Did you know that there are more than 32,000 casualties in auto accidents? And nearly 5,000 casualties are related to semi-truck accidents? Being involved in a car accident is quite traumatizing, and the impacts can be more severe if it’s an 18-wheeler accident.
Since not all motor vehicle accidents are equal. The major difference between the two is that trucks are 76,000 pounds heavier than the average car. Injuries from a truck accident can also be more catastrophic.
The involvement of an 18-wheeler in an accident raises the injury claim stakes. The claims are complex since trucking companies and their insurances tend to pressure victims to settle for less. Here’s a breakdown of how 18-wheeler accidents differ from car crashes:
High Standards for Semi-Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has high standards for semi-truck drivers. The standards include good health, experience, and advanced training. These requirements ensure that the drivers are sober and competent enough to operate heavy auto vehicles.
Commercial truck drivers need a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for their work. They are supposed to get the CDLs through special endorsements and their home states.
A CDL covers operators of different types of trucks. They include trucks carrying hazardous materials, double/triple trailers, and trucks with tanks.
18-wheeler drivers need to observe strict regulations on hours of service and alcohol and testing. The restrictions prohibit them from using handheld devices while at work.
Complex Federal and State Laws
Laws governing a semi-truck accident case are more diverse than the ones for car crushes. For instance, federal laws can apply if the trucking company ferries cargo across different states. State laws may come into play for shipping done within one state.
Different state or federal laws apply to truck standards, cargo weight, or driver rest. There are laws governing the types of cargo shipped and maintenance requirements. Understanding rules that apply to your claim can help your case.
Trucking companies need to register with the US Department of Transportation. The registration process also grants them a USDOT identification number. They should also stick to financial liability, driver fitness, and safety regulations.
More Grave Injuries
Due to the size of 18-wheelers, injuries suffered by victims involved in an accident are usually severe. Even more, these semi-trucks carry heavy or hazardous cargo. The injuries need long-term and costly treatment, which may affect your quality of life.
Common injuries include back and neck injuries, seat belt injuries, and broken bones. Victims also suffer rib and torso injuries and paralysis. Other injuries include traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
Since semi truck accidents result in severe injuries, victims tend to seek high settlement amounts. The settlement amount is meant to compensate you for all kinds of injuries suffered. Most 18-wheeler accident cases end up being resolved through settlement offers.
The offer should consider the medical and treatment expenses victims incur. Trucking companies prefer settling earlier in the case to avoid losing at trial. With an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side, you can recover different types of damages.
The economic damages will include medical treatment costs, car repair/replacement costs, and lost wages. Non-economic ones (which aren’t quantifiable) include emotional distress, disfigurement, wrongful death, as well as pain and suffering. The court may grant you punitive damages to punish the liable party for any acts of negligence.
Many Liable Parties
Semi truck accidents usually involve liable parties such as the driver, trucking company, and insurers. Other parties include brokers coordinating shipments, truck manufacturers, and cargo loading shippers. It’s crucial to know the liable parties when pursuing a claim for your injuries.
Your personal injury claim will involve proving liability for the accident. The negligent driver won’t be the only one to blame in the claim, unlike a car accident claim. Your lawyer must prove that each liable party had a part to play in the accident.
It’s common for the liable parties to shift blame to one another. They may try to protect their image or distance themselves from the negligence in the claim. If your lawyer’s evidence is compelling enough, you have a chance of making them pay for their negligence.
18-wheeler accident investigations are more complicated than those done on car crashes. Your lawyer must gather and preserve all compelling evidence before it’s lost. They need to demand all paperwork from the trucking company related to the crash.
The paperwork may include service logs, driver history, training records, and hiring records. An accident reconstruction analyst may also be hired to determine the cause of the accident. It can take weeks to gather this information and use it in your claim.
Complex Insurance Policies
Insurers representing the trucking company are part of the liable parties in your claim. It can be tricky to identify the insurance policies that apply to the accident. Your lawyer will review them for you and determine their coverages.
Trucking companies have more expensive insurance policies for their fleet. Since their policy limits are higher, a lot of money is on the line in a personal injury claim. You may go back and forth between these companies and the insurers trying to negotiate a settlement offer.
Often, the trucking company’s insurance company will handle the injury claim. Though they may agree to give you a settlement offer, it’s important to read the offer’s fine print. With a lawyer’s help, you can avoid losing out on damages that were promised in the contract but excluded.
Seek Compensation for an 18-Wheeler Accident
As discussed in this guide, 18-wheeler accidents differ greatly from car crashes. Trucking companies are also strictly regulated, and many stakeholders can be liable for the accident. Understanding these differences makes hiring the right lawyer to pursue a claim easier.
Enlist Heard Merman Law Firm for truck wreck and 18-wheeler accident cases. Our trial attorneys know how to navigate the complexities of these cases. Please fill out our consultation form on our site to have your claim evaluated before it’s too late.