When you've been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle the experience can be both frightening as well as harmful, resulting in physical and emotional injuries. Truck drivers have a tough job - it requires long hours, driving through all types of weather and all hours of the day and night, and being constantly alert of nearby vehicles. But there's no excuse for a trucking accident to be caused by negligence of the driver. Driving while distracted, drowsy, or under the influence are all negligent acts which can lead to terrible consequences for others on the roadways.
Serving the needs of injured victims and their families across Texas, Joe Stephens is considered one of the best truck accident lawyers in Houston. Having been selected every year as a Texas Super Lawyer, Joe Stephens is a name injury victims can trust to handle their cases with professionalism and expertise. He is well renowned as a very assertive and driven Houston car accident lawyer with a legendary reputation for obtaining large settlements for injury victims.
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It's the job of your Houston personal injury attorney to clearly prove negligence was at the heart of the accident which lead to your injuries and losses. Without an ample amount of evidence it will be difficult to convince a court of guilt and make any demands for compensation. The Stephens Law Firm will conduct an exhaustive investigation on your behalf to gather all the evidence necessary to present a strong case on your behalf.
When you've been in an accident with a commercial truck, gathering evidence often isn't the first thought that comes to mind. In extreme cases injuries can be severe and lead to an incapacitated state. In such events it is up to your legal team to begin obtaining all evidence related to the accident including citations, photographs of the scene of the crash, transcripts of interviews, medical records and more.
Truck drivers and trucking companies usually carry multiple lines of commercial truck insurance to cover different aspects of the trucking company, the trailer, the truck, and the driver. There may also be insurance specific to the type of materials the truck is hauling. This makes truck wreck cases even more complicated than a typical car wreck.
As you can imagine, the trucking industry has it's own agents, adjusters, investigators and a team of defense lawyers at the ready to rebut any claims against their client. They often present damaged parties with settlement offers that are much lower than what they could be awarded had they hired an attorney.
When your case requires the skill and knowledge of a seasoned truck accident law firm, Joe Stephens is the first choice. Having tried over 100 verdict cases successfully in his 30+ years as an experienced personal injury lawyer in Texas, he has a reputation for achieving results for his clients. Cases involving semi-truck collisions can be very complex and present difficulty proving wrong-doing between the truck driver and the trucking company. However Joe Stephens understands how to uncover and present the facts in each case effectively. If you or a loved one was involved in a wreck with a tractor trailer, you need a skilled 18-wheeler trucking accident attorneys in Houston Texas on your case. Call the Stephens Law Firm today!
After a big truck collision, the first priority for injury victims is to seek out medical assistance and treatment. That is why it is so important to hire a trucking accident attorney who can expertly handle every detail of your case. Joe Stephens will hire the right experts to reconstruct the case while gathering evidence and witness testimony in support of your claim. He has over 35 years of experience providing exceptional legal services for truck accident victims throughout Houston and has written numerous articles related to the trucking industry.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues a set of guidelines in which commercial motor carriers must adhere. Each federal regulation is created for safety and to prevent a commercial vehicle accident. Whether a drivers neglect the 11 hour driving limit or work over 70 hours a week, any resulting trucking crash requires legal action to be taken against them.
Texas trucking accident statistics show driver fatigue is one of the leading types of trucking violations and has been found to be similar to driving with a blood alcohol level of .10, well above the legal limit. Operating a semi truck while tired is extremely dangerous and should not be the reason a motorist is injured or killed. That is why the FMCSR has created federal regulations on how long a driver can consecutively drive a semi truck and how long their rests need to be. If the driver ignores those guidelines and causes a commercial trucking accident, they must be held liable for their mistake. Truckers or trucking companies involved in an accident who have a record of violations may be subject to levies of punitive damage as well.
Many of the attorneys that advertise themselves as "an experienced truck accident lawyer in Houston" have never stepped foot in a court room to litigate a commercial vehicle injury case. They don't know the first thing about truck crashes or how to properly investigate and handle your case. They just want you to contact them so they can make a referral fee for doing nothing more refer you to another attorney.
