Houston Truck Accident Lawyer David McNeal Fights For Accident Victims’ Rights
Commercial trucks in the United States haul essential consumer goods and products to every big city and to every small community in every corner of the United States. Commercial trucks are commonplace and essential to our modern way of life, but these big trucks are also potentially quite dangerous, in the city as well as on the highway. How dangerous are they?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people died in truck and bus accidents in the United States in 2019, and more than 60,000 people reportedly sustained injuries in these accidents. Where can you turn if you are injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler – or with any other big truck – in the State of Texas? And can you be compensated for your injuries?
The McNeal Law Firm Handles the Most Complicated Cases
The McNeal Law Firm advises and represents the injured victims of negligence in truck accidents in the Houston area and across the state. Truck accidents can be exceedingly complicated, legally speaking. The injured victims of negligence in truck accidents are entitled by Texas law to compensation for:
- Their pending medical expenses and projected costs for future medical care
- Their lost wages and projected future lost earnings
- Their personal physical pain, suffering, and emotional grief
- Most or all of their other injury-related losses and damages
What’s the Most Important Thing to Know About Truck Accidents?
In Texas, if you are injured in a collision with a large commercial truck, the most important thing to know is that you must take your injury claim – as soon as possible – to the right Houston truck accident attorney. That Houston Personal Injury Attorney is David McNeal at The McNeal Law Firm. Attorney David McNeal protects the rights of truck accident injury victims and will fight aggressively and effectively for the compensation that a victim of negligence is entitled to by Texas law.
Wrongful deaths, permanent disabilities, and catastrophic injuries are far too often the consequences of a serious truck accident. The injuries that are most commonly sustained in truck accidents include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, soft tissue injuries, bone fractures, and chest and head bruises.
If you suffer a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury in a truck accident, or if you require amputation for an injury to an arm or a leg after a truck accident, you will almost certainly need to recover the maximum amount of compensation that is available for your future medical care and expenses.
What Are the Causes of Truck Accidents?
Impractical driving schedules, mechanical difficulties with trucks, poor weather conditions, and the abuse of alcohol and drugs are the root causes of many truck accidents, but researchers have consistently found that driver fatigue is the number one cause of truck accidents in Texas and across the nation. When fatigued truck drivers cause accidents, it’s often because they have violated federal law.
The trucking industry in the U.S. is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The federal guidelines do not allow commercial truck drivers to work more than eleven hours in a day or seventy hours in a week. Drinking while driving, texting while driving, and other negligent behaviors that can cause truck accidents are also banned.
What Else Does the FMCSA Require?
The FMCSA requires truck companies to maintain their vehicles on a standard schedule and to keep thorough maintenance records. Every working driver must complete a daily truck inspection and fill out a report regarding the condition of the truck that he or she is operating.
However, the pressure on the trucking business to save time and make profits can sometimes tempt drivers and truck companies to overlook the rules and skip required inspection procedures. When truck companies and drivers consciously fail to maintain their trucks, that failure constitutes negligence, and it puts you and those you love at risk.
What Else May Constitute Negligence by a Trucking Company?
If a truck company hires a driver who has a history of drug or alcohol abuse or a record of traffic accidents and violations, the company may be held accountable for hiring negligence if that driver injures someone.
Truck companies and drivers must follow a great many additional state and federal regulations. The training that drivers receive and the weight that a truck can carry are just several of the many other trucking matters covered by state and federal statutes and guidelines.
If you’re injured in an accident with a negligent truck driver, proof that the driver violated a federal or state trucking regulation can be compelling evidence in support of your personal injury claim and may increase the likelihood that your claim will succeed in court or will be settled out-of-court to your satisfaction.
Who Is Responsible for Truck Accidents?
Because of their tremendous size and weight, large trucks are quite capable of causing catastrophic injuries. One out of every eight fatalities on our nation’s streets and highways is the direct consequence of a truck accident. Generally speaking, a “truck accident” is defined as a collision which involves a trailer that weighs five tons or more.
If you are injured in a truck accident in or near the Houston area, who can be held liable? That is, who may be sued for compensation? The party with liability for a truck accident is not always immediately obvious. If you become injured in a truck accident in the Houston area or anywhere in Texas, you must seek trustworthy, personalized legal advice about how Texas law applies to your own truck accident case and personal injury claim.
After a truck accident, even if the driver was clearly driving negligently, it may nevertheless be difficult to identify all of the parties that may have liability for damages. It is imperative to contact a Texas accident attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident, because a truck accident requires an in-depth investigation to determine which party has liability – and that investigation needs to begin while the evidence and the memories are fresh.
When Does a Trucking Company Have Liability for an Accident?
