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What You Need to Know About Liability in Commercial Truck Accidents

A collision between two trucks demonstrates the risks posed by truck crashesWhen it comes to vehicle accidents, not all crashes are created equal. Accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a commercial tractor-trailer truck often involve legal complications that make them stand apart when compared to a “regular” car-on-car accident. The person or parties responsible for the accident can vary, for example, and the cause of the accident may be different than a car-on-car crash. The type and extent of injury are often much worse, as well.

Here’s how trucking accidents are different from car-on-car accidents, and why you need to seek help from an attorney who understands and is experienced with this special type of case.

Determining Liability in Trucking Accidents

When another driver causes a car-on-car accident, the other driver is typically the main source of financial compensation in a lawsuit, along with his or her insurance company (if the driver had insurance at all.) Trucking accidents, however, are a different—and more complicated—story. The driver may bear a share of the responsibility, but there are many other parties that may come into play. The driver may not be the owner of the truck, and the owner of the truck may be different from the owner of the trailer, for instance. There may be a leasing company involved. The trucking company itself may bear some responsibility, and if the accident was caused by an improperly balanced load, the company that loaded the trailer may be partially or wholly responsible.

If the accident was caused by a maintenance failure, the crew or shop that performed (or failed to perform) the work may be liable. Liability may even fall to the manufacturer of a part if a factory defect played a role in the crash, or to a tire manufacturer if a faulty tire caused the wreck.

An attorney who is only familiar with car accidents may not be aware that there are so many different parties that could be responsible for your accident. This can potentially cost you money in an injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Trucking Regulations

If you have a driver’s license and a little bit of time behind the wheel, you probably are familiar with the rules and regulations involved in operating a motor vehicle, but the state and federal rules for driving a 40-ton truck are a lot more complex. Your attorney needs to be familiar with these regulations, too. If the driver or trucking company fails to obey the law, including mandatory rest periods, speed limits, or required maintenance, your lawyer will be able to use these facts to help make your case in court.

Truck Accident Injuries and Fatalities

Truck accidents, though still more rare than auto accidents, are on the rise. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS) reports that 3,852 people were killed in crashes with large trucks in 2015. That’s a 22 percent increase over 2009, the year with the lowest number of fatalities since recordkeeping began. Of the 3,852 fatalities, 69 percent were in passenger vehicles, and only 16 percent were in the truck.

The fact that those in passenger vehicles are at a much greater risk for death versus a truck is less surprising when you consider that while the average weight of a passenger vehicle is in the one-to-two ton range (2,000 to 4,000 pounds), the weight of a regular, fully loaded semi can be as much as 40 tons, or a full 80,000 pounds.

Passenger vehicles and their occupants often suffer more severe damage and worse injuries in a collision with a truck. Some of the most common types of injuries after a car-truck accident may include the following:

  • Head or neck trauma, including brain injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries, causing permanent damage or paralysis.
  • Multiple broken bones and pelvic injuries.
  • Severed limbs or injuries leading to surgical amputation.
  • Severe lacerations (cuts) and loss of blood.
  • Extensive burns over the entire body.

Medical bills can quickly pile up for survivors as they recover from the acute trauma, and long, painful rehabilitation is often necessary afterwards to have a chance to regain even partial functionality. You need an attorney who knows how to pursue all potential sources of compensation to make sure that your needs are fully met after the accident, so that you can spend your time on the most important thing after the accident—getting your life back.

Get Legal Help Today

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a commercial truck or tractor-trailer, you may be able to seek financial compensation from the person or parties responsible for your accident in a court of law. You could be owed money for your medical bills, rehabilitation, lost time and wages, funeral expenses for your loved ones, pain and suffering, and more.

To talk to an experienced attorney who truly understands the needs of someone who has been hurt in a trucking accident, contact Wayne Wright LLP today. We’re here to stand up for the rights of victims who have suffered as the result of someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or wrongdoing on the road, and we’d like to be there for you, too. For a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal situation after the accident, call us by phone today, or click the live chat box on this page.