Why a Truck Crash Isn’t the Same as a Car Crash (and You Need a Different Lawyer)
If you are looking for an attorney after a serious truck crash, you should know handling car accidents is an entirely different legal skill set than handling truck accident cases. You need a lawyer with experience, and a history of success, getting settlements and awards for clients who have been hurt by trucking companies and their drivers.
What Makes Truck Accidents So Different from Car Wrecks?
Truck crashes differ from car crashes in several important ways.
More Serious Injuries
A trucking accident is a wreck involving a semi tractor-trailer, an 18-wheeler, or another large commercial truck. As stated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these types of crashes caused 4,671 deaths in the U.S. in a single recent year. A total of 82% of the people who died were occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Only 18% were drivers or occupants of the big rigs. A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh 80,000 lbs. or more, as compared to the average car, weighing approximately 3,000 lbs. Because of their sheer size and weight, large trucks are more likely to cause catastrophic or fatal injuries when involved in a crash.
Trucking companies and their drivers are subject to a huge body of regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are required to follow certain safety standards concerning everything from drivers’ hours of service to inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles to properly securing loads to mandatory drug and alcohol testing for drivers.
Any serious violation of FMCSA regulations on the part of the trucking company or its driver can go a long way toward establishing and supporting a claim for compensation. The attorney you choose to represent you must be familiar with these regulations and know how to prove violations.
Multiple Potentially Liable Parties
In a car accident case, the at-fault driver is usually liable for injuries and property damage. In a truck crash, on the other hand, there may be several parties potentially responsible for your losses. Your claim for compensation may be against the:
- Truck driver (if driver negligence contributed to the crash)
- Trucking company (if the company hired an unqualified driver, cut corners concerning safety, failed to properly maintain the vehicle, or pushed the driver to exceed hours of service limits)
- Truck owner (if the truck was not owned by the trucking company and the owner failed to regularly inspect and maintain the vehicle)
- Cargo loaders (if failure to properly load and secure the cargo contributed to the crash)
- Parts manufacturer (if a defective truck part caused mechanical failure that led to an accident)
An experienced truck accident lawyer will have the ability to investigate the crash and determine cause and liability.
Unique Factors in Trucking Accidents
Many truck crashes involve certain factors that do not usually contribute to car accidents. Examples include:
- Jackknifing: This occurs when a trucker towing a trailer loses control of the trailer, which swings out to form an “L” or “V” shape, usually stretching across multiple lanes of the roadway.
- Rollovers: The high center of gravity of large commercial trucks creates a greater tendency to roll over. Centrifugal force can cause a truck to lean during a turn or curve, particularly if the driver is traveling too fast for conditions or makes a sudden change in steering to avoid an obstacle or another vehicle.
- Brake failure: Brake malfunction is a leading cause of truck accidents. When a truck crash results from brake failure, the fault may lie with the driver (who caused the brakes to overheat), the trucking company (that failed to properly set and maintain the brakes), the cargo loader (that failed to evenly distribute the load), or others.
Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Trucking companies and their insurers can be extremely aggressive in defending against claims. They may go to great lengths to minimize their payouts – from obscuring black box data to sending their own team of “investigators” to the accident site, even before the police arrive at the scene, in some cases. They have been known to use intimidation, bullying, and other tactics to frighten victims into dropping the claim or accepting a lowball settlement. A lawyer with experience handling car accident claims between two private parties is simply not equipped to stand up to commercial insurers and the weight of the trucking industry.
Our founding attorney, Dan Sorey, has ten years of previous experience in law enforcement, as a police officer and a parole agent. Before establishing our firm in 2010, he worked for a nationwide plaintiff’s firm for many years, representing injured clients from across the nation, which included handling trials in five different states.
We have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively handle your truck accident claim. Call The Sorey Law Firm P.L.L.C. at (903) 207-5526 today to find out how we can help after a truck crash with serious injuries.