Sharing the road with commercial vehicles is part of our daily commute. Delivery vans, box trucks, big rigs, buses … they are everywhere. And, unfortunately, they can also be extremely dangerous and, sometimes, even deadly.
Consider this: In 2022, there were 2,020 commercial vehicle crashes in Tarrant County alone, resulting in 13 fatalities and 42 serious injuries, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The sheer size, weight and speed of commercial vehicles – combined with driver inattention or error – is often a recipe for disaster.
If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed in commercial vehicle accident in Fort Worth or the surrounding cities, it’s important to contact an experienced Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible. If the crash was caused, in part, by the negligence of the driver or another third-party, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
In this article, our Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer explains these types of personal injury or wrongful death claims and how our law firm can help. Importantly, if we take your case, you won’t pay us anything upfront or out-of-pocket. We only get paid if we win compensation for you.
Common Types of Commercial Vehicles
A commercial vehicle is a type of motor vehicle that is primarily used for the transportation of goods or passengers for business purposes. These vehicles may include large trucks, buses, or smaller specialized vehicles such as taxis or delivery vans. Commercial vehicles often have to meet specific regulations and requirements related to safety, weight, and emissions, which may differ from those applicable to regular passenger vehicles. Here’s a list of common commercial vehicles:
- Semi-trucks: Also known as tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers, these large trucks consist of a tractor unit and a detachable trailer used for transporting goods.
- Box trucks: These vehicles have a large, enclosed cargo area and are commonly used for moving household items, delivering packages, or transporting goods for businesses. Florists, caterers often use box trucks, for example.
- Flatbed trucks: Flatbed trucks have an open bed with no sides or roof, making them ideal for transporting large, heavy, or oversized items that cannot fit inside an enclosed trailer.
- Tanker trucks: These trucks are designed to transport liquid or gas substances, such as fuel, chemicals, or milk, in a cylindrical tank.
- Garbage trucks: These specialized vehicles are equipped to collect and transport waste from residential and commercial locations.
- Tow trucks: Tow trucks are used to move disabled, improperly parked, or impounded vehicles. They come in various types, including flatbed, hook and chain, and wheel-lift tow trucks
- Delivery vans: These smaller commercial vehicles are used primarily for delivering packages, mail, or small cargo in urban areas and include FedEx, UPS or Amazon Prime vehicles.
- Buses: Buses are large vehicles designed to transport passengers. They include city buses, school buses, and long-distance coaches.
- Construction vehicles: These vehicles are used in construction projects and include dump trucks, cement mixers, and crane trucks.
- Refrigerated trucks: Refrigerated trucks, also known as reefer trucks, are used to transport perishable goods that require temperature-controlled environments.
- Taxis and Limosines: Taxis and limousines both fall into the category of paying passengers, as they provide transportation services to customers in exchange for a fee.
These are just a few examples of the many types of commercial vehicles that can be found on the roads. Each type is designed for a specific purpose, and they play a vital role in the transportation and logistics industries.
Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents
There are various types of commercial vehicle accidents that can occur on the roads, including:
These accidents happen when a commercial vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle, often due to tailgating or not maintaining a safe following distance.
A jackknife accident occurs when a large commercial vehicle, such as an 18-wheeler, folds in on itself due to a sudden stop or sharp turn, causing the trailer to swing out and form a 90-degree angle with the cab.
These accidents happen when a commercial vehicle, like a large truck or bus, tips over onto its side or roof due to factors such as high speed, sharp turns, or uneven road surfaces.
An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle slides under the rear or side of a large commercial vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer, leading to catastrophic damage and injuries.
Blind spot accidents
Commercial vehicles often have large blind spots where smaller vehicles can be hidden from the driver’s view. Accidents can occur when the commercial vehicle driver changes lanes or makes turns without realizing that there is a vehicle in their blind spot.
Due to their size, commercial vehicles often need more space to make turns. Wide-turn accidents can occur when a truck driver swings out too far or cuts corners too closely, colliding with other vehicles or pedestrians in the process.
Brake failure accident
Commercial vehicles require regular maintenance to ensure their brakes are functioning properly. Brake failure accidents can happen when a commercial vehicle’s brakes fail to stop the vehicle, causing it to collide with other vehicles or objects on the road.
Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can cause accidents by shifting the weight distribution of the vehicle, leading to loss of control, or by falling off the vehicle and striking other vehicles or pedestrians.
Determining fault and liability in a commercial vehicle accident is extremely important. That’s why it is so important to contact an experienced Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer immediately, so they can start investigating your case and the cause. At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group our team will work to determine whether any of the following negligent acts factored into the accident:
- Driver fatigue: Overworked drivers can become drowsy, leading to slower reaction times and poor decision-making.
- Distracted driving: Using a phone, eating, or engaging in other activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road.
- Equipment failure: Mechanical issues, such as brake failure or tire blowouts, can contribute to accidents.
- Improper loading: Unsecured or imbalanced cargo can cause a vehicle to become unstable or overturn.
- Speeding and aggressive driving: Reckless behavior by drivers can lead to devastating collisions.
Please take a moment to watch this video by Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer Ty Stimpson, who talks about common causes of truck and commercial vehicle accidents in Texas.
Commercial Vehicle Accident Statistics Nationwide and in Texas
Commercial vehicle accidents are a significant concern both nationwide and in Texas. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 4,988 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes in the United States in 2020. In 2021, in Texas alone, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reported 536 fatal crashes involving large trucks.
These statistics highlight the importance of safe driving practices and the need for experienced legal representation for victims of commercial vehicle accidents.
Laws and Regulations for Commercial Vehicles and Drivers in Texas and Nationwide
Laws and regulations for commercial vehicles and commercial drivers are designed to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. In the United States, both federal and state-level regulations govern commercial vehicle operations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces federal regulations, while each state has its own specific laws.
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): Nationwide, commercial drivers are required to obtain a CDL to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). There are three classes of CDLs (A, B, and C) based on the type and weight of the vehicle. Endorsements may be required for certain types of vehicles, like those carrying hazardous materials or passengers.
- Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: The HOS rules dictate how many hours a commercial driver can work and drive within a set period. These rules include a maximum of 11 hours driving time within a 14-hour workday, a mandatory 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving, and a 10-hour rest period between workdays. Drivers also cannot work more than 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing: Commercial drivers are subject to regular drug and alcohol testing. This includes pre-employment, post-accident, random, and reasonable suspicion testing.
- Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection: CMVs must undergo regular inspections, and drivers must complete a daily pre-trip inspection to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. Maintenance records must be kept for each vehicle.
- Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program: This program monitors and evaluates the safety performance of commercial drivers and motor carriers. It assigns scores based on factors such as crashes, roadside inspections, and violations.
In addition to federal regulations, Texas has its own set of rules for commercial drivers and vehicles, which are regulated by the Texas Department of Pubich Safety.
- Texas Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): To obtain a Texas CDL, drivers must pass a written exam and a skills test, which includes a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and an on-road driving test.
- Texas Size and Weight Limits: Texas has specific size and weight limits for commercial vehicles. Generally, a single vehicle cannot exceed 45 feet in length, and the combined length of a truck-tractor and semi-trailer cannot exceed 65 feet. The maximum weight is 80,000 pounds, but specific weight limits may vary based on the number of axles and the distance between them.
- Texas Intrastate Motor Carrier Registration: Texas-based motor carriers that operate solely within the state must register with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) and obtain a TxDMV Certificate.
- Oversize/Overweight Permits: Vehicles that exceed the size and weight limits must obtain a permit from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) before operating on Texas roads.
- Texas-specific HOS Rules: For intrastate operations, Texas follows federal HOS rules but has a few exceptions. These include a maximum driving time of 12 hours within a 15-hour workday and a 70-hour limit in a 7-day period.
If you have been injured in a commercial vehicle wreck, it’s vital that you contact an experienced, reputable Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer right away. The attorney will launch an investigation to determine whether the driver and the company were compliant with all the state and federal rules and regulations.
