Why Are Truck Accidents Different Than Car Accidents?

November 26, 2012

Auto Accidents

Truck Accident in OhioWhy are truck accidents different than car accidents?  Obviously, they involve a much larger vehicle and thus, substantially more property loss is involved.  But, more importantly, truck accidents are likely to cause catastrophic injury and loss of life.  The full extent of the damages sustained in a truck accident can be difficult to calculate and the future ramifications of a truck accident can be hard to totally predict.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 3,675 large trucks (gross weight of more than 380,000 pounds) involved in fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2010.  Of the fatalities recorded, 2,790 were occupants of other vehicles.

In 2008 statistics, the NHSTA reported that 1 out of every 9 traffic fatalities involved a collision with a big truck.  There are currently more than nine million trucks on the road and trucks more likely to be in fatal multiple-car crashes than other vehicles.

Truck accidents are also different from passenger car accidents because many trucks are represented by companies who are looking to protect the company’s interest. Trucks are also different because they have more rules governing how they operate and how the drivers perform.

Many people are not aware that state and federal agencies heavy regulate trucking—agencies such as the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which regulates the number of consecutive hours a truck driver may continue behind the wheel without a break among other things.  Federal regulations also require truck drivers to systematically inspect and repair their vehicles.

Drivers are required to maintain a logbook that tallies the miles traveled, the loads hauled, the weight hauled, the hours on duty, the consecutive days worked and other data.  If a driver does not log properly or operates a vehicle not in compliance with state law (too much weight for truck size, for example), the company may be held liable, especially if there is a truck accident.

Trucking companies often have their own team of evaluators who they send to major trucking accidents to investigate what happened.  Sometimes truck accident lawyers will be on the scene at the same time as the emergency response personnel looking to protect the interests of the trucking firm.

Likewise, looking to protect the trucking company’s interests, are the insurance companies who represent the truck drivers.   The FMCSA requires commercial vehicles to carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance for physical injury and property damage.  If you are involved in a truck accident, it is important to never give any type of statement to an insurance adjustor or sign any documents before speaking with your attorney.

There are many reputable trucking companies, but there are many who do not follow the rules.  They neglect to provide ongoing training and instruction and encourage their drivers to drive excessive hours or in very inclement weather.  Additionally, some knowingly permit driving without medical clearance despite the existence of dangerous medical conditions.