Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents: Why Size Matters
Last updated Friday, November 24th, 2023
Learn Why Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer is Necessary For Maximizing Your Settlement
Commercial trucks are the backbone of the U.S. supply chain. A week without cars on the road won’t make much of an impact, but a week without trucks can bring the whole economy to a painful halt.
Truckers are constantly pushing themselves and their vehicles to the limit to make tight delivery deadlines. This unrelenting pressure often leads to negligence from the drivers and trucking companies.
Unfortunately, the price you pay for their negligence may be a price they’ll never be able to pay you back. You could lose your life or suffer a fatal injury that permanently alters the quality of your life. Your loved ones could be left emotionally scarred and financially devastated.
You may have seen the devastating crash reports in local news channels every now and then. Surviving a fatal truck accident is portrayed as a miracle.
What they don’t show you is the long and dark struggle of recovery that follows after this tragedy. You may end up with a disability, lose your job, and gather hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt.
It’s a fast-forwarded downward spiral that most victims and their loved ones are unprepared for.
Preventing a devastating truck accident may be out of your hands. But preparing to secure your physical, mental, and financial well-being is totally in your hands. You’re entitled to seek compensation from the negligent party for your damages. However, you can only get it through a complex and challenging legal process.
Be prepared to face several insurers and lawyers fighting for the other side trying to escape liability.
You need a skilled go-getter truck accident lawyer to fight back and maximize your settlement. Call us for a free case review and we’ll help jumpstart your path to justice and support your recovery.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the causes of truck accidents and how to legally deal with their consequences to protect your well-being.
Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents: A Stark Contrast
There are over 500,000 large truck crashes happening in America every year. There are far more car accidents compared to truck accidents. However, the fatality rate in truck accidents is far higher than in car accidents.
You may walk away with some bumps and bruises when you crash your car into another car at a moderate speed. But you won’t be that lucky crashing into a big rig even at a low speed. Ultimately, size matters a lot on the road.
An average car weighs around 3,000 pounds while a big rig can weigh over 80,000 pounds. The physics is not in your favor if you’re not in the truck. The truck’s crushing momentum is too much for any other little vehicle to handle.
Remember how the cars that get into truck accidents look when you see the local news coverage? They look like they got pancaked or hit by a wrecking ball. Now if these heavy metal vehicles look barely recognizable, imagine what happens to the poor victims sitting inside them.
Truck drivers are usually seated much higher in their vehicles compared to car drivers. So they don’t face the worst part of the impact in a collision with a car.
The massive size of trucks means it also takes longer for them to stop. They need more time and distance to stop despite the advancements in braking technology. There’s a high chance they won’t be able to avoid a crash even if they spot an incoming danger.
A sudden halt or sharp turn could be enough to destabilize the truck, especially when they’re carrying huge cargo loads.
Truck drivers need a much bigger window of time to react and maneuver their vehicle safely compared to car drivers. So you should give them plenty of room to stop and turn while sharing the road with them.
Unpacking the Factors Contributing to Truck Accident Injuries
It’s important to get familiar with the kind of negligence involved in truck accidents to take the necessary precautions against them.
Here are some of the leading factors that contribute to truck accidents:
- Fatigue – Truck drivers are one of the most overpaid class of workers in America. They have tight deadlines to meet and often end up skipping their breaks to keep them. You know how tiring driving for a couple of hours through traffic can be. Commercial truck drivers end up driving four to five times as much as most car drivers in a day. Many of the drivers involved in truck accidents report they barely remember how the accident happened. That’s because they end up drifting off behind the wheel.
- Reckless driving – Truckers are in a rush to keep up with their delivery schedule. And a long spacious highway is too tempting for them to ignore. They end up speeding far beyond the speed limits for heavy vehicles in a particular area. Trucks require greater stopping distances to come to a complete halt. So they’re unable to avoid crashes if they have to react to an upcoming obstruction on the road. They may also end up tailgating, changing lanes aggressively, and failing to use turn signals.
- Intoxicated driving – Stimulants are a truck driver’s lifeline on the road to fight fatigue. They often abuse over-the-counter drugs or illegal drugs, pushing their bodies too far and becoming dependent on them. This leads to unpredictable energy crashes like suddenly falling asleep while driving and losing control.
- Distracted driving – Boredom is a serious issue in today’s attention-deficit era. There’s an abundance of digital distractions to appeal to our entertainment cravings. But maneuvering an 80,000-pound vehicle requires your undivided attention. One second of distraction is all it takes to trigger a disaster on the road. There are over 250 truck drivers who get into fatal accidents due to texting, talking, eating, watching videos, or indulging in some other activity while driving.
