Three Ways Truck Accidents Differ From Auto Accidents
People involved in collisions with semis and other large trucks often fall into the trap of thinking these incidents should be handled the same way as car accidents. In reality, though, there are differences between the two that influence how a truck accident is litigated. Here are three you should know about to help you manage your case.
Determining the Cause of the Accident Is More Complex
In the majority of cases, car accidents are caused by human error — for example, if someone turned too late, was speeding, or was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. With truck accidents, though, there are a lot more forces at work that can make it very difficult to determine the exact cause.
For example, trucks are much larger than cars, so it takes a lot longer for these vehicles to stop. A fully loaded semi-truck traveling at 65 mph needs about 525 feet of stopping distance whereas a car only needs about half of that.
However, there are several additional factors that don't affect cars but can impact a truck's stopping distance, such as the weight of the load it's carrying and the type of braking system it's using (e.g., air-based brakes take longer to work than liquid-based). Any of these factors can contribute to the collision and make it harder to pinpoint the exact cause which, in turn, can make it more difficult to assign liability.
That's why it's vital to hire an attorney to assist you with your case. The lawyer will locate experts who can sift through the relevant data and help identify the cause of the collision. This will ensure you are going after the right party for compensation, saving you time and money in the long run.
There Are More Liable Parties to Hold Responsible
As noted previously, car accidents are usually caused by driver error. Thus, in most cases, you're only dealing with one liable party. Sometimes there may be more parties who could be held responsible, such as when multiple vehicles are involved or the accident was caused by a government entity such as the police.
In truck accidents, though, there are often multiple parties who may be legally responsible depending on the circumstances of the accident. For instance, a driver may cause an accident because they fell asleep at the wheel. Not only could the driver be held liable, but the company they work for and even the owner of the truck can be held liable.
Identifying all the liable parties in an accident is critical to ensuring you're properly compensated for the damages you sustained. This is particularly important if you live in a state that uses comparative negligence to assign fault. In these states, defendants only have to pay a portion of the damages based on the percent of liability assigned to them by the court. Thus, it's entirely possible you could lose out on compensation simply because the defendant was only found partially at fault for the accident.
To avoid this outcome, it's a good idea to hire an attorney to help you with your case as the lawyer can determine who should be included in the lawsuit and pursue all liable parties to ensure you get what you're owed.
Certain Laws Only Apply to Trucks
The trucking industry is heavily regulated, and there are some laws that apply to trucks and their drivers that aren't relevant to cars. For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has rules stipulating how cargo should be secured on the truck. If there is an accident because the cargo was not tied down according to the legal guidelines, the company can be held liable for compensating the affected parties.
Your attorney can look up the relevant laws to help determine if the truck driver and their company was operating legally. If they weren't, that can help you prove your case and win compensation for your damages.
For more info about pursuing a truck accident case, contact a local lawyer.