Not all accidents are the same. If you were hurt in a wreck caused by a trucker, you may assume that your case will be similar to one involving passenger vehicles. However, this is simply not true. Truck accidents are much more likely to cause its victims to suffer life-altering injuries or death. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truckers caused 3,744 fatalities, 88,000 injuries, and 346,000 property damage crashes in 2014 alone. You need to understand how your accident differs from a typical car crash because it could impact your case in a number of ways—from what you have to prove to the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
The Many Ways Truck Accidents Differ From Car Crashes
A number of factors make truck accidents unique. Some of these differences include:
- Size and weight. A fully loaded big-rig truck weighs 80,000 pounds or more in comparison to a passenger vehicle that typically weighs about 3,000 pounds. When a truck smashes into a smaller vehicle, the force of the impact will be substantially greater than in a two passenger-vehicle crash.
- Injuries and damages. Because commercial trucks are much larger and heavier than cars, SUVs, and small trucks, the property damages and injuries people suffer can be much more serious. Victims of these accidents can suffer life-altering injuries—such as traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, disfiguring burns, and back and spinal cord injuries.
- Special licenses. Truckers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license and must complete special training and pass required tests to obtain it. If a trucker fails to obtain the necessary requirements, a victim of the accident could have a claim against the trucking company for negligent hiring and training—as well as against the truck driver. In a typical car accident, the injured party can only sue the negligent driver—even if he was inexperienced or did not have a proper driver’s license.
- Special rules. Truckers and trucking companies must follow special FMCSA regulations regarding the loading of cargo, hours that truckers can drive, inspection and maintenance of trucks, and much more. If these rules are violated, this may be additional grounds to prove that the truck driver and trucking company was negligent in causing your crash.
- Driver logs and files. A trucking company and trucker are required to keep certain records regarding the trucker’s training, license, medical conditions, driving and rest periods during trips, and truck inspections under the FMCSA rules. Review of these records could reveal additional evidence of the trucker’s and his trucking company’s liability for your injuries.
- Different types of accidents. While some truck accidents are caused by the same reasons as passenger vehicle accidents, others are caused by reasons unique to big-rig trucks. This includes jackknife accidents, truck fires, underride accidents, and accidents caused by unsecured or improperly secured cargo.
- Truck maintenance issues. While a car’s lack of maintenance could contribute to a crash, this issue arises much more in truck accidents where truckers and trucking companies fail to perform routine maintenance to save money. Sadly, trucking companies allow trucks on the road with worn tires and improperly set or maintained brakes—a common cause of deadly truck accidents.
- Additional liable parties. Many different parties could be liable in a trucking accident, such as the truck manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, or the party responsible for loading the cargo. This can make your case much more complex, but also provide you with additional sources of compensation for your injuries.
- Additional insurance coverage. Trucking companies are required to carry higher liability insurance coverage than people driving passenger vehicles. This can result in additional money to fully compensate you for your injuries. However, it also means the insurance company for truckers and trucking companies will most likely have a team of adjusters and lawyers who will aggressively fight to dispute your claim for compensation.
Let Brauns Law Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
We work with many truck accident victims in the Atlanta area and understand the unique complexities in these cases. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in one of these tragic accidents, call our firm at 404-418-8244 to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.
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