The LeBlanc Law Firm-Handling all types of 18-wheeler claims.   
Dallas Truck Accident Lawyer
TEXAS TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

Because of  trucks enormous size and weight, large semi-trucks and tractor-trailers (also
known as 18-wheeler trucks) pose extensive inherent risks to other vehicles and truck
drivers themselves when involved in accidents. These semi-trucks have large blind spots
and have difficulty stopping quickly, making smaller passenger vehicles hard to detect
and avoid. Tractor-trailer trucks are also prone to overturning on curves due to their
high centers of gravity, and often carry hazardous cargos that can be extremely
dangerous if spilled. When a truck rolls over the driver's cab is often completely
crushed; this kills or severely injures the truck driver due to known defects in the
manufacturing of these trucks.

Each year, trucking accidents are responsible for an alarming number of fatal or severe
injuries, often leading to overwhelming financial and emotional burdens for victims and
their families. The highways in the South, including those in Dallas, Texas, are some of
the most heavily traveled, and therefore, the most deadly, in the nation.  

If you are injured in a
truck accident in Texas, you should hire an experienced lawyer.  
The LeBlanc Law Firm has an experienced
Dallas truck accident lawyer.  

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF A TRUCK ACCIDENT

Common causes of trucking accidents include:

1. Truck driver fatigue;
2. Jackknifing;
3. Rollovers;
4. Not being able to brake fast enough to avoid a collision;
5. Fuel fires due to carrying batteries in a precarious position on the truck;
6. Truck driver inexperience or lack of proper training with a semi-truck;  
7. Overloaded or improperly loaded tractor trailer trucks;
8. Speeding; and
9. Driver inattention.    

LAWS GOVERNING A TRUCK ACCIDENT

Most of the federal regulations governing the trucking industry are found in Title 49 of
the Code of Federal Regulations.   One of the newer pieces of federal legislation, the
Hours of Service Rules, are designed to make sure that truck drivers get enough rest and
sleep while on trucking trips. Federal law also requires commercial truckers in Dallas,
Texas to record their driving information in structured driver’s logs, which can
document violations of sleep restrictions, negligent driving and potentially illegal
intentional misconduct on the driver’s part. When a truck accident occurs in Dallas,
Texas these logs can be important in determining who was at fault for the accident.
Federal regulations also require Texas trucking companies to carry various levels of
insurance, depending on what type of materials are hauled.

There are many Texas laws which can apply in a trucking accident case such as Texas
laws regarding speed limits for commercial truckers, and sleep requirements for drivers
while traveling throughout Texas.

FAULT IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT

Proving liability in a truck accident is more complex than in a car wreck, because the
trucker, his company, the manufacturer of the truck, and others may all carry
responsibility for the accident.

When we are retained regarding a truck accident, the firm will often hire an accident
investigator or conduct an investigation.  An accident investigator will usually take a very
close look at the truck driver’s actions and responsibilities including collecting
information on how the truck was maintained and loaded, and whether it was properly
inspected and tested according to industry standards. An accident investigator will also
look into the truck driver’s credentials and training, and his or her physical and mental
state (including whether there was alcohol or drugs involved).

The National Highway Transportation Safety Association reports that one of the leading
causes of trucking accidents is truck driver fatigue. An accident investigator will
carefully examine the driver’s logs to determine if the trucker was following federal laws
which limit the amount of time a truck driver can remain on the road before taking a rest
break.

An attorney at our firm will be looking at whether the trucking company can be held
responsible for the actions of the truck driver, under what’s called a “respondeat
superior” theory of law. The trucking company, on the other hand, may try to prove
that the semi-truck accident happened while the driver was using the truck for personal
reasons, or that the truck driver was really an independent contractor rather than an
employee.  

In investigating a truck accident, we may examine:

What were the driver's driving qualifications?  

Did the driver submit to and pass drug testing?

Did the driver have a criminal history?

Did the driver have a history of chemical dependency?

Was the driver medically qualified to drive a semi truck or other large truck?

Did the driver have a poor driving record?

What was the driver's accident history?

Was the driver involved in other catastrophic or fatal trucking accidents?

Did the company have a reputation for hiring bad drivers?

Did the company routinely hire drivers with drug or alcohol abuse problems?

We will speak with the police officer and analyze the police report.  We may also:

Locate witnesses and find out what they saw;

Take pictures of your vehicle, the semi truck, the skid marks, debris,          
and other evidence at the accident scene;

Evaluate the current road conditions and weather conditions;

Obtain temporary restraining orders to prevent the destruction of evidence or  
concealing evidence, such as evidence from truck inspections or driver log   
books;

Recover gas station receipts, meal receipts, and other information to pinpoint
times a driver was at specific locations to show speed; and

Recover cell phone records, and other records to show driver negligence.  

