Texas Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuits Can Be Time Consuming
There’s an old saying that everything is bigger in Texas and the adage is no exception when it comes to the number of fatal semi-truck accidents.
The Lone Star State leads the nation in the annual number of deadly semi-truck accidents, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration.
With 531 fatal accidents involving at least one semi-truck in 2015, Texas surpassed even California (291), which is home to 12 million more residents.
Unfortunately, 2015 wasn’t an outlier for Texas. Since at least 2005, the state has far outpaced the rest of the country in the number of fatal semi-truck crashes.
Data from the Texas Department of Transportation showed an overall uptick in motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2016, a 5.45 percent from 2015.
The victims in semi-truck crashes are frequently motorists in passenger vehicles, which are smaller and more vulnerable. Following a crash, these people must then navigate things like medical expenses and property damage as well as physical and emotional injuries.
Semi-truck accident lawsuits in Texas are plentiful. The timeline for litigating this type of case is somewhat unpredictable, depending on whether the crash resulted in an injury or a death and the gravity of the injuries suffered. If the case goes all the way to a jury trial, it’s about a two-year process in Texas.
The vast majority of personal injury cases — some 95 percent —settle without a trial.
The length of time needed for medical care can play a large role in determining how long semi-truck accident litigation can last.
Several things needs to occur before a lawsuit can be filed.
The accident must be investigated. Law enforcement must file a crash report. Things like dash cam video footage, 911 calls and witness statements must be gathered and reviewed, and often a private investigator is hired as well as an accident reconstruction expert.
The latter conducts a through investigation to determine how and why the crash occurred and who is at fault. These experts analyze things such as roadway design and conditions, vehicle speeds, whether the crash could have been avoided, sight distance, collision severity, and code and compliance violations, such as violations of federal regulations limiting truckers to driving 11 hours in a stretch and no more than 77 hours over a seven-day period.
After collecting and analyzing all of the evidence, a semi-truck accident lawsuit can be filed and the clock starts ticking.
Parties on both sides will file discovery requests with court. Discovery is a pre-trial procedure during which each side asks for documents, witness statements and other evidence in the possession of the opposing side.
Depositions — sworn statements under oath — will also be taken. The lawyers will ask the truck driver and other pertinent parties (the employer or supervisor, the responding police officer and witnesses, for example) questions about the incident.
The court system encourages litigants to try to resolve cases in mediation, which is when a lawyer who is not involved in the case meets with both sides and tries to help them settle the case.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial. Some 95 percent of personal injury cases settle before trial.
Many lawyers will represent clients on a contingency fee basis, which allows the plaintiff to hire a lawyer without paying any money upfront.
Semi-truck accident settlements can offer victims financial compensation to help cover medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. Contact the attorneys at McDonald Worley today for a free case evaluation.