Tarrent County Personal Injury Lawyer Steve Laird. Best Lawyer, Super Lawyers'Top 100 in Texas. Trucking accident law firm.


truck accident

If you or your family has been involved in an 18-wheeler accident or an accident with a heavy truck, learn what Steven Laird, a nationally known, expert, truck accident attorney, can do to help you navigate the aftermath and achieve the best possible outcome. See the results that Steve has obtained for other truck accident victims.

What You Should Know Before You Speak to an Insurance Adjuster About Your Claim

What to do before speaking to an insurance agent after an accident with a semi truck
Posted by The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C. – Truck Accidents

If you are injured in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle or a car, you will likely hear from the other driver’s insurance adjuster or lawyer soon after the accident. If this happens, it is essential to know that the adjuster or lawyer represents the parties on the other side, and is usually interested in minimizing their fault and your damages in order to prevent you from receiving a fair settlement.

In Texas, it is crucial that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent your interests as soon as possible after you have been in an accident with an 18 wheeler or some other vehicle. Having an experienced law firm on your side helps to protect you against the insurance company’s efforts to minimize and devalue your claims, and their attacks on your reputation and credibility. They commonly do this in conjunction with the defense lawyers they hire.

Common Tactics used by Insurance Adjusters & Defense Lawyers to Help Minimize the Amount of Your Claim:
  • Calling you immediately after the accident: An adjuster or defense lawyer might call you immediately after the accident to record your statement and ask you questions “while the incident is still fresh in your mind.” These types of calls are likely not intended to “speed up the process”; rather, they are designed to gather the information that can later be used against you by:
    • Tricking you to admit that you were partially at fault;
    • Tricking you to minimize the extent of injuries, or getting you to state that you are doing fine after the accident;
    • Tricking you to recount the accident in hopes of developing information that can later be used against you.
  • Offering a minimal settlement before you fully understand the extent of your injuries. Some adjusters and defense lawyers will attempt to get you, the injured person, to settle before you have finished treatment and rehabilitation, and before you have had the chance to contact an experienced lawyer who can provide you with an understanding of what you are entitled to recover for all of your claims.
  • Denying your claim in hopes that you will simply give up. Reasons can include claiming that you were responsible for the accident, blaming another third-party for the accident, or attempting to convince you that your injuries are not consistent with your accounting of the accident and so forth.
  • Probing into your confidential past medical history in hopes of a preexisting condition that the adjuster or defense lawyer can use as an excuse for your current problems.
Bad Faith Tactics & Additional Liabilities

In addition to these common tactics, some insurance companies or defense lawyers employ bad faith tactics that may leave them open to additional liabilities. Our team of experienced Fort Worth truck accident attorneys, personal injury, and wrongful death lawyers, has handled many of these types of cases.

We understand the complexities of Texas commercial trucking laws and car wreck laws. We will always try to ensure that you are protected from bad faith tactics, and we will always be there to help you to recover the just and fair compensation that you deserve.

LET US HELP PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY BY ENSURING THAT YOU HAVE THE SAME HIGH-QUALITY LEGAL TEAM AS THE BIG COMPANIES ON THE OTHER SIDE. CALL US TODAY AT (817) 531-3000 FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW.

THE FIRST LAWYERS IN THE COUNTRY ARE BOARD CERTIFIED IN TRUCK ACCIDENT LAW BY THE NATIONAL BOARD OF TRIAL ADVOCACY – STEVEN C. LAIRD IS 1 OF ONLY 9 IN TEXAS (at the time this was written)

NBTA Board Certification is the only Accreditation for Truck Accident Law that is recognized by the American Bar Association and the U.S. Supreme Court. This certification helps to safeguard the public interest by providing accident victims and their families with an objective measure to aid them in selecting qualified and experienced legal counsel.

  • Steven C. Laird is 1 of 9 Texas Lawyers to obtain Board Certification in Truck Accident Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy
  • NBTA certification in Truck Accident Law helps safeguard the rights of truck accident victims and their families by providing them with an objective measure by which to choose qualified and experienced legal counsel.
  • This is the only U.S. Supreme Court, and American Bar Association accredited Certification in Truck Accident Law in the U.S.
  • Trucking Accident Trial attorneys, like Steve Laird, illustrate their commitment to bettering the legal profession by obtaining Board Certification – the highest, most stringent, and most reliable honor an attorney can achieve.

Steve Laird of the Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C. is 1 of only 9 lawyers in Texas, 1 of 37 in the nation (at the time of this release) to successfully achieve Board Certification in Truck Accident Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. To achieve board certification, a lawyer is thoroughly vetted through a detailed process in which real-world experience and results handling truck crash cases are verified, and skills and knowledge are tested. Unlike some other accommodations, board certification cannot be purchased for any sum of money, and no attorneys get favored treatment.

Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer Steve Laird stated,  ” Regardless of advertising, few law firms have actually tried a trucking accident case to a jury verdict. We have tried many to verdict. These cases are complex and hard to win. The large corporations and their insurance companies, on the other side, have the resources to hire highly skilled and experienced teams to represent them.

Having an experienced and highly qualified lawyer to represent victims and their families is very important in securing meaningful outcomes. Personal Injury Attorneys who achieve Board Certification in Truck Accident Law separate themselves from other attorneys by demonstrating their experience, expertise, and commitment to excellence in handling Truck Accident cases.”    

In the competitive arena of Truck Accident Law, NBTA certification provides a much-needed objective set of standards illustrating an attorney’s experience, qualifications, and expertise. Certification requires successful completion of a rigorous application process providing consumers of legal services with an objective measure by which to choose qualified and experienced legal counsel. The elaborate screening of credentials that all NBTA board certified attorneys must successfully complete includes: demonstration of substantial trial experience in truck accident cases, submission of judicial and peer references to attest to their competency and ethics, attendance of continuing legal education courses, submission of legal writing documents, proof of good standing and passing of an examination. Board Certification is the highest, most stringent, and most reliable honor an attorney can achieve.

There is no dispute about the bona fides and the relevance of NBTA certification…. Disclosure of information such as that on petitioner’s letterhead both serves the public interest and encourages the development and utilization of meritorious certification programs for attorneys.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois, 110 S.Ct. 2281 (1990) 

Study Shows Incredible Benefits of Collision Avoidance Systems

One of our goals at the Law Offices of Steven C. Laird is to do everything we can to help improve highway safety because we have seen firsthand the devastating impact on families who fall victim to crashes involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other heavy trucks. That is why we work so hard every year to let people know about the annual International Roadcheck, which was conducted in June and why we bring public awareness to new safety innovations, like collision avoidance systems.

Our commitment to making the roads safer for everyone also includes staying on top of the latest developments in truck crash safety. We’ve previously discussed the many reasons that semis and other big rigs are involved in so many wrecks, including speeding, improper licensing, inexperience, and other factors. Now, there is evidence that a technological breakthrough may well help eliminate many of the crashes involving these mammoth trucks regardless of the circumstances.

collision avoidance systems prevent truck accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently reported the results of a field study involving crash avoidance systems (CAS), sometimes referred to as collision avoidance systems,  which typically rely on radar, lasers, or cameras to help detect potential crashes before they happen. CAS technology warns drivers of an imminent collision so they can take evasive action, or alternatively, it performs evasive maneuvers automatically without driver involvement. Many passenger vehicles already include some form of CAS technology, such as automatic braking to stop collisions before they happen. U.S. auto manufacturers have agreed to include automatic braking systems on all new cars by 2022.

The recent NHTSA field study is based on one year of monitoring 150 CAS-equipped trucks and the 168 drivers who operated them. The results are simply stunning.

The monitored trucks drove more than 3 million miles, logging more than 110,000 hours of driving information. The sampled data from 6,000 instances where crash avoidance systems were activated revealed that not a single wreck was recorded. You heard that right: The CAS-equipped trucks had ZERO crashes over a 12-month period.

What’s more is that the crash avoidance systems included in the monitored trucks were all at least three years old, which is incredible when you consider the advancements in CAS that have emerged in the past year alone.

While experts say a single study cannot predict with 100 percent accuracy how things will play out in the real world, it isn’t much of a leap to say that the NHTSA’s results have confirmed what many safety experts have been saying for years. Let’s all hope federal regulators begin requiring these life-saving devices on every semi in the near future.

Distracted Driving Accidents on the Rise

The ability to send text messages on smartphones and other mobile electronic devices has connected the world in a way that few of us could imagine only a few short years ago. However, this game-changing advancement in technology also has brought a new level of danger to our highways for every driver, regardless of whether they are behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, passenger van, or family sedan.

According to the U.S. government’s website dedicated to distracted driving, more than 3,000 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in vehicle crashes during 2014 that involved distracted drivers. While those numbers will shock many people, the outcome could have been much worse when you consider that more than 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle at any given time during the day, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey.

texting-while-driving

Although texting and driving is illegal in Texas school zones and at least 60 local governments have enacted ordinances aimed at curbing texting and driving, such as Austin, the Lone Star State is one of only six in the U.S. that does not at least ban texting while behind the wheel. For the most part, Texas politicians largely have resisted the push to implement such a law for several years even though a few proposed measures made it past the preliminary stages during the most recent legislative session.

