If you’ve been in an accident involving a semi-truck, it’s important to be aware that your personal injury case may proceed differently than it would if you’d been in an accident with another passenger vehicle. There can actually be many differences between these two types of cases, especially if you have to take the matter to court. Here’s what you need to know about the major differences between injury cases for car accidents and cases for accidents involving a semi-truck.
Severity of Injuries
Naturally, accidents that involve a semi-truck typically lead to much more severe injuries than collisions between two passenger vehicles. The average sedan weighs about 4,000 pounds; but a full-loaded semi-truck rig can weigh roughly 73,000 pounds. In terms of a collision, this is like a 5-year-old child being struck by a fully grown musk ox. As you can imagine, this simple difference in size can lead to much more serious and devastating injuries for the driver and passengers of the sedan. Common injuries from a collision with a semi-truck include:
Injuries from these accidents are often so severe that they can have lifelong consequences for the injured. These accidents can also lead to the death of the person in the passenger vehicle, in which case a wrongful death suit can be pursued instead of a personal injury case.
Laws Regulating Commercial Vehicles
In addition to the general rules of the road that every vehicle must adhere to, semi-trucks also must follow very specific (and often complex) laws that regulate commercial trucking. These laws are in place to further ensure the safety of everyone on the road. These laws cover a variety of factors, including weight and size restrictions, training regulations, records preservation, service and maintenance documentation for the vehicle, and so on.
It’s important that you have an attorney who is familiar with these commercial regulations; if the driver of the semi or the company they were working for has failed to follow all of these regulations, you will want to include this in your case against them.
Factors Leading to the Accident
In collisions between passenger vehicles, most accidents are only impacted by two factors: driver behavior and road conditions. This often makes personal injury cases for these types of accidents much easier to work through, because fault is much easier to determine. However, semi-truck drivers are impacted by many other factors that are beyond their control. A few examples of such factors include:
In an injury case involving a semi, it’s important that all of these factors are carefully examined to determine the true cause of the accident.
Because of the factors mentioned above, determining fault in a semi-truck accident case is much more complicated. For example, did the truck driver fall asleep at the wheel? If so, then the driver is partially at fault—but the trucking company may also be partially at fault if the trucker was expected to maintain an unreasonable delivery schedule. Or, if the driver lost control of the truck, it may be because the company overloaded the rig, putting the company at fault for the accident. Was an equipment failure to blame? If so, was it because the driver failed to maintain their rig, or was the company responsible for that maintenance?
Once fault is determined, you may be able to seek compensation from not only the driver, but the trucking company as well, depending on the cause of the accident.
It’s also important to be aware that it is much more difficult to secure compensation in a semi-truck accident case than in collisions between passenger vehicles. As a business, trucking companies are simply more prepared to fight against lawsuits than your average commuter. They likely have attorneys that they keep on retainer for these situations, and their insurance companies will fight to minimize the company’s costs as much as possible.
This means that you must be equally prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve, and you shouldn’t try to do it alone. If you’ve been struck by a semi, reach out to us at The Harr Law Firm. We’ll discuss your case with you to determine the best way to proceed with your case, and we’ll fight to ensure that you’re compensated for your injuries. Give us a call to schedule your consultation today.