Have you recently been injured in a truck accident because someone else made an unsafe lane change? If so, you should consider seeking compensation for your injuries and any damage that was done to your vehicle. While truck drivers are tasked with following all of the same traffic laws as everyone else, these vehicles have sizable blind spots that make it difficult to see when a smaller car is right beside the truck.
If the driver isn’t paying close attention to their surroundings, they could make the mistake of merging into another lane, which may lead to a car crash. These cases are oftentimes challenging because of the need to determine which party has liability for the crash and if the trucking company was ultimately responsible. Our attorneys have the expertise and knowledge of Texas law that’s required to represent any truck accident case that’s caused by an unsafe lane change.
What is an Unsafe Lane Change?
An unsafe lane change occurs when a driver passes someone in a way that’s dangerous and doesn’t adhere to the rules of the road. If a truck driver tries to switch lanes even when there isn’t a clear path to do so, this is considered an unsafe situation. Because of the size of the vehicle, a crash could cause serious injuries and possibly death. Some of the more common examples of unsafe lane changes include:
- Passing a vehicle in an area that doesn’t allow for passing
- Driving across a double yellow line
- Not checking blind spots
- Not yielding the right of way
- Changing lanes without using a turn signal
- Passing another vehicle when in an intersection
Common reasons Why Truck Drivers Change Lanes Incorrectly
Truck drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license while operating this type of vehicle. They must also undergo a considerable amount of training. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has many guidelines in place that are designed to protect truck drivers as well as other vehicles on the road. Truck drivers review the FMSCA guidelines on a regular basis. When a driver doesn’t adhere to these standards, the risk of a crash increases considerably. The primary causes of unsafe lane changes include:
- Being impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Driving fast to arrive at a destination on time
- Being tired or fatigued because of working long hours or not getting enough sleep
- Not checking blind spots regularly as a result of texting or being distracted
- Incorrectly guessing how much space there is between the truck and another vehicle
- Accidentally drifting into another lane while taking eyes off the road
When a truck driver changes lanes improperly, there are many different types of crashes that could occur, the most common of which involves sideswiping another car. Because truck drivers are tasked with driving long hours, many unsafe lane changes take place as a result of fatigue. While a driver is fatigued, their decision-making skills become significantly worse. A single mistake could lead to cascading issues that cause a crash.
What Party is Liable for the Crash?
Any party that is deemed to be responsible for a truck crash can be held liable for any injuries or damage that occurred in the aftermath. The parties that may be liable include:
- The truck driver
- Any passenger or driver in your vehicle
- Trucking companies
- Transit companies
- Bus drivers
- Manufacturers of defective equipment or vehicles
Here at PM Law Firm, our lawyers can help you identify all of the at-fault parties, which makes it more likely that you’ll receive the compensation you deserve.
How are Trucking Companies Negligent?
While the liable party during a truck crash is oftentimes the driver, it’s also possible for the trucking company that employs the driver to be negligent. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring experienced and highly qualified drivers who understand all of the trucking regulations and know how to follow them to the letter. If the trucking company didn’t use the right hiring practices, there could be legal consequences for them when a crash takes place. Trucking company negligence may involve:
- Not complying with state and federal laws
- Failing to review the recorded driver logs for possible problems
- Failing to obtain regular maintenance and inspections for every vehicle
- Overlooking the fact that an employee doesn’t have a valid driver’s license
- Not providing sufficient supervision and training
- Not testing employees for alcohol and drugs on a regular basis
- Failing to conduct background checks for new drivers
If you believe that a trucking company is partially responsible for your crash, they could be added to the case alongside the truck driver.
Steps to Take Immediately Following the Accident
In the event that you’re hurt because a truck driver changed lanes in an unsafe manner, there are numerous steps that you should take right away. If you make the mistake of not hiring a lawyer soon after the crash, your chances of receiving the amount of compensation you’re owed worsen.
The first thing you should do is dial 911 to report the crash and any injuries or fatalities that have resulted from it. When law enforcement gets there, they’ll start interviewing witnesses and every party involved with the crash. The information they gather will be placed in a crash report that’s eventually given to TDOT, which is the Texas Department of Transportation.
The next step in this process is to ask the other driver for their contact info, name, employer’s name, and truck insurance details. Make sure that you take pictures of the site as well as your injuries. These images will be used as evidence if you file a lawsuit against the truck driver or another responsible party.
