Llano Truck Accident Attorney
Llano, Texas, might have all the charm of a small town, but when the 18-wheelers roll down Texas Highway 29 at high speed, things can get out of hand quickly. Even worse, if the trucker’s tire blows out – and you’re driving right behind him – you could suffer devastating consequences.
If you or a loved one has landed on the receiving end of a semi-truck accident, you need to talk to a Llano truck accident lawyer with a broad range of experience in litigating commercial vehicle crashes. Knowing the territory – and what truck crashes often involve – might make all the difference in your case.
With Texas’s wide-open spaces, truck drivers often suffer road fatigue as they cruise down Highway 16 after a long day on the road. One lapse of attention – and they weave into your lane, just as you attempt to pass them.
And then there’s the deer. Unless a truck driver anticipates that hazard and drives defensively, it could lead to tragedy for both her and the other drivers sharing the road.
Semi-trucks dwarf most of the other vehicles on the road in both size and weight. Weight-wise, they can weigh anywhere from eight to 19 times as much as a passenger car. For that reason, the state of Texas holds semi-truck drivers to a higher standard of expertise than passenger car drivers. At that weight difference, even the slightest error on the truck driver’s part can result in massive damage – or even death.
As an experienced truck accident attorney in Llano, W. Shane Jennings knows that truck wreck claims involve a greater degree of complexity than other traffic accident cases. For example, not every commercial trucking accident is the driver’s fault. Improper maintenance by the company that hired the trucker might have also played a part.
So, it’s essential that you seek out a Llano truck accident lawyer familiar with Texas laws and with the unique challenges of truck accident cases. W. Shane Jennings has that familiarity with the Llano community as well as the challenges that truck crashes bring. With attention to detail and a passion for justice, he will work to uncover every bit of evidence on your behalf.
Texas Has More Truck Crashes Than Any Other State in the U.S.
The trucking industry plays a critical role in Texas’s economic health. Texas alone provides nearly 780,000 jobs for Texans. Every day, trucks move around 2.2 million tons of goods through the state.
Texas hosts more trucks on its roads than any other state except California. In addition, truck drivers on Texas highways face the challenge of driving through the vast expanses that separate major cities and landmarks.
With so many trucks on the road, it’s no wonder Texas leads the nation in fatal trucking accidents, with 568 deadly truck crashes in 2020, up from 349 in 2010. However, in Llano County, there was only one fatal commercial vehicle-involved crash and only 29 commercial vehicle crashes in all.
That’s relatively low compared to many other counties in the state. With more than a few Texas counties experiencing over 100 crashes per year – and one county recording over 2,000 crashes, that’s good news.
However, if you or one of your loved ones suffered harm in one of those 29 crashes, that news bears little resemblance to your life. Picking up the pieces after a semi-truck crash can be an uphill fight. Reach out to a truck accident in lawyer to learn more about your rights.
Why Are There So Many Crashes in Texas?
No matter how strict the Texas legislature makes the laws governing the trucking industry, there are always those who stray outside their guidelines. Human error, too, can factor into the equation. One mistake – on the part of the driver, manufacturer, or trucking company – can lead to loss of life or other tragic consequences.
Common Causes of Texas Truck Accidents
Common causes of Texas truck accidents include:
- Inexperienced, tired, or distracted drivers
- Companies that hire unqualified drivers
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Falling asleep while driving
- Driving at a speed unsafe for weather or road conditions
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Overloaded or unevenly loaded trailers
- Improperly secured or shifting cargo
- Unsafe turns or lane changes
- Defective vehicles
- Negligence in maintaining or inspecting vehicles
- Defective roads
- Unexpected road hazards
- Defective tires
- Faulty brakes, steering, or powertrain
- Hazardous work zones or detours
With so many possible causes to sort through, it’s essential to retain an experienced Llano truck accident lawyer such as W. Shane Jennings who will examine every detail that could pinpoint the cause of your crash. After determining the factors that likely caused the crash, your attorney can bring forth claims against all the parties that played a part in your accident.
Prevent Others from Becoming Victims of Semi-Truck Accidents
To prevent truck accidents in Llano or other Texas cities, exercise vigilance as you drive. Don’t be afraid to report the incident if you witness a truck driver violating safety regulations or a defect that could cause an accident, such as a malfunctioning turn signal.
Some reportable behaviors you might observe in truck drivers could include:
- Texting while driving
- Illegal passing
- Aggressive behavior, such as “road rage”
- Staying in the left lane while driving slowly
- Following too closely
- Disobeying traffic signals and signs
- Driving fast under inclement weather conditions
If you believe a truck driver poses an immediate danger to other drivers or pedestrians, don’t hesitate to call 911. You might save a life.
