There are many reasons why truck accidents and car accidents are not the same. The most obvious reason is that commercial trucks are significantly larger than passenger vehicles, which means passenger vehicles are more likely to sustain serious or catastrophic damage in the collision.
However, the differences do not end there. Liability for car vs. truck crashes can be much more complex than liability for car vs. car collisions. Investigating and gathering evidence may also be more complex. Your attorney may need to take steps to protect evidence and request records from the trucking company.
Our trusted Harrisburg-based truck accident lawyers discuss the reasons why truck accidents and car accidents are so different. These differences are why truck crash victims need attorneys who have taken on these cases before and have detailed knowledge of the issues involved.
Victims may be eligible to seek significant compensation, which means insurance companies are going to fight hard to deny or underpay your claim. You need an experienced attorney ready to fight just as hard for your interests.
More Dangerous Types of Collisions
Car vs. truck accidents are more dangerous simply because trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles. That means the force of impact is going to be much greater, which means there is going to be more damage.
However, trucks can be involved in different types of collisions compared to passenger vehicles. For example, if a car rear-ends a trailer, it could slide underneath it. Not only could the car get dragged by the truck, but the bottom of the trailer could slide up the hood of the car and even go through the windshield. This is called an underride collision and it is extremely dangerous, as vehicle occupants could be at risk for fatal injuries.
There are also side underride collisions, which occur when a vehicle hits the side of a trailer. The trailer could rip through the side of the car and seriously injure the driver or passenger, depending on which side of the car hits the trailer.
If a semi-truck’s brakes lock up, the trailer could swing out to the side at a 90-degree angle from the cab. This puts the occupants of all the vehicles around the commercial truck at risk of serious injury if a collision occurs. Vehicles could be involved in underride collisions because they cannot avoid the trailer that swung out to the side of the cab.
The cab and trailer could rollover, veer off the road or both. Typically these crashes occur on roads with a high speed limit, which means it can be much harder to avoid a crash, particularly a crash with such a large vehicle as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer.
You could crash into cargo that falls off a pickup truck or some other vehicle. However, commercial trucks are carrying a lot more cargo than these smaller vehicles. You could be completely unable to avoid a collision with this falling cargo, whereas you may be able to avoid a crash with cargo that falls out of a van or off a pickup truck.
One of the rear doors of the trailer could swing open without any warning and heavy or dangerous cargo could fly out. Some commercial vehicles are hauling toxic materials, like gasoline or chemicals. This could increase the risk of inhaling toxic fumes or a fire during or after the crash. This dramatically increases the risk of severe, fatal or lifelong injury.
Multiple Parties May be Liable for Damages
Many times, truck drivers are at least partially to blame for a commercial truck crash. These drivers often engage in the same sort of negligent behaviors as drivers of passenger vehicles, like speeding, distracted driving, failure to maintain a lane, tailgating and more.
However, there are others who could be at fault for the collision. For example, loose cargo collisions might happen because the party responsible for safely securing the cargo was negligent. The truck driver’s employer may have set an unreasonable deadline, causing the driver to get behind the wheel while he or she was fatigued. This may have led to the driver’s negligent behavior behind the wheel.
The truck driver’s employer may have failed to make sure the driver had the proper credentials. The driver may have failed a drug test or had a drug problem the trucking company should have known about.
Unfortunately, there is a truck driver shortage, which has led companies to cut corners when hiring drivers. Sometimes the driver who caused a truck crash is inexperienced and may have a history of accidents. When an unqualified or reckless driver is allowed to get behind the wheel, the trucking company may bear liability for damages caused by the driver getting into an accident.
More Evidence May Be Needed
An investigation into a trucking crash may be a lot more complicated than an investigation into a car crash. After a car crash, some pictures at the scene, the police report, your medical records and witness statements may be all that is needed to validate a claim, along with an experienced attorney working on the case.
However, the investigation into a truck crash can be a lot more complicated. Your attorney may need to take steps to preserve evidence before it gets destroyed by the trucking company. He or she may need to request driver activity logs, medical records, drug test results, driving records and more.
Commercial trucks also have black boxes that record a variety of data that may help to explain what happened during the crash and in the moments leading up to the crash. For example, black boxes record:
- GPS data
- Steering inputs
- Braking inputs
- Engine performance
- And more
Sometimes trucks cause crashes because they have fallen into disrepair. For example, there may have been a failure to perform required maintenance or failure to do repairs properly, and this contributed to the accident. Your attorney may be able to obtain maintenance records for the truck to determine if it was in proper working order.
Call Schmidt Kramer Today to Discuss Your Next Steps
After a truck or car crash, seeking legal representation is a critical step in your recovery. You may need significant compensation to pay for medical treatment – you may need medical treatment for a long time or even the rest of your life. You cannot count on the insurance company to offer the compensation you need.
The licensed attorneys at Schmidt Kramer have been advocating for vehicle crash victims for decades. We have secured millions on behalf of our clients. We have the resources to thoroughly investigate, build a case and even take the case to court if it reaches that point.
Give us a call today. We are ready to help: (717) 727-1403.