If you’ve been injured in a car or truck accident, you may think the process of pursuing a lawsuit for compensation is the same for all incidents on the road. In fact, there are significant legal differences between an injury sustained in an accident between two passenger vehicles, and one involving a semi-truck or tractor trailer.
An expert attorney will have an understanding of these legal differences between a car and truck accident in order to skillfully represent your case and help you win the compensation you deserve.
Causes of Truck vs. Car Accidents
Car accidents are primarily the result of inattention or negligence by one of the drivers, such as talking on a cell phone, changing the radio, or eating. Taking their eyes off the road for just a second or two can cause an accident.
Truck accidents, on the other hand, are often involved in crashes not due to driver distraction, but issues related to blind spots, slower braking and acceleration, and improper loading of cargo.
Regulations for Commercial Trucks
Commercial trucks are heavily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. There are rules governing the maintenance of trucks, annual inspections, loading cargo, and hours allowed on the road without breaks.
Each of these regulations provides an additional opportunity for legal teams to pursue compensation, because if an attorney can prove the company or driver was in violation, it strengthens the case.
Injuries in Car and Truck Accidents
Passenger vehicles often weigh 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, but commercial trucks are often more than 80,000 pounds. While there is always a risk of injury in any accident on the road, the chances of serious injury significantly increase in truck accidents. The types of injuries in truck accidents include burns, spinal cord and brain injuries, and organ damage.
This can result in higher hospital bills, more time off work, or even the inability to earn the income the victim previously earned. A truck accident attorney will fight for compensation for these additional factors, but the insurance company for the defendant will seek to minimize payout.
Insurance Policies and Compensation
Trucking companies carry much larger insurance policies for accidents because payouts are likely to be much higher than to an individual in a car accident, but just because their coverage is prepared to pay more, does not mean the insurance company is quick to pay out ample compensation.
The insurance company will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine negligence by victim to reduce compensation. In some cases, the insurance company will offer the victim what seems to be a significant amount of money upfront to settle, in an effort to avoid an even larger payout. That is why victims of trucking accidents need to hire an attorney as soon as possible, before speaking with the insurance company.
Evidence and Determining Liability
The trucking or insurance company may send investigators to the scene of the accident immediately to document evidence, take photos, and interview eyewitnesses, while those injured in accidents between two passenger vehicles may not have immediate access to those professionals.
In determining liability in a car accident, the focus is generally limited to the actions of the drivers involved. In a semi-truck or tractor trailer accident, liability can extend to a number of parties.
For example, lawyers may investigate:
- If the truck had been properly maintained and inspected
- If the driver had the proper license to carry the load
- How many hours the driver had gone without a break
- Whether cargo was properly loaded
Each issue could extend responsibility to a different company. If the accident was caused by improper loading, the focus would not be on the driver but on the loading company. If maintenance issues caused the crash, the lawsuit would likely deal with the mechanic and the owner of the truck.
Hire a Car or Truck Accident Lawyer in New Jersey
Car and truck accidents can have devastating impacts on your life, but the team at DKR is determined to not allow financial burdens to impact your recovery. We are experts in personal injury cases involving accidents on the road and will share how we can represent your case during a free consultation. Contact us today at 856-489-1515 to speak with our team.