Saturday, February 28, 2015

Truck Accidents- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists: Houston Personal Injury Attorney

Over 14 percent of drivers on the road today do not carry legally required liability insurance. Even drivers who do carry insurance sometimes only carry minimum limits, which may not be enough to cover all of the damages in an accident for which they're responsible. If the at-fault driver can't afford to pay out of pocket for the damages that insurance doesn't cover, you'll be left paying for them — unless you have Underinsured Motorist insurance, which covers situations in which the at-fault driver is underinsured.

Texas has strict laws when it comes to auto insurance. Texas is a “fault” state, meaning that drivers must carry liability insurance to pay for bodily injury and property damage resulting from accidents they cause. The current statutory minimums for liability are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. But even though it’s the law, not every driver purchases insurance, and some lose coverage by failing to make premium payments in a timely manner.
Art. 5.06-1 of the Texas Insurance Code mandates that all automobile insurance companies doing business in Texas offer UM/UIM coverage as a part of the standard Texas Personal Automobile Insurance Policy, with the purpose being to protect those so insured against the negligent acts of “financially irresponsible” motorists. Texas does not require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance provides protection in the event of an accident where the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance. Unfortunately, policyholders with uninsured motorist coverage often end up in disputes with their own insurers instead of the other drivers’.

Texas State laws surrounding uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage are somewhat complicated in Texas; if you find yourself unable to recover financial compensation after a Houston, TX car accident an experienced personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the process and get you the best possible outcome. For more information about how to proceed in these cases and to recover money from your Texas uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage contact us at or call 1 844-8LEGAL8 for a free consultation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Truck Accidents- Perception / Reaction Times: Houston Personal Injury Lawyer

A dramatic difference between trucks and cars is that trucks take much longer to stop. Trucks with properly maintained brakes generally take 25 to 65 percent longer to stop than a car, which translates into a 60 to 80 percent braking efficiency depending upon the load.

Passenger vehicles such as cars, light trucks or SUV's use a hydraulic braking system. When the driver pushes on the brake pedal it in turn pushes on a hydraulic cylinder: the cylinder then sends pressurized brake fluid to the hydraulic pistons on the car’s wheels. These pistons engage the brake pads, which then press against metal surfaces and slow the car down.
The hydraulic brake system is not suitable for 18-wheelers because the trailer must be frequently connected and disconnected from the tractor. Additionally, the larger scale that would be needed for the system to work on the much larger trucks would not translate well. Instead of a hydraulic brake system, 18-wheelers use compressed air and an air brake system.

When a truck driver presses on the brake pedal, it causes compressed air to move from a storage tank through various hoses and into the brake chamber. The air then forces out a rod that pushes against the slack adjuster. This causes a camshaft to turn, which twists an S-shaped piece of equipment known as the S-Cam. This makes the brake linings come into contact with the brake drum, thereby creating friction and slowing down the truck.
To function properly, the truck’s air braking system must perform several important tasks. It must keep a steady flow of compressed air, and it must direct that air’s flow. It also must convert the energy in the air pressure into mechanical force to stop the truck.

One big advantage of air brakes is that they are reliable. Most big rig trucks also feature a dual brake system; if one system fails, the other system kicks in. However, air brakes also come with some significant drawbacks.
One primary factor to consider in any truck accident is brake lag time. The two kinds of brake lag are mechanical lag and air-pressure lag. All brake systems have mechanical lag, or a slight delay in the buildup of brake force after the brake pedal is applied. Air brakes, however, have an additional delay related to the build-up of air pressure: the time that it takes for the air to travel from the air tanks to the brake chambers, and to build enough pressure to generate brake force.

The brake lag in big rig trucks is relatively small—approximately a second or less. But, as anyone who has ever been involved in an emergency situation knows, a second can have a significant impact on whether or not the vehicle is able to stop. This problem is compounded by the massive increase in size of 18-wheelers; this creates extra momentum that needs to be overcome before the truck can stop. The result is that large commercial trucks having a stopping distance approximately 40% further than passenger vehicles, and that’s if the driver has quick reflexes. 

These increases in stopping distance may also be partially attributed to the tires used on trucks. Truck tires are made from very hard rubber so they will last much longer than car tires. However, this feature causes them to generate lower friction values than the softer-compound car tires.

