As Texans know, the state’s roadways are filled with oil tanker trucks. With so many on the road, frightening accidents with them are not uncommon. In fact, Texas leads the country when it comes to commercial large truck accidents that result in serious injuries and death. In a recent single year, 658 people were killed in crashes with tankers and other commercial trucks in the state, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of those killed, 467 were occupants of other vehicles. This isn’t surprising. In a crash between a fully loaded truck weighing as much as 44 tons and a car or other light passenger vehicle, it isn’t hard to see which has the advantage.
If you’re injured in a crash with an oil tanker truck that wasn’t your fault, you can ask for compensation through a legal claim. This money can pay for your medical costs, lost wages and other damages. Read on to learn what to do if you’re hit by an oil tanker truck.
CONSIDER WHO IS LIABLE FOR THE ACCIDENT
When you’re injured in a truck crash, there may be more than one party responsible. Sometimes the trucking company can be held liable, in addition to the driver. Oil tanker truck drivers help power the economy through their work. Most strive to be safe drivers, but sometimes they are under pressure from employers to work harder and faster. And sometimes trucking companies don’t properly maintain their vehicles, which can contribute to accidents.
In some cases, distracted or reckless drivers of other vehicles are responsible for setting off chain-reaction crashes that can cause an oil tanker truck to hit other autos. When this happens, the drivers of those vehicles can also be held liable.
Also, sometimes poorly designed or maintained roads or truck parts that fail can contribute to crashes.
Causes of Oil Tanker Truck Injury Crashes
Here are some specific possible causes of oil tanker wrecks:
- Fatigued driving. When trucking companies push truckers too hard, they may be tired and cause accidents.
- Distracted driving. Cell phone use and other distracted driving behaviors by truck drivers or other drivers can lead to crashes.
- Inexperienced driving. Drivers who don’t have proper training and experience to maneuver massive trucks may be more likely to be involved in wrecks.
- Aggressive driving. When trucks are under pressure to meet schedules, they may speed or otherwise drive aggressively.
- Poor road conditions. Poorly designed roads and intersections, road construction and other dangers can lead to accidents.
- Driving under the influence. Approximately 3% of truck drivers in fatal crashes are drunk, according to NHTSA data.
- Defective truck or other vehicle parts. If brakes, steering assemblies or other parts on a motor vehicle fail, accidents can happen.
Can a Tanker Truck Explode? Can an Oil Tanker Roll Over?
The answers to these questions are “yes” and “yes.” If a tanker is filled with oil, a crash may cause an explosion and fire. Oil tankers can also more easily roll over on their side than other vehicles, because they carry liquid, which can slosh around and cause trucks to become off-balance and unstable. For these reasons, especially devastating injuries including burns, traumatic brain injuries and other catastrophic harm, can occur. These injuries usually require extensive and expensive medical treatment.
DETERMINE HOW MUCH COMPENSATION TO PURSUE
How much money you could get if you’re injured in a tanker truck crash is based on your damages. “Damages” are all the things you’ve lost because of the accident. They can include payment for:
- Doctor bills, hospital costs and other medical expenses
- Lost income for days missed at work
- Lost earning capacity if you can’t work anymore or must work in a lower-paying job
- Pain and suffering for ongoing physical effects and emotional trauma.
If your family member died in an accident with a tanker truck, you may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. Damages may include payment of medical expenses for their injuries, funeral and burial costs, lost love and companionship, lost emotional and financial support and other damages.
GATHER EVIDENCE TO PROVE LIABILITY
Following a tanker truck crash, there are certain steps to take that can help prove fault for the accident. If you aren’t taken to the emergency room following the crash, seek out medical treatment as soon as possible. Doctor reports of your injuries and needed treatments will be important evidence to provide to the insurance company. Also, if possible, you should:
- Get a copy of the police accident report
- Take photographs or video of the accident scene and vehicles involved
- Ask for statements or contact information from eyewitnesses
- Keep a daily diary of your injuries and the pain they have caused you
- Consider getting skilled legal guidance for your case.
What Will a Lawyer Do for Me?
An attorney can help your accident case by:
- Investigating all the evidence to determine fault
- Examining how many parties may be liable
- Helping decide a value range for your claim
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
- Representing you in court if the insurer for the at-fault party doesn’t offer a fair settlement or if the at-fault party denies liability.
COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE AND TANKER TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Texas follows a comparative negligence rule when it comes to compensation. This means that if you share any responsibility for the crash, your compensation in a possible jury award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are over 50% at fault, you won’t get anything. Insurance companies may also follow this rule. An experienced Texas truck accident lawyer will bring in expert witnesses and other strong evidence to prove the other party’s negligence and fault.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED WEST TEXAS TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER
At Hanna Allen, our West Texas truck accident lawyers have extensive background successfully handling commercial trucking crash cases. Our compassionate attorneys will stand up for your rights when you’ve been hit by an oil tanker truck and suffered serious injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 432-220-2649.