Truck Accidents Are DifferentPosted on: January 9, 2021
Car accidents are no walk in the park.
But truck accidents are another thing altogether.
Most people have firsthand experience with how devastating car accidents can be. After all, even a relatively minor fender bender can cause injuries such as whiplash and herniated discs.
Now imagine getting into an accident with a fully loaded semi.
This extra bulk makes truck accidents a lot different from the average car crash. But we’re not just talking about your potential for injury. Trucking accident cases need to be handled differently as well.
In this article, we’ll look at five ways that truck accidents are different and what it means for you.
1. Different Insurance Policies
When you receive a settlement after an accident, that money rarely comes from the individual at-fault. Rather, those funds are paid out by their insurance company (or, if they don’t have enough insurance and you carry uninsured motorist coverage, from your own insurance company).
Often, individuals have limited insurance liability coverage. But this isn’t the case for most trucking companies. Why is this good news? When a truck is involved, there is a much higher limit for compensation (meaning a greater chance that all of your injuries and damages will be covered).
Depending on where the truck is being operated, it may even have additional coverage. For example, if the truck is operating in interstate commerce, $1 million in coverage is required by federal law.
It is crucial that your attorney has experience with truck accidents and knows to look for additional coverage available to you. We have picked up trucking cases from other firms where these insurance issues have not been fully explored. In one instance, our client was told that a certain policy amount was all the available coverage. The attorney either did not know or care to make the effort to find other coverage. Fortunately, that client did not accept the representation and came to us.
Right away, we advised that the truck was being operated in interstate commerce, which required an additional policy called an MCS-90. While the trucking company originally only revealed a smaller policy, we filed suit and got the company to admit the existence of an additional $1 million policy.
That client received significantly more money in the settlement than they would have had the insurance issues not been explored.
2. Different Theories of Liability
When you are injured in an average auto accident, the cause of action is usually driver negligence. The other driver either wasn’t paying attention, for instance, or had too much to drink.
In a trucking case, however, there are numerous areas of potential negligence:
- Failure to do a pre-trip inspection
- Driving more than the 10-hour limit before resting (which is against federal law)
- The trucking company encouraging workers to violate federal laws on work hours
- Failure to do and/or maintain proper documentation
- Negligence of the trucking company in training the driver
- Negligence of the trucking company in hiring the driver
- Overloading of the trucks or beds beyond allowable weight limits
- Failure to maintain the truck and/or trailer in proper working condition
- Failure of the trucking company to have the proper safety equipment on the truck
Additionally, it may not just be the trucking company or driver who is responsible for the crash. For example, a leasing company or other third party may have had responsibility for maintaining or loading the truck.
Identifying all potential defendants is vital for exploring all insurance coverage options. If your attorney skips this step, you could miss out on being properly compensated for your injuries.
3. More Significant Property Damage
We rarely see a “fender bender” involving a truck (the average fully loaded semi weighs around 40 tons) and a 3,000-lb. sedan. Even an average SUV simply can’t stand up to an 18-wheeler.
What does this mean for you? Insurance companies often defend cases by claiming the property damage wasn’t significant enough to cause an injury. This defense is much more difficult to prove when a commercial truck is involved, and the evidence usually speaks for itself.
4. More Severe Injuries
Naturally, heavier vehicles that cause more damage to property also cause more injury to others.
These injuries can include broken bones, brain injuries, severe burns, and other catastrophic injuries. In fact, the increased risk of severe injury is one of the reasons why trucking companies carry such high insurance coverage limits. It is also a reason why federal law requires such policies.
If your attorney treats your case like any other auto accident case, you could be missing out on the compensation available to you.
5. Different Documentation Process
We represented many trucking companies over the course of our 30+ years doing defense work. And one thing we noticed is that the trucking company’s defense starts immediately.
Truck drivers are often trained to investigate and document the crash themselves without relying on the police. Even without this training, many drivers contact the trucking company immediately after a crash who directs them to take photographs, video, and witness statements.
What can you do in response? Document the location of the vehicles involved in the crash. Limit communication with the other driver. Collect all witness information and take a recorded statement of the witnesses if you feel comfortable doing so.
Most importantly, call an attorney who has the requisite experience, like the attorneys at Beers & Gordon, to protect the additional evidence in the case.
Trucking companies have been known to destroy evidence and claim that this was part of their normal process and/or they weren’t aware such evidence was crucial. Putting the company on notice immediately can protect this vital information.
This important evidence includes many things such as:
- Available insurance coverage
- Lease agreements with the truck
- DOT violations of the trucking company and/or driver
- Pickup and delivery records
- Trip inspection reports
- Maintenance documentation for the truck
- Documentation of any federal trucking law violations by the company or driver
- Post-crash drug test results
- Retrievable operating data from the truck
Documentation in trucking cases is vitally important, and we often find that owners and operators fail to comply with the standards required of them.
All this documentation is important to establish liability and determine exactly what occurred in the crash. We often learn invaluable information through these requests that makes winning cases much more likely.
What This Means For You
Truck accidents are different from the average car crash, and that means your attorney should be, too.
Don’t settle for an average accident attorney. Instead, find a legal team with experience in handling trucking accidents, like Beers & Gordon.
The attorneys at Beers & Gordon have handled truck accidents throughout their combined nearly 70 years of experience. These crashes have ranged from single vehicle collisions to a 70-vehicle pileup involving multiple trucks. The breadth of this experience is important when you are considering who you want to represent you.
The necessity of that experience is even more important when dealing with powerful trucking companies who will spend the time and money to defend the case. You need to ensure you have retained a firm that has both the requisite knowledge and the financial strength to take on these companies and fight for justice for you.
Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced, caring attorneys today.