Cars Vs Trucks
Car crashes are scary events but add a large semi-truck into the mix, and it becomes even more dangerous. About 70% of freight tonnage in the U.S. travels via truck, which makes up about 9 billion tons of freight every year.
It’s especially important to know the difference because, in a legal process, you may not be dealing with two individuals but an individual and a trucking company.
There are several significant differences between a truck accident and a car accident. Here are just a few of them.
1. Truck Accidents are Often More Severe
Trucks are larger, harder to stop, and carry huge weight compared to cars. The typical semi weighs about 26,000 pounds. Sometimes, semi-trucks carry hazardous or flammable materials. If you get in an impact in a small car or motorcycle against a semi-truck, the semi will win every time. In large truck accidents, the damage to the vehicles is worse, and there are usually more severe personal injuries. They can also cause terrible pile-up accidents.
2. You Need To Collect More Information in a Truck Accident
After a car accident, most people know to swap contact and insurance information. However, after a truck accident, there is more evidence you need to collect. First, you need to collect driver evidence on the driver’s qualifications, training, hours of service, inspection records, and screening results for drugs and alcohol.
You’ll also need to include vehicle evidence which are downloads of the onboard system, maintenance history, inspection history, and GPS tracking data.
Finally, collect cargo evidence of what was inside. This includes weight tickets, trip envelopes, dispatch instructions, delivery documents and bills of landing.
On top of that, you have to collect this information quickly because trucking companies are only required to keep documentation for so long, typically six months. So, if you wait too long to request the information, or to work with an attorney, you will not have access to certain documents.
3. You Must Negotiate With a Trucking Company
Truck accidents have different liability than car accidents. In a car accident, you just deal with the other car owner/driver. However, if you are in an accident with a commercial truck, then the truck driver’s employer will also need to be involved. Note that the truck and the trailer are considered separate commercial vehicles and depending on the situation, either just the owner of the trailer or the truck may be liable.
Dealing with a trucking company means you’ll likely have to deal with very aggressive lawyers and insurance companies. They have to because commercial truck drivers are held to higher standards and have strict driving rules. There are also others involved like third-party maintenance companies, shippers, loaders, and freight forwarders that may be at fault or partial fault. This all makes it difficult to determine who was at fault and how to settle damages.
Trucking accidents are fundamentally different from car accidents. Semis are much more dangerous to collide with, and generally, the diver’s employer is involved. It’s more complicated to determine fault and collect the right information, and the other side will undoubtedly have highly trained lawyers on their side. If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, you should seek help from a personal injury attorney with experience in truck accidents to learn what your next steps should be.