Types of Truck Accidents in Texas

June 15, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
Types of Truck Accidents in Texas

Thousands of vehicles cross the broad expanse of Texas roadways every day. Heavy trucks make up a big part of the daily traffic. All these vehicles keep commerce humming on highways and surface streets.

That’s a good thing for the economy but can increase the chances for motorists to be involved in a truck accident. When a passenger vehicle tangles with a big rig, the results are often devastating, resulting in serious injuries or death.

Motorists injured in trucking accidents may be able to recover compensation for their injuries and losses by filing a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit.

These cases may involve multiple vehicles, and complicated state and federal regulations govern the trucking industry. An experienced Texas truck accident lawyer can advocate for you in these cases.

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Understanding the Most Common Types of Truck Crashes

Truck Accident in Texas

Understanding the most common types of truck accidents can help drivers stay alert and take precautions to avoid these dangerous situations on the road.

There are many types of truck accidents, from jackknife accidents, where a truck's trailer swings out at a 90-degree angle, to underride accidents, in which smaller vehicles slide beneath the trailer. Each type of collision has its own set of causes, risk factors, and potential outcomes.

Jackknife Accidents

Jackknife accidents are among the most dangerous types of truck crashes. They occur when a truck's trailer swings out to form a 90-degree angle with the cab, resembling a folding pocket knife. This can be caused by improper braking, slippery roads, or taking turns too quickly.

When a jackknife accident happens, the truck driver loses control of the vehicle, and the trailer can swing into adjacent lanes, hitting other vehicles or causing a multi-car pileup. The potential outcomes of a jackknife accident can be severe, with the trailer potentially crushing smaller vehicles or causing a chain reaction of crashes.

Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents happen when a truck tips over onto its side or roof. They can be caused by factors such as speeding, sudden steering maneuvers, or unstable loads. Rollover accidents are particularly dangerous because the truck's cargo can spill onto the road, creating additional hazards for other vehicles.

The risk factors for rollover accidents include taking curves or exit ramps too quickly, as well as improper loading of the trailer. If the load is not properly secured or balanced, it can shift during travel, causing the truck to become unstable and increasing the likelihood of a rollover.

The potential outcomes of a rollover accident can include the truck crushing smaller vehicles or causing a massive pileup.

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when a truck crashes into the back of another vehicle, often due to tailgating, distracted driving, or brake failure. These accidents can be particularly severe because of the size and weight difference between trucks and passenger vehicles.

The risk factors for rear-end collisions include following too closely, driver fatigue, and improper vehicle maintenance. If a truck's brakes are not properly maintained, the driver may not stop in time to avoid a collision.

The potential outcomes of a rear-end collision can include serious injuries or fatalities, particularly if the truck pushes the passenger vehicle into other lanes of traffic or off the road.

Underride Accidents

Underride accidents are among the most devastating and tragic types of truck crashes. These accidents occur when a smaller vehicle slides underneath the trailer of a truck, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities.

The size and weight disparity between trucks and passenger vehicles make these collisions particularly deadly, as the upper portion of the smaller vehicle can be crushed or sheared off.

There are two main types of underride accidents: side underride and rear underride crashes. Side underride accidents happen when a car slides under the side of a truck trailer during a collision.

Rear underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle collides with the back of a truck and becomes wedged underneath. While rear underride guards are required for commercial vehicles, side underride guards are still optional for trucking companies, meaning they are often not installed.

The risk factors for underride accidents include improper truck maintenance, lack of underride guards, and driver negligence. If a truck's underride guards are not properly maintained or are missing altogether, the risk of a severe underride accident increases significantly.

Driver negligence, such as abruptly changing lanes or failing to signal, can also contribute to these crashes.

The potential outcomes of an underride accident are often catastrophic, with passengers in the smaller vehicle at risk of severe head and neck injuries, decapitation, or death. Even at low speeds, the force of the impact can be devastating due to the height difference between the vehicles.

Compounding the tragedy of underride accidents is the fact that they may be underreported. The Institute for Safer Trucking (IST) suspects there are many more underride crashes than are reported annually.

The agency believes this is because not every state has a specific field for underride crashes on Police Accident Report (PAR) forms. It reports Texas does not have an underride field on its PAR.

