Practice Areas:
Truck Accident

Truck Accident

When truck drivers and their companies disregard trucking regulations, it is usually other people on the road who pay the price. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident and pursue legal action against those who are responsible.

Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accidents for Multiple Reasons

Unfortunately, when truck drivers and their companies disregard federal and state trucking regulations, it is usually other people on the road who pay the price for multiple reasons. For several reasons, these types of accidents tend to involve more serious injury, including:

  1. Size and weight of the truck – A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (40 tons). With a special overweight permit, its total weight can significantly exceed 80,000 pounds. In contrast, most automobiles weigh between 3,000 – 5,000 pounds.    
  2. Strength and stiffness of the truck metal - The metal and other materials used on large trucks are heavier, stronger and stiffer than those used on automobiles. Thus, a large truck will absorb less of the energy generated at impact and cause more of it to be transferred to the weaker car materials. This adds to the injury causing dynamics for the automobile occupants.
  3. Height of the truck vs. height of an automobile – Because of the significant height differential, the strongest part of a large truck often collides into the weakest part of an automobile. In addition, the crumble zones and passenger restraint systems of cars are designed primarily for collisions with personal passenger vehicles, not large trucks. For these reasons, occupants of automobiles are not well protected against the uniquely dangerous circumstances of a crash with a large truck.
  4. Slow deceleration of a truck after braking – The average length of time it takes to stop an 18-wheeler is 40% greater than that of an automobile. Thus, all other things being equal, a large truck will be traveling at a greater impact speed than would an automobile under the same accident sequencing.
  5. Large trucks often carry flammable and hazardous materials – Some deaths and injuries are not caused by the initial impact of a large truck. Instead, they are the result of secondary injuries due to burns caused by chemicals or flammable liquids which ignite after the crash. Secondary injuries can also be caused by the inhalation of toxic hazardous substances being transported by the large truck.

Litigation Differences:

In addition to more severe injuries, these cases present unique legal issues and challenges which are not seen in motor vehicle collisions involving cars, pickups, and other personal passenger vehicles.

Larger Insurance Policies Leads to More Aggressive Defense: Trucking companies generally are required by law to have larger insurance policies than regular automobiles, and these policies frequently are worth millions of dollars. Because significant money is often on the line, insurance providers will be meticulous and thorough in avoiding liability. They higher better lawyers who fight harder and take more steps to defend these cases.

For example, immediately following an accident, the insurance company (for the truck’s driver, owner, maintenance company, etc.) will typically send investigators to the scene to gather as much as information and evidence as possible in an attempt to limit their potential liability. They will also likely attempt to take recorded statements from you and may even attempt to settle your case before you have time to seek medical treatment.

Additional Rules and Regulations: There are both federal and state laws and motor carrier regulations which only apply to large trucks over a certain size. Unlike automobile owners, motor carriers are legally required to maintain and operate their trucks and equipment strictly in accord with numerous federal guidelines. For example, certain trucks can only be driven by persons with a valid Commercial Drivers License (CDL), and the manner and hours of operation may be governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Proper workup of these cases requires a detailed investigation to confirm that the driver and trucking company were complying with the various rules and regulations at the time of the accident. If they were not, it may increase the value of your case significantly.

Additional Machinery and Equipment: As a normal part of their business, trucking companies maintain a substantial amount of data on their trucks that can drastically change the value of one of these lawsuits. This information can include speed of travel at the time of the accident, whether the driver was potentially distracted by using his or her phone at the time of the accident, when they started to brake prior to the accident, and many other important issues. These companies guard this information closely and frequently refuse to provide it to the injured party.

Target the Company and Insurance Carrier, Not Just the Driver:

There are multiple rules and regulations governing trucking companies, not just the driver. For example, trucking companies are required by law to take certain measures to ensure that they are hiring safe drivers, including conducting background and drug checks. In addition, they are supposed to limit the amount of time that a driver can be out on the road each day to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. They are also required to perform inspections on the trucks to ensure that they are being properly maintained.

If the company failed to take these measures, then there may be claims directly against the trucking company and not just the driver. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident and pursue legal action against those who are responsible, including the truck driver and his or her company.

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