Tow Truck Accidents – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
What to Know Following an Injury Accident with a Tow Truck
Tow trucks, like 18-wheelers and buses, are commercial vehicles. Not only are they massive vehicles that can inflict a great deal of harm, they are defended by the same insurance companies and defense attorneys as are other large commercial vehicles, which makes recovering adequate compensation in a tow truck accident a daunting task for a non-attorney.
Additionally, the nature of the vehicle itself poses unusual risks, such as the huge hook found on most models. There are also tow trucks with a flatbed portion that, if not “stowed” or adjusted properly in relation to surrounding traffic, has such sharp edges that it is something akin to a “moving guillotine” of sorts.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a tow truck, or lost a loved one due to this sort of tragedy, you need to be apprised of the legal options you may have in regard to pursuing compensation. The Houston two truck accident attorneys with Our Law Office provide this article in order to answer some of the questions that are no doubt running through your mind. If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers, please call us.
How Tow Truck Accidents Occur
There are many ways that a tow truck accident can take place, and any of these can result in significant injuries or even fatalities. Some of the common scenarios that we have encountered include accidents that took place under the following circumstances:
Tow truck drivers falling asleep — Just like 18-wheeler drivers, for example, tow truck drivers can work odd shifts and gruelingly long hours. Unlike the drivers of 18-wheelers, however, they are not required to take periodic rest breaks. Conceivably, a tow truck driver could stay behind the wheel 24 hours or more consecutively, if he wished. You can easily see why a tow truck driver could cause an accident after being on the road for an incredibly long period of time.
The vehicle in tow becomes disconnected from the tow truck.
The tow truck is parked in harm’s way and approaching motorists do not have adequate warning. Most tow trucks are very well illuminated, but occasionally a tow truck driver will be in another motorist’s path and he will not have its lights on.
The brakes of the tow truck are taxed severely – when this takes place, obviously, the truck cannot come to a stop. Tow truck drivers are supposed to know how to modulate the brakes when the truck is hauling a load, because if they are not, those brakes can fail due to being overworked. Our firm once litigated a case where a tow truck driver overused his brakes on a steep freeway exit ramp, causing him to blow through a red light and T-boning our client, breaking his arms and legs. The tow truck driver later told police that he, “forgot about the weight of the car.”
But in all of these above scenarios, there are typically multiple instances of liabilities. For instance, in the cases we’ve litigated where drivers fall asleep at the wheel, we often find that the transport company knowingly over-worked their employees. And in the instances we’ve litigated where vehicles are not properly illuminated, or their brakes were not properly applied, we find the drivers simply were not given adequate training. The significance of this is that showing the negligence of the driver nets one result. Showing that the company contributed to the driver’s negligence nets a much more substantial result.
In order to determine all of the causal factors related to your accident involving a tow truck, you will need an experienced law firm working on your behalf to launch an investigation. Not only will that investigation reveal the reason for the accident, it will also help you identify all of the parties that you can target with legal action. And as you can tell from the above list, there are several potential defendants, including not only the driver but the towing company, the manufacturer of a faulty part or even other drivers.
The only way that you can be sure to have the best possible chance of obtaining compensation is by hiring an experienced lawyer as soon as you can.
Who Owns Tow Trucks?
You may think of tow trucks as only being owned by small, private businesses that own only one or two vehicles. However, governmental departments use them as well, and many of the businesses that run towing operations have fleets of these vehicles operating in several different cities. A governmental agency such as a state’s transportation department may use tow trucks as well on toll roads and major highways. Other governmental bodies, such as public works departments, fire and police departments can also use them.
Taking action against either a private entity or a public one can be extremely complex and fraught with difficulties. Each has its own particular challenges, and each will necessitate the help of a skilled attorney who is familiar with pursuing this kind of accident case. At Our Law Office, we have represented clients for the past two decades, so we have the experience you will need on your side to help you secure restitution for your suffering, and we will be able to provide the hard proof that you will need in order to be able to prevail in your litigation.
But who else would face liability in this sort of accident case? Some would argue that the company that calls for the vehicle can face liability. They have to do their due diligence in order to make sure they are dealing with a reputable and safe tow truck company. The towing company will face most of the liability in an accident, but the party directing the actions of the towing company cannot merely turn a blind eye. While it may be a long shot, you may also have a case against the party that hired the towing company vehicle that was involved in your accident.
Taking Action against a Towing Company
You can seek restitution from the towing company and its insurance company if you have been hurt in a tow truck accident that was caused by another party’s negligence. However, it is imperative that you understand it will be very difficult for you to obtain fair compensation without legal representation, and you will encounter extremely formidable opposition. Tow truck insurance policies are typically very valuable, and thus the insurance company (or the tow truck company if it is self-insured) will work extremely hard to defeat your case. If you do not have the help of an experienced attorney, you will find it nearly impossible to win.
