Did you know that a cargo-laden tractor-trailer weighs 20 times more than your car (80,000 pounds vs. 4,000 pounds)? According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2015, among the 263 million registered U.S. vehicles, 8.4 million were single-unit trucks, and 2.7 million more were combination trucks (tractor-trailers). That’s a lot of commercial vehicles on the roadways, which unfortunately exposes motorists and their passengers to the risk of involvement in a serious accident.
Although they may share common aspects with car accidents, truck accidents are often more serious and complex. As a result, truck accident victims should be sure to retain an attorney familiar with the specialized issues that often arise in truck accident litigation in order to fully protect their rights.
How Are Truck Accidents Different?
For starters, with a car accident, it’s usually easy to point fingers. Usually, one of the drivers involved can be held liable for the crash. But with a truck accident, there’s more to it. Besides the driver, other responsible parties may include:
- The trucking company: Under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior or vicarious liability, a trucking company could potentially be held liable for the negligent acts of its employee. Additionally, the truck company may have been itself negligent in hiring or training its employee, may not have followed the law, or may not have properly maintained the vehicle.
- The truck manufacturer and/or dealer: Did a defect cause or contribute to the accident? Did the manufacturer build the truck poorly? Or was it designed in a way that made it inherently dangerous? If the answer to these or similar questions is “yes,” it may be possible to hold the manufacturer and/or dealer liable for the accident.
- The customer: Commercial trucks carry loads—products, merchandise, goods, commodities, packages, food, furniture, equipment, inventory, etc. In some cases, the party who hired the trucking company to transport goods or materials can be held liable for any damage sustained in an accident.
What Other Differences between Truck Accidents and Car Accidents?
Here are some other ways that commercial truck accidents differ from crashes only involving privately owned cars, trucks, and motorcycles:
- More insurance coverage. That’s no surprise, given the size and nature of trucking.
- More laws apply. All those tractor-trailers (or semis) you see on the roads? They are usually delivering between states. When they are, these vehicles must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). They are subject to more regulations than car drivers (for example, maintenance, special licenses, inspections, keeping logbooks).
- More serious damage to property and bodily injury
- More expensive medical bills. Truck accidents often cause more severe injuries than car accidents. There’s a greater possibility of a catastrophic accident, with lengthier hospital stays, more diagnostic tests, longer recovery, and rehabilitation, longer missed work.
- More likelihood of death.
Call Us Today to Speak with an Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule, a free case evaluation with one of our personal injury lawyers in Indianapolis, fill out and submit our online contact form or call our office today at (317) 636-0808.