- Adverse weather conditions – Visibility and maneuverability is critical for operating your vehicle safely. Extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, snowfall, ice, and dust storms can easily compromise your safety and the safety of the other drivers. It’s important to keep an eye out for local weather conditions before reporting for duty. Truck drivers should take a break till the weather conditions get better to avoid endangering anyone.
- Road maintenance issues – Sometimes there could be a truck accident without the negligence of any of the drivers involved. It’s usually caused by poor road conditions. Potholes, confusing traffic signals, and unexpected detours can easily trigger an accident. In these cases, the authorities responsible for the maintenance of that area can be held liable for your damages.
Negligence is not necessarily a matter of holding the truck driver 100 percent responsible for the accident. It’s possible that you engaged in some form of negligence too, which will play a huge role in determining your compensation.
You owe a duty of care to the truck drivers as much as they owe it to you, especially knowing you’re more vulnerable in an accident.
You need to do your best to minimize your negligence on the road.
Here are some simple safety tips to follow when you’re sharing the road with commercial trucks:
- Avoid driving in the blind spots of truck drivers
- Avoid suddenly shifting lanes in front of a truck
- Give trucks enough space to make a turn without simultaneously making a turn next to them
- Do not abruptly merge into traffic when there’s a truck speeding up in those lanes
- Slow down or speed up on time when you see a truck changing lanes or merging into traffic
- Give trucks sufficient headway to pass safely
- Keep in mind the air turbulence or cross-wind that will affect your navigation while passing a truck
- Avoid driving between large trucks
The Pressure on Truck Drivers: A Recipe for Disaster
Trucking companies often encourage practices that endanger safety. They are in a race to pack in as many deliveries as possible in their schedules to maximize profits. Unfortunately, this hustle culture makes them devalue the well-being of their drivers. And because truck drivers are struggling with rising inflation, they end up caving into their employer’s negligence to get paid.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA has established clear regulations for the hours of service and rest periods to be followed by every truck driver. However, some trucking companies prefer to prioritize their profits over safety. So they try to minimize rest and break periods for their employees.
Travel exhaustion sinks in much deeper for most people. A few sleepless nights is enough to push someone into a mental breakdown. Imagine what truck drivers end up going through by compromising their rest and recovery for years. These companies end up promoting fatigued and intoxicated drivers who endanger the lives of everyone else.
Here are some essential FMCSA regulations commercial trucking companies must abide by:
- You can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after spending at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty
- Your truck driving shift has a 14-hour window within which you can drive for a maximum of 11 hours. This window will be reset only once you’ve spent 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- You must take a 30-minute break if you’ve driven for 8 consecutive hours. This rule doesn’t apply to short-haul deliveries.
- You can only drive up to 60 hours within a seven-day period or 70 hours within an eight-day period. You can only reset this window after spending 34 consecutive hours off-duty
Corporate Negligence: Holding Trucking Companies Accountable
Most car accidents usually get settled between the victim and one liable party. But in the case of truck accidents, there could be multiple liable parties. The silver lining is that it opens up multiple avenues of compensation for you.
However, it also makes your case challenging because you’ll have to gather a lot of evidence to hold them accountable. Trucking companies are often involved in negligent or unethical practices that need to be scrutinized.
Here are some of the common types of negligence trucking companies indulge in that can lead to accidents:
- Poor training – Truck drivers require special training to operate their vehicles safely. They need to understand how the change in speed and weight of their vehicle impacts their driving. These technical skills are necessary for complying with the road safety regulations. A trucking company that skips or compromises this training is setting its drivers up for failure. They can be held liable for this by an injured victim.
- Poor truck maintenance – Commercial trucks go through a lot of wear and tear over their life cycle. Drivers ride them for nearly 11 hours a day every week. A big rig has a ton of moving parts that are critical for safely maneuvering and towing the load. So you need to check a lot more than a full tank of gas and air in the tires before driving them. The trucking company must schedule regular inspections to repair and replace any faulty parts. They can be held liable if their maintenance record is inconsistent.
- Improper hiring practices – Trucking companies are legally obliged to conduct proper background checks for hiring drivers. They need to have the necessary qualifications and experience to drive a commercial truck. They have to scrutinize every driver’s performance record and criminal background. However, some companies fail to vet their employees properly. They end up hiring someone with a reckless driving record or an inexperienced driver to cut costs.
- Violating federal and state regulations – The FMCSA has established strict guidelines for qualifications, vehicle maintenance, and hours of service for truck drivers. They need to maintain proper documentation to prove they’re complying with them. If their record is flawed or they fail to maintain their record, they can be held liable for damages after an accident.
