Trucking Company Negligence: Who’s at fault?
The law provides that employers are responsible for the negligent acts of their employees performed within the course and scope of the employee’s duties. Companies will sometimes try to avoid responsibility by claiming that the driver of the truck was an “independent contractor” rather than an employee.
Fortunately, what the company calls its driver is not as important as the company’s actual control over the details of the driver’s work.
Factors that courts use to determine whether a person is an employee or independent contractor include:
- Level of instruction given to the worker
- Whether the company provides training
- Whether the services performed by the worker are merged into the company’s overall operation
- Whether the worker renders the services for the company personally or can substitute others to do the work for them
- The way that the worker is paid
- The length of the worker’s relationship with the company
- Whether the worker works for the company full time
- The location where the worker performs the services
- Whether the worker has to submit reports to the company
- Whether the company reimburses expenses of the worker
- Whether the worker has to invest in the business
- Whether the worker gets a profit for the work performed beyond the regular pay
- Whether the worker can lose money while working for the company
- Whether the worker can quit at any time
The injury attorneys at Armstrong & Lee LLP know where to look for evidence that–regardless of what the company says–its workers are employees. Contact us today for your free consultation and case evaluation. We only get paid if you win.
Truck Accident Investigations
Laws require drivers to fill out inspection reports before and after their trips.
These reports are critical to helping us understand the conditions of the truck at the time of your accident. Our lawyers know how to analyze these reports and quickly locate the evidence needed to prove your case.
What Causes Truck Drivers to Cause Accidents?
Once an accident occurs, one of the most important questions is what caused this accident? The answer to this question is important because a party can only be held liable if the causes are identified and proven to be the cause or causes of the innocent driver’s injuries. Although there may be multiple causes of a truck accident, they usually include one or a dangerous combination of the following:
Truck Driver Error
Although it would be expected that a driver of an 18-wheeler would be more attentive due to the size and speed of their truck, the reality is that the drivers work long hours and are tired and put those around them in danger.
- Fatigue from working long hours and not sleeping
- Aggressive driving and speeding
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Improper wide turns or erroneous driving, such as failing to pay attention to no-zone areas
- Failing to signal
- Driving during adverse conditions, such as rain or snow.
Sometimes, the trucking company may be held liable for its own negligence in causing or contributing to the accident, including:
- Failure to follow company procedures
- Overloaded freight
- Poor maintenance
- Poor training
- Retaining a dangerous worker
Improper Wide Turns
Texas and federal laws outline the standards that commercial truck drivers are required to follow when executing turns. Unfortunately, many poorly-trained and supervised truck drivers do not execute turns in the safest ways. Semi-trucks are larger, heavier, and take up more space than a passenger car, meaning that more consideration and care should be exercised.
Trucks making right-hand turns sometimes initially swing to the left, causing other drivers to attempt to pass on the right because they do not recognize the truck is going to make a right-hand turn. This can result in side-impact collisions or collisions with the trailer. These kinds of “squeeze play” accidents can cause the car to be squeezed between the trailer of the truck and the curb, potentially leading to serious damage to the vehicle and possibly serious injuries to the passengers of a car.
Collisions with semi-trucks are dangerous to all those involved, but in the majority of accidents, the damage will disproportionately be done to the passenger car involved in the crash. Cars are just not capable of withstanding the force of an impact caused by a moving semi that weighs tons.
At Armstrong & Lee LLP, we put our experience to use every day as we fight for our client’s rights. We offer a free consultation to all injury victims. There is no obligation on the part of the victim for taking advantage of our free consultation.
Call us today to talk with a lawyer who can evaluate your case.
Improperly Secured Cargo
Involving improperly secured cargo can cause some of the most serious and devastating driving collisions. Both commercial and noncommercial vehicles can cause serious injuries or deaths with improperly secured cargo. Trucking safety regulations require that “no person shall drive a commercial motor vehicle . . . unless [t]he commercial motor vehicle’s cargo is properly distributed and adequately secured.” Truck drivers and companies loading commercial trailers have obligations to properly secure and inspect the load before it gets onto the public streets and highways.
Sometimes, cargo falls off of a truck or other vehicle, causing unexpected dangers on the roadway. When cargo falls off a vehicle, other drivers are forced to react on the spot. Sometimes it is impossible for other drivers to avoid an accident when cargo falls off a vehicle in front of them. Unfortunately, these types of accidents can cause multiple-car collisions and can have devastating results.
Other types of improperly secured cargo accidents include when cargo shifts within a trailer. Thousands of pounds of cargo contained within a trailer can unexpectedly move when improperly tied down. A shift of cargo can cause the driver of the tractor-trailer rig to lose control and have a serious collision.
Serious injuries and deaths also occur when cargo extends out from the trailer. This is why the State of Texas and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have outlined requirements on how to properly secure cargo. Any collision involving cargo extending beyond the edge of a trailer should be evaluated by an experienced truck accident attorney to determine what state and potentially federal regulations may be implicated.
The attorneys at Armstrong & Lee LLP have experience handling cases involving improperly secured loads. We understand the dramatic and devastating injuries that can result from other drivers’ failure to take basic safety precautions and follow the rules of the road. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case. As always, you never pay anything out of pocket, and you only pay us a fee if we win.
Due to their size, big rigs have many large blind spots, typically known in the industry as no-zone areas. In these blind spots, a motorist is basically non-existent to a truck driver. A truck driver has a duty to operate the truck in a manner that takes into account the fact that motorists may be driving in these blind spots, which include:
- Front: The area within a few car lengths from the front of the truck
- Sides: On the left side of the truck, one to two car lengths, and on the right side, four to five car lengths
- Back: Varies from three to five car lengths
Victims of 18-wheeler accidents may suffer from serious physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical bills, and require time off of work. Our attorneys have significant experience helping victims recover from their injuries, and will remove stress from our clients’ lives so that they can focus on healing. Contact a best 18-wheeler accident attorney near me in Houston, Texas to schedule an appointment with us to discuss your case.