How Are Truck Accidents Different from Auto Accidents?
Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2022 at 7:24 pm
Even though they’re only about ten percent of all vehicles on the road, big rigs and other commercial vehicles have the same accident rate, and the same number of fatalities as automobiles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Part of this is due to their sheer size and weight, and part is due to drivers who spend all day behind the wheel. Whenever a truck and a car collide, the car is going to lose.
Truck Versus Car: Why They Win
If you remember your high-school physics classes, you may have learned the standard formula for accidents: force equals mass times acceleration. An 80,000-pound big rig traveling at 60 miles per hour will strike another object with the force of six pounds of TNT. This does not factor in the speed of your vehicle or hazards along the road. Truck accidents differ from vehicle accidents because of the damage trucks can do in a crash.
There are several factors that make truck collisions more probable than car versus car collisions. The height of the cab means that the driver has difficulty seeing other vehicles in their blind spots, even with multiple mirrors and warning signs. The height of the trailer makes it possible for cars to be clipped by tires or even dragged under the trailer, a situation called “underriding.”
Despite strict state and federal regulations governing how many hours a driver may spend behind the wheel and the increased use of electronic logs tracking the time on and off the road, trucking companies still covertly push their drivers to drive “off the books,” spending too much time driving and not enough time resting. Fatigued drivers can cause accidents.
If you’ve been involved in such a catastrophic event, make sure you contact us right away- so we can get to work for you!
Different Vehicles, Different Companies
Whenever there is a big rig or commercial vehicle accident, there may be more than one insurance company involved. Liability in a trucking accident involves the driver, the trucking company (usually, the company owns the truck), the maintenance company, the shipping company (the one who owns the trailer), and possibly others.
If you are involved in any kind of big rig accident, there are steps you should take to ensure your insurance claim is processed properly and that all parties are included in any future lawsuit.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Because of the size difference between a truck and a car, the chances of serious injury are high. Even if you feel all right immediately after the accident, some injuries take time to develop. The insurance companies will want evidence that you sought treatment right away, so go to the emergency room.
- Get the driver’s information, including the name and address of their employer, their operating license number (usually written on the side of the truck), and the plate number of the truck.
- If possible, get the plate number or ID number of the trailer as well. Even if the truck is being used by a corporation, like Target or Kroger, it is common for a truck to be licensed in one state and the trailer to be licensed in another. Get both numbers.
- If you can get a photograph of the truck at the scene, this may help establish whether all the running lights were operational at the time of the accident. Different states have differing requirements for trailer and truck body lights.
- If you see any DOT placards on the trailer, try to make a note of those as well. These placards are used if the truck is hauling any hazardous materials or certain types of cargo.
- Get any witness information you can. Because so many different parties are involved, you may not be able to get all this information, especially in the excitement and confusion of the accident. A witness who later recalls that the trailer had a plate from out of state can be helpful.
The purpose of all this is to gather everyone who might be responsible for the accident. Suppose that you are struck by a big rig that runs through an intersection and T-bones your vehicle. The driver was going too fast but also says that the brakes failed. Failing brakes are the responsibility of the company and its maintenance crew. Then it is discovered that the trailer brakes, which came from the shipping yard in another state, had been leaking hydraulic fluid, and this implicates another maintenance company. All this needs to be provided to your attorney.
How We Can Help
Before you file your insurance claim, you should have your documentation reviewed by an attorney who understands the complex nature of big rig and commercial trucking accidents. Even if you have not considered legal action yet, the complicated nature of the case may be more than you can handle alone. Make sure you have dealt with everyone involved before you send off the paperwork for review.
At Abel Law Firm, our Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers want to be sure you get the fair compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at (405) 239-7046, or contact us online for a confidential consultation about the case today.