Texas Truck Accident Risk Outsized As National Number Climbs
A new report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveals large truck accidents and bus accidents rose by 8 percent between 2014 and 2015. Although this figure is a 26 percent rise since 2009, it’s still 18 percent lower than the number reported in 2005, which was 5,231.
Still, the upward swing isn’t the way we like to see these things go, particularly given the fact that motor vehicles – and large trucks and buses in particular – are increasingly being designed with enhanced safety features. Some examples include:
- Forward collision alerts (with new technology more capable and affordable);
- Stability control systems (some that can even mitigate jackknives);
- Collision avoidance systems;
- Air disc brakes.
Yet we continue to see these increases.
As previous data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, Texas ranks No. 1 when it comes to the most large truck accidents. Based on the most recent data from 2015, large trucks were involved in
531 fatal crashes, which was 11 percent of the total number of vehicles involved in fatal crashes. That was almost identical to the number of fatal large trucking accidents in Texas the previous year, which reported 532.
There were a total of 415,000 police-reported collisions involving large trucks nationally in 2015, with about 1 percent of those resulting in fatalities. Approximately 20 percent – more than 80,000 – resulted in some type of serious injury. When factoring in population, there were 11.2 deadly large truck accidents per 1 million people in the U.S., which marks a 6 percent increase since 2010.
Bus crashes, too, are an issue in Texas, as we just saw recently with the El Paso bus crash that claimed the life of a 48-year-old Irvine High School coach. At the time, the bus was carrying students, coaches and trainers from seven high schools. A total of 17 people were treated for serious injuries as a result of the crash. In a press conference following the crash, representatives of the school board, after extending sympathies, went on to say, “This was in no way our fault or our bus driver’s fault.” But that is generally not a call a potential defendant can make, underscoring the fact that victims of bus accidents and large truck accidents need to immediately seek immediate legal counsel.
The FMCSA reports in 2015, there were 257 bus accident fatalities, resulting in 49 deaths of bus occupants, and 24,000 people injured.
The vast majority of both truck and bus accidents that resulted in fatalities occurred during the day. This makes sense when you consider this is when most vehicles are on the road.
In terms of liability, these cases can quickly get complex. It might seem obvious: Injured by a reckless bus driver, sue the company for whom he works. However, many bus drivers and truck drivers are independent contractors, which means vicarious liability through the doctrine of respondeat superior may not apply. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t hold the carrier accountable (and just because a driver is labeled an independent contractor doesn’t necessarily mean he is), but it does make matters trickier. Additionally, there are provisions under the law to hold accountable the owner of the vehicle (if separate from the operator) and potentially other third parties.
Again, because these crashes so often result in severe injuries, it’s important to consult with an experienced injury firm to learn more about your legal options.
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.