Does The Size or Type Of A Truck Matter In An Accident Claim?
Commercial trucks come in many sizes, but they all have the potential to cause severe damage in the event of a collision. How the size and type of commercial truck affect an accident claim depends on the severity of injuries and the value of the victim’s claim. A larger truck can cause more damage, increasing the claim’s worth. If you suffered an injury in a truck accident case, you would likely benefit from talking to a truck accident lawyer about the details of your case and how liability affects your access to compensation.
What Makes a Truck Accident Claim Different From a Car Accident Claim?
The rules of the road are different for commercial trucks. Their size and weight capacity can cause substantially more damage than even the largest passenger vehicle. As a result, the federal government has specific standards for commercial trucks and their drivers, including a unique licensing system and regulations for cargo and hours of service. The federal trucking laws include:
- Weight regulations. The Federal Highway Administration limits the weight capacity of commercial trucks based on the number of wheel axles. Trucks with more axles can carry more weight, but the maximum allowable weight is 80,000 pounds.
- Hours of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the drivable hours for truck drivers to help avoid the dangers of using stimulant drugs and driving while fatigued. For example, drivers cannot exceed 70 hours on the road within a week and no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour work day.
- Cargo safety. The FMCSA regulates how cargo is loaded and secured on a commercial truck trailer to avoid shifting or spilling, which can cause severe accidents.
These regulations exist to keep drivers safe on the road with commercial trucks. Unfortunately, human error and negligence sometimes result in devastating truck accidents, for which multiple parties may be liable.
Liability for a Truck Accident
Liability is another defining characteristic of personal injury law that makes truck accidents significantly different from other types of auto accidents. In a standard passenger vehicle collision, the most common occurrence is that one or both drivers are responsible under various circumstances. However, in a truck accident, there are a number of potentially liable parties:
- The driver is responsible for obeying traffic laws and adhering to federal regulations for truck drivers. Violating either could make them liable. For example, if a truck driver causes an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they would be responsible for damages.
- The driver’s employer can be liable for several reasons. For example, failing to vet the driver’s traffic records and hiring a driver with multiple offenses could make them responsible. In addition, failing to offer adequate training or not completely mandatory inspections and maintenance could also make them liable.
- A third party, such as a mechanic or cargo loader, could be liable. For example, if the company used a separate company to handle the maintenance of its trucks, that company would be responsible if the truck failed due to a mechanical issue. Likewise, if the cargo shifted, causing the truck to tip over, the party that loaded the truck would be liable.
- A manufacturing company could be liable if a designed or manufactured part caused the accident. In this case, you would file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturing company.
More complex cases may involve multiple defendants. For example, if the truck driver chose to drive well over the speed limit, causing the truck to wobble and the unsecured cargo to spill on the road, you could potentially sue the driver and the third-party cargo loader. To ensure you properly value your claim and hold all the negligent parties responsible, you should consider speaking with a truck accident lawyer about the specifics of your case.
What Are the Types of Commercial Trucks and the Dangers They Present?
The various types of commercial trucks have different sizes and elements, making them more dangerous than smaller vehicles. Collisions with any of these vehicles could result in devastating injuries or death:
- Tanker trucks carry hazardous materials and could release those materials in a collision, causing damage to the environment and other drivers.
- Tractor trailers are big rigs that pull a covered trailer. If not loaded according to FMCSA standards, cargo shifts could cause the truck to tip over, or overloaded trailers could put a strain on the wheels, causing tires to blow or axles to break.
- Flatbed trailers have exposed cargo that could fall off during transit if not adequately secured. For example, fallen timber could be deadly for smaller vehicles behind the truck.
- Mail trucks are among the smallest commercial trucks, but they can do significant damage, especially when drivers allow their work to distract them.
Any of these vehicles could be a potential danger to other drivers, and accidents involving trucks of any size are often more deadly.
What if a Truck Accident Results in the Death of a Loved One?
If you lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident, a truck accident attorney could help you file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party in your case. Losing someone expectedly is never easy, but losing them in a tragic accident and dealing with severe financial repercussions in the aftermath is not something you should face alone. You have the right to compensation for your loved one’s medical bills, lost income, funeral and burial expenses, and lost benefits, including insurance, retirement, and inheritance. Additionally, the liable party should pay for the psychological trauma suffered as a result of your loss. You can never get back what was lost, but you can soften the blow of monetary consequences.
Should You Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer for Your Case?
Commercial trucks are typically larger than standard passenger vehicles. They also carry heavy loads, the weight of which can do severe damage in the event of a collision. If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, a truck accident lawyer can benefit your case in many ways:
- They offer a professional, objective point-of-view while representing your best interests and protecting your rights.
- They find and calculate all the possible damages from your accident to ensure you receive sufficient compensation to cover your losses.
- They manage all the paperwork and communication with the insurance companies to ensure you make no mistakes that could harm your claim.
- They investigate the accident using professionals, such as accident reconstruction experts, to provide quality evidence to support your negligence claim and your demands for damages.
- They have valuable negotiation skills and can quickly recognize when insurers use bad faith tactics to delay or deny a fair settlement.
Most importantly, a truck accident lawyer has the experience you need in legal representation to speed up the legal process and secure a settlement that reflects your losses. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we understand the stress and frustration you face. With over 25 years of experience, we can easily navigate personal injury law and access the resources necessary to fight for your right to compensation. Contact us today at 855-MIKE-WINS to speak with one of our qualified attorneys about your case. Your consultation is risk-free with no obligation and no fees. We are ready to answer all your questions and help you take the next step toward a favorable resolution.