West Texas Truck Accident Lawyer
West Texas highways are dangerous places that have been fraught with accident risks the last few years as the oil industry expands operations. Texas saw 32,562 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accidents in 2020, resulting in 581 deaths and 1,245 suspected serious injuries.
Crashes, deaths, and injuries are skyrocketing in the Permian Basin, also referred to as the “West Texas Basin,” where large trucks are on the road in increasing numbers to supply oil production facilities. In 2020, Reeves, Midland, Martin, Pecos, and Ward counties in the basin saw 734 commercial vehicle accidents. These five counties alone accounted for 28 deaths, 37 suspected incapacitating injuries, and 114 non-incapacitating injuries to people. The challenge is keeping up with the traffic needed to get workers and equipment to the oil fields and to get the product to the market.
If you’ve been in one of these West Texas accidents, you are in the right place. The Lanier Law Firm has extensive experience in truck accident cases.
West Texas Highways Among the Most Dangerous in America
The highways that run through the Permian Basin, where the oil business has surged during the last several years, are a hornet’s nest of vehicular accidents. The area is infamous and is home to one of the most dangerous roads in the country, referred to by the locals as “Death Highway.” As crude prices surge, so too do the number of 18-wheel trucks in West Texas carrying heavy materials including water, sand, steel pipes, and fuel to support oil operations.
Oil-truck driving jobs are attractive, with annual salaries as high as $120,000. But the demand can’t always be met with experienced drivers. As a result, reams of inexperienced truck drivers travel West Texas roadways. The number of available big-rig drivers with at least two to three years of experience has shrunk drastically, leading oil companies to rely on formal training rather than experience.
Deadly Highways in Permian Basin
Three interstate highways in West Texas bulge with semi-trucks bound for oil businesses in the area. Truck accident rates soar on these highways, resulting in injuries and deaths from truck accidents in the Permian Basin. Things have gotten so bad that after 20 years of daily highway deaths, Texas launched the “Be Safe, Drive Smart” campaign in January 2021. The initiative aims to make it safer for big rigs, cars, and other trucks to share the road, with a specific focus on truck drivers.
I-20 runs from West Texas to South Carolina, through North Texas, and on into Mississippi and Georgia. For five years, this interstate experienced 4.7 fatalities for every 100 miles in rain or snow. I-20 is the fourth most dangerous interstate for truckers.
Commercial truck drivers say there are a lot of wrecks on I-20 by Midland. Fatal accidents involving semi-trucks continue to happen along I-20. Truck drivers comment that with their added length and weight, 18-wheelers and big rigs need more time to slow down or speed up.
Stretching from Laredo, Texas, to Minnesota’s northern border, the I-35 interstate passes through the Permian Basin oil country. According to insurance comparison website, The Zebra, this highway was recently ranked the 5th deadliest highway in the United States, with 197 fatalities in 2019.
Thousands of 18-wheel trucks use I-35 as a common route, posing navigation challenges in many areas. I-35 is the 2nd deadliest roadway for San Antonio motor vehicle accidents. In icy conditions, six people died in a 100-vehicle crash scene on I-35 in early 2021.
Known to locals as “Death Highway,” Route 285 is heavily used by trucks carrying supplies to and from West Texas oil fields. The somewhat rural route passes through Pecos, Texas, in the Permian Basin.
In 2017, the Dallas Morning News reported, 93 people died in truck accidents on the Texas side. Truck accident rates got so bad that the Texas Department of Public Safety lowered the speed limit and increased trooper monitoring.
Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents in West Texas
There are numerous causes at play in commercial truck accidents in West Texas.
One of the most common causes of trucking accidents in the oil region of Permian Basin is distracted driving. Cell phone calls and text messages are at the top of the list of distractions. Truck driving is mostly a solitary occupation. During the monotony of long drives, truck drivers are likely to get bored and reach for their cell phones.
Rain and ice on the road contribute to roadway vehicle accidents. Six people died in a 100-car pileup on I-35 where the road had iced over. Three ambulances and 80 police units were called to the scene where big rigs, trucks, cars, and SUVs lost control on the icy highway.
A study found that nearly a third of drivers who died in vehicle accidents over the course of three months in the United States had alcohol in their systems. Of the fatalities, 26% tested positive for cannabinoids and 13% for opioids. In one study, 30% of truck drivers admitted to taking amphetamines.
Big rigs driving on small rural roads can cause truck accidents in the Permian Basin. Many of the roads in rural Texas where oil production occurs were not built for the level of traffic they hold today. Oversized trucks driving on rural roads contributes to increases in accidents.
Congestion and traffic are significant causes of truck accidents. Stop-and-start traffic patterns in highly trafficked areas can cause accidents, especially because big trucks take longer to slow down. Oil workers commuting to and from their jobs and trucks hauling supplies and products crowd many roadways in West Texas.
Many truck drivers feel a sense of urgency to deliver their load and resort to speeding to get to their destination on time, if not early. In 2020, there was a large increase in drivers cited for excessive speed in the United States. Speed-related fatalities in one state accounted for roughly 50% of overall fatalities over a two-month period.
Those who make a living driving big trucks are often expected to work up to 70 hours over eight days. There is a limit of 11 hours of driving in a day. These long hours can lead to driver fatigue, making them less alert and more prone to accidents.