If you have been involved in an accident that was someone else's fault, contact Brent Cordell today for a free initial consultation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Truck Accidents Loss of Load- Texas Personal Injury Lawyer

The proper loading of any commercial vehicle is essential to its safe operation. Improperly loading a truck beyond its recommended weight or failing to properly secure the load can create an extremely dangerous situation for drivers and everyone else sharing the road with them. When a truck is driving with an improperly secured load, it poses an extreme danger to the safety of those driving cars, motorcycles, and users of the road in general. There is no doubt that large objects such as machinery, concrete blocks, and pipes could have disastrous results, but even small objects could cause a collision if they should crack the windshield of another vehicle or cause a driver to perform a sudden evasive maneuver. In many cases, loading a truck beyond its recommended weight or failing to properly secure the load can make the truck unstable; difficulty stopping, an increased potential for jackknifing and rollovers are just a few of the problems that can arise when a truck is not properly loaded.
Overloaded semi-trucks on the nation’s roadways are an extremely serious hazard that can lead to significant damages and harm to other vehicles. Semi-truck drivers hold a responsibility to ensure that their trucks are loaded both securely and safely. Thus, they are liable for any circumstances in which their trucks are either loaded improperly or overloaded.

Fortunately, there are many federal and state guidelines that control the operation and maintenance of these over-sized vehicles in an effort to ensure these transporters of heavy goods are as safe as humanly and mechanically possible.

The federal government has regulations in place to ensure the safe operation of all commercial vehicles that engage in interstate commerce. Within the scope of these regulations are rules for properly securing a load; all loads must be properly tied down in order to prevent the contents from moving, shifting, or falling out. Drivers must follow this rule whether the materials are within a tractor trailer or on a flatbed truck.

Responsibility for ensuring a truck complies with Department of Transportation load securing regulations is on the shoulders of the truck driver. This means the driver must make sure he has enough tie-downs and those tie-downs are constructed of the proper materials.
 Improperly securing a load is a misdemeanor offense in Texas. Besides jail time, the more serious risk is that these negligent drivers are creating dangerous situations for all nearby vehicles. Although most domestic truck drivers take all the necessary precautions when it comes to properly securing their trucks’ trailers, the problem is that even a single driver not showing this caution can cause a deadly trucking accident.

There is a weight limit of 40 tons for commercial trucks in Texas, and they are not allowed to exceed fourteen feet high and 8-1/2 feet in width. Trucking companies are able to purchase special permits that allow them to travel with oversize and overweight loads on Texas roads, but even with these permits, both truck drivers and commercial trucking companies can be held responsible for any accidents that occur. 

An important thing to keep in mind is that insurance companies will make it very difficult for an injured driver to collect damages as the result of an unsecured load. Brent Cordell can overcome these arguments by proving the accident was unavoidable. For a free consultation, please call 1 844 8LEGAL8 or visit today.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Inadequate Commercial Driver Training: Texas Personal Injury Attorney

Operating an 18-wheeler or semi-truck is far more involved than driving a normal passenger vehicle. Eighteen-wheelers are much larger and heavier than normal vehicles, making them difficult to handle; drivers require a significant amount of training to learn about no-zones, braking distance and how to maneuver a vehicle with a large trailer. Despite training and licensing requirements, inadequately trained truck drivers still manage to get behind the wheel and onto our roads and highways. A truck’s weight, length, and the size of its cargo can make it particularly difficult to maneuver: trucks are also especially dangerous if they are transporting hazardous materials.

