If you suffer serious injuries in an auto accident, you may assume that an accident is an accident: that claims will proceed in virtually the same way regardless of who caused the accident. In reality, however, truck accident claims and car accident claims often have some critical differences that you may need to consider as you manage your claim.
1. A claim following a truck accident may require deeper investigation and a look at more evidence than you usually need for an auto accident.
After a car accident, your attorney may need to look at evidence like:
- Witness statements
- Camera footage, if available, including dash cam footage or traffic camera footage
- The damage to the vehicles
- The area around the accident, including any features that may have contributed to the accident
After a truck accident, on the other hand, your attorney may need to evaluate multiple other factors in order to determine fault and identify all potential liable parties. This evidence may include:
- Driver qualifications and history
- The driver’s record, including any information about past accidents
- The vehicle’s maintenance history
- Screening results from post-collision drug and/or alcohol testing
- Data from the on-board systems on the truck, including GPS and driver logs
- Vehicle inspection history
- Information about the vehicle’s cargo, including its weight, origin, and what type of cargo the driver hauled
- Delivery documents
The extensive evidence required to evaluate a truck accident claim may extend the time needed to fully investigate the claim and make sure the attorney understands all the details that contributed to the accident.
2. You may need to act faster in a truck accident than a car accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck drivers and their companies to keep up with records for a minimum of six months. After that period, it may prove much more difficult for an attorney investigating the claim to access vital information that could prove the validity of your claim. The sooner you contact an experienced personal injury attorney and the sooner that attorney begins the investigation, the greater the likelihood that the attorney will uncover the information needed to prove liability in your accident.
3. You may find more parties involved in a personal injury claim after a truck accident.
In a car accident, the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident usually bears primary liability for the accident. You may need to consider the owner of the vehicle, if the owner is not the driver, or the driver’s employer, if the driver was on the clock at the time of the accident. In a truck accident, on the other hand, an attorney may need to work with other parties who may share liability for the accident. An attorney may need to know the answer to questions like:
- Who does the driver work for?
- Who owns the truck? What about the trailer? The truck and trailer represent separate items in a truck accident.
- Who loaded the truck?
- Who does the cargo belong to?
- Was the load secured properly and the appropriate weight for the vehicle?
- Who bears responsibility for maintenance and repair on the truck? Was it conducted properly?
In some cases, multiple parties may share liability for a truck accident. Identifying all parties that share liability for your accident can allow you to file a personal injury claim against each one, which can increase the compensation you receive for your injuries.
4. Truck drivers get held to higher legal standards than the drivers of private passenger vehicles.
Drivers who operate big trucks must pass much more stringent licensing tests and adhere to more detailed rules of the road. Not only does the FMCSA restrict the number of hours a truck driver can drive each day and each shift, truck drivers must adhere to rules regarding how much time they can spend on the road before having to take a break. Truck drivers may have to adhere to lower speed limits than other vehicles, especially in mountainous areas. As a result, they may bear liability after making errors that would not be a problem for private drivers.
5. Truck drivers usually carry more substantial insurance policies than private drivers.
In addition to the fact that truck accidents often involve multiple parties, which can increase your overall compensation, truck drivers may carry more substantial insurance policies than those carried by private drivers. Private drivers must carry at least minimum liability insurance based on the state in which their vehicle is registered. Commercial truck drivers, on the other hand, have their insurance regulated by the federal government and must meet much higher liability requirements. As a result, victims of commercial truck accidents may receive significantly more compensation for their injuries than victims of auto accidents involving private vehicles.
6. Truck accidents may cause much more serious injuries.
The average commercial truck weighs much more than a standard passenger vehicle. Legally, the combined weight of a truck and trailer, fully loaded, can total up to 80,000 pounds. Unloaded, the truck and trailer may weigh an average 35,000 pounds. By comparison, the average passenger vehicle weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. Passenger vehicles, therefore, provide comparatively little protection from larger trucks.
Due to the much larger size of trucks, they need more room to maneuver. They may need more room to turn or stop. In an accident, that may mean that the truck driver does not have time or room to get the truck out of the way or decrease damage to other individuals. As a result, truck accidents can result in much more serious injury. Many victims experience lifelong trauma and pain due to their injuries, which may limit them in multiple ways. Victims in auto accidents have a much greater chance of walking away with relatively minor injuries.
Whether you suffered serious injuries in a car accident or a truck accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help file your claim and give you a better understanding of the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact Alvendia Kelly & Demarest at 504-200-0000 to schedule a free consultation.