Hidalgo County 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney
Serving Clients in Alamo County, Cameron County, & the Surrounding Areas
Accidents involving large commercial vehicles like big rigs or 18-wheelers often lead to severe injuries and significant property damage. Should you wish to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses, you will need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, as they can help you develop a strategic approach to dealing with insurance companies.
Anthony M. Ortega, PLLC. has the experience needed to help you or a loved one understand your legal rights and options and fight to receive the best possible settlement offer. With years of experience in handling 18-wheeler accident cases, we can work tirelessly to help you obtain the best possible case results.
At Anthony M. Ortega, PLLC., you're not just another case number; you're a person in need of sound legal counsel, and we're here to provide it. We take pride in providing personalized attention to each client, acknowledging that every situation is unique and requires a tailored strategy. We stand by your side, fighting for your rights and striving for the best possible outcome in your case.
Call (956) 300-1402 to speak with our 18-wheeler accident attorney.
Primary Factors Leading to 18-Wheeler Accidents
18-wheeler accidents can be the result of negligence on the part of the vehicle driver, fleet managers, and others. Some of the primary factors that contribute to and cause such accidents include:
- Inadequate training. Proper training is essential for operating large vehicles safely. Inadequate training can result in drivers being unprepared to respond to certain road conditions or situations, thereby increasing the risk of accidents.
- Overloading. Overloading the truck can affect its stability and control, increase braking distance, and lead to tire blowouts. Moreover, an overloaded truck can cause severe damage and injuries in the event of a crash.
- Failing to maintain vehicles. Poorly maintained vehicles pose a substantial risk. Factors such as brake failure, tire blowouts, or steering mechanism faults can lead to devastating accidents.
- Driving while under the influence of drowsy. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs the driver's ability to operate the vehicle safely, making it a major cause of accidents. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous and can have similar effects on drivers. Fatigue impairs reaction time, judgment, and concentration. Reportedly, a staggering 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers were found to be drowsy during the time of their crash.
- Driving while distracted. Distracted driving poses a significant risk. It involves any activity that diverts the driver's attention from the road, such as texting, eating, or adjusting the radio. A distracted driver can miss critical events, cues, and warnings, especially in complex driving situations, leading to severe accidents.
- Speeding and violating other traffic rules. Drivers may speed or violate other traffic laws that are in place to keep drivers safe, which can lead to an accident.
- Driving recklessly. Reckless driving includes practices like speeding, changing lanes without signaling, tailgating, and ignoring traffic signals. These behaviors not only violate traffic laws but also increase the risk of collisions. Truck drivers and fleet managers can also be considered liable for being reckless if they knowingly drive an 18-wheeler with faulty brakes or other issues.
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Who May Be Liable for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
In many cases, truck drivers can be held liable as their actions may have contributed to the accident. As we mentioned, drivers may knowingly drive while under the influence, while drowsy, or recklessly, which can lead to an accident. However, drivers are not the only party who can be held liable.
In the aftermath of an 18-wheeler accident, determining who is at fault can be a complex process. A myriad of factors contributes to these accidents, and several parties could potentially be held liable.
A trucking company can be held liable for an 18-wheeler accident if it is found to have breached its duty of care in various aspects of its operations:
- One such area is the implementation of roadway safety programs. If a company fails to enforce stringent safety protocols, it may be deemed negligent. For instance, if a company does not adequately train its drivers in safe driving practices or fails to enforce rest periods, leading to a fatigued driver causing an accident, the company could be held responsible.
- Another factor is the qualifications of the drivers. Trucking companies are obligated to hire competent and qualified drivers. If a company hires a driver with a known history of reckless driving, and that driver causes an accident, the company may be held liable under the legal principle of "negligent hiring."
- The condition of safety equipment and adherence to cargo loading protocols also play significant roles. If a company neglects regular maintenance, resulting in faulty brakes or worn-out tires that contribute to an accident, the company could be held accountable. Similarly, if a company overloads its trucks or improperly secures cargo, leading to an accident, the company could bear responsibility.
However, the level of responsibility decreases when drivers are independent contractors rather than employees, as the company has less control over their actions. This distinction is often a point of contention in truck accident cases and depends heavily on the specifics of the contractual agreement and the degree of control the company exerts over the driver.
There are also circumstances under which the trucking company may not be held liable. These include hazards created by other drivers, such as sudden lane changes or stops or uncontrollable weather conditions that result in poor visibility or slippery roads. In these situations, the liability may shift away from the trucking company, provided the company and its driver are in compliance with all safety regulations and standards.
Manufacturers can be held liable if an accident is caused due to faulty or defective parts in the truck. This falls under product liability law, which holds manufacturers accountable for defective products that cause harm.
For instance, if a component of the truck, such as the brakes or steering mechanism, was defective and this defect led to an accident, the manufacturer could be held liable. This principle is known as "strict liability," and plaintiffs need to prove that there was a manufacturing defect, that the defect was present at the time the product left the manufacturer's control, and that the defect caused their injuries.
However, manufacturers have defenses available to them. They may argue that the truck was altered after it left their control, that the plaintiff misused the truck in an unforeseeable way, or that the plaintiff knew of the defect but continued to use the truck anyway.
The government can also be held liable for 18-wheeler accidents in some cases. This is particularly true when accidents occur due to poorly designed roadways, inadequate signage, or improper maintenance.