One part of this conversation that you often don’t hear about is how texting and driving has become a key element in auto crash cases of every kind, including those involving buses, semis, and other heavy trucks. Last year, authorities revealed that the driver of a school bus in Tennessee had been receiving and sending texts prior to a crash that killed two students, a teacher’s aide and the driver himself. But for the ability of investigators to search the driver’s cell phone records, we may never have learned what caused this fatal crash.

If you are involved in a car wreck, regardless of whether it involves a tractor-trailer, passenger car or company vehicle, it is crucial to find out whether texting and driving was the cause. Even if the streets are filled with other cars, it often can be difficult to find witnesses, which means the determination of who was at fault will depend largely on whose story is more believable in the eyes of law enforcement. But when you can prove that the other driver was distracted by their mobile phone or another device, the proof is undeniable. When I’m handling a case involving a vehicle crash, one of my first questions is whether the other driver was using their cell phone. With court permission, we often are granted access to cell phone records so we can determine whether distracted driving played a role. In other instances, we have brought in experts on cell phone technology to find out the same information when other records were not available.

Texting and driving is not smart and, for safety’s sake, there should be a blanket law covering every state that would prevent any driver from picking up their phone while behind the wheel. Until then, we will continue to see more wrecks caused by distracted driving and more people being held liable for causing those wrecks based on their own cell phone records.

Speed Limiter Delay Raises Danger on Highways

The idea of installing speed-limiting devices on 18-wheelers and other heavy trucks has been discussed for many years, but the official proposal to make it happen has stagnated as a result of foot-dragging by government regulators. Fortunately, it appears we are much closer to seeing this life-saving technology put to use on our highways in the near future following the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recent passage of a Department of Transportation funding bill for 2017.

speed-limit-dangers-photo

Speed limiters also called “governors” can be installed in any vehicle to prevent a driver from going faster than a prescribed speed. According to a 2014 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and as we have seen time and again, speed is one of the top three factors for motor vehicle crashes, along with fatigue and drinking alcohol. While many truckers have resisted the move to restrict their ability to go as fast as their tractor-trailers are capable, the great majority of safety experts agree that limiting trucks’ speed will save lives and prevent countless highway injuries.

The continuing problem with mandating speed limiters is getting a rule drafted and passed that the DOT can implement and enforce. The DOT repeatedly has promised it will submit a proposed rule for at least the past two years, but no proposal has emerged. Some blame the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which has failed to approve a similar rule submitted by the DOT in 2014. But with the passage of the 2017 funding bill, the Senate has set a deadline for the new rule to be submitted, although everyone believes the deadline will be pushed back as the bill makes it way to the House of Representatives. Regardless, we are much closer today than we have been in recent years.

If the White House and DOT can get their act together and the House of Representatives does not slow down the process, then we could see speed limiters on semis and other big rigs as soon as 2018. While two years is a long time to wait for something that nearly everyone agrees will improve highway safety significantly, the forthcoming benefits of speed limiters hopefully will cause us all to ask, “What took so long?

International Roadcheck 2016 Focus of CBS 11 Report

The highway dangers that follow the International Roadcheck inspection period every year are now the focus of a new report from KTVT-CBS 11 in Dallas/Fort Worth. I spoke with reporter Joel Thomas about the many truck drivers who decide to take “Roadcheck vacations” every year in order to avoid critical safety inspections conducted by law enforcement agencies in Texas and throughout North America.

You can see the full report here.

As the story notes, trucking companies and truck drivers are given months of notice every year before the Roadcheck inspections begin, which causes many reputable companies and drivers to make sure they are in full compliance with state and federal laws. However, many unscrupulous carriers and big rig pilots decide to stay in the shadows during Roadcheck because they have shoddy trucks or licensing problems. That is why I try to spread the word as far as possible about Roadcheck every year in order to warn everyday motorists who may not be aware that the days after the inspections represent the most dangerous times of the year to be on the highway.

My goal is that stories such as this CBS 11 report and those published recently by The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram (see below) will help prevent at least one truck accident and hopefully many others. Remember to be safe on the highways this weekend!

Dallas Morning News Reports on Roadcheck Dangers

The Dallas Morning News is helping spread the word about the dangers that follow the annual International Roadcheck inspection period with a story published today that includes an interview I did earlier.

As noted in the story, nearly 22 percent of the tractor-trailers, big rigs and semis that were inspected in Texas during last year’s Roadcheck were ordered off the road for safety violations and more than 200 drivers were ticketed for failing to maintain proper time records, working longer than allowed by law, or other violations.

The reporter also spoke with a Fort Worth police officer who acknowledged that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which organizes Roadcheck, knows that many truck drivers avoid inspections by taking what the trucking industry calls “Roadcheck vacations.” Here’s hoping that the early warning given to trucking companies will stop soon so we can get a better idea of how many trucks and drivers truly shouldn’t be on our highways.