Plotting Your Legal Strategy
There are many ways in which a tow truck accident can take place, as mentioned previously, and therefore several variables that determine the legal course of action your attorney will take. The accident, for example, could have resulted from the negligence of the tow truck driver, or due to the failure of a piece of safety equipment. It is not only important that you understand the kinds of tow trucks that are in use, such as wheel-lift, hook-and-chain and flat bed, but also how they operate. Unless you happen to be a tow truck expert, it will be essential that you have the help of a lawyer who not only knows tow trucks inside and out, has a great deal of experience in litigating this kind of case, and, most importantly, has a track record of winning this type of case. Otherwise, again, your chances of prevailing are basically zero.
Call Our Law Office as Soon as You Can
The attorneys at Our Law Office have helped thousands of personal injury victims obtain compensation for the suffering they have experienced, and we would like the opportunity to put our passion and tenacity to work for you as well. If you or someone close to you has suffered an injury in a tow truck accident, please call us for a confidential and free consultation.
Hazardous Cargo Accidents and Spills – Houston Personal Injury Lawyers
When Commercial Vehicles Carry Hazardous or Dangerous Materials, The Consequences of an Accident can be Outstanding
According to the United States Department of Transportation, almost 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are transported in this country annually and we see them every day on every major highway here in Houston. Tanker trucks are an important part of commerce in this country, but what happens when they cause accidents and injure drivers?
If you have been injured in a tanker truck collision accident or injured as the result of a hazardous spill from a tanker truck’s cargo, you may be wondering about your ability to be compensated for your injuries. You need to know your rights as an injured person and what needs to be done to protect those rights. You need to understand what different things must be considered in a tanker accident or hazardous spill claim that if missed could negatively impact your ability to recover for your injuries. Finally, you need to know that the lawyers at Our Law Office can answer these questions and more. Handling a complex injury case can be difficult to do alone. The trucking company and their lawyers have an automatic advantage because it’s their industry, so you need someone on your side to help level the playing field.
The trucking industry and its lawyers leave nothing to chance when it comes to defending claims brought by plaintiffs for their injuries. Neither should you. The attorneys at Our Law Office have years of experience dealing with the trucking industry, their lawyers, and the serious injuries victims are left with after an accident with a tanker truck hauling dangerous chemicals. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Tanker Trucks vs. Tractor Trailers: What’s the Difference?
To understand the importance of having a firm like ours on your side handling your claim you need to first realize that a tanker truck accident or hazardous spill claim is very different from a typical tractor trailer accident claim. There are distinct differences between accidents with tanker trucks versus accidents with tractor trailers. While both types of accidents can cause devastating and catastrophic injuries and even death, how and why the injuries occur in each scenario is often different. The key differences between the two stems from the type of cargo each truck usually carries and the injuries that occur beyond the initial impact of the crash or collision.
Cargo – Why Contents Matter
Tractor Trailers haul the types of goods that we typically think of when we talk about the trucking industry. They carry things like furniture, packages, building materials, produce and other tangible items. The cargo in a tractor trailer is typically solid and as long as the truck is packed properly the load is pretty stable. Obviously there is the possibility of further injury in an accident if the contents of the tractor trailer are dislodged and fall onto the roadway. However, even if that does occur the cargo from a tractor trailer typically is not in liquid form, can usually be removed with relative ease, and is usually visible on the road way and other drivers have the opportunity to avoid colliding with the cargo in the road. Tanker truck cargo is altogether different from 18-wheeler cargo in almost every regard.
Unlike the cargo an 18-wheeler hauls, the cargo in a tanker trucks is fluid and often less stable. Tanker trucks transport fluids of all types, from something as harmless as milk to something as dangerous as corrosive chemicals or oil and gas. Because they are in liquid form, the contents of a tanker truck can slosh around causing a shift in the truck’s center of gravity. This shift can make it difficult for the driver to maintain control when making turns or maneuvering through traffic. If a tanker truck hauling liquid cargo is in an accident and the tank ruptures or is compromised the liquid cargo could spill out onto the roadway increasing the possibility of injury not only from the crash itself, but injury from the spill of the hazardous cargo as well. The spillage can injure the driver the tanker truck through exposure to toxic fumes or corrosive chemicals and can endanger other drivers and pedestrians because often spills on the roadway may not be detected before the driver can avoid them.
Seeking compensation for your injuries after an accident with an 18-wheeler or tanker truck can be a complex process by itself. The litigation process is even trickier if you have additional injuries as a result of exposure to the tanker truck’s hazardous cargo as well. There are many things to consider that could be easily overlooked if you are not careful. Misunderstanding the process or missing key details could seriously impact or limit your ability to recover for your injuries.
The Double Whammy – Injuries Beyond the Crash
Injuries from 18-wheeler accidents are usually pretty straightforward. In the majority of 18-wheeler accidents, injuries to the victim result from the impact of the crash itself either from being hit by the 18-wheeler or the 18-wheeler hitting something else which ends up hitting the victim. The victim’s injuries are almost always crash related. In these accidents broken bones, sprains, neck injuries, concussions and other such injuries are common place and are associated with the overall force in which the impact of the crash occurred.