Steps to Take After a Commercial Vehicle Accident
If you have been involved in a commercial vehicle accident in Fort Worth, Texas, it is essential to take the proper steps to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights. Here’s what to do following a commercial vehicle accident:
1. Prioritize Safety
First and foremost, check for injuries to yourself and anyone else involved in the accident. If anyone needs immediate medical attention, call 911. If the accident scene poses a danger to other motorists, try to move the vehicles to a safe location if possible, or use hazard lights and flares to warn oncoming traffic.
2. Call the Police
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it’s important to call the police to file a report. This report can be crucial when dealing with insurance companies and in any potential legal proceedings. When speaking with the police, provide accurate and factual information, but avoid admitting fault or assigning blame.
3. Gather Information
Exchange information with the other parties involved in the accident, including names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, insurance information, and details about the commercial vehicle, such as the company name and USDOT number. Additionally, gather contact information for any witnesses who may have seen the accident.
4. Document the Scene
Take photos and videos of the accident scene, capturing the damage to all vehicles, the road conditions, any skid marks, and any other relevant details. Also, take note of the weather and lighting conditions at the time of the accident.
5. Seek Medical Attention
Most commercial vehicle accidents result in injuries – even if they are not noticeable at first. It’s imperative to get to a hospital or doctor as soon as possible to get checked out.
6. Contact an Experienced Fort Worth Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer
Commercial vehicle accidents can be extremely complex. It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in commercial vehicle accidents. They can help you understand your legal rights, navigate the insurance claims process, and advocate for the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.
7. Keep Records
Maintain detailed records of any expenses related to the accident, including medical bills, repair estimates, lost wages, and any other costs you have incurred. These records will be important when negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or in any legal proceedings.
8. Don’t Talk to the Insurance Company
The aftermath of a commercial vehicle accident can be overwhelming and stressful and now is not the time to be giving statements or making admissions or decisions. Let your attorney handle all contact and correspondence with the insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to low-ball your claim or deny it all together. By following these steps, you can help protect your legal rights and work towards a fair and just resolution for any damages and injuries you have sustained.
Common Types of Commercial Vehicle Accident Injuries
Due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles, accidents involving them can result in severe injuries. Some of the most common types of injuries sustained in commercial vehicle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Caused by a sudden impact or jolt to the head, leading to brain damage and potentially long-lasting or permanent impairments.
- Spinal cord injuries: Damage to the spinal cord can result in temporary or permanent paralysis, loss of sensation, or other neurological issues.
- Broken bones: Fractures can range from simple breaks to complex, multiple fractures that require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.
- Internal injuries: Damage to internal organs or internal bleeding can be life-threatening and may require emergency medical attention.
- Neck injuries and back injuries: Whiplash, herniated discs, and other neck or back injuries can lead to chronic pain and limited mobility.
- Cuts and lacerations: Deep cuts can result in scarring, disfigurement, or even amputation in severe cases.
If you have been involved in a commercial vehicle accident, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately to assess and treat any injuries. Make sure you document and keep records and receipts for all medical-related bills. You will need this later when your lawyer begins to calculate the extent of your damages.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Injuries in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
In a commercial vehicle accident, there may be a number of parties who could be held liable for injuries, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
- The driver: If the driver’s negligence or recklessness caused the accident, they may be held responsible for damages.
- The transportation company/owner of vehicle: Companies may be liable for the actions of their employees or for failing to maintain their fleet.
- The vehicle manufacturer: If a defect in the vehicle or mechanical failure contributed to the accident, the manufacturer may be held responsible.
- Maintenance providers: Companies responsible for maintaining commercial vehicles can be held liable if poor maintenance contributed to the accident.
- Cargo loaders: If improper loading led to the accident, those responsible for loading the cargo may be held accountable.
- Another driver: If the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver on the road, that driver could be held liable for any injuries they caused.
Determining liability in a commercial vehicle accident can be complex, which is why it’s imperative that you seek the guidance of an experienced Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer. Rest assured, we will identify everyone and anything responsible for your accident and hold them accountable.
Types of Compensation for Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Texas
If you sustained injuries or a loved one was killed in a commercial vehicle accident in Texas, you may be entitled to different types of compensation to cover the damages and losses. These compensations can be broadly categorized into three types: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic compensation aims to cover the financial losses incurred due to the accident including:
- Medical Expenses: This covers the cost of medical treatment, including hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any ongoing or future medical care required as a result of the accident.
