Have you or a loved one been injured in a Fort Worth truck accident?
At Anderson & Cummings, we have the legal knowledge, resources and staff to pursue the maximum amount for your lawsuit.
Our Fort Worth truck accident lawyers have recovered over $100 million in compensation for our clients. Partner John Cummings is a Fort Worth native who has successfully recovered millions for accident victims, including a record-setting punitive damages award for the victim of a high-profile truck accident case. John is also board certified in both personal injury and civil trial law. He is a Past President of the Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association and a fellow of the Tarrant County Bar Foundation.
We know the tactics insurance companies use in 18-wheeler accident cases, and we know how to counter them. We offer a free, initial consultation to review your claim and there are no upfront fees for our services.
Have questions? We have answers. Call (817) 920-9000 today.
Can I Get Compensation for My Injuries?
If you have been injured in a crash caused by a truck driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover significant compensation for your damages. Since each truck crash is unique, the value must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Your attorney must fully investigate your crash to determine how it happened and who may be liable.
Liability in a truck crash case is complicated as multiple parties may have contributed in some way to what happened. For instance, the truck driver may have been driving too fast and that may have been the primary cause for the crash. The brakes of this speeding truck may have also been defective, making it harder for the driver to slow down or stop. Crash investigators might determine that defective part may have caused the crash or at least contributed to it. In that situation, the manufacturer may be held at least partially liable for the 18-wheeler crash.
If the truck accident and your resulting injuries are due to another party’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical costs, property damage, lost wages and other losses resulting from the crash.
Proving negligence in a truck crash case is a complex task, which is why you need an experienced Fort Worth truck accident lawyer to help you.
What Should I Do First After a Crash Involving a Semi-Truck or 18-Wheeler?
In the moments and hours after a collision with an 18-wheeler, the following steps are essential for your health and your injury lawsuit:
- Call 9-1-1: Your health should always be your top priority. Seeking emergency medical care after a truck crash is especially important. The sheer size and weight of a commercial truck often means the injuries are more severe.
- Gather contact details: You need contact information for any witnesses who might have seen what happened or who recorded the crash on their smartphone or dashcam.
- Take pictures: If you are physically capable and it is safe to do so, take pictures and video of the truck, the damage to both vehicles and the crash scene.
- Give your statement to police: When you speak with the police be concise and honest, but do not ramble on or say you feel guilty or claim any fault. Statements like these only give the insurance company an opening to shift the blame in your direction.
- Get truck details: Get the name of the trucking company, as well as their DOT number (you can find it on either side of the truck). You also need to get the insurance details of both the truck driver and the trucking company.
- Contact an attorney: As soon as your injuries are stabilized, you should contact an attorney for legal help. If you put it off, valuable evidence, including the truck’s black box data, could be lost or destroyed.
Gathering accurate evidence quickly after the crash is critical. Witness’s memories fade over time – a week or month later a witness may forget critical details.
Can I Get a Copy of the Police Report?
Under the Texas Transportation Code Section 550.065 accident victims are now able to access a copy of the police accident report from their specific crash. While the report is not freely available online, for a fee accident victims can apply to the Texas Department of Transportation and obtain the report.
What You Should Not Do After a Fort Worth Truck Accident
There are certain things you should not do after a truck crash because they could hurt your chances of obtaining maximum compensation for your damages. For example, you should not:
Talk About How You are Feeling
If the insurance company, truck driver or even the police ask how you are feeling, it is often best to tell them you do not know. You could also say you are going to the hospital, but you do not need to be any more specific than that. If you say too much, your comments could be used to say you are not injured or your injuries are not that serious.
Sign Anything From the Insurance Company
The insurance company wants to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. They know victims are unsure of their rights and that is why they try to bombard you with questions or documents to sign. They may say they have paperwork to get you a rental car, but this paperwork could include a release form that bars you from recovering compensation.
The bottom line is you should never sign anything without consulting an experienced lawyer.
Record Your Statement
Once you record a statement, your claim can be limited by what you say. The insurance company may say they just want to expedite the process, but their goal is to obtain a statement that allows them to underpay your claim.
There may come a point in the process when you need to record a statement, but this should only be done with guidance from your attorney.
Who May Be Held Liable For The Damages From a Texas Truck Crash?