Wide Turn Accidents

Wide turn accidents can occur when a truck makes a wide turn, swinging into adjacent lanes or onto the shoulder, potentially colliding with other vehicles. These accidents often happen when a truck driver misjudges the space needed to complete a turn or fails to signal their intention to turn.

The risk factors for wide-turn accidents include narrow roads, tight intersections, and driver inexperience. Inexperienced truck drivers may not know how much space they need to safely turn, leading to collisions.

The potential outcomes of a wide turn accident can include sideswipe collisions or head-on crashes with vehicles in adjacent lanes.

Blind Spot Accidents

Large trucks have significant blind spots, and accidents can happen when truck drivers fail to see vehicles in these areas, especially during lane changes or merges. These blind spots, also known as no-zones, are directly in front, directly behind, and on either side of the truck.

The risk factors for blind spot accidents include driver inattention, failure to properly check mirrors, and improper lane changes. Passenger vehicle drivers can also contribute to these accidents by lingering in a truck's blind spots. The potential outcomes of a blind spot accident can include sideswipe collisions, rollovers, or multi-vehicle crashes.

Where Do Truck Accidents Happen on Texas Roadways?

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute reports about 12,000 trucks per day make up long-haul truck traffic on Texas interstate highways. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles noted recently nearly 750,000 commercial motor vehicles, including trucks and buses, are registered in the state.

High-speed, multi-lane highways and interstates are common locations for truck accidents. The combination of heavy traffic, high speeds, and the presence of large commercial trucks can increase the risk of accidents. Examples include I-10, I-20, I-35, and I-45 in Texas.

Highway ramps and interchanges are another common location for truck accidents. These areas often involve merging traffic, sharp curves, and reduced speed limits, which can be challenging for large trucks to navigate safely.

Truck accidents also often occur at intersections, particularly those with high traffic volumes or complex layouts. The size and weight of trucks can make it difficult for them to stop quickly or maneuver through tight spaces, increasing the likelihood of collisions with other vehicles.

Construction zones on highways and roads can be particularly dangerous for trucks. Narrowed lanes, shifted traffic patterns, and the presence of workers and equipment can increase the risk of accidents involving large commercial vehicles.

Although truck accidents are often associated with busy urban areas, rural roads also pose significant risks. These roads may have narrow lanes, limited shoulders, and sharp curves that can be difficult for trucks to navigate safely. Additionally, these areas may have limited lighting and less frequent road maintenance.

In its most recent Safer Trucking Report, IST ranked Texas as the worst state for truck crash fatalities, counting 806 deadly crashes in a year.

Trucking Industry Rules and Regulations

Trucking Industry Rules and Regulations

In Texas, several federal and state regulations govern trucking accidents and accidents involving other types of commercial vehicles. These rules and regulations are designed to ensure the safety of all road users and to hold trucking companies and drivers accountable for their actions.

Here are some of the key regulations:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Regulations: The FMCSA regulates commercial motor vehicles, including trucks, operating in interstate commerce. These regulations cover areas such as driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and cargo securement.
  • Texas Transportation Code: The Texas Transportation Code contains state-specific laws governing commercial motor vehicles, including regulations on vehicle size and weight limits, driver licensing, and insurance requirements.
  • Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Regulations: The Texas DPS enforces state and federal regulations related to commercial motor vehicles. This includes conducting vehicle inspections, investigating accidents, and issuing citations for violations.
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: Both federal and Texas state regulations set limits on the number of hours truck drivers can operate their vehicles to reduce the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue. These rules specify the maximum number of driving hours per day and week, as well as mandatory rest periods.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Standards: Trucking companies are required to maintain their vehicles in safe operating condition, conducting regular inspections and repairs as needed. Failure to properly maintain vehicles can lead to accidents and legal liability.

When a truck accident occurs in Texas, these regulations may come into play as investigators work to determine the cause of the accident and any potential violations that may have contributed to the incident.

Truck accident victims should not have to worry about all this red tape while they struggle to recover from severe injuries or deal with the death of a loved one.

How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help?

When a truck accident occurs, a knowledgeable attorney will meticulously examine every relevant regulation to determine if non-compliance played a role in the crash. This can allow them to establish liability on the part of the truck driver or trucking company to hold them accountable for the crash.