Injured truck accident survivors will need to be advised and represented by an aggressive personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to win compensation on their behalf. After filing a personal injury claim, the injury victim (or “plaintiff”) must prove – with a “preponderance of the evidence” – that the allegedly negligent party (or “defendant”) was in fact negligent.
Then, the plaintiff and his or her injury lawyer must prove that the defendant’s negligence was a direct cause of the collision and of the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries.
What is Vicarious Liability?
How is liability assigned after truck accidents? Can a trucking company or any third party be held accountable for the negligence of a truck driver? The answer is “sometimes.” Employers can have “vicarious liability” for an employee’s negligence, provided that the negligence wasn’t intentional and that it happened in the “course and scope” of the worker’s employment duties.
In truck accidents, vicarious liability may transfer a negligent truck driver’s liability to that driver’s employer. Whether vicarious liability applies in a particular truck collision will hinge on the answers to these three questions:
1. Was the driver a company employee or working as an independent contractor?
2. Did the driver’s negligence happen in the scope and course of his or her job duties?
3. Was the driver’s negligence intentional or unintentional?
Does Vicarious Liability Apply to Contractors?
A truck company may be liable for the negligence of an employee, but a truck company is not liable for the negligence of a truck driver who is an independent contractor. When truck drivers are contractors, vicarious liability will not apply, and in an accident, the contractor/driver may be the only party with liability.
If a truck driver owns the truck, does not have taxes withheld, carries his or her own liability insurance, and earns no other benefits, that truck driver is almost certainly an independent contractor. Defining the scope and course of a truck driver’s duties can also be difficult. Here is what must be considered:
- the driver’s job description
- the time, place, and nature of the driver’s negligence
- how much freedom and authority the driver has regarding employment duties
- the driver’s intentions when the negligence took place
A truck company also can’t be held liable for a truck driver’s intentional negligence or wrongdoing. If a truck driver crashes into someone’s vehicle on purpose – in a road rage or hate crime incident, for example – the driver’s employer cannot be held liable.
What Other Parties May Have Liability for a Truck Accident?
Multiple parties may be named as defendants in a personal injury claim generated by a truck collision. Leasing companies, truck manufacturers, parts manufacturers, cargo loaders, contractors, and subcontractors all play key roles in the U.S. trucking industry.
If the tires or brakes on a truck were manufactured defectively, or if the truck’s maintenance was inadequate or completely neglected, multiple defendants may have a share of the liability for a truck accident and the subsequent injuries. A good truck accident attorney will identify all potential sources of compensation on an injury victim’s behalf.
The FMCSA requires a truck’s cargo to be firmly secured. The regulation states, “Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle.” If a cargo loader does not thoroughly inspect and secure cargo, and it drops off the truck – or the truck rolls over – the cargo loader may have the biggest share of liability for the accident.
Who Else May Be a Defendant in a Truck Accident Case?
When hazardous street conditions or defective vehicle parts are contributing factors in a truck mishap, the legal issues can be even more complex. A government agency, a truck manufacturer, or a parts manufacturer may have liability and may be named as a defendant, and the right accident attorney’s help will be imperative.
If you are injured in a truck accident due to a vehicle defect or a defect in an essential vehicle part – the brakes or tires, for instance – you may be able to pursue a product liability claim against the part or vehicle manufacturer with help from The McNeal Law Firm.
Personal injury cases with multiple defendants are often difficult to settle out-of-court, as the defendants may not agree about who has which share of the liability. Sometimes, an accident victim might settle privately with one or more defendants while taking other defendants to trial.
How Will The McNeal Law Firm Work on Your Behalf?
Especially in Texas, truck accident cases can get legally complicated quite quickly. The plaintiff (that is, the injury victim) must be able to demonstrate negligence by the defendant or defendants (the supposedly negligent party or parties). A plaintiff and his or her attorney must further prove that the negligence was a direct reason for the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries.
Houston truck accident attorney David McNeal will aggressively protect your rights and carefully explain your legal options after a truck accident. He will investigate the accident and scrutinize the evidence, the police accident report, and your own medical exams and tests.
What Other Evidence Will Your Attorney Examine?
Before your personal injury claim can be formally filed, a great deal of information and paperwork must be gathered and examined by your truck accident attorney, including but not limited to:
- The written police accident report
- Your medical examination and test results
- The truck company’s safety and procedure manuals
- The details of the driver’s schedule to determine if he or she was fatigued
- Maintenance records to determine if the truck was properly maintained and inspected
- The truck driver’s driving history, including any citations and violations
- The truck company’s previous fines, sanctions, and insurance payouts
In truck accident cases, a good personal injury attorney may also work with experts who understand truck maintenance issues as well as medical authorities and traffic accident reconstruction experts.