Truck accident victims often believe they can only file a lawsuit against the truck driver responsible for the crash. However, most trucks are commercial vehicles. This means they are likely owned by trucking companies and serviced by third-party vendors. These are parties that your attorney will investigate as they could share liability for the accident.
Truck driver negligence is a major factor in many big rig accidents. The truck driver may have been impaired in some way, such as by alcohol, drugs or even over-the-counter medications. Truckers may suffer from certain health conditions because of the sedentary nature of the job. Sleep apnea among truck drivers is quite common. If this condition is not treated the driver may be more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Your attorney will investigate all avenues to determine what factors may have contributed to or caused the crash. Sometimes, it is just a traffic violation, such as blowing through a red light. The driver may have been speeding to make an unreasonable deadline.
It is possible the driver should have been on break, as there are federal regulations about the number of consecutive hours a driver can be behind the wheel. Your lawyer can investigate to determine if hours of service regulations were followed.
Truck Owner/Trucking Company
Fault is often shared in truck accidents, and sometimes the parties that share fault are the truck owner or trucking company. They could be liable if they were pushing drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines or cutting safety corners in other ways. For instance, if the trucking company failed to do a proper background check to make sure a driver had enough experience and was properly trained.
If the truck had a mechanical problem that contributed to or caused the crash, a manufacturer may be held at least partially liable.
The Company or Individual Responsible for Maintaining the Truck
Another example where third-party liability may apply is if the truck was not properly maintained. If negligent maintenance led to the truck accident that caused your injuries, the truck owner could be liable as well. An example of negligent maintenance is failing to properly inflate a tire or replace a tire with worn treads.
The Prime Mover
If the big rig is an 18-wheeler there may be a second vehicle called the prime mover. This commercial vehicle is a specially designed, heavy-duty truck. It is used to help push or pull a semi-truck being used to transport oversized loads, such as a pre-fab building, other semi-trucks or oversized construction elements. The prime mover may be owned or leased by one company, while the truck, trailer and the cargo in it may belong to a different party.
What Evidence Do I Need to Support My Truck Accident Claim?
At Anderson & Cummings, we take a great amount of time to investigate the specifics of each and every claim we handle. Obtaining accurate evidence is a vital part of the investigation process. Any evidence that accident victims and their families can provide is often helpful.
The burden of proof in a truck accident case, like other personal injury claims, falls on the victim – which means you or your attorney. If you have hired one, your attorney knows what is needed to establish negligence. If there is no negligence, then there is no case.
How Can an Attorney Help Me With My Truck Accident Claim?
Truck crash claims are quite complex. There are federal laws that apply to these claims, and there are often multiple defense lawyers defending the truck driver and trucking company. Having an attorney who has experience managing truck crash cases is critical. Having an attorney represent you and manage your case helps to ensure your interests and rights are protected throughout the legal process.
To validate your case, your attorney must establish certain factors about the truck accident that caused your injuries. These elements include:
- Evidence of the truck driver’s negligence
- Proof that those negligent actions directly caused the accident
- The ability to link the accident to the injuries that you suffered. In other words, you must show that without the accident, you would have been unharmed.
Insurance companies do not want to pay out any more money than is necessary. If they paid the maximum on every truck accident case, they would not stay in business for long. It is an important point to remember because this is why the insurance company will never have the same goals as you.
To that end, the insurance company and the lawyers defending the truck driver and/or trucking company will look for ways to deny their policyholder’s negligence. They may even try to shift the blame elsewhere. For instance, they may say you cut their driver off or that an unexpected event contributed to the accident.
Every argument the other side presents must be disputed. Any argument you cannot prove could reduce the total amount of financial compensation you may receive. Unfortunately, if the defendant’s arguments are successful, this means less money to help pay for your damages.
If you are working with an attorney, he or she will know how to successfully dispute each argument raised by the defendant’s lawyers. This is yet another reason to make sure the attorney you hire has the experience you need to get the job done.
A qualified attorney should be aware of the strategies the insurance defense lawyers may try to use and be prepared accordingly.
What To Do If You Are Offered a Settlement By The Insurance Company
Following an accident, you may be contacted by a representative of the at-fault truck driver’s insurance company. In some instances, they may offer you a compensation settlement in an effort to quickly close the claim.
Here is what you should know about quick settlement offers. However good the offer may sound, it is never going to be for the full value of your claim. The reason we can say this with such conviction is that in those first few days, weeks and months, you are likely still recovering from your injuries. If you are still seeing the doctor, getting treatment and going to physical therapy, you are still running up medical bills. You should not be paying for those costs.