Other authorities with which you can file official complaints include:
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): If you see a driver or know of a trucking company that violates safety standards, you may file an official complaint with the governing federal body.
- The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT): Similarly, you could also file an oral or written complaint with the state of Texas if you see road hazards, traffic signs, or truck equipment in poor repair or a TxDOT contractor or employee who fails to maintain safety standards.
Who is Liable in a Truck Accident Claim?
When a truck accident occurs, law enforcement personnel, insurance adjusters, and the victim’s attorney all play a part in investigating who is liable for the accident. Since various factors could be at play, all parties must conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that all the responsible parties pay for the victims’ medical expenses, financial losses, and emotional damages the collision caused.
What About Criminal Charges?
Investigations from the Llano police department could also determine that the liable party could face criminal charges, as in a case where a truck driver exhibited road rage before an accident occurred. Criminal courts – separate from the civil courts that handle liability claims – would adjudicate these cases. However, evidence your truck accident attorney in Llano, TX, could obtain from the police could also prove valuable in a civil case, particularly if the other party received a guilty verdict.
What Standards Do Civil Courts Use to Determine Negligence?
In the state of Texas, your Llano truck accident lawyer must prove four elements using evidence that supports each element. As the plaintiff (the party initiating legal action), you must prove that the defendant (the party you are taking to court) meets each of these standards:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care: Truck drivers must obey all Texas traffic laws and avoid any action that could cause an accident, even if that action might be legal. For example, if a driver neglects to follow suggested – not posted – speeds on a curve, he or she might be held negligent if speed for conditions was a factor in the crash. The company that owns the truck must also hire only qualified drivers and ensure that their maintenance staff services each vehicle properly.
- The defendant breached their duty of care: Truck operators violate their duty of care when they drive under the influence, become distracted, drive while tired, or drive carelessly. Likewise, trucking companies breach their duty of care when they fail to keep their trucks in safe working condition or fail to screen new hires for poor driving records or lack of experience.
- The defendant’s negligence caused harm to the plaintiff: Through your attorney, you must provide evidence that the defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of your accident. In addition, you must also show that the defendant’s actions were unreasonable and, therefore, unsafe.
- The accident caused the plaintiff’s losses: Your lawyer must present evidence, such as medical bills, expert witnesses’ opinions, medical records, sworn testimonies from your family and friends, and income statements that show that the accident caused your injuries and quantify the losses you suffered from the accident.
Is There a Statute of Limitations in Which I Must File My Claim?
According to Texas law, you must file your claim within two years from the date your accident occurred. Otherwise, you run the risk of the court dismissing your claim.
However, there are exceptions to this statute that the law allows. Finding a competent, experienced truck accident attorney in Llano early in the process can help you determine if these exceptions could apply to your claim.
What Texas Laws Apply to Accidents Involving Trucks and 18-Wheelers?
Both Texas and federal laws regulate commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks, differently than passenger vehicles. Their weight and size make them more likely to cause serious damage to lighter vehicles and their occupants.
For that reason, these laws regulate how trucking companies must maintain their fleet and how truck drivers must conduct themselves on the road. These laws include the following:
- Texas DMV statutes and rules: This state agency regulates the size and weight commercial vehicles must adhere to, as well as issuing permits for overweight and oversized vehicles.
- Texas DOT regulations: The Texas Department of Transportation has compiled a handbook that lists all their requirements for driver licensing, vehicle registration, and vehicle inspection guidelines. Courts can hold drivers or trucking companies that violate these standards liable if their violation causes an accident:
- Texas DPS standards: The Texas DPS is responsible for checking commercial vehicles for compliance with weight and safety regulations. It also sets forth standards for commercial driver’s license tests, sets safety for commercial vehicle drivers, and issues medical requirements for drivers.
- Texas Transportation Code: This body of laws describes all the regulations for motor vehicles on Texas roads, including truck-specific statutes.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA): This federal law regulates various aspects of operating buses, large trucks, and other commercial vehicles in Texas and other U.S. states and territories.
- County and city ordinances: Many Texas counties and cities, including Llano, designate specific requirements for parking and driving vehicles within their limits.
What Is HB 19, and How Might It Affect My Claim?
HB19 is a relatively new law that changes the procedure by which a commercial truck accident victim can receive compensation from a trucking company. Signed into law in 2021, HB19 requires a plaintiff to prove that the circumstances meet two criteria:
The plaintiff must show that the driver was negligent and “on the clock” for his or her employer at the time of the accident. If the driver was using the truck to conduct personal errands, for example, the plaintiff cannot bring a lawsuit against the driver’s employer.
The plaintiff must allege punitive damages against the driver’s employer and document the total amount of those damages.