TRUCK ACCIDENT EVIDENCE

Evidence of fault in a truck accident, including a semi-truck accident in Texas can
include:

Truck logs;
Witness statements and observations;
Cell phone or other communication records of the driver and trucking company;
The truck driver’s personnel file;
The trucking company’s safety record;
The truck driver’s safety record and driving record;
Weather conditions;
The condition of the highway;
Maintenance records for the truck; and  
Documentation of the truck driver’s training and qualifications

If it appears from evidence collected at the accident scene that equipment on the truck
malfunctioned, an attorney may start trying to find evidence that there have been other
accidents involving failure of the same or similar equipment. An injured victim may then
have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the equipment or a negligence
claim against the trucking company for not discovering the malfunction before it caused
injury.

TRUCK ACCIDENT EXPERTS

There are many types of experts hired to help reconstruct an accident scene and
establish liability. Experts typically on the scene in a  truck accident can include:

General truck accident reconstructionists;
Computer graphics technicians;
Forensics specialist;
Metallurgists; and
Specialists in truck safety.

Trucking companies have investigators who immediately start collecting evidence after
an accident, while victims and their families are still grieving or injured. Trucking
company investigators will be looking carefully for any evidence that the passenger car
driver contributed to the accident by:

Passing unsafely;
Crossing center lines into oncoming traffic;
Drinking or using drugs;
Not obeying traffic laws by following too closely or running a light;
Speeding; and
Driving in  blind spots located around the front, back and sides of the truck.

If you are the victim of a  truck accident, it’s important not to give the trucking
company investigators any statements or sign medical or other releases. It’s important to
talk to a lawyer who understands truck accident cases as soon as possible, so the
evidence can be preserved and your rights can be protected.  

TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE  

Driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as
failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. Tired truck drivers are of
such concern that in April of 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curb truckers’ problems with
fatigue. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National
Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of
truck crashes.  These new hours of service regulations also apply to truck drivers in
Texas.  

Sleep deprivation impairs a person's ability to perform a variety of tasks, including those
related to driving and operating equipment. Often a truck driver's fatigue is caused by
inadequate daily sleep, rather than a complete absence of sleep. A truck driver's extended
hours of operation can create a scenario of continuous sleep deprivation by limiting a
driver's daily sleep.  Sleep deprivation can cause a truck accident to occur.  

When commercial drivers become fatigued from excessive daily and weekly work
hours, they substantially increase the risk of an accident that can result in death or
serious injuries. Yet despite this serious risk to public safety, legislation is frequently
introduced to Congress that requests longer hours of service for the trucking industry.

On January 4, 2004 the new federal drivers’ hours-of-service regulations became
effective for Interstate drivers of commercial motor vehicles subject to Title 49, Code of
Federal Regulations (49 CFR) Part 395. Specifically, the law increased the number of
hours truck drivers are allowed to operate in a 24 hour period. The law allows Interstate
truck drivers to drive 11 hours in a work period, prohibit driving after 14 hours since
coming on-duty, and require at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty to re-qualify for a
new work period.  These new hours-of-service regulations apply to truck drivers in
Texas.

While significant effort is being invested to further regulate and limit the number of
hours medical professionals can work in order to protect patient health, motorists are
not offered the same consideration as Congress continues to increase the hours of
service for the truck industry.

With miles and miles of highway stretching out before them, the longer truckers can
drive the greater the potential revenue for truck companies. The average trucker drives
125,000 miles a year, and that's on the low end of an average. Trucking revenues totaled
$610 billion last year and revenues are forecasted to nearly double by 2015. It is easy to
see how profit can encourage truckers to drive further for longer hours, with shorter
breaks, to increase their income.

However, profit is not the only factor influencing driver fatigue. A truck driver may be
anxious to get home for the weekend, or 'push through' to avoid traffic snarls during
rush hour. Truck companies may offer a driver bonus for extra stops, or the driver may
be trying to make up for time lost due to bad weather or traffic.

Because there may be several factors influencing a driver's hours of service, The Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that drivers and carriers maintain logs,
expense receipts, and other paperwork that track their compliance with current Hours of
Service regulations. However, in order for existing laws to deter unsafe behavior they
must be properly enforced.

Kenneth Mead, U.S. Transportation Department inspector general, testified April 5
before the Senate Commerce Committee on transportation safety programs. “We have
conducted criminal investigations of egregious cases in which trucking company
officials have been prosecuted for systematically forcing their drivers to drive well in
excess of the limits,” Mead testified.

