Beyond the increased severity of injury and damage between a two-car auto accident and an truck accident — many differences exist between these types of accidents.
Accidents involving trucks involve complicated liability processes primarily due to the increased likelihood of catastrophic injuries or death. Driving laws for commercial trucks are much different than those for cars, making it more difficult to understand the full consequences of missing a step in the early part of the claim process.
Most people view liability in an accident with a commercial truck as the same for a two-car accident; the person at fault holds the responsibility. That’s not generally the case with a semi-truck collision.
Companies who insure commercial truckers are much more likely to defend claims against their drivers forcefully. For one, the amount they are insuring is much more significant than a personal car. They are subject to federal licensing regulations and can be subject to fines.
Because of this additional liability, they will likely send out a trained accident team to the scene to manage the details of determining what happened and who was at fault, especially if it’s a bad one. They will fly in their investigators while the truck is still at the scene of the accident, to document details, take photos and talk with witnesses.
Bond Sanchez-Gordon has answered many questions about truck accidents and have collected the ones most frequently asked. They are listed below. Please read them or click on the list of questions to quickly get to the information.
I was in a pretty bad car accident on the 405 fwy and suffered injuries to my back and neck. It is quite a process to go through, luckily Mary Tran and the attorneys at Bond Sanchez-Gordon were so pleasant and showed true concern in my recovery & overall health. Accidents happen everyday, its so important to have the right people represent you when you’re involved in one. Consider how you want to be treated and I was very happy with my settlement. I would recommend this office again & again to anyone seeking the right way.
– Lisa Remington
Even if you feel it’s a minor accident, you still need to follow the normal process for a crash. Making sure you are out of traffic and safe is the priority. Once this is done, call the police and after all necessary reporting has finished, get yourself checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
There are several names for the large commercial trucks on the road today; Mac truck, big rig, 18-wheeler, semi or tractor-trailer. Large commercial trucks are defined by the number of axles they have. In general, semi-trailers have five, compared to the two axles found on a pickup truck.
In accidents involving commercial trucks such as semis, there is generally more damage. This is the result of the size and weight of the trucks, what kind of load they carry, and their inability to stop on a dime.
Because of these factors, trucks hauling large loads are under different rules of the road. Primary oversight is handled by the federal government and regulated through the Department of Transportation.
Commercial carriers must register with all required federal agencies, pass regular inspections, carry certain amounts of insurance, keep logs and meet other standards to operate their business safely. This is very different than the rules in place for cars.
The regulations for how much insurance is required is also very different for commercial truckers. There are minimum amounts according to what freight is being transported. Also, the insurance coverage may be limited and not enough to meet the legal standard of making the injured party ‘whole.’ Many opt for just enough insurance coverage.
These differences play a big part in an accident claim, and each needs to be reviewed in detail to understand where the fault lies and how to proceed. It also is a much longer process than an auto accident investigation as a result. The evidence is gathered from three areas:
- Truck driver
Because of the more complicated nature of these accidents, more of these claims go to court, especially as the insurance and trucking companies will look to minimize their liability. Do not expect them to play fair or quickly give up critical information in the case.
If you find yourself a victim of an accident with a semi-truck, it’s essential to review details with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. This is not a claim you want to handle without a professional.
As mentioned above, a semi-truck accident claim has many more moving parts than a two-car auto accident. This complicates who is the ultimate party at fault. There are several possibilities of who can be held liable, including:
- The driver of the truck
- The company who owns the truck
- The shipper of the goods being hauled
- The manufacturer of the truck
- Any repair shop who worked on the truck
- Government agencies responsible for regulation and licensing
Attempting to manage the claims process alone risks damaging your case and could prevent you from bringing a negligence lawsuit to court. It’s what you don’t know about the process and the law that can hurt you.
Filing a claim depends upon on where you and the driver hold residence, and where the accident happened. If you both live in the same state where the accident occurred, it is filed in that state. It becomes more complicated out of state, depending upon where the company’s headquarters or satellite offices are. There are options for each circumstance, and this is best explored with an attorney. Also, be aware of the state’s statute of limitations to file. It can vary from state to state.
In states where no-fault insurance is active, the driver of the auto would treat a claim like an accident involving two cars. The driver files a claim with their insurance company for damages. They also file one with the truck and any other parties involved, known as a Third Party Claim, for compensation.
Keep in mind the complex nature of determining fault with a semi-truck. This is not a process to personally take on without the guidance of an experienced attorney. Protecting your right to recover all damages legally due to you can be put in jeopardy if you choose to pursue action alone.
Again, this type of case is much more complicated than one involving two cars. There are more moving parts and expect the representatives of the trucking company to be very motivated to do what they can to limit the amount they have to pay, if at all. Expert witnesses can represent the facts and support the case for claiming the liability falls on the trucking company. Unless you have access to these kinds of professionals for each aspect of the case, the probability of building a strong, winnable case is low.
The teams they send out to investigate accidents are seasoned, well-coordinated specialists who are familiar with how the system works. Don’t underestimate their skills by trying to represent yourself and give up future compensation.