- Improper cargo loading – Commercial trucks are regularly loaded with cargo that massively outweighs the truck. The trucking company must comply with FMCSA cargo loading regulations for all deliveries. Improperly secured cargo can fall off and turn into fatal projectiles for vehicles around the truck. Even a sudden shift of weight inside the truck is enough to throw the truck off balance. It can cause devastating jackknife accidents that lead to multi-car pileups. It’s the trucking company’s responsibility to fully secure the cargo and brief the truck driver before its delivery.
Get Your FREE Case Review Today
Injured in a truck accident? Contact your Birmingham truck accident lawyer to get the compensation that you deserve.
The Role of Truck Accident Lawyers
Do you know if you qualify for an injury claim? What kind of damages can you be compensated for? How do you initiate the process to file it? Even if you know the answers to these questions, you still need someone to do the legal heavy lifting. There are strict procedures and timelines to follow to get legally compensated. A truck accident lawyer plays a huge role not just in initiating your compensation process, but determining how much compensation you walk away with.
A skilled truck accident lawyer can negotiate a settlement that’s at least three times higher than what you’d get without any legal representation. At Mezrano, our personal injury lawyers have helped several truck accident injury victims take home six-figure and seven-figure settlements.
Here’s a deeper look at how a truck accident lawyer can be a gamechanger for your case:
- They have a complete understanding of the state and federal laws applying to truck accident cases
- Identifying all liable parties
- Gathering crucial evidence for your case from multiple credible sources
- Assessing your damages
- Reviewing your insurance coverage and filing your injury claim
- Negotiating with insurers and lawyers representing the liable parties
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the liable parties if negotiations fail
Building a Strong Case: Collecting Crucial Evidence
The process of building a strong claim begins right after you get into an accident. So you need to be on your guard right away. There’s also a lot of evidence that may be out of sight, but don’t let it slip out of your mind.
Remember, there’s a possibility of a trucking company, truck maintenance service, manufacturer, or some other parties being involved.
The problem is most victims are clueless about where to find this evidence and how to request these parties to share it. And when you’re suffering a painful injury, there’s no room for multitasking.
Don’t worry! Your truck accident lawyer knows how to identify all liable parties and establish their share of liability. They know how to unravel the trail of evidence to build a strong narrative for your case.
Here are some important types of evidence your lawyer will try to gather for your truck accident case:
- Police accident report
- Photographs and videos of the accident scene
- Medical bills and records
- Witness information
- Black box data
- Employee hours of service data
- Maintenance records
- Hiring records
- Cargo loading reports
Seeking Compensation: Types of Damages Victims Can Claim
Insurers and lawyers representing the liable parties are a lot more cautious handling truck accident settlements. Why? Because they often involve life-threatening injuries or deaths that demand massive compensation.
Your lawyer may have to plan your financial security for several years or the rest of your life because of your damages. That’s why you should never rush into signing an agreement after an accident. Even if the sum looks too tempting to pass by, wait till you consult your lawyer. You may not know how much you’ll really need to fully recover and restore your quality of life.
Desperation can be your downfall. These parties know how quickly expenses can pile up after an accident. So they use manipulative tactics to escape liability and lowball you. An established truck accident lawyer knows the ins and outs of their strategies. They know how to build a strong claim that cannot be casually dismissed.
Your lawyer will make a detailed assessment of your injuries and the road to recovery. They’ll ensure your immediate and long-term damages tied to the accident are taken care of.
Here are the various damages that victims of truck accidents can seek:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Rehab costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Lost earning potential
- Mental anguish
- Punitive damages
Settlement amounts ultimately depend on a variety of factors like liability, severity of injuries, and insurance coverage.
Mezrano: A Beacon of Hope for Victims
Hiring a reliable personal injury lawyer is essentially hiring a strong crisis manager. Truck accident cases can be legally as complicated as the injuries you suffer. There’s a lot at stake for all parties involved in the case. And the worst part is you may be too injured to take up this fight alone. You don’t have to do this alone. Mezrano’s team of skilled truck accident lawyers will take charge of this whole legal process. We want you to be free from this stress and focus exclusively on your recovery.
At Mezrano, we also ensure you don’t face any more financial burden after your accident. So don’t worry about our legal invoices piled up on your stack of medical bills. You don’t have to pay us for our services; you only pay us for our success.
You can hire our lawyers on a contingency fee basis and pay us only after you receive your settlement. We’ll spare no resources to get what you’re owed.
The Importance of Legal Representation for Truck Accident Victims
Establishing liability in truck accident cases is not a straightforward process. Plus, the severity of your injuries demands quick and efficient legal action. You can’t afford to rush your compensation process or delay it either. It takes a strong legal mind to take the right legal action at the right time.
You need a personal injury lawyer with specific expertise in handling truck accident cases. They will leverage their knowledge and network to make your claim undeniable. They will defend your rights by minimizing your liability and maximizing your compensation.