclists. Other incidents involve a collision between two trucks, between a truck and a car, or between a truck and a stationary object. That being said, most accidents can be placed into two broad categories: 1) accidents involving two vehicles and, 2) accidents involving only a single vehicle, but including pedestrians, bicyclists, or other types of non-motorized vehicles.
- Most (64 percent) fatal accidents involved two vehicles.
- 20 percent of all fatal crashes involved only one vehicle.
- Single-vehicle crashes constituted 13 percent of all injury crashes.2
What Kind of Vehicles Are the Most Dangerous?
Any large vehicle can pose a danger to nearby drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Nevertheless, some types of vehicles have a higher accident rate than others. The following facts and figures will give you a sense of the danger:
- The number of large trucks involved in fatal accidents totaled 4,050 in 2015.
- The number of large trucks involved in injury-related crashes came out to 53,263.
- Buses accounted for only 261 of fatal crashes.
- During the years 2005 to 2015, school buses accounted for 41 percent of all fatal bus crashes.
- 33 percent of fatal bus crashes involved transit buses.
- Only 13 percent of fatal bus accidents involved intercity buses.
The When & Where of Large Vehicle Accidents
Large truck crashes can occur anywhere, anytime. Protecting yourself against the danger means always being vigilant. Nevertheless, some places and times are more dangerous than others. Weekdays and nights, for example, are particularly treacherous, most likely because most truck drivers travel on business days. Surprisingly, rural roads seem to pose the greatest hazard, more so than even interstates.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation:
- Most large truck accidents (60 percent) occur on rural roads.
- A quarter of all large truck crashes happened on Interstate highways (either rural or urban).
- More than a third (35 percent) of all fatal large truck crashes in 2015 took place at night, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- An overwhelming majority (83 percent) of fatal large truck crashes happened on a weekday.
- A similar percentage (89 percent) of nonfatal crashes also took place between Monday and Friday.3
What Are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Any number of factors can combine to create unfavorable driving conditions. While that’s true of any crash, it’s particularly true of incidents involving large vehicles, which are not only bigger but also harder to maintain and more unwieldy to drive. Common contributing factors include:
- Vehicle malfunction
- Lane drifting
- Poor road conditions or low visibility
- Inclement weather
- Excessive speed
- Cargo shifting
- Driver error or fatigue
What or Who Is Responsible?
Assigning blame may sound like a simple matter. Reality is rarely so straightforward. That’s because there are many factors to take into account. For beginners, it’s typically federal law that governs the trucking industry and, therefore, determines responsibility for any given accident.
Not only that, but, given the nature of the industry, the typical large truck or bus accident involves significantly more parties than the typical crash, including:
- the truck or bus driver
- the truck or bus owner
- the individual or business that leased the vehicle (e.g., the trucking or bus company)
- the vehicle manufacturer
- the manufacturer of any of the vehicle parts if at least partially responsible for the accident
- any person or persons who might have improperly loaded or shipped the truck’s cargo
The complexity of federal law is one reason why it’s critical for accident victims to contact a truck accident lawyer at SMS Legal as soon as possible after a crash. Only a qualified attorney can help you through the labyrinth of rules and regulations governing large truck or bus accidents.
How to Prevent Truck Accidents in Houston, TX Area
Prevention can be difficult. Large truck and bus accidents often involve many variables outside of a driver’s control. That being said, there are some basic things that anyone can do to lower the likelihood of getting into a collision.
For starters, trucking and bus companies should:
- carefully maintain their fleet of vehicles
- establish clear safety protocols
- train all drivers to use safe driving techniques
To lower the risk of accidents, truck drivers can:
- maintain safe distances and speeds
- always be conscious of their no-visibility zones
- check and maintain vehicles before driving
- practice defensive driving when necessary
For their part, compact car and passenger car owners should:
- learn defensive driving techniques
- always avoid a truck’s blind spot
- maintain a safe distance between the front of their car and the back of the truck
- always pay attention to a truck’s stop signals and turn signals
- never pass a large vehicle on the right while it is in the process of making a right turn
- report dangerous truck drivers
What to Do if You’ve Been Involved in a Truck Accident in Houston
Anyone who has been involved in an accident with a large truck or bus should know what to do in the immediate aftermath of the crash, starting with the following steps:
- Seek medical attention, even if injuries do not seem severe.
- Call the police to report the accident.
- Get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information for all involved parties (including truck or bus drivers, passenger vehicle drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists).
- Take pictures of the scene. Include injuries, vehicle damage, and important signs.
- Call a car accident lawyer, no matter what happened, who is at fault, or whether there are injuries.
- Call your insurance provider and let them know you will be filing a claim.
- Collect and carefully store all records, including medical records, bills, witness statements, photographs, correspondence, police reports, etc.
With over 100 years of experience, the skilled car accident lawyers at SMS Legal can help you resolve your truck accident claim and receive compensation for your injuries and damages. Call us anytime at (713) 364-0723 to get expert help today.
Our Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
State and federal laws surrounding the trucking industry can complicate accident cases involving semi-trucks considerably. Don’t go it alone—call Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris today for a free consultation. In many cases you’ll pay nothing unless we recover compensation for you.