Inadequate training of truck drivers can result in more truck accidents — especially when many truck drivers haven’t logged years of big-rig driving experience
Common Injuries After Truck Accidents in West Texas
Unfortunately, many people in West Texas suffer severe injuries from truck accidents, ranging from catastrophic injuries to broken bones or sprains. All deserve compensation for their injuries. The Lanier Law Firm has extensive experience in representing those that have suffered injuries in truck accidents.
Sadly, people in serious truck accidents can suffer traumatic brain injuries and catastrophic injuries to the spinal cord, neck, and back that result in paralysis or life-long pain and mobility problems. These injuries can leave people incapable of performing their work and daily life activities.
In tragic situations, catastrophic injuries from truck accidents can result in death or dismemberment.
Burns. Oil truck accidents can quickly become fiery infernos burning those involved in the incident. Severe burns are extremely painful and can require multiple follow-on surgeries to try to restore a person’s body and appearance. Scarring and changes to one’s face or body can hurt a person’s self-confidence. Burns from scraping on pavement are also common.
Lacerations. Crushed and mangled metal in truck accidents can result in cuts, bruises, contusions, and lacerations. Impacts from a truck accident can cause serious lacerations that require many stitches or even surgical repair. Scars from such lacerations can last a lifetime and affect self-esteem.
Broken Bones. When a truck slams into a smaller vehicle, passengers can experience broken bones. Serious bone breaks happen when bodies are slammed into parts of a vehicle and limbs trapped under heavy debris. Surgery may be needed to restore the bones to functionality. Many broken bones require the injured to stop doing the things they enjoy in life, such as sports or even lifting their child.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Mental Health Issues. The non-physical injuries suffered in a truck accident can be very hard to bear and last for years. After experiencing the trauma of a truck accident, many people experience great distress when they drive again. The anxiety and fears associated with PTSD can stay with you for a long time and negatively impact all areas of life.
Internal Organ Injuries. Accidents can harm vital organs, including the kidneys, lungs, heart, bladder, and spleen. Serious blows to these organs during a crash often cause bleeding or other damage that requires immediate medical attention.
Medical Attention. If you experienced any of these injuries during or after an oil truck accident in West Texas, you should immediately seek medical attention. Serious and catastrophic injuries will require ambulances or immediate trips to the emergency room.
A doctor’s documentation and diagnosis of your injuries from a truck accident will be important for any West Texas lawsuit you may want to bring.
For seeking medical help, Permian Hospitals include:
Permian Regional Medical Center
720 Hospital Drive, Andrews, TX · (432) 523-2200
Midland Memorial Hospital Main Campus
400 Rosalind Redfern Grover Parkway, Midland, TX · (432) 221-1111
Odessa Regional Medical Center
520 E. 6th Street, Odessa, TX · (432) 582-8000
Who is liable for my West Texas oilfield truck accident?
In a personal injury lawsuit for injuries you suffered in an oil truck accident, several possible defendants may be liable for damages.
- Truck Driver. Under Texas Law, the truck driver who was operating the commercial motor vehicle involved in the accident may be liable.
- Oil Company. If the oil company owned, leased, or otherwise had legal control over the truck and the truck driver is their employee, the company can be found responsible.
- Trucking Company/Supplier. If the truck that hit you was owned by a trucking company separate from the oil company or by a company that provided supplies to the oil company, that trucking or supply company might be liable.
- Injured Party. It is important to note that if you are found to bear some portion of responsibility for the accident or injuries, in Texas you can be found partially liable. This would limit the damages due to you.
- Truck Manufacturer or Seller. The truck manufacturer or seller can also be found liable under product liability laws if some defect in the truck caused or contributed to the accident. Common product defects in truck accidents can include problems with the brakes, engine, or other mechanical functions in the truck.
Should I hire a West Texas truck accident lawyer?
Oil truck accidents can result in complicated lawsuits. It’s important to understand all the related laws and how best to employ them in a truck accident lawsuit. The West Texas truck accident lawyers at the Lanier Law Firm are experts in representing people injured in oil truck accidents.
Proving Negligence. In a Texas personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff’s lawyer must prove that each defendant had a duty of reasonable care, breached that duty, and that their breach caused your injuries. Your lawyer will also help you prove the amount of compensation you deserve. Medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of wages are all possible damages to seek in an oil truck accident in West Texas.
Comparative Fault. You will need a lawyer to help you figure out if you are subject to the Texas modified comparative fault law. This law reduces the amount of compensation you can receive in proportion to your percentage of fault. For example, if the court rules that you are 20% responsible for the accident or injuries, it will reduce your damages by 20%. Furthermore, if the court determines that you were more than 50 percent at fault, then you will not receive compensation.
Statute of Limitations. In Texas, plaintiffs must file a personal injury claim within two years of the date of the truck accident. It is essential that you consult a lawyer soon enough to allow time for the preparation and legal proceedings.
How can the personal injury lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm help with my oilfield truck accident claim?
The Lanier Law Firm has extensive experience in truck accident and personal injury claims. You will find that a deeply-rooted commitment to excellence and a group of highly-respected and honored motor vehicle accident lawyers set us apart when it comes to representing you in an oil truck accident lawsuit.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.