Trucking Accidents – An Increasing Problem in an Expanding Industry. Barbecue, boots, and big ten-gallon hats–these are the motifs that come to mind when Americans think of Texas. But did you know that Texas is also the state with the most lane mileage, clocking in at just over 680,000 miles?
Driving is a necessity in Texas, given that it’s the biggest state in the continental US. But as Texans spend more time on the roads, they are increasingly at risk of getting into a serious car accident.
Car Truck Accident on I35
Late last year, Lewisville police reported that a trucking accident, involving an 18-wheeler had crashed into a stopped vehicle on 1-35E. Although the official speed limit on I-35E is officially set to 75 MPH, it’s no secret that Texans routinely drive faster than what is legally or safely allowed.
Basic physics dictates that speed and mass together can be a dangerous combination, and in this case, the impact resulted in catastrophic damage to both the truck and the stopped car. The driver of the car was seriously injured as the car was pushed hundreds of feet down the road, while the cargo chassis of the truck–a diesel fuel tank–was ruptured, spilling fuel across multiple lanes. While police officers were quickly able to arrive onsite and escort the driver to the hospital, he, unfortunately, died of his injuries shortly after. The truck driver, however, only had minor injuries.
Breaking Down the Trucking Industry Numbers
Annually, the United States trucking industry is worth a staggering $700 billion dollars, with operating revenue of over $400 billion. This should come as no surprise as consumers are increasingly buying things online and having them shipped to their homes, which in turn is causing the supply chain to grow exponentially; as of February 2022, more than 300 billion miles every year are traveled by the nation’s trucks, according to the American Trucking Association.
As truckers race to meet their deadlines, they are increasingly engaging in risky behaviors such as speeding or multitasking, which leads to dangerous conditions on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) has listed driver inattention as the leading factor in crashes and near-crashes, and this trend applies to trucking accidents as well.
In fact, in 33% of crashes involving trucks and buses, the driver of the truck is at least partially at fault. The driver-related factors most common in these cases are speeding, followed by distraction, and then impairment. As the industry continues to grow, so do the number of truck crash deaths–which have grown by a whopping 52% since 2009. And bad news for drivers–97% of the fatalities occur in the passenger vehicle, rather than the truck itself, as was the case in the crash on I-35E in Lewisville.
With all the risks associated with this business, it’s a given that a solid insurance policy is a must-have for any high-traffic trucking business. In 2022, the cost of a trucking accident is estimated to run anywhere from $120,000 to $382,000 depending on the size of the truck involved (as per the FMCA’s most recent estimates), however, cases involving fatalities may be as expensive as $5 million to settle.
With an operating revenue in the hundreds of billions, it can be said that these companies can more than afford to settle with victims of truck-related accidents. The truck driver and the trucking company may be liable for an accident if their negligence caused the crash to occur, and the trucking company may also be liable for the negligence of the driver under the theory of “respondeat superior,” which essentially means that, since the driver is employed under the company and was acting within the scope of their employment during the crash, the company has responsibility for the incident.
The Legal Aspect
An injury case filed against a truck driver or trucking company would fall under the “civil claim” category in Texas, for which the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. Additionally, Texas operates under a concept known as “modified comparative fault”, which assesses the degree to which each party involved in the accident was at fault. This means that the extent of damages you may recover depends on your degree of fault. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the collision, you may not recover any damages.
The state of Texas awards economic, non-economic, and punitive damages to the victims of truck-related accidents. If a victim gets seriously injured to the point they can’t work, they may be compensated for lost wages with economic damages. Pain and suffering from the accident would be compensated with non-economic damages, while punitive damages would be awarded if the truck driver or company acted with actual malice or gross negligence, such as driving while intoxicated or purposefully driving recklessly.
Nobody should have to worry about lost wages or paying their medical bills after getting in a truck-related accident, especially as the industry continues to grow and more and more truckers take to the roads to meet the increasing demands of the average consumer.
If you ever find yourself needing legal assistance after getting in a serious truck-related accident, give the Dr. Shezad Malik law offices a call at 214-390-3189 and we’ll get you started on your road to peace-of-mind and fair compensation.