International Roadcheck Commentary Published by Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The annual effort to warn drivers about International Roadcheck just got a big boost with the publication of a commentary that I recently put together for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which you can see here: http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/other-voices/article80455812.html.

This piece was written in hopes that the Star-Telegram’s editors would help spread the word about one of the most important times of the year for highway safety and protecting against crashes with tractor-trailers, semis and other heavy trucks. I am very thankful they decided to do so. If knowing about Roadcheck can help prevent one accident, then it is worth every bit of time and effort our office devotes to this project every year.

With the 2016 Roadcheck less than a week away, the trucking industry is working at a fever pitch to notify drivers that they may well face safety inspections conducted by law enforcement from June 7 through June 9. Of course, many drivers and their trucks will avoid those inspections by taking so-called “Roacheck Vacations.”

Please tell your friends about Roadcheck or ask them to read the commentary in the Star-Telegram. The more people who know, the better we all will be prepared.

Roadcheck 2016 Kicks Off June 7

One of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road traveling alongside 18-wheelers, buses and other big rigs is drawing near, although a majority of drivers will never realize the risks because they were never warned.

As we noted here last year, the annual International Roadcheck program is set to take place June 7-9 across the U.S. and all of North America as part of a joint effort organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). During Roadcheck, more than 10,000 CVSA-certified inspectors from the local, state and federal level participate in the 72-hour program that includes roadside inspections of more than 70,000 semis and other heavy trucks.

As happens every year, the trucking industry already is telling companies and drivers about the three-day window, which will allow many of them to limit their hours or stay off the road entirely in order to avoid inspections. Once Roadcheck is over, expect to see many more tractor-trailers on the highway, including those whose drivers may be looking to make up for lost time that was spent waiting on the mandatory inspections to conclude.

Of the nearly 70,000 individual Roadcheck inspections conducted last year, more than 1,600 drivers were ticketed for out-of-service (OSS) violations for working longer than allowed by law and for failing to maintain proper time records that show how long it had been since they last had rest or sleep. Both violations can lead to fatigued driving, which police say causes more than 100,000 highway accidents every year. The 2015 Roadcheck also found OSS violations in nearly 22 percent of tested trucks (roughly 9,700 vehicles) that required them to be removed from the road.

As predicted, the number of violations was lower last year than the year prior, which could mean a couple of different things. Hopefully it means that trucking companies and drivers are doing a better job of obeying the law and playing by the rules. However, with the advance notice providing the opportunity for “Roadcheck vacations” (as they are called in the industry), last year’s improved numbers may fail to account for unsafe trucks and drivers who purposely avoided inspection.

The smart way to approach Roadcheck as an average motorist is to be particularly careful on the highway in the days and weeks following the inspection period when many drivers return to the road. That means everyone should be on high alert beginning Friday, June 10, through the weekend and at least the following week. Although not every big rig you see will have safety problems and not all of the drivers will be unqualified or improperly licensed, knowing about Roadcheck and taking the proper precautions will protect you and your family.

As an example of what happens when safety inspections are not announced months ahead of time, we can look to a recent inspection blitz conducted in Maryland by state police, environmental regulators and local police departments. The one-day effort included inspections of more than 400 vehicles, primarily tractor-trailers and semis, and the results were flatly scary. In the end, more than 25 percent of the inspected vehicles were ordered off the highway for having tires that could not pass inspection or other violations. One big rig was found to be more than 12 tons overweight, and a total of 115 traffic citations were issued in addition to 251 warnings. Those are some terrible numbers.

 

Rules for Truck Driver Drug Testing Change for the Worse

While the U.S. economy continues to improve in 2016, putting more freight and more drivers on the highways, the federal arm overseeing trucking has reduced the number of random drug tests required of big rig drivers.

This hardly makes sense. Substance abuse continues to be a serious problem in the industry. Yet, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Jan. 1 lowered the rate of random testing for controlled substances from 50 percent to 25 percent of the average number of driver positions.

trucks-and-drugs

The FMCSA has the authority to lower the rate of testing when results have shown those testing positive for drugs holds steady below 1 percent over two years. Federal data show that has been the case for 2011, 2012 and 2013. If the percentage of truckers testing positive rises above the 1 percent threshold again, then the motor carrier administration can again increase its spot checks.

While the recent trend line for positive tests is encouraging, the low percentage fails to account for those drug-abusing drivers who remain on the highway unchecked. There really should be zero tolerance for controlled substance use among drivers of these huge, dangerous vehicles crowding interstates across America. As for alcohol testing, the minimum annual random testing rate remains at 10 percent.