Settlements Are Final
It is important that you have a reputable attorney review any settlement offers before you sign them. The insurance company is NOT looking out for your best interests, they are looking out for their own. Their primary goal is to close your file for the smallest possible financial outlay.
Many motorists are not aware that there are many different types of insurance policies that can be purchased for a commercial vehicle. Depending on your claim, you may be eligible to make a claim against more than one of these policies. Some of these include:
- General Liability Insurance – This type of policy protects businesses (in this instance, a haulage company) against collisions that result in physical or property damage. There is a federal mandate on this type of policy that requires $750,000 of coverage. However, there are exceptions, which usually depend on the class of the vehicle being covered. An example of this would be for a truck hauling hazmat cargo (hazardous materials like toxic chemicals) where the minimum coverage amount is $5,000,000.
- Extended Liability Insurance – In the event that a serious accident results in a successful, significant damages claim, companies in Texas are not protected from creditors taking homes, vehicles and other assets to settle the debt. This is a result of the Texas Homestead Act, and it is a primary reason why many haulage companies will purchase extended liability insurance that extends beyond their general liability policy. From the standpoint of a plaintiff, the result of a successful claim could be considerably more if the carrier has this type of policy. However, it also means the insurance company has more to lose and will therefore fight harder against your case.
- Self-Insured Retention – These policies allow truck companies to provide an additional $250,000 in coverage beyond the federally-mandated $750,000.
- Eroding Policy – An eroding policy allows a trucking company to deduct the costs of their legal expenses from their insurance policy. The primary issue with this policy (from the standpoint of a plaintiff) occurs if litigation becomes a drawn-out process. The policy could be quickly drained, leaving little left for a claimant. The defense lawyers do not need to notify the plaintiff that the defendant has this type of policy. However, an experienced plaintiff attorney should be able to identify it and create an appropriate strategy to maximize your claim.
- Uninsured Motorist Policy (UIM) – This policy protects injury victims if they have been injured in an accident with a driver that has no insurance. An example would be if you were a passenger in a truck that was hit by a vehicle that was driven by an uninsured driver.
If you are unsure about your legal options, contact our lawyers to discuss your situation. We have extensive experience negotiating with insurance companies and their legal counsel and are prepared to apply that knowledge to your claim.
18-Wheeler Accident Types & Statistics
Compared to passenger vehicles, large commercial trucks are limited in their ability to stop abruptly – the heavier a vehicle, the more distance and time it takes to stop. Trucks also have more blind spots, and their size and weight makes it difficult to make quick, controlled maneuvers
Some common types of truck accidents include:
- Jackknife – This occurs when a truck tries to stop too suddenly. The trailer hitched to the cab swings to either side, striking any vehicles in its path.
- Rollover – Their higher center of gravity makes 18-wheelers much more likely to rollover. Heavy winds can increase the risk, especially if cargo is poorly loaded and suddenly shifts.
- Underride – This is a catastrophic crash for drivers of a passenger vehicle that happens when a vehicle slides underneath the trailer.
- Rear-end collisions – If a truck driver is tailgating or following another vehicle too closely, he or she may not be able to stop in time to avoid crashing into the back of that vehicle.
- Sideswipe crashes – These occur when a truck hits the side of a vehicle because the driver failed to see the vehicle was in a blind spot.
- T-bone collisions – Usually this type of crash is the result of a driver failing to yield in an intersection. When truck drivers T-bone smaller vehicles, the damage is often catastrophic.
- Head-on crashes – These types of crashes may often happen if a tired or impaired truck driver drifts into oncoming traffic.
- Chain-reaction/multi-vehicle crashes – Anything could cause this type of crash. If a truck rear-ends or sideswipes another vehicle on a busy highway, it could set off a chain reaction of crashes. Icy or wet road conditions can also cause this to happen.
Our Fort Worth Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Do not let your insurance company or the truck driver’s insurer dictate what happens with your claim.
We are ready to work with investigators to uncover what happened and form the foundation for a strong case. We believe in getting just and fair compensation for you and your loved ones.
Our office is located just minutes from the Fort Worth Municipal Court and we charge no upfront fees to handle your truck accident lawsuit.
Contact our trusted law firm 24/7 to request your FREE case review. (817) 920-9000