How Truck Accidents Are Different than Car Accidents

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Roughly 4,500 people die every year in large truck accidents. The size and weight of a large commercial truck are enough to cause devastating damages to a smaller vehicle and its driver, but these trucks are often driving at high speeds on interstates and highways. If you suffered an injury or lost someone you love in a truck accident because of another person’s carelessness, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses.

What Makes a Truck Accident More Severe?

Consider a minor fender-bender between two standard passenger vehicles. You can expect to find a few dents and scrapes on the bumper or busted signal light. You could likely exchange insurance information and walk away with no injuries. Therein lies a significant difference between car accidents and truck accidents. A fender-bender with a commercial truck could easily result in severe injuries and a totaled vehicle.

The average semi-truck is between 70 and 80 feet long, around eight feet wide, and nearly 13 feet tall. They weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. The average car is a fraction of that size. The sheer force that so much weight can add to a truck’s inertia is enough to be deadly.

How Do the Injuries Differ?

Truck accident injuries are also typically more severe. Some common examples include:

More severe injuries require extensive and often ongoing medical treatment, resulting in more significant financial damages.

Who Is At Fault in a Truck Accident Case?

When you file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your losses in a truck accident, the primary difference between a truck accident claim and a car accident claim is determining fault. In a car accident, the person that caused the accident is responsible for covering the damages. You file a lawsuit against the driver and negotiate with their car insurance company for payment.

In a truck accident, the driver may not be at fault. The potential at-fault parties in a truck accident include:

  • The truck driver. The driver could be responsible if their negligent actions led to the collision. For example, if the driver violated road laws or government-mandated trucking regulations, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
  • The trucking company. There are many ways a trucking company can be liable for a truck accident, even if the driver was negligent. Trucking companies are responsible for adequately vetting and training their drivers before allowing them on the road. The company is also in charge of carrying out routine maintenance on trucks. If they encourage drivers to violate safety regulations to speed up deliveries, the company is liable for any accidents that happen during that time. 
  • The third-party maintenance company. Some trucking companies contract a third-party mechanic to perform all the required maintenance and inspections on the trucks. If a mechanical issue causes the truck to fail, resulting in an accident, the maintenance company would be at fault for the injuries incurred.
  • The truck manufacturer. The company that manufactures the truck is responsible for any flaws in the truck’s design or assembly. If a part fails and causes an accident, the manufacturer is at fault. If they issue a recall on a defective part and the trucking company fails to replace it, then the blame falls on the trucking company.
  • The company that loaded the truck. Commercial truck regulations stipulate the weight and dimensions legally permitted for cargo. The loading company is responsible for ensuring that the freight is balanced and secured. The loading company will face repercussions if the truck tips over or loses items while driving.

Sometimes you may have a case against multiple parties or multiple cases for a single accident. For example, suppose a faulty tire has a blowout on the road. In that case, you may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the tire manufacturer and a personal injury lawsuit against the trucking company for failing to conduct regular inspections that would have caught the issue.

What Types of Damages Can You Receive From a Truck Accident Case?

The damages from a truck accident case and a car accident case are relatively the same. The primary difference is that the damages from a collision with a truck are typically more substantial. To file a claim against any previously mentioned parties, you must prove that the defendant caused your accident and resulting injuries. Then you can request compensation in two forms: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages make up the economic and non-economic losses associated with your accident. The economic damages, also known as specific damages, include:

  • The cost of necessary medical care, such as visits to the hospital or doctor, further in-patient and out-patient care, medications, required medical devices, and future medical treatments for continued care
  • The income you lost because of past and future missed work
  • The loss of earning capacity that results from disabilities hindering you from doing the job you had before
  • Damage to your property, primarily the replacement of your totaled vehicle or cost of repair 

The non-economic damages, also known as general damages, include the pain and suffering your endured because of your injuries. For example, your friends and family members can testify that you went through emotional distress or lost your ability to enjoy life as you did before.

If you file a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of a loved one in the accident, you can request compensation for funeral and burial costs. In addition, if your loved one contributed income and benefits to your household, you could include those in damages as well. You may also claim non-economic damages, such as loss of consortium or loss of companionship. Additionally, in cases where the defendant’s negligent behavior was particularly egregious, you may receive punitive damages.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages do not provide compensation for loss incurred due to your accident and injuries. A court-ordered payment of punitive damages is infrequent in a car or truck accident, but some circumstances may warrant punishment for gross negligence. If the at-fault party acted in a way that displays complete disregard for the value of life and the safety of others, the court may require them to pay punitive damages as a deterrent and punishment. For example, if your loved one died in a truck accident where the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may have to pay you as punishment for that behavior.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help You?

Collisions involving trucks are almost always significantly more severe than car accidents, but either can leave you with devastating damages. When the cause is the other party’s negligence, the burden feels much heavier. If you suffered an injury in a truck or car accident, a personal injury attorney at Mike Morse Law Firm could help you get the compensation you need to heal financially and the support you need to heal emotionally. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with reliable legal representation, and we are always willing to go the extra mile. Let us put our expertise at work for you and help alleviate the financial burden of your losses. Contact Mike Morse Law Firm today for your free consultation.


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