While you’re still at the scene of the crash, talk to any witnesses who may have seen what happened. Write down their phone numbers and names. During the investigation or lawsuit, they may be able to give a witness statement that confirms the details you gave to the police.
The next step involves going to the hospital instantly after you leave the scene. The medical documentation that’s created from treating your injuries will be used to strengthen your case. If you wait too long to receive medical care, the truck driver’s attorney could argue that your injuries weren’t caused by the crash.
Once you’ve received medical treatment, take your vehicle to a repair shop, which allows you to obtain a damage estimate on how much the repairs will cost. You should then hire a lawyer from PM Law Firm to represent your case.
Things to Avoid Doing Following a Crash
There are also some things that you should never do in the immediate aftermath of a crash. If you accidentally say something that implies liability, it could be used against you by the other driver’s insurance provider. First of all, don’t speak directly to an insurance adjuster after the crash. Instead, provide them with your attorney’s contact info.
It’s also essential that you don’t admit fault for the crash. Keep in mind that Texas laws use modified comparative negligence, which means that the compensation the victim receives is based on the calculated percentage of their shared fault in the accident. If you’re 30% responsible for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by this amount.
You should also avoid leaving the scene of the crash until an officer has said that you can do so. If the accident isn’t correctly reported, you could be charged with a hit-and-run. If you have a broken taillight, bloody clothing, or any other evidence, don’t get rid of it.
Make sure that you avoid accepting a settlement without first talking about it with your lawyer. If the truck driver’s insurance carrier sends some forms to you, don’t sign them. Doing so could reduce the settlement that you end up receiving. Your lawyer will review these documents for you.
How Our Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You
When you hire our attorneys at PM Law Firm, we’ll begin by conducting a thorough crash investigation to determine if the truck driver is at fault and to gather all of the supporting evidence. These cases can be complex and time-consuming if there are multiple reasons why the crash took place. In certain scenarios, two or more parties could be responsible for your injuries and any vehicle damage that occurred. We know how to determine who was liable for this type of accident.
Even though unsafe lane changes resulted in the crash taking place, there are many other factors that might have contributed to the driver being negligent in this scenario. Our lawyers are always thorough yet efficient to ensure that any filing deadlines are met. We’ll take a look at the other driver’s crash logs, schedule, driving history, and past experience. Even the smallest detail could prove helpful when building a case.
During the investigation, we’ll also review maintenance and inspection reports to identify if any of the parts were malfunctioning or defective. If the steering mechanism or brakes were damaged, the driver may have been unable to safely maneuver their truck.
Types of Compensation You May Seek
If you’ve been injured in a truck crash, there may be numerous types of compensation that you could seek when making an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit. The types of compensation you have access to mainly depend on the losses you’ve incurred. Along with the physical injuries you’ve sustained, you may also be dealing with emotional scars. The damages you pursue can be separated into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are meant to cover any losses you’ve experienced that come with a specific dollar amount. These damages are easy to calculate even before your case is taken to court. The attorney you hire will perform these calculations immediately to ensure that you receive the compensation you’re owed. The various types of economic damages include:
- Medical bills from devices, physical therapy, hospital stays, doctor visits, and prescription medications
- Future medical care if your injuries are severe and require additional attention in the coming months and years
- Property damage to your vehicle and any other personal property
- Changes to your home in the event that you require self-care because of an injury that affected your mobility
- Lost wages if you miss work because of your injuries
- Lost future wages if your injuries are permanent or long-lasting
- Burial and funeral expenses if the crash resulted in a death
There are numerous factors that dictate how much economic damages you receive, the primary of which include the severity of your injuries and the amount of medical care you require.
Non-economic damages involve losses that are difficult to attach a dollar figure to. The main types of non-economic damages at your disposal include:
- Emotional pain and suffering that has occurred following the crash
- Mental anguish, which often involves nightmares, flashbacks, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Losing a family member
As is the case with economic damages, it’s possible for numerous factors to play a role in determining how much compensation you receive. Having a personal injury lawyer by your side during this process should help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Call PM Law Firm Today
When you’re injured in a truck accident and want to seek compensation, our experienced lawyers can build your case. At PM Law firm, we’ll represent your case whether you’re filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. Our legal services are available to residents of Kingwood, Atascocita, and Humble, TX. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!