Joe actually works directly with 18 wheeler accident victims in Houston and all across Texas. He's handled numerous types of truck accident cases and he's one of the few Houston truck accident attorneys who is double board certified in injury trial law. Joe has appeared before the Texas supreme court on behalf of his clients and has won many landmark trials.
If you were in a car accident involving an 18 wheeler or other commercial truck, you need to contact our law offices immediately for a free consultation. If Joe is able to represent you as your lawyer, he will work to immediately stop the truck companies from stepping on your rights or hiding evidence. He will request a copy of the accident report, send a special investigator to the accident scene, get witness statements, handle the insurance adjuster calls, get your medial bills taken care of, and much more.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
We've prepared the following Houston truck accident FAQs to help you understand the accident claim process when it involves an 18-wheeler trucking accident.
If you were involved in an 18 wheeler wreck it is important to call the police immediately, get all of the truck drivers information, seek treatment for any accident injuries incurred and contact a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a truck accident claim.
Truck accidents are different from accidents involving other motor vehicles because of the severity of the injuries sustained. Tractor trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds which creates more force and severe injuries when involved with another vehicle. Also, a large truck has large blind spots which prevent the driver from seeing if another vehicle is present. If you were injured in a truck accident, contact the 18-wheeler accident lawyers at the Stephens Law Firm today!
While each trucking accident is caused by its own unique situation, the most common causes of a semi truck accident in Houston Texas are:
- Driver error (i.e. speeding, reckless driving, unsafe lane change)
- Distracted driving or drunk driving
- Improperly maintained vehicles
- Negligent hiring or retention of drivers (i.e. unqualified drivers or truckers with a history of poor driving, substance abuse, or medical conditions that would prevent them from holding a CDL)
- Inadequate safety training
- Violations of cargo securement or vehicle weight regulations
- Violations of Hours-of-Service Rules (which limit on-duty and driving time)
- Defective parts
- Poor road conditions
All trucking accident claims are unique. The causes of trucking accidents, parties involved, legal issues, and related challenges all differ when it comes to recovering compensation. That is why it is impossible to make any broad statements about how much an 18-wheeler crash victim can recover. To determine the compensation you may be eligible to receive, it is important to seek the help of a skilled personal injury attorney.
Compensation will vary depending on your case since there are so many factors taken into account. Typical compensation that your lawyer will fight to recover consists of vehicle damages, medical expenses, funeral costs, pain and suffering, lost past and future income, and lost comfort, car and companionship.
Once a thorough investigation of your accident has been conducted, it is easier to identify who is responsible for your injuries. However, common parties that are liable for accidents include truck drivers, trucking companies, product manufacturers, and other vehicles and drivers. Each case is different and may include some or all of these parties.
You may still be able to recover damages under Texas truck injury laws if you were partially at fault. Most states use comparative negligence which means that the contribution of each party is evaluated. Under Texas proportionate comparative fault scheme, even a severely injured victim can be barred from recovering if they are found to be 51% or more at fault. If they fall under that threshold, their recovery can still be reduced in proportion to the degree of their fault. So, if you suffer $1 million in damages, and you are 40% at fault, your recovery will be limited to $400,000. If you are determined to have been 51% or more at fault for the accident, it will be difficult to recover any funds. Note that these rules do not determine your truck crash settlement, though the defense will consider it when making an offer. It's often less expensive for a trucking company to pay your full damages rather than incur the expenses of trial.
It depends on whether an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and the trucking company. If such a relationship is shown, the company can be held legally liable for the driver's negligence under a legal theory known as "respondeat superior". Establishing the liability of a company can become problematic when a truck driver is an independent contractor of the company. In such a situation, the key issue becomes the amount of supervising exercised by the company and whether negligent hiring was a factor in the accident. As a top truck lawyer in Houston, Joe Stephens will be able to determine the specifics of your case and let you know what your options are.
