Common Causes of Fatal Truck Accidents
Deadly accidents are often the result of:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving encompasses eating and drinking, grooming, reading, using a cellphone, and any other activity that leads to visual, manual, or cognitive distraction.
- Driver fatigue. Truck drivers and motorists can be behind the wheel after getting too little sleep recently or for an extended period. Exhaustion and drowsiness can cause drivers to fall asleep behind the wheel, fail to notice potential hazards, and have slower reflexes. Truck drivers may be drowsy when they violate Hours of Service regulations.
- Speeding. Driving faster than the speed limit or what is appropriate for the weather, road, and traffic conditions often contribute to collisions. Motorists or truck drivers may lose control of their vehicle or may be going too fast to avoid a crash.
- Improper passing. Many severe and fatal accidents occur because a motorist tried to overtake a truck or vice versa and failed to do so completely and safely.
- Equipment failure. It is essential that car or semi-truck parts and equipment all work properly. When an integral piece of equipment fails, such as a tire or brake, then the driver may lose control. Equipment failures can arise due to defects, improper maintenance, or improper inspections.
- Impairment. Truck drivers or motorists who are intoxicated due to drugs, alcohol, or both put their and other lives at risk.
- Unqualified truck drivers. Driving a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle requires training and a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). A fatal truck accident can occur when a trucker lacks the proper training, license, or experience to operate the vehicle.
- Failing to maintain a lookout. Truck drivers and motorists alike must keep their eyes and focus on the road and traffic around them. Drivers who fail to keep a lookout increase the risk of failing to notice a hazard and avoiding a collision.
- Improper cargo loading. Semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles have weight and size limits. Overloading can make it difficult to properly control the vehicle and may increase the risk of a rollover accident. Unsecured or improperly secured cargo may fall on the road and lead to a crash. Hazardous materials can cause an explosion or fire.
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Texas Fatal Truck Accident Statistics
In 2018, Texas experienced 536 fatal commercial motor vehicle accidents, which resulted in 611 fatalities, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The year before, There were 513 fatal CMV accidents resulting in 602 deaths.
Independent Fatal Truck Accident Investigations
Two significant questions arise after a fatal truck wreck: What happened and who is responsible?
Once you retain a fatal truck accident attorney, you have someone to investigate the cause of the crash thoroughly. We will gather and review photos, videos, eyewitness statements, and other evidence. We also will take steps, such as sending a Preservation of Evidence Letter to the other parties, to protect potentially important evidence like the truck itself.
We may have the truck inspected by an independent mechanic or engineer. We also will demand a copy of the data from the truck’s data record—its “black box.” We leave no stone unturned in pursuit of evidence.
We also will hire an accident reconstructionist to recreate the collision and identify the underlying causes. This expert can be integral to understanding what happened and why and identifying who is responsible.
Liability in Fatal Truck Accidents
Liability is legal responsibility for a collision and the resulting injuries and fatalities. Once your fatal truck accident lawyers are aware of the underlying cause or causes of the crash, we can determine which party was negligent.
Negligence is a failure to uphold a duty of care, which causes another person harm. Truck drivers, trucking companies, manufacturers, and other parties involved in the trucking industry are responsible for maintaining a certain standard of care. When one of these parties acts carelessly or recklessly and directly causes a serious or fatal trucking collision, then that party is negligent.
However, the negligent party may not be the one and only liable party. Under various legal theories, another party may also be legally responsible for your loved one’s death. For example, the truck driver may have been negligent and caused the fatal truck accident. However, if that truck driver is an employee of a business, then the business also may be liable for your compensation.
It is important to work with an experienced fatal truck accident attorney Alexander Begum to determine who was negligent and who is liable for the fatal wreck. You may need to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against more than one person or business.
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Who May be Liable?
The party liable for a fatal truck accident in Texas may be:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company/motor carrier
- The cargo owner
- The cargo loading company
- The truck manufacturer
- The tire manufacturer
- A truck part manufacturer
- Another motorist
- A truck maintenance provider
- A vendor for the motor carrier
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Semi-Truck Accident
When a relative is killed in a truck accident in Texas, it is important to talk with a fatal truck accident lawyer about your legal options. You may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim under Texas law.
If your loved one would have been entitled to pursue a personal injury claim if they had lived, then a surviving spouse, children, and/or parents of the decedent are entitled to wrongful death compensation. Any of these relatives can file the wrongful death lawsuit, or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can do so on the family’s behalf.
Wrongful Death Compensation
Through a wrongful death claim, you and your relatives are entitled to actual damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Loss of decedent’s income
- Loss of future inheritance
- Loss of value of decedent’s household services
- Loss of decedent’s company, society, and love
- Relatives’ emotional suffering and mental anguish
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
You have two years from the date of your loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You should talk with a fatal truck accident lawyer right away about the filing deadline and whether any exceptions apply to your circumstances.
Wrongful Death vs. Survival Action
In Texas, there is a difference between a wrongful death and survival action. A wrongful death lawsuit is based on your and your relative’s injuries. A survival action is based on the harm your loved one suffered between the time of the truck accident and their death.
If your relative initially survived the trucking accident, they had a personal injury cause of action. This cause of action does not disappear if your loved one passed away weeks or months later from their truck accident injuries. The personal representative of your relative’s estate can continue to pursue the personal injury claim and compensation.