Unfortunately, some truck driving companies fail to properly train new drivers. Inexperienced and under-trained drivers are a major threat to motorist safety and can make costly mistakes, putting themselves and other individuals at risk of a significant injury.
The average tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. To ensure the safety of everyone on the road, truck drivers are required by both state and federal laws to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). They must also be familiar with several regulations that specifically apply to truck drivers, including hours-of-services (HOS) and other regulations intended to combat fatigue. Drivers who wish to transport hazardous materials must apply for an endorsement before transporting these materials.
 Further, many trucking companies require new drivers to ride along with an experienced driver called a “finisher” for a few weeks in order to learn the finer points of driving a commercial truck safely.
But not all trucking companies or independent drivers go to these lengths to ensure safe driving, and inexperienced truckers can cause serious accidents. The laws give victims of truck crashes the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries, and most lawsuits related to semi-truck accidents allege negligence on the part of more than one defendants
In order to win a negligent training lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that
  • The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff; 
  • The defendant breached the duty; 
  • The plaintiff sustained injuries caused by the defendant's behavior.
When drivers cannot safely operate a truck because they have not been properly trained, they should not be permitted onto the roadway behind the wheel of a commercial truck. Trucking companies should be held accountable for the failure to adequately train their drivers, and we can help you to see that this is done.

Cases involving accidents attributed to inadequately trained commercial vehicle drivers can be complicated to litigate, particularly when multiple parties may share liability. Victims of truck accidents should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to ensure their rights are protected.  If you have been injured in a truck accident and believe that the driver was not adequately trained, contact Brent Cordell today to learn about your legal options.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Truck Accidents- Sleep Deprivation: Texas Personal Injury Attorney

Sleep deprivation is to blame for almost 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,550 fatalities per year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Twenty percent of truck drivers had excessive daytime sleepiness, and 29 percent were at risk for suffering from sleep apnea. Thirty six percent admitted to having near miss accidents of which nearly half were sleep-related.

Most sleep-related crashes are serious because a person asleep at the wheel is unable to prevent the crash from occurring. Unfortunately, sleep-related crashes frequently occur on highways, and thus at high speeds. Fatigue caused by sleep deprivation may also be responsible for up to 56 percent of crashes involving commercial truck drivers.
Sleep deprivation is a common consequence of certain lifestyles choices, including how one makes a living. Unfortunately, the nature of long-haul truck driving can contribute to sleep deprivation and fatigue. Driving late at night, driving a large number of miles, and driving for three or more hours at once are all factors that contribute to sleep deprivation. According to one study, long-haul truck drivers average little more than five hours of sleep per night.

Commercial truck drivers are at a particular risk for sleep deprivation-related accidents. Truck drivers often work long hours and drive late into the night or early in the morning. Strict deadlines often compel drivers to ignore drowsiness or to use legal and illegal stimulants that may impair their ability to safely operate a vehicle. Any of these factors can cause the driver to lose control of the huge vehicle and cause a devastating accident.
The use of antidepressants is directly related to vehicle accidents. Sleep-related disorders also have a strong effect on the incidence of driving accidents: many physicians feel that commercial drivers should be assessed for sleep-related fatigue disorders before providing them with their trucker’s license.

The high incidence of sleep deprived truck driver crashes led the federal agency in charge of commercial drivers (The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), to enact new rules in July of 2013.  In short (and depending upon the nature of the trucking operation) these regulations require the following:
  •  Once a trucker reports on duty, they can work / drive for a maximum of a 14 hour shift before being required to go off duty or into  the sleeper “berth” (sleeping portion of their truck cab) for 10 hours
  • During this 14 hour shift, the trucker is not allowed to operate their big rig for more than 11 hours.
  • Truckers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any 7 day period or 70 hours in any 8 day work period
While these new regulations do seem to be having an effect on reducing trucking accidents on U.S. highways, trucking is still and will remain a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week business. While restrictions can be made on total number of hours driven vs. rest time, there will still be hundreds of truckers operating semis on the freeways and highways of Texas during late night and early morning hours. Therefore, commercial truck accidents caused partially or wholly by trucker fatigue will never be completely eliminated.

It is never easy to prove that a traffic collision between a tractor trailer and another car, truck or passenger vehicle was caused by a sleepy truck driver.  Drivers rarely admit that they were fatigued prior to the crash.  Likewise, due to the adrenaline rush following such a calamity, it isn’t easy for investigating officers from the State Highway Patrol or other agencies to detect that a driver was sleepy prior to the crash.  The role of a personal injury lawyer is to get to the truth by analyzing the physical evidence at the scene; the trucking logs, company policies and procedures on driving,  fleet training and various other information. An accident attorney can employ experts to determine if there is evidence of such as a lack of evidence of any braking just prior to impact, a violation of regulations regarding sleep, a failure to attempt to avoid the crash and many other indications of a sleepy truck driver.  This makes it crucial to consult and retain an attorney familiar with trucking accidents to have your best chance of finding maximum liability on the trucking company or independent truck driver.