It is important to file a lawsuit as soon as possible while the incident is easily remembered and all evidence is available. These types of lawsuits are also subject to the statute of limitations which requires a person to take legal action within a specific time period or else the claim is barred. In Texas, the statute of limitations for bodily injury claims related to a person's recklessness or negligence is two years from the date of injury (or the date when the injury could have been reasonably discovered). In some cases, this period may be "tolled" because the victim had a legal disability, including being a minor at the time of the accident. In general, if both parties agree on the matter, then the time allotted for filing an accident lawsuit may be shortened or lengthened.
We can't start negotiating with the trucking company until you've finished your medical treatment for the injuries you sustained in the wreck. From that point forward, negotiations typically take between three and nine months. When you hire a well known 18-wheeler wreck lawyer, insurance companies usually want to settle instead of go to court. However, if the case goes to trial, it may take one to two years before the trial date, although we can still negotiate a settlement during that time. Most cases do settle out of court, but there is a chance your case could go to trial.
Yes, it is always a good idea after any type of wreck to notify the police and document the scene. The police report will be an important part of you insurance claims as well. Traffic enforcement will provide an impartial eye to what occurred and can provide emergency services or speak with witnesses to the accident.
It is possible to still have a case despite a mechanical failure. It is possible to have multiple factors that lead to an 18 wheeler accident and should be investigated. Mechanical failure could have been caused by worn tires, defective brakes, or inadequate safety systems which could have been prevented if the trucking company kept up proper maintenance. These are all examples of plausible causes in an 18 wheeler accident lawsuit. Call our accident law firm today if you've been injured.
Harris County Texas leads the state in the number of car accidents each year and sadly the number of vehicle deaths as well. While collisions with tractor trailer trucks are less common, they are disproportionately more deadly.
Maintenance Failure: Accidents involving an 18 wheeler could often be avoided if only the operator of the big rig had spent the time and money on necessary maintenance. An 18 wheeler truck company who is all about the bottom dollar can push state required safety measures on the back burner which can lead to 18-wheeler accidents. These behaviors are unsafe and these decisions could be life or death for truck drivers as well as other people on the road. Things like skipping routine maintenance checks, falsifying logged hours so drivers exceed the 11 hour limit, and putting inexperienced drivers on the road can all result in unnecessary injuries for everyone involved.
Trucking companies must routinely inspect and repair 18 wheelers, semi trucks and commercial vehicles to keep the driver and the vehicle safe on the road. It is the responsibility of the company, the maintenance contractor and the driver to ensure the vehicles are serviced and ready for transport. If you fall victim to an 18 wheeler wreck due to the lack of maintenance of a truck, it is the driver and trucking companies fault and need to be held liable.
The commercial trucking industry is a very lucrative business. As with every business, a company's main focus is to receive the most profit and limit expenses. Sometimes, corners are cut to limit spending and can lead to serious repercussions. Ways that a trucking company may limit spending is forgo maintenance on a few trucks. If trucks are not maintained, they run the risk of causing accidents while a truck driver is on the road and leaving you in danger.
If you have been involved in a semi truck wreck, you deserve to know if it was due to the negligence of the trucking company to maintain the vehicle. Trucks need oil changes, new tires, wheel alignments, maintained brakes and lights. If any of these are not properly maintained the trucking company may be liable for damages that resulted from your truck accident case. At the time of the accident, you may not know if the truck accident investigation will reveal that state laws were violated, That is why an investigation needs to be conducted of the accident scene immediately by an experienced truck accident attorney. Attorney Joe Stephens is an expert in truck accident litigation.
Blind Spots: Every vehicle suffers from having their own blind spots. With tractor trailers, they have much larger blind spots making it difficult for them to see another car driving by. Semi trucks have four major blind spots: in front of the cab up to 20 feet, below and behind the driver’s window, the right side of the truck’s cab, extending backward diagonally, and directly behind the truck’s trailer, extending for about 30 feet. If a driver does not check their mirrors responsibly or is driving aggressively, it is the truck drivers fault for a collision.
