For those who have limited experience with truck accidents, it might seem logical to assume that an 18-wheeler crash is similar to a car crash on a larger scale. While this is somewhat true, there are additional factors involved in truck accidents that make them a much more complicated (and dangerous) endeavor.
Because tractor-trailers significantly outweigh the typical passenger car, damage from truck accidents can be far more devastating than damages from a car accident. In addition to the extensive damage, the large corporations and insurance policies behind commercial trucking companies can make it extremely difficult for victims to receive their deserved compensation. For these reasons, we wanted to put together some helpful tips concerning how the truck and car accidents differ so you can be educated and prepared in case one should happen to you.
There Are More Types of Truck Accidents
There are many types of accidents that can occur, both when dealing with passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers. While all the same accident types, such as rear-ending, T-boning, etc., can occur in an 18-wheeler accident, there are also some types of accidents that are fully unique to the truck industry. In addition to being wary of the traditional causes of car accidents, here are some trucking specific accidents to be aware of:
Jackknifes - Because of the construction of most 18-wheelers, they are susceptible to a type of accident referred to as a “jackknife”—this occurs when the cab of the truck and the trailer fold in towards one another. This can be caused by tires losing traction, excessively hard breaking, or by driving too quickly around a turn, causing the truck to slide out of control.
Rollovers - Large trucks are much taller than conventional vehicles, and thus have a higher center of gravity. This can cause the truck to roll over if conditions are right. This generally occurs if a turn is taken too sharply, but can also result from strong winds or a sudden shift in the cargo being carried. When a truck begins to roll, it can quickly pick up momentum and damage everything in its path.
Underrides - Because of how high tractor-trailers sit above the ground, they are a perfect height for many regular cars to slide underneath. This can occur if a truck merges or breaks suddenly, causing extensive damage to the passenger vehicle.
Equipment failures - While truck drivers and companies are legally required to keep up with routine inspections and maintenance on their fleets, even still there are many possibilities for equipment failure.
Trucking Companies Have Different Requirements
Because trucking is such a vital yet dangerous industry, there are many regulations and requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that truck companies must adhere to in order to keep their trucks on the road. These regulations are designed to keep both truck drivers and other drivers on the road safer, but can also help when determining fault in an 18-wheeler accident. Here are some of the requirements the FMCSA places on truck companies:
Possession of Adequate Insurance Policies - By law, trucking companies must carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance on each truck and are not able to operate if they do not meet this requirement.
Retention of Inspections and Maintenance Records - Because there are so many pieces of equipment and machinery that go into operating an 18-wheeler, companies are mandated to inspect and maintain their fleet to keep everything in operating order. If an accident occurs, the victim’s lawyer can reference the records to determine if everything was done according to schedule.
Enforcement of Safety Standards and Drive Time Limits - Truck drivers are required to adhere to certain safety guidelines throughout their careers, such as attending regular safety training and refresher courses. Additionally, they are required to keep a log of their hours driven behind the wheel of the truck due to the strict federal regulations on the amount of driving hours that are allowed.
Injuries and Property Damage Are Greater in Truck Accidents
The average tractor-trailer weighs about sixteen times the amount of an average car, meaning that a collision with an 18-wheeler can have much more severe damages and personal injuries associated with it. Any collision is inherently dangerous, but collisions with 18-wheelers tend to produce more serious medical injuries as well as more extensive damage to the victim’s vehicle. This can lead to extremely high medical bills and ongoing treatment costs that are not as typical in the case of a car accident. While truck drivers are required to carry much higher levels of insurance than the average driver, that does not make up for the fact that a collision with a large truck can be a devastating life event.
A Truck Accident Attorney Is Always Recommended
When dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident, it is important that victims make use of every resource that is available to them, including an experienced truck accident attorney. Because truck companies are generally large corporations with settlement-savvy legal teams, it is not uncommon for victims in truck accidents to be offered a sum that is negligible compared to the cost of their medical treatment and property damage. This occurs because they trust that victims will not be able to fight them on their own—which is why getting a qualified legal representative on your side can make all the difference. Enlisting the help of a truck accident lawyer will ensure you have someone to fight for you to receive the full compensation you deserve from such a traumatic and life-altering incident.
If you have been involved in a truck accident please contact The Soliman Firm at (714) 970-4770.