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What Is the Difference Between a Truck Accident and a Car Accident Case?

Imagine driving a three thousand-pound deadly weapon through heavy traffic at sixty miles an hour. Now imagine that weapon is suddenly eighty thousand pounds, and you are trying to dodge all the smaller vehicles, but they keep getting in your way and traveling where you can’t see them. This situation may sound like a challenging video game, but that is actually the reality of driving a semi-tractor trailer versus a car. You are trusting the drivers around you with your life every time you travel in traffic. A mistake from any one of them can instantly change your life forever. Your actions are responsible for keeping them alive as you continue careening down the road at incredible speeds. Accidents happen. Lives are changed, and lives are taken away every day.

Fireman inspecting damaged vehicle

Trucks are over twenty times heavier than the average family sedan. They are more difficult to maneuver and take about twice as long to stop. Accidents involving semi-trucks are more severe than car accidents and tend to be more brutal in terms of destruction because of the sheer size and force of the vehicles. The victims of trucking accidents are more likely to suffer significant injuries with long-lasting or permanent repercussions.

Semi Truck vs. Car Accident Statistics

According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,842 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash in 2020, and 107,000 were involved in crashes resulting in injury. Large trucks only account for:

  • 4% of all registered vehicles
  • 10% of total vehicle miles traveled
  • 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes

71% of deaths were people in small cars, 17% were the occupants of large trucks, and 12% were bystanders, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.

Truck Accidents Mean Trucking Companies Are Involved

The main difference between car accidents versus truck accidents is that when a commercial vehicle is involved, a trucking company is usually involved in the claims for damages. Trucking companies have aggressive insurance companies with ruthless lawyers. These lawyers focus on minimizing the trucking company’s responsibility and paying out the smallest settlements possible. A personal injury lawyer working on your behalf will help to level the playing field to get you the compensation you are entitled to receive.

What Caused the Accident?

Trucking accidents are more complex than car accidents. Driver error causes most car accidents. The driver may have been speeding, was distracted, or used poor judgment. Truck accidents usually happen because the vehicle is so large and cannot maneuver quickly to avoid colliding with smaller vehicles driving erratically.

Another possible cause of trucking accidents is equipment failure. Drivers perform pre-trip inspections every day before they begin driving, but these trucks are heavy and travel long distances every day. Many problems can arise while driving, especially if checks are put off or incomplete.

Truck vs. Car Safety Standards

Due to the hazards surrounding operating a commercial vehicle, truck drivers must adhere to high safety standards that car drivers do not have to follow. Commercial vehicle operators are limited in how many hours they can drive daily and must keep records in their logbooks. They do this to combat driver fatigue. Drivers of passenger vehicles are not limited to hours of service and can therefore drive as long as they want. When determining who is at fault for an accident, experienced personal injury lawyers can analyze a driver’s logbooks, training records, the vehicle’s maintenance logs, and the company’s safety records.

What Are Potential Damages From a Trucking Accident

Truck accidents are more complex and involve more substantial damages than car accidents. Thankfully, they are also less common. When the fault rests on the shoulders of the truck driver, the trucking company is responsible for the actions of its employees and will be held liable as well. Personal injury attorneys help you determine economic damages, such as loss of earnings and medical expenses, as well as non-economic damages in the form of pain and suffering. There may also be punitive damages if the company or driver were involved in reckless behavior by purposely disregarding safety regulations.

Why do Truck Accident Victims Need a Lawyer?

Trucking companies and their insurance companies want to protect themselves at all costs because payouts are typically much higher when a semi-truck is involved as opposed to car accidents. With more at stake, a strong case against whoever is liable is crucial. The settlement process often takes longer, and victims usually have medical bills and lost wages to deal with. Experienced personal injury lawyers can keep the process moving and get you the compensation you need. Legal representation ensures a fair settlement and keeps you from getting pushed around by large companies.

Other entities may be involved as well. The Department of Transportation is usually notified of any accident involving a semi-truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may investigate the crash depending on the severity of the damage. Truck accidents are more likely than car accidents to involve multiple vehicles.

What Are Common Types of Truck Accidents

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the following statistics from 2020:

  • 30% of passenger vehicle occupants died from head-on collisions with the front of a truck
  • 25% of passenger occupants were killed in side impact truck accidents
  • 23% of crash deaths involved the front of the passenger vehicle hitting the rear of the trailer

In 2018, jackknife trailers caused 4,862 fatal accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

How Can I Avoid Semi-Truck Accidents?

The best way to avoid trucking accidents is to steer clear of the semi-trucks.

  • Allow them the space they need to maneuver around sharp turns.
  • Stay out of the driver’s blind spots, especially on the truck’s right side.
  • Be aware of upcoming exits that the truck may need to take. Truck drivers are typically far from home and do not know the local roadways. Be patient and give them space.
  • Avoid following too closely to prevent being hit by debris from the truck or the road.
  • Never cut in front of a truck, especially while stopping or slowing. Remember that heavy trucks cannot stop as quickly as you.
  • Give them extra space on steep hills. Heavy trucks have a difficult time climbing steep inclines and will decelerate quickly. Navigating steep declines is very dangerous. They need to start very slowly and minimize the use of their brakes to avoid burning the brake pads, which could cause them to lose their ability to slow down. Be aware of trucks coming up behind you while going downhill, and get out of their way. Never park on a runaway truck ramp.

How Can I Protect Myself From Car Accidents?

The ways to evade car accidents are very similar to preventing semi-truck collisions. The danger shifts from avoiding enormous vehicles that are arduous to handle to dodging numerous smaller cars that drive more unpredictably. Defensive driving works best in both instances.

  • Always keep your distance from other vehicles on the road. The easiest car to avoid is the one in front of you. Defensive Driving.org recommends using the three-second rule. This rule means there should be at least three seconds of distance between you and the car ahead.
  • Pay attention to driving. Operating your vehicle needs to be your highest priority. Do not get distracted by your phone or other devices. Keep both hands on the steering wheel and both eyes on the road. Never assume that the drivers around you are paying attention.
  • Steer clear of other vehicles that are driving erratically. They may be tired, distracted, or drunk. These vehicles may be driving too fast or too slow, tailgating, drifting in and out of lanes, or weaving through traffic. Avoid these dangerous drivers to prevent a collision.
  • Use your signals to alert other drivers of your intentions and ensure all the lights on your vehicle are properly working. Brake lights are especially important as they prevent the driver behind you from rear-ending your car.

Defensive driving can protect you from both truck accidents and car accidents.

Accidents are still possible due to road and weather conditions or simply because people make mistakes. Personal injury lawyers can help in both car and truck accidents. The filing process is different for each, and your lawyer can take care of the entire process while you focus on your physical recovery.

Let Us Fight for Your Rights and Get the Compensation You Deserve

If you or your family member has been involved in a car or trucking accident, Goldblatt + Singer can help to determine and prove who is liable. Our experienced team is dedicated and reliable. Legal representation through our firm gives you peace of mind knowing that we are working for the best possible settlement on your behalf. Your most important priority is your recovery, so let us handle the rest. Contact the truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer at (314) 231-4100 to schedule a free consultation. We will review the details of your accident and discuss how we can support you through the legal process.


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