Establishing Liability

As outlined above, trucking is heavily regulated by federal and state laws, which govern factors such as driver qualifications, hours of service, and vehicle maintenance. An attorney well-versed in these laws and regulations can help determine if any violations contributed to the accident and strengthen your case. 

For example, federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules dictate the maximum number of hours a truck driver can operate their vehicle before taking a mandatory rest break.

If an attorney discovers that a driver exceeded these limits and caused an accident due to fatigue, this violation can be used to establish the driver's and their employer's liability for the resulting damages.

Similarly, trucking companies are required to follow strict vehicle maintenance schedules and ensure their fleet is in safe operating condition.

If a mechanical failure causes an accident, you can hold the trucking company accountable for its negligence.

By leveraging their understanding of the complex web of trucking regulations, experienced attorneys can build strong cases that demonstrate how violations and failures by truck drivers and companies directly led to the accidents that harmed their clients.

Negotiation and Litigation

A seasoned attorney is also a skilled negotiator. Insurance companies often have teams of lawyers working to minimize payouts and protect their interests. Having your own legal representation levels the playing field and ensures that your rights are protected throughout the claims process.

A truck accident lawyer can help assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-term care costs. They can negotiate with insurance companies and, if necessary, represent you in court to help secure the compensation you deserve.

Contacting a lawyer experienced in handling truck accident claims can provide you with the guidance, support, and know-how needed to navigate the legal process and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

Potential Damages Available for a Truck Accident Case

Damages Claim for Truck Accident Case

Due to the sheer size and weight of 18-wheelers, buses, and other heavy trucks and commercial vehicles, truck crash victims may suffer catastrophic injuries. They may have substantial medical bills, need physical therapy or specialized medical equipment, and may lose work. They may suffer chronic pain or other long-term impacts from conditions including traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Mounting medical bills plus lost wages amount to emotional distress. The sudden and violent nature of this type of crash may also leave accident victims with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health challenges.

In the worst cases, someone is killed in a trucking crash. No amount of money can ever replace the loss of a cherished family member, but these damages can help ease the financial burden and provide a sense of justice.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the quantifiable financial losses that result from a truck accident.

These may include:

  • Medical expenses: This covers all costs related to treating injuries sustained in the accident, such as hospital bills, surgery, medication, and ongoing rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages: If you are unable to work due to your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for the income you have lost and will continue to lose in the future.
  • Property damage: This includes the cost of repairing or replacing any personal property damaged in the accident, such as your vehicle.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are more difficult to quantify but have a significant impact on your life.

These may include:

  • Pain and suffering: This compensates you for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident and your injuries.
  • Mental anguish: Truck accidents can be traumatic experiences that lead to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other emotional issues.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: If your injuries prevent you from participating in activities you once enjoyed or alter your quality of life, you may be compensated for this loss.
  • Loss of consortium: This compensates your spouse for the loss of companionship, affection, and support as a result of your injuries.

Wrongful Death Damages

In the heartbreaking event that you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, you may pursue a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful death damages may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses: The costs associated with laying your loved one to rest should be compensated.
  • Lost income and benefits: If your loved one was a financial provider, you may be entitled to compensation for the income and benefits they would have earned had they lived.
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and support: This compensates you for the intangible but profound loss of your loved one's presence in your life.
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress: Losing a loved one in a sudden and tragic accident can cause immense grief, suffering, and emotional trauma that deserves recognition.

Let the Francis Firm Fight for You

If you or a loved one has been involved in a devastating truck accident, don't let the trucking companies and their insurers take advantage of you during this challenging time.

The moment the crash occurs, these powerful entities begin building their defense to minimize their liability and your rightful compensation. You need a strong advocate on your side who will fight tirelessly to protect your interests and secure the justice you deserve.

At the Francis Firm, our compassionate and experienced Texas personal injury attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the legal process, allowing you to focus on healing and rebuilding your life. We will carefully evaluate your claim, explain your legal options, and help you obtain the medical care you need to recover from your injuries.

Don't wait to take action. Trust us to navigate the complex web of trucking regulations and insurance company tactics on your behalf, while you concentrate on what matters most – your health and your family.

We have offices in Southlake, Dallas, and Fort Worth to help clients injured in trucking accidents in Texas. If you can’t come to our office, we will come to you. Call us at (817) 533-8773 or contact us online to consult an attorney in your area.