Every accident should be treated with seriousness, but it’s important to recognize the differences between semi-truck accidents and car accidents.
Semi-truck accidents can be a significant cause of concern on the roads due to their potential for severe injuries and fatalities. These accidents differ significantly from car accidents in terms of their severity, insurance and liability, causes, investigation process, and legal implications.
Car accidents bring their own complications, but dealing with trucking companies and their insurance, for example, could prove to be more burdensome. There are several key differences between semi-truck accidents and car accidents, the most common of which we will cover in this article.
1. Severity of Injuries
One of the significant differences between semi-truck accidents and car accidents is the severity of injuries. Due to a semi-truck’s size and weight, accidents involving them often result in more severe injuries or fatalities than car accidents.
A semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger car weighs around 2 tons — or 4,000 pounds. This means that in a collision, the impact is much greater for the smaller vehicle and its occupants. Additionally, semi-trucks have a much larger blind spot than cars, making it more difficult for truck drivers to see other vehicles, increasing the risk of accidents.
Injuries that are commonly sustained in semi-truck accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
These types of injuries can have long-term effects on the victim’s health and — in some cases — may even result in permanent disability or death.
The size and weight of semi-trucks can also cause significant damage to other vehicles and property, which can add to the overall cost of the accident.
2. Insurance and Liability
Another key difference between semi-truck accidents and car accidents is the complexities that can arise in insurance and liability issues. Semi-trucks are commercial vehicles and are typically owned and operated by companies or individuals who are in the business of transporting goods. As a result, the insurance and liability issues can be more complex than in a car accident.
In a semi-truck accident, multiple parties may be held liable, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and even the company that owns the cargo being transported. Determining who is at fault for the accident can be a complex process, as it may involve investigating the actions of multiple individuals and entities.
The trucking company’s liability may be affected by federal regulations, such as hours of service rules and maintenance requirements, which can add to the case’s complexity.
Due to the potential for large payouts in semi-truck accident cases, insurance companies may be more likely to contest liability and fight against large settlements. This can make the process of obtaining compensation for injuries and damages more difficult for victims and their families.
3. Causes of Accidents
Semi-truck accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, such as the following:
- Driver fatigue: Long hours on the road and tight delivery schedules can lead to truck drivers becoming fatigued, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Improper loading of the truck: An improperly loaded truck can cause instability and make it more difficult for the driver to control the vehicle; this can increase the risk of rollover and jackknife accidents.
- Mechanical failures: Semi-trucks are subject to a lot of wear and tear and require regular maintenance. Failure to properly maintain the vehicle can lead to mechanical failures, such as brake failures, which can increase the risk of accidents.
- Weather conditions: Semi-trucks are more affected by bad weather than passenger cars, and drivers may have difficulty navigating roads in poor weather conditions.
- Driver error: Truck drivers are subject to strict regulations, such as hours of service rules, and can be held liable for accidents resulting from their actions.
On the other hand, car accidents are often caused by factors such as driver distraction or impairment.
Another way semi-truck accidents and car accidents differ is the investigation process. Semi-truck accidents often require a more extensive investigation than car accidents, as multiple parties may be involved, and federal regulations may apply.
When semi-truck accidents occur, investigations typically involve interviewing the truck driver, examining the truck and its maintenance records, and reviewing any electronic data recorders or cameras that may have captured the accident. The cargo being transported and its condition before the accident will also be a point of examination.
Federal regulations, such as hours of service rules and maintenance requirements, also come into play during the investigation process. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety of the truck and its driver, and failure to comply with these regulations can lead to liability for the trucking company and the driver.
The investigation process can take several months, and the results can be used to determine liability and help inform the legal process. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also investigates significant accidents — like those involving fatalities — in which federal regulations were violated or any other accidents that can be used as a case study to improve transportation safety.
5. Legal Representation
Laws and regulations surrounding commercial vehicles can be complex, requiring specialized legal representation for those involved in such accidents.
An attorney with experience in semi-truck accident cases will advise clients on the potential value of their case and can negotiate with insurance companies and other parties involved in the case to ensure that the client receives fair compensation for their injuries and damages.
Get the Legal Representation You Need With Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson
If you find yourself in an accident, whether it be a semi-truck accident or a car accident, consider reaching out to the personal injury lawyers at Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson. You may be entitled to significant compensation for your pain and suffering, and our attorneys work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.
With over 150 years of combined experience in personal injury law, we tailor legal solutions that best help your situation. Call us at 801-500-4000 or visit any of our locations for a free case evaluation today.