A three-vehicle truck accident in Laredo recently killed four people. Authorities told NBC-8 the semi-truck driver rear-ended a pickup truck traveling northbound on Highway 359. The impact of that collision sent the truck into the opposing lane, where it was struck by another vehicle on the passenger side.
The crash signals part of a greater problem here in Texas, which is the fact that we are No. 1 in the nation when it comes to trucking accidents.
Recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveals crashes involving buses and large trucks over 10,000 pounds spiked by 8 percent between 2014 and 2015. Anecdotal data suggests this year and last won't pan out much better, at least for Texas.
In all of 2015, there were 4,311 large trucks and buses involved in deadly accidents. This was an increase of 26 percent compared to 2009. While it's true that this is still down from the 21st-century peak of more than 5,230 in 2005, it's still far too high. In looking just at large trucks (excluding buses), federal authorities report a total of 415,000 police-reported crashes. Although only 1 percent of those were fatal, that still works out to 3,600. Plus, there were another 83,000 people seriously injured.
Many times, Laredo truck accidents in which people survive still leave them with catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury/ paralysis, severe burns and amputations. People's lives, if they survive, are often never the same again.
Approximately 27 percent of all fatal crashes in highway work zones involve a large truck, as do 11 percent of all injury crashes in those regions. In 9 out of 10 cases, the fatal impact was the result of a truck colliding with another vehicle. Rollovers following truck accidents are a big problem too.
Texas in particular has a significant share of truck accident, though according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number has remained steady the last couple years. In 2014, of 4,895 total vehicles involved in fatal crashes, 532 were large trucks. That's almost 11 percent of the total, which is higher than the national average of 8.3 percent. The following year, there were 4,891 vehicles involved in fatal crashes, and 531 of those were large trucks.
As far as the number of truck accident deaths in Texas, that number too was the largest of any state. A total of 561 people were killed in large truck accidents in Texas in 2015. Of those, 100 were occupants of the truck, while 418 were occupants of other vehicles. The rest were non-occupants (i.e., bicyclists and pedestrians). That was slightly higher than a year earlier, when state officials reported 553 total truck accident fatalities. Of those, 114 were truck occupants, 398 were occupants of other vehicles and 41 were non-occupants.
Attorney John R. Solis know that holding negligent truck drivers, carriers, owners and maintenance providers responsible is important. However, it can be an arduous task because many trucking companies are structured in such a way as to limit their own liability. That's why so many truckers are independent contractors, as opposed to employees of trucking companies. In so doing, companies are able to reduce the chances they'll be found vicariously liable for a trucker's negligence.
That does not mean you don't have legal recourse if you're injured in a truck crash in Texas. It simply means you need an attorney with the kind of experience that can get you results.