Due to their size and weight, large trucks typically cause more serious and fatal injuries when involved in accidents than other types of vehicles, including passenger cars. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the term large truck refers to any medium or heavy vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
The NSC reports that 112,000 large truck accidents caused injuries in 2018, a 5% increase from the previous year, and that large trucks were involved in more than 4,800 fatal accidents that year. Overall, they made up only 4% of all registered vehicles in the country in 2018.
Large Trucks Operate Differently From Cars
Drivers must first obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a large truck in the United States legally. These specialized licenses are proof that the driver has completed the necessary training and possesses the knowledge required to operate a vehicle of substantial weight, length, and size.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the law holds drivers with a CDL to a much higher standard, and certain traffic violations can lead to license revocation due to the dangers of operating large trucks irresponsibly.
The Information Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) describes some of the distinguishing differences between truck accidents and car accidents. Because of their higher ground clearance, cars can more easily slide underneath a truck in a collision.
Trucks have an increased risk of rolling over in an accident, which poses a danger to truck occupants and other vehicles on the road around them. As only approximately one-fifth of fatal large truck accidents involve the truck alone, most injuries in truck accidents occur in collisions with other vehicles.
Truck Accidents Often Cause More Serious Injuries
The weight of trucks alone presents a significant danger to other vehicles in their vicinity. Large trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles and require 20% to 40% more road length to come to a complete stop. This means their impact with smaller vehicles usually leads to more severe injuries than collisions between cars.
In accidents with large trucks, passenger vehicle occupants often suffer traumatic injuries, which may include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Spine or skull fractures
- Crush injuries
- Puncture wounds and lacerations
- Hemorrhaging of the internal organs
These types of injuries often have lasting or permanent effects that can lead to financial instability, emotional trauma, and long-term physical pain. Some victims of large truck accidents hire an attorney to help them seek compensation for their damages.
Victims May Struggle to Prove Liability on Their Own
The FMCSA notes that traffic accidents, particularly those involving large trucks or more than one vehicle, tend to have many contributing causes. The complexity of truck accident cases can make it difficult for victims to prove the liability of the other driver. However, even if other causes played a role in the accident, the truck driver may still hold primary responsibility for the collision. An attorney can help the victim investigate the circumstances and prove liability.
You Must Prove Certain Criteria to Establish Negligence
Some states require drivers to carry no-fault insurance, which means their insurance company pays for all damages in an accident regardless of who caused it. However, fault states require the at-fault driver to cover the victim’s expenses. In these instances, you must first prove the negligence of the truck driver to establish liability. This requires demonstrating that the truck driver met all the criteria for legal negligence. If you hire an attorney, they can help you with this process. With their counsel, you can set out to prove:
- The truck driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the safety of those around them, including the victim
- The truck driver, through omission or a willful act, breached this duty
- The breach of duty caused harm to the victim
- The victim’s injury resulted in significant damages
Once you establish negligence on their part, you can seek financial awards for your injuries.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
When an accident occurs, the insurance companies of the involved parties will begin investigating the case to determine its causes and the at-fault driver. In some cases, adjusters will reach out to you right away and offer you a settlement amount for your losses.
Keep in mind that insurance companies could make you an offer that does not meet your needs because it does not take all or any of your losses into account. They might not have assessed the extent of your damages before making you an offer, and you may not have had time to assess them yourself.
Because truck accidents differ from car accidents in terms of the complexity of their claims, you may find it challenging to deal with insurance companies on your own. An attorney can handle all communication with the insurance companies on your behalf and help you fight for the financial recovery you deserve.
How a Lawyer Might Be Able to Help You
If you or a loved one is recovering from injuries or died in a truck accident, our lawyers can help you navigate the litigation process and seek financial awards that compensate you for your losses. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, so you do not pay us any upfront fees unless we win a settlement for you. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 235-0444, to discuss your truck accident case with our legal team.