If you have been injured due to driver negligence, contact the office of  Brent M. Cordell at 1- 844 - 8LEGAL8 or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Auto & Truck Accidents- Driving While Impaired: Houston, Texas Personal ...

Serious collisions are always tragic, whether they occur between two passenger cars or between an 18-wheeler and a personal vehicle. But professionally trained and licensed truck drivers should feel a much greater level of responsibility toward their driving than the public at large.

Driving errors and honest mistakes take the lives of hundreds of people every year in Texas. Whether these awful events occur on the tollways, rural highways, expressways or city streets makes no difference to the families affected, but the fact that some commercial trucking accidents are caused by driving under the influence of legal or illegal substances should make everyone think long and hard about the reasons for these kinds of senseless events. The tragedy, in many ways, is that impaired driving collisions that lead to someone else’s injury or death are still referred to as “accidents” by some.

Anyone who considers DWI or DUI as a worthwhile diversion is bound to, sooner or later, wind up in trouble with the law. Unfortunately, many drinkers who habitually get behind the wheel of a passenger car or commercial truck hardly know how to stop their destructive course until it is often too late. Traffic safety experts and police departments nationwide have warned of the negative effects of driving while impaired, but it is the victims of drunk or drug-impaired drivers who quite often end up paying the ultimate price. 
Victims of intoxicated or impaired drivers often have the right to pursue civil cases to recover compensation for injuries and losses caused by DWI accidents. In crashes involving catastrophic injury or death, lawsuits are usually the only way to free families from the devastating economic hardship brought on by such accidents.
Proving negligence in a Texas DUI or DWI civil case may not be that difficult, depending on the outcome of the criminal case. The burden of proof in a civil case is much less than in a criminal case and is referred to as a preponderance of evidence. In drunk driving accidents caused by commercial drivers, the transportation company may also be liable.
If you or a family member has been victimized by an intoxicated or impaired driver, contact Brent Cordell for a free consultation. We believe that drivers who cause accidents while impaired by alcohol or drugs must be held accountable for the damages they cause.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Truck Accidents: Improper Maintenance- Houston Lawyer

In the state of Texas, 525 people died and 12,480 were injured in accidents involving commercial vehicles in 2012 alone; 5,287 of those injuries were catastrophic, many of them resulting in brain and spinal cord damage.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific regulations applying to commercial vehicles: many of these regulations pertain to truck maintenance and inspection. Faulty truck maintenance is a major cause of injury and death on the highway, and it is the responsibility of owners, drivers, inspectors, and maintenance companies to follow the appropriate regulations meticulously. If a truck is involved in a fatal or injury accident and is found not to be in compliance, it is an indication of negligence and liability.

The law requires trucking companies to keep maintenance logs and inspection records as evidence that they are in compliance with FMCSA regulations. The records must show that various parts such as brakes, lights, signals, reflectors, tires and mirrors (among many other items) have been inspected and that proper maintenance procedures have been performed. If insufficient maintenance results in an accident that injures or kills another person, the owner or operator of the vehicle and/or the maintenance contractor charged with inspecting and maintaining the vehicle can be held liable for any injuries, wrongful deaths, or property damage.

Maintenance problems may not always be readily apparent, and finding proof of improper maintenance can add to the complications in proving liability in a commercial vehicle accident. It is essential to have an attorney with experience in commercial vehicle accident cases. Brent Cordell is familiar with federal and state maintenance and inspection laws as well as trucking industry standards and procedures. He also has the resources to to review the records and evidence needed to show where the negligence occurred and who can be held liable.
There can be multiple liable parties in cases of improper truck maintenance. We can examine both government and company records including the Drivers’ Daily Vehicle Condition Report, the Drivers’ Vehicle Inspection Record, and records from the truck’s on-board computer.

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle and believe that there was an issue with faulty equipment, it is vital that you hire an attorney who has the expertise and resources to properly research your case. Contact Brent Cordell today for a free consultation.