How Are Truck Accident Injury Claims Usually Resolved?
Attorney David McNeal will question any eyewitnesses and study any photographs or video of the truck accident to determine which party or parties should be held accountable. He will then negotiate with the negligent party or parties (or more likely with their attorneys and insurance companies) for a fair and just compensation amount.
Most personal injury claims arising from truck accidents are resolved in exactly this way – privately and outside of the courtroom – so most truck accident injury victims don’t even have to make a court appearance.
However, if your claim is contested by the other side, and if no acceptable settlement offer is made in the out-of-court negotiations, The McNeal Law Firm and Houston personal injury attorney David McNeal will take your truck accident case to court, explain to a jury what happened, and ask that jury to order the full and immediate payment of your compensation.
Are Truck Accidents Avoidable?
Can truck accidents be avoided? Not entirely, of course, but there are several practical steps that you can take to reduce your own chances of being involved in a collision with a large truck. For example, when you drive, always put as much space as possible between your own vehicle and a truck.
When passing a truck, do it quickly and safely. Always pass a truck on the left and never on the right. Because of the many blind spots on the right side of a truck, the driver may not be able to see you there. And after you’ve passed a truck, don’t suddenly swerve back in front of it – remain in your passing lane until there is a substantial distance between the vehicles.
When a big truck is turning, nearby drivers must be exceedingly cautious. Give a truck driver all of the space you can. When a truck driver turns right, the truck will first swing wide to the left. If you see a truck do this, do not move to the truck’s right side, because it will swing back to the right to complete the turn, and you’ll be trapped. Use the same principle in reverse for trucks making left turns.
Road Safe America is an independent group that promotes truck safety. Their research has found that a third of the truck accidents in the United States are linked to a truck’s blind spots. Motorists should know where the blind spots are on a truck – in order to stay away from them. The wisest strategy while driving is simply to keep as far away from a big truck as possible. If it isn’t near you, it can’t crash into your vehicle.
If and When a Truck Accident Happens, Take These Steps…
If you’re injured in a truck accident or any traffic accident, summon medical assistance right away. That’s the overriding immediate priority after any collision that involves a large commercial truck.
Also summon the police and make sure that you ask how to obtain a copy of the written police accident report and when that report will be available. For truck accidents that occur inside Houston’s city limits, accident reports from the Houston Police Department are available for purchase online by clicking this link.
You should also exchange insurance information with the other driver or drivers, try to get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses, and take as many photographs as possible of the damaged vehicles, the accident site, and your own visible injuries.
After you’ve been seen and examined by a medical professional, speaking to a Texas personal injury lawyer is your next priority. Schedule a consultation immediately at The McNeal Law Firm with accident attorney David McNeal.
What Compensation May an Injury Victim Receive?
If you have been injured by a commercial truck driver’s negligence, by a third party’s negligence in a truck accident, or if you’re injured in one of these ways in the future, you may pursue a personal injury claim for full reimbursement for your pending and future medical expenses, your lost wages and projected future lost earnings, and for your personal pain and suffering, which may include loss of consortium or loss of the “enjoyment of life.”
If you’ve sustained injuries because of the negligence of others, you’ll need to work with an experienced and committed Texas personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to win the compensation – as well as the justice – that the injured victims of negligence need, deserve, and are entitled to by law.
Wrongful death and permanent disability are the consequences of far too many truck accidents in Texas. Eventually, the safety of trucks may be enhanced with better driver training, expanded use of video that allows a driver to see a truck’s blind spots, and a change in the way deliveries are scheduled and truck drivers are paid.
What Changes Should the Trucking Industry Make?
Considering the damage that an 18-wheeler can do, truck companies should be rushing to install dash cams, “blind-spot cams,” and additional safety features in their vehicles, yet many truck companies resist making even small expenditures that could aid investigators and provide information that saves lives. The trucking industry operates in a way that strongly tempts drivers to speed and to drive while fatigued, and that has to change.
After you’ve been injured in a truck accident, and after you’ve been examined and treated by a medical professional, schedule a consultation with Texas personal injury attorney David McNeal at The McNeal Law Firm, and learn how to put the law to work for you.
It Costs You Nothing to Learn More
Injured truck accident victims are provided with a no-cost case review by The McNeal Law Firm, and there’s no obligation. It’s your opportunity to learn how the law applies to your case and to make an informed choice about moving forward with a personal injury claim.
Call The McNeal Law Firm at (832) 819-3281 to learn more about your rights and the law, to schedule a case review, or to launch the legal process. If you’ve been injured by negligence in a truck accident, compensation is your legal right. The McNeal Law Firm is located in Houston at 2950 North Loop West, Suite 500. We are ready to fight for your rights.