If the case meets these requirements, the driver’s company can request a two-part trial within specific time frames. The first phase of the trial will focus on determining if the driver was negligent. The jury cannot even know who the truck driver’s employer is until it finds the driver liable for the crash.
Before HB19 passed, a truck accident victim’s lawsuit could include both the truck driver and his or her employer in a single-phase trial that could use the trucking company’s history of violations and other information as part of the proceedings. Now, plaintiffs must wait until the second phase of the trial to disclose these facts.
Thankfully, there is one exception to that requirement. If the plaintiff shows evidence that the trucking company failed to maintain its vehicle properly, he or she can include that information in the first phase of the trial.
What If the Accident Resulted in a Fatality? Can I Sue?
Statistics show that accidents involving large trucks accounted for 9 percent of the nation’s fatal crashes. If you’ve lost a loved one in a Llano semi-truck accident, you can usually sue for damages, provided you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Llano, Texas.
Generally, a truck accident victim’s spouse, parents, and children are eligible to file. However, determining responsibility for a fatal truck crash can be challenging since one of the key witnesses – your loved one – has passed on.
For that reason, you need a skilled truck accident lawyer in Llano with years of experience and depth of legal knowledge to handle all the complexity of a wrongful death lawsuit.
With W. Shane Jennings representing your family, you’ll have years of courtroom experience in successfully litigating wrongful death lawsuits on your side. His passion for bringing responsible parties to justice drives him to conduct a thorough investigation into your loved one’s accident and guide you through the process with the utmost in compassion.
How Long Will It Take to Settle My Llano Truck Accident Claim?
Truck accident lawsuits are usually complex, requiring the attorneys for both parties to sort through many details to discover who is responsible for the crash, determine the severity and lifetime impact of the victims’ injuries, and arrive at a just compensation for the victims and their families.
Truck accident lawsuits can take several years to settle or go to trial. Some of the factors that could cause your Llano truck accident claim to take a longer time to resolve include:
- Uncovering the party or parties who are liable for the crash
- Determining what insurance companies must pay
- Finding out the extent of the victims’ injuries, recovery time, and if there might be any lifetime impact, such as in a case that resulted in a victim’s death or lifelong impairment
Some Texas semi-truck accident lawsuits settle out of court. However, especially with HB19 in effect, the trucking company involved might fight their responsibility in the accident.
It’s critical that you have an experienced litigator familiar with Texas trucking laws to handle your case. With W. Shane Jennings representing you, you can rest assured that you have an experienced attorney in your corner who will use every legal tool he has to pursue a just outcome, whether that occurs through a settlement or in a courtroom trial.
What to Consider When Hiring a Llano Truck Accident Attorney
Semi-truck accidents involve layers of complexity because several parties, including the driver, the trucking company, and even the manufacturer of the truck involved, can all bear responsibility for a crash.
To help you identify which law firm you should choose to represent you in your truck accident, ask prospective lawyers questions like the following.
- How many accident cases involving semi-trucks have you settled in favor of your client?
- How many truck accident lawsuits have you taken to trial, and what percentage of them did you win?
- Do you think my case is winnable – and if so, how much compensation should I receive?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
- What will you charge for representing me, and when will I need to pay?
- How responsive are you and your office personnel regarding client calls, texts, and emails?
- How much experience have you had in representing accident victims with injuries like mine?
If your crash was a serious one – and most semi-truck accidents are – the company that owns the truck will fight hard to avoid paying full compensation for your injuries. They can stoop as low as to blame the victim or hide evidence, so it’s essential for you to retain a truck accident attorney in Llano with the experience and insight that can help you uncover these underhanded tactics.
Attorney W. Shane Jennings has the experience and tenacity to take on even the largest trucking companies in the nation. He’ll stop at nothing within legal bounds to get the maximum compensation for you and your family.
Contact Truck Accident Attorney W. Shane Jennings Today
Commercial truck accidents differ from normal traffic accidents in both the scope of damage they can do and the high-priced legal representation trucking companies can afford to hire. To fight against the truck companies’ legal armies, you need an attorney with years of experience successfully litigating truck accident cases.
Llano truck accident lawyer W. Shane Jennings has that experience. More importantly, his belief in a fair outcome for everyone ensures that he’ll fight for you as if you were a treasured family member. If you want this kind of passion on your side, get in touch with the W. Shane Jennings law office today!
In addition to Llano, TX, we also serve Marble Falls, Burnet, Mason, Brady, Fredericksburg, Lakeway, Leander, Copperas Cove, Cedar Park, Anderson Mill, Kerrville, Jollyville, Round Rock, Hobbs, New Mexico, Las Cruces, and more.