How Are Commercial Truck Accidents Different Than Other Accidents?
Although commercial truck accidents have much in common with “regular” auto accidents (an accident involving two passenger vehicles), they also have significant differences, not only in terms of physical damage but also as far as the procedure for filing a personal injury claim against a commercial entity. The difference in size between a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle is huge, meaning that the driver and passengers in the smaller vehicle are likely to be significantly hurt or even killed.
In fact, according to policyadvice.net, 74 percent of all fatal passenger vehicle accidents include a large commercial truck. The weight of a semi-truck means it takes the truck much longer to come to a complete stop. This length of stop time, combined with the high speed of highway travel, can lead to deadly disasters. So, those who are involved in a truck accident are likely to suffer grave injuries that can take months, years, or a lifetime to recover from.
Do Trucking Companies Carry More Insurance?
Semi-trucks must carry larger amounts of insurance coverage, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While this sounds like a good thing—and can be a good thing—it also means that trucking insurance companies will fight aggressively for their clients to protect the large amount of money on the line. Since truck drivers and trucking companies are held to a higher standard because of the damage they can do, federal law requires minimum insurance limits, particularly for trucks that transport hazardous materials. Liability insurance for a truck will depend on the weight of the vehicle, whether hazardous materials are being transported, whether the truck is for-hire, and whether explosives are being transported, and can range from $300,000 in liability insurance, all the way to $5 million.
Do Trucking Companies Have More Safety Standards and Federal Regulations?
Trucking companies fall under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act, therefore, must abide by specific safety standards and federal regulations. Trucking companies must also have background checks done on all their drivers, must perform periodic evaluations of existing employees, must ensure drivers are abiding by federal hours regulations and must conduct regular drug and alcohol screenings. Any violations of these regulations can establish liability for a truck accident on the part of the trucking company and the driver.
Is Determining Liability Different in a Commercial Truck Accident?
Determining liability can be very complex following a commercial truck accident because there are a number of parties who may be found liable—or who may share liability. The driver can be held liable for the accident if he or she was driving recklessly or aggressively, was driving while impaired, or was driving while fatigued or distracted. Even when the driver is liable, the trucking company may share in that liability. If the trucking company was aware the driver had exceeded his or her allowable hours, therefore was driving while fatigued, the trucking company could be held liable. If the trucking company failed to conduct a comprehensive background check on the driver, then the company could be held liable. Finally, if the trucking company failed to ensure the driver was properly trained and ready to drive, it could be held liable.
If the accident was the result of poorly loaded cargo, then the loading company could be held liable, although the driver and the trucking company might still share in that liability if the driver failed to do a regular inspection prior to driving. If the accident was the result of brakes that failed or tires that blew, then the maintenance company could be held responsible, although, again, the driver might share the responsibility if he or she did not perform routine inspections of the tires. If a defective truck part caused the accident, the manufacturer of the truck or the truck part might be held liable. As you can see, determining liability for the truck accident can be quite complicated.
How Hoffoss Devall Can Help
As you can see, the bottom line is that commercial truck accidents are much more complex than other types of auto accidents. Not only is there a much higher likelihood of severe injury and death, there are larger insurance policies, a variety of potentially liable parties, and federal regulations added into the mix. Since trucking company attorneys are likely to aggressively defend a lawsuit, it is extremely important to contact a highly-skilled, experienced attorney from Hoffoss Devall, who will be by your side from start to finish.