Log book and hours rules need strengthening because unscrupulous carriers and drivers
view violations as “the cost of doing business,” he said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rescinded a proposal that would have
required on-board recorders as enforcement evidence. Since then, courts have ordered
the agency to review that decision.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), in 2003 large trucks hauled the
majority of all freight transported in the U.S. – over nine billion tons. With an ever
increasing number of tractor trailers on our roads, driver fatigue is a public safety issue.
We must mandate and enforce reasonable hours of service (HOS) limits for the safety of
all motorists

POTENTIAL LIABLE PARTIES  

There are various parties who may be held liable for a truck accident.  Below are a few
examples of potentially liable parties:  

Truck operator: The FMCSA regulates the amount of time a truck driver may operate a
large truck as well as other issues. If the truck driver violates operator regulations, such
as by driving extended hours, loading the truck without accounting for the time, taking
stay-awake drugs, or driving under the influence, the truck driver may be held liable for
an accident in Dallas, Texas.

Truck owner and equipment owner: The owner of the truck cab, the truck trailer, and
other truck equipment may be held liable. The owners have a responsibility to inspect
and maintain this equipment and ensure it is safe for travel.

Truck or equipment leasing company: A carrier that leases a semi truck cab, tractor
trailer, or truck equipment is responsible for inspecting and maintaining equipment
leased. The carrier may be held liable for a Dallas truck accident.

Truck loading company: A truck rollover accident may be caused by an overweight or
unbalanced load. The truck loaders have a responsibility to load the truck and ensure that
the load is balanced appropriately and does not shift.

Truck driving agencies: An agency that leases truck drivers to other companies may be
held accountable for negligent hiring practices or for setting schedules that encourage
speeding or extended driving hours.

Truck manufacturers and part manufacturers: Vehicle and part manufacturers,
designers, and distributors may be held liable for dangerous or defective products that
contributed to a truck accident.

Federal, State, and Local Road Authorities: Poor design, construction, and maintenance
of roads or highways may contribute to a truck accident. The agency responsible for the
design, construction or maintenance of the road may be held liable for the unsafe and
dangerous road condition.

It is important to hire an attorney who understands who may be held liable for a truck
accident, and what evidence to look for in determining who may be responsible for a
truck accident.  

TRUCK MAINTENANCE  

Truck drivers, truck owners, truck leasing companies, and others have a duty to make
sure that their vehicle (big rig, bucket truck, or commercial truck) is properly maintained
and in safe working condition prior to placing the truck on the road. Failure to complete
maintenance logs and routinely inspect the truck can result in an unsafe vehicle traveling
at high speeds and causing a serious trucking accident.  Some issues that could arise
with regard to truck maintenance as a cause for a truck accident could include:  

Did the tractor trailer have reflective tape visible to other drivers at night?

Did the semi truck have adequate lighting enabling other drivers to see the truck and
allowing the driver to see other vehicles?

Did under-inflated tires result in a tire blowout?

Did poor vehicle maintenance result in faulty brakes, worn tires, or defective hydraulics
and cause an accident?

DAMAGES

As a victim of a truck accident in Texas, you may be able to collect money for the
following types of losses:

Economic damages, which could include medical care and rehab, nursing home     
care, loss of earnings and loss of earning capacity;

Non-economic damages, such as for your pain and suffering, disfigurement and mental
anguish;

“Loss of consortium” (intimate relations) on behalf of your spouse; and  

Punitive damages.

INJURIES

There is a wide variety of injuries that can result from a truck accident including the
following:

Spinal cord injur
y: a spinal cord injury can result in severe nerve damage or paralysis to
body extremities either in the form of paraplegia or quadriplegia. The extent of paralysis
varies with each individual but always has devastating, life changing effects.

Traumatic brain injur
y: a brain injury can be in the form of an open head injury or a
closed head injury, depending on whether or not the skull was fractured. These head
injuries can result in loss or impairment of speech or motor skills, memory loss,
confusion, and other long term complications

Other severe personal injuries
: other possible injuries that may result from a trucking
accident include back injuries, neck injuries, amputations, and severe burns.
________________________________________________________________________

HOME *PRACTICE AREAS*EXPERIENCE*AWARDS*LINKS*CONTACT US   

The LeBlanc Law Firm is located at 3102 Maple Avenue, Suite 450, Dallas, Texas.  For directions, click
here.   

We serve  all areas of North Texas, including Dallas County, Tarrant County, Denton County, Collin
County including the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, Grand Prairie, Garland, Mesquite,
Richardson, Plano, Frisco, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Lewisville, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Grapevine,
Coppell, Colleyville, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster and Rockwall. We also accept cases
throughout the State of Texas including Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Tyler, El Paso, Waco, Lubbock,
Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Beaumont, Abilene, Wichita Falls, Laredo, Midland, Odessa,
Texarkana or any other city in Texas.

Examples of personal injury cases handled by The LeBlanc Law Firm:  
truck accident, automobile
accident, premises liability (slip and fall), medical negligence, nursing home negligence, dental negligence,
wrongful death, defective product, defective drug, false imprisonment, construction accident,
employment
related injuries.

Please visit our other websites:  
General Practice and Business and Employment law sites.
L
Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer
TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER
L
DALLAS, TEXAS
L