Trucking companies will try to use the defense that the other driver was in their blind spot, the driver didn’t yield or speed up to avoid the crash, or that it is the drivers responsibility to be mindful when driving next to big rigs. If you have followed the rules of the road and still find yourself in a wreck with a semi truck due to their negligence, don’t let their attorney’s pin the accident on you. Hire a trucking accident attorney immediately to protect your rights to compensation.
FMCSA reports that one third of all truck collisions occur in the truck's blind spot. Vehicles on the road have a duty to check their blind spots and it is no different for a semi truck. As a driver on the road, it is important to be aware of a truck's blind spot and try to avoid a wreck but sometimes it cannot be avoided if the big rig driver neglects to clear their blind spots as well.
18 wheelers have blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle creating more chances to cause an accident. Motorists on the road can make sure they maintain safe distances when driving next to these trucks to steer clear of a wreck. However, if a truck driver is tailgating, driving aggressively or not checking their blind spots before changing lanes they would be at fault for the accident. Truck drivers have been properly trained to drive these vehicles and it is part of their job to ensure they are being safe while on the road.
Truck drivers need a valid commercial driver’s license and meet some physical requirements. Also, in Texas they need to be aware of the provisions of the Texas Commercial Driver’s Handbook.
Truckers are regulated under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for the amount of hours they are allowed to work. Current regulations state that a trucker can be on the road for no more than 11 hours of daily driving with a 14-hour work day cap, no more than a minimum average of 70 hours a work week, and if the weekly limit is reached, they can continue after 34 hours of consecutive rest.
The "No-Zone" refers to the areas behind and beside a commercial vehicle, where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility: the left rear quarter, the right rear quarter, and directly behind the truck at a short distance. These are blind spots for big rigs and passenger vehicles driving in those areas are a leading cause of tractor trailer wrecks in Houston.
A commercial truck, such as a "big rig," is a vehicle used in the course of business and/or for the transport of commercial goods. Examples are eighteen-wheeler tractor trailers, tanker trucks, delivery vehicles, and other large freight trucks. Although some businesses use standard pickup trucks for their day-to-day activities, commercial trucks are generally much larger, serve a specific purpose (cement trucks for example), and require a commercial driver's license to operate.
Most attorneys specialize in one area of law so you would not want to hire a tax attorney to help you with an 18 wheeler injury accident case. You should contact an experienced truck wreck attorney in Houston, Texas, who understands how to deal with the intricacies of insurance carriers, trucking regulations, and medical expenses like The Stephens Law Firm Accident Lawyers.
Our 18 wheeler accident lawyers work on a contingency basis so we will not collect any money unless you get a settlement. Our typical contingency fee ranges from 35-45% depending on the specifics of your case.
Under Texas state and federal regulatory laws, 18-wheeler drivers and their employers are required to maintain comprehensive records of repairs, driving time, and more. These records provide substantial evidence in accident cases — for example, a trip log that exhibits long hours of driving can be used to demonstrate driver fatigue. Attorneys can also access GPS data, black box information, and witness accounts to build a case.
No, do not agree to take any settlement from an insurance company. The goal of the insurance company is to minimize damage and cost to them despite the damages of your injury. Talk with an experienced personal injury law firm like The Stephens Law Firm Accident Lawyers to ensure you receive the proper compensation.
No, do not record any statement with an insurance adjuster without contacting your personal injury attorney. Insurance adjusters may take your statement and use it against you during the claims process. The best way to protect yourself is to refer your insurance provider to you personal injury attorney.
Losing a loved one to an accident is a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, with the size and weight of commercial trucks, death due to a wreck if more common than with another motor vehicle. When a loved one is killed in a commercial truck accident you may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Contact a personal injury attorney right away for a consultation.
Absolutely. Houston truck accident attorney Joe Stephens has won numerous multi-million dollar cases for clients who have suffered a truck accident injury. As reported in Verdict Search, Mr. Stephens settled a case in 2020 for $2,500,000 for a man injured in truck wreck in Midland, Texas, a very conservative venue.