- Lost Wages: If the victim is unable to work due to the injuries sustained in the accident, they may be entitled to compensation for the wages they would have earned during their recovery period.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: In cases where the victim’s ability to work is permanently affected, they may be compensated for the diminished earning capacity over their lifetime.
- Property Damage: This includes the cost to repair or replace any damaged property, such as the victim’s vehicle.
- Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses: These are any additional costs directly related to the accident, such as transportation to medical appointments or hiring help for household chores.
Non-economic covers the intangible losses that are not easily quantifiable in monetary terms including:
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident and the resulting injuries.
- Emotional Distress: Compensation for the psychological impact of the accident, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Loss of Consortium: This refers to the negative impact on the relationship between the victim and their spouse, which may include loss of companionship, affection, and intimacy.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the diminished ability to enjoy everyday activities and the overall reduction in the quality of life due to the accident.
Punitive Damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, reckless, or malicious. These damages are not intended to compensate the victim but to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Punitive damages in commercial vehicle accident cases and are typically awarded when the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or intentionally causing harm.
How Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group Can Help
The laws and regulations pertaining to commercial vehicles is complex and a thorough investigation is imperative to determine liability. An experienced Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer will handle everything so that you can focus on recovery. This includes:
- Investigation and evidence collection: Our team will thoroughly investigate your case and gather crucial evidence to support your claim.
- Determining liability: We will conduct a exhaustive investigation to determine everyone who bears any responsibility or liability for your injuries. We will then work to hold everyone accountable.
- Handling insurance claims: We will deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, protecting your interests and maximizing your compensation.
- Negotiating settlements: Our attorneys are skilled negotiators who will work tirelessly to secure a fair settlement for your injuries and losses.
- Taking your case to trial: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, our experienced trial attorneys are prepared to fight for your rights in court.
- Guiding you through the process: We will help you navigate this difficult and uncertain time, keeping you informed of your case’s progress and ensuring that all necessary paperwork and deadlines are met. Our legal expertise, experience, and guidance will maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
Speak to a Fort Worth Commercial Accident Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one is a victim of a commercial vehicle accident, your next call needs to be to a Fort Worth commercial accident injury lawyer at Varghese Summersett. We are experienced in handling all types of commercial vehicle accident cases, including 18-wheelers, delivery vans, buses, and more. Don’t let the negligence of others dictate your future.
Call 817-207-4878 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll review your case, answer your questions, and explain the legal process. If we take your case, you will never receive an invoice from us. Our team works on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we win your case.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the accident. It’s important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your claim is filed on time.
Many commercial vehicle accident cases can be resolved through settlement negotiations. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys are prepared to take your case to trial to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Commercial vehicle accident cases can be complex, involving multiple parties and regulations. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
It’s important to speak with an attorney before discussing the accident with insurance adjusters. Your lawyer can protect your interests and ensure you don’t inadvertently harm your case.
At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay any fees unless we recover compensation for through settlement or a jury award. Learn more about contingency fee agreements: https://versusinjury.com/contingency-fee-agreements/
In Texas, the comparative negligence rule, also known as the modified comparative fault rule or proportionate responsibility, is a legal principle used to determine the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive in a personal injury claim. Under this rule, the damages awarded to the plaintiff are reduced in proportion to their degree of fault, if any, in the accident.
To break it down, if you are found to be partially responsible for an accident, your compensation will be reduced according to the percentage of your fault. However, there is an important caveat to the Texas comparative negligence rule: if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will be barred from recovering any compensation.
For example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident and suffered $100,000 in damages. After evaluating the case, the court determines that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 80 percent at fault. In this scenario, your compensation would be reduced by 20%, meaning you would receive $80,000 in damages ($100,000 – 20% = $80,000).
However, if the court determined that you were 60 percent at fault for the accident, under the Texas comparative negligence rule, you would be ineligible to receive any compensation. This rule encourages accident victims to exercise due care and helps to allocate liability fairly among the involved parties.
Yes, you may be able to sue a rideshare company if you’re injured in an accident involving one of their drivers due to their negligence. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced lawyer to discuss your case and options.