There are obvious differences between a commercial truck and a personal vehicle like a car, pickup, or van. Therefore, it follows logically that there are also significant differences between a car accident and a truck accident. Truck accidents can be more dangerous and more complicated than car accidents for a number of reasons.
Size and Force
Altogether, commercial trucks transport 9 billion tons of freight annually across the United States. A single load of freight can weigh five tons or more. Obviously, it requires a massive vehicle with the necessary strength and power to haul around that kind of tonnage, and according to the Department of Transportation, the gross combination weight of a loaded truck can be at least 26,000 pounds.
That almost unimaginable amount of weight combined with highway speeds can produce tremendous force in a collision with another, smaller vehicle. As a result, truck accidents are more likely to result in death than car accidents, causing approximately 3,000 to 5,000 fatalities per year according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Even those who do survive are likely to sustain more serious injuries than they would in a car crash.
Semi-trucks have specialized features that personal passenger vehicles do not have. As a result, a collision with a commercial truck may pose additional hazards that would not come into play in a car accident, such as the following:
- Air brake failure
- Diesel fuel fire
Even the dangers that truck accidents have in common with car accidents can be more hazardous with a commercial vehicle. A rollover is always serious, but if a 13-ton truck rolls over, it can be an even bigger disaster.
Even though a car accident can be quite serious, dealing with the aftermath can be relatively simple because there are usually only two drivers involved, and their respective insurance companies, to deal with. In a commercial vehicle accident, the trucking company may also be involved as a third party.
There are laws and regulations that govern almost every aspect of truck driving. If, as the plaintiff, you can prove that the rules have been violated, it may be easier to obtain compensation. This involves gathering evidence about the vehicle, the driver, and the cargo in addition to taking pictures at the scene, etc.
Insurance policies on a commercial truck can be worth much more than car insurance policies by 50 times or more because of the serious damage they can cause. This means that the insurance adjusters will be even more aggressive in trying to prevent you from receiving damages. They are highly motivated to avoid a payout that could add up to thousands or even millions of dollars.
These unique features make it very difficult, if not impossible, to handle the aftermath of a truck accident yourself. Contact a lawyer today for guidance.