You can be injured in a tanker truck accident in many of the same ways as in an accident with an 18-wheeler. The force of the crash and its impact is always a consideration. But beyond these common sources of injury are the injuries that result from exposure to the hazardous liquids in the tanker truck’s cargo. Not only can you have physical injuries from the impact of the collision with the tanker truck, but you can also be injured if the tanker’s cargo spills onto you or your vehicle, if the crash causes the cargo to ignite and there is an explosion, or from the noxious fumes that can escape when the cargo tank is compromised or ruptured in the accident. Injuries from hazardous spills can be especially catastrophic because they are often permanent and can prohibit you from returning to work or the lifestyle you enjoyed before the accident. Bodily contact with hazardous chemicals can cause serious skin burns, blindness if the chemicals come in contact with your eyes and organ damage or even death if the chemicals are ingested. Even if you never come in direct contact with the tanker truck you can still be injured if the cargo spills onto the roadway. Because liquids on the road can be particularly hard to see, you as the driver may not even realize you have driven into a hazardous spill until it’s too late. Further, the chemicals that are being transported are often oil based or slippery and your vehicle’s tires could lose traction with the road and cause you to crash.
Situations involving catastrophic injuries like the ones mentioned above are very difficult on the victim and their families. After a tanker truck or hazardous spill accident it is common place to feel overwhelmed by all that has happened. There will be many issues to handle related to your case on top of recovering from your injuries and going up against the trucking company and its lawyers alone may not be your best course of action. You need someone on your side protecting your rights while you focus on the most important thing – getting better. Our lawyers have over 22 years of experience handling tanker truck and hazardous spill injury cases and we will use that experience to help you prevail in your case against the trucking company.
High Stakes – Why Taking on the Trucking Industry Alone is Tough
Transporting hazardous materials in this country involves both state and federal laws and restrictions. Trucking companies have to be concerned with maintaining compliance with these laws in order to retain their ability to carry out their business as commercial truckers. There are restrictions on the highways in which these materials can be transported, the types of materials that can be transported through a certain area because of the population density, and even the time of day certain hazardous materials can be moved. The industry is heavily regulated and the drivers the trucking companies employ must be properly licensed as well. In fact, the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have adopted rules to secure the transport of hazardous materials, including explosives based on the requirements of the Patriot Act. These rules require a security threat assessment on all commercial drivers transporting hazardous materials. The process includes the collection of an individual’s fingerprints and verification of citizenship, immigration eligibility or permanent legal presence in the United States. In accordance with these guidelines, Texas will not allow a driver to obtain a commercial driver’s license with a hazardous materials endorsement unless they have first completed the security assessment and have obtained clearance from TSA.
Because of the risk involved in the transport of hazardous materials such as gasoline, corrosive chemicals and nuclear waste, trucking companies are required to have certain minimum levels of insurance coverage. Federal law requires that they carry at least $2,000,000 in accident coverage. Because these vehicles are so heavily insured, they are also very heavily defended. While it is a good thing there is a potential source of compensation from which to draw that is probably sufficiently funded to cover your claims, the consequence of such a large insurance policy is that the defendants will essential have unlimited resources in which to defend that policy.
But the reason that they defend their case goes beyond their concerns that they will have to pay you. If an accident is found to be the trucking company’s fault, not only will they have to compensate you, but the blemished record may also cost them future business. Statistical data is compiled on a yearly basis tracking the number and type of accidents trucking companies transporting hazardous materials are involved in and this data can be a determining factor in whether a trucking company is eligible to bid on or receive contracts. Handling accidents and insurance payouts can directly affect a trucking company’s bottom line and profitability so they are going to aggressively defend any accident claims brought against them.
The trucking companies have aggressive attorneys working to protect their rights and will do everything they can to limit or eliminate your ability to recover for your injuries. They have a lot at stake and will do whatever it takes to win. That means you lose. Don’t go down this road alone. You have a lot at stake as well. Your injuries and your families well-being and financial security does not matter to the trucking companies and their lawyers, but it matters to us. Our lawyers are here to help you recover for you injuries and get the compensation you deserve.
Did You Know?
We have been fighting for 18 wheeler accident victims` rights for over 20 years. Call us to discuss your case.
What’s At Stake for You
After an injury in a tanker truck or hazardous spill accident you may be unable to work for an extensive period of time or even permanently. Your medical needs will need to be met as well as practical needs for your family and household expenses. Our attorneys can help you recover everything that you are entitled to as an injured victim. We will help you and your family recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and for any permanent disabilities you may have as the result of the accident with the tanker truck. The trucking company will have its lawyers do whatever they can to limit or even eliminate the trucking company’s liability for your claims and leave you with nothing. You need someone on your side to help hold them accountable for the injuries their tanker truck or hazardous spill has caused. They took on the risk in transporting hazardous materials, not you. There is no reason you should suffer for their negligence or go at this alone. Our lawyers are here to help you and your family and will fight for your rights. Give us a call.