Trucking Defense & Insurance Defense

Trucking accidents are an unfortunate reality that affects many individuals and businesses every year. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 511 fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles in the state in 2020, and 580 people died as a result of these incidents. These lamentable figures and events require commercial vehicle companies to spend resources on accident defense, even when they’re not the liable party for the accident.  

At Cotten Schmidt, we understand the complexities of trucking and transportation accident cases. We’re here to help protect your company’s integrity and seek a fair solution that reflects your best interests. Our firm provides representation for trucking companies and insurance providers located in The Woodlands and Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as the surrounding areas. We also extend our insurance defense services to clients in or near New Orleans, Louisiana. 

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Common Causes of Trucking Accidents 

Numerous factors are at play when a truck is involved in an accident, which means there can be various causes:  

  • Driver fatigue is the most common cause of trucking accidents. Tired or overworked drivers may fall asleep at the wheel or experience delayed reactions. These situations can cause an accident leading to potentially fatal consequences. 

  • Mechanical failure. The vehicle itself may experience mechanical failures that lead to an accident. For instance, a failure in the braking system may cause an on-road incident. 

  • Improper loading. Cargo crews may load cargo improperly or fail to secure it adequately. As a result, the cargo may fall out, impact other vehicles, and cause an accident. 

  • Lack of maintenance or maintenance negligence can lead to mechanical failures in a commercial vehicle. For instance, failing to identify a potentially-damaged braking system can cause it to fail, leading to an accident. 

  • Adverse weather conditions such as fog, rain, ice, and snow can be a dominant factor in trucking accidents. Drivers are required to take proper precautions or stop driving until weather conditions improve. 

  • Other drivers on the road can cause road incidents involving commercial vehicles. For example, a passenger car making an improper lane change may cause a commercial vehicle to swerve and crash to avoid hitting it.  

Assessing Liability for a Trucking Accident  

There are multiple possible parties that could be held liable for a truck accident. Our attorneys at Cotten Schmidt will diligently evaluate the details of your accident to determine where negligence took place.  

Truck Drivers 

The truck driver may be liable for an accident due to their negligence. Truck drivers could be company employees or independent contractors. Nevertheless, truck drivers are formally responsible for ensuring their vehicles are in roadworthy condition and they have met the requirements to drive on the road safely. 

Truck Companies 

The company may have a share in the accident’s liability when drivers are company employees. So, the question is, when is the trucking company liable in a truck accident? Trucking companies that knowingly allow drivers to work beyond the 14-hour daily limit set by federal regulations may be held liable when there is an accident. 

Truck Manufacturers 

Truck manufacturers may be liable for an accident when defective systems in commercial vehicles are identified as the accident’s cause. In particular, these defects would be unknown to the driver, the trucking company, and the maintenance crew. This condition also applies to parts manufacturers. For example, installing defective parts on a commercial vehicle can place the liability on the manufacturer of the parts. 

Loading Crews 

Improper cargo loading can place liability on the loading crew. Please remember that the driver and trucking company also possess the responsibility to inspect that a truck’s cargo has been properly loaded. 

Maintenance Staff 

Failing to provide proper maintenance may fall on the crew. For instance, neglecting to inspect the truck properly before a shift or installing uncertified retread tires can cause the liability to land on the maintenance crew. 

Reckless or Negligent Drivers 

Other drivers on the road can share the liability in a trucking accident. Reckless drivers can cause an accident involving a commercial vehicle. Part or full liability may be placed on other drivers in these cases. 

Factors in Determining Liability 

Determining liability for an accident requires pinpointing what act(s) of negligence led to the wreck or crash. There are various factors to consider when assigning liability in commercial vehicle accidents, including: 

The Truck Driver’s Role 

The truck driver may be liable for an accident in situations such as: 

  • The driver was transiting to and from work 

  • The driver broke traffic regulations, such as speeding or failing to come to a full stop at a red light 

  • Failing to abide by state and federal regulations 

  • Failing to follow traffic signals and traffic control devices 

  • Driving while under the influence 

  • Reckless or negligent driving 

  • Failing to inspect the vehicle before driving  

Please remember that truck drivers are not always liable for accidents. There are other factors to consider before assigning fault to truck drivers.  

Other Drivers’ Roles 

Drivers of other vehicles may be held liable in the following situations: 

  • Reckless driving (e.g. speeding or texting while driving) 

  • Failing to yield 

  • Failing to follow traffic signals or traffic control devices 

  • Driving under the influence 

Investigating the other driver’s role is crucial when assessing liability. Doing so helps us place fault on the responsible party and build your case strategy accordingly. 

The Road Itself 

There are cases in which no driver is at fault. Instead, road conditions may play a huge role in causing an accident. However, please bear in mind that truck drivers are responsible for driving safely in adverse weather conditions. Speeding during a rainstorm can be considered negligent behavior, shifting the fault to the truck driver. 

How an Attorney Can Help 

At Cotten Schmidt, our team is prepared to handle our client’s needs during every step of their case. We gladly put our experience to work to help our truck accident clients with the following: 

  • Accident investigation services 

  • Assessing liability, particularly after insurance companies have made liability decisions 

  • Collecting evidence and processing information at the accident scene and after 

  • Providing legal counsel and insurance defense 

  • Assisting truck drivers and trucking companies with law enforcement 

  • Representing clients during litigation 

Trucking Defense & Insurance Defense Attorneys in Texas & New Orleans 

Call us today at Cotten Schmidt to protect your right to trucking and insurance defense. We understand that truck drivers and trucking companies are not always at fault for accidents, and we want to help protect your business’s reputation. Reach out to our law firm today to schedule a call. Our offices in The Woodlands, Corpus Christi, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana, offer insurance defense representation. Our Texas locations also provide trucking accident defense services.