Texas Truck Accident Risk May Be Lowered By Interior Cameras
Your risk of a Texas truck accident in El Paso is higher than average because large trucks are more prevalent in the Lone Star state than in many others. In fact, Texas leads the nation in trucking accidents, with 543 reported in a single recent year. The state with the second-highest number of trucking accidents, California, had less than half that (244).
One of the ways the trucking industry has worked to address this (more for their bottom line than yours) is by investing in a number of technological safety features. These include things like automatic braking systems, underride guards (rear is federally mandatory, side is not), GPS devices, forward collision warnings and speed limiters. The latest to be included by many firms are in-cabin cameras.
Although these systems have been decried by truck drivers as an invasion of privacy, the cameras aren’t recording the entire trip. Rather, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the cameras are “on” the entire duration of the trip, but only capture recordings when there are certain triggers, such as hard braking, swerving or rapid acceleration. This, say truck company owners nationwide, has helped to drive down insurance and crash-related costs, as well as in some instances exonerate drivers who might otherwise face liability in truck accidents.
An estimated 3,700 large trucks were involved in deadly crashes in 2014, resulting in 3,900 deaths nationally. Most of them were not the truckers, but occupants of other vehicles. Many tens of thousands more suffered serious and even disabling injuries.
How In-Cabin Cameras Help Your Case
Although this might seem a negative for El Paso truck accident plaintiffs, the reality is footage provided by these cameras can give your lawyer a clearer picture of your case. It may lower your legal costs because if we can prove the trucker was at-fault more quickly, then the primary dispute becomes how much should you be paid. You spend less on litigation expenses that stem from the services of accident reconstructionists and other experts who are necessary to prove causation in what are often complex and very serious cases.
Beyond that, if there is little evidence the trucker was negligent, that may be your queue to pursue other avenues of compensation, including PIP benefits (Texas Insurance Code, Section 1952.151), and Med-Pay.
If the video captured evidence the trucker’s actions amounted to gross negligence, you could be entitled to punitive damages (referred to in Texas law as “exemplary damages”) which could significantly increase the amount you are entitled to collect.
Lowering Truck Accidents With Cameras
Although some trucking industry insiders opine there is little benefit to the cameras when so many crashes may be the fault of the injured person or a third party, many companies that have invested in the cameras say it has helped them reduce costs. Some have said that by installing the $35 devices on their rigs, they’ve been able to slash “triggering events” (those dangerous maneuvers that trigger recording) by 60 percent to 80 percent.
That tells us that while those in the industry like to lay the blame on drivers of other cars, the reality is when truckers know they are being watched, they end up driving more safely. Other firms say they have lowered their insurance costs by 30 percent since installing the devices.
When it comes to big rigs, privacy of drivers can’t trump the safety of those with whom they share the road.
Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1983 with a bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting. He received his juris doctorate degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio. Michael has successfully handled countless cases of medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, and nursing home negligence. He enjoys helping people “get their lives back in order” by providing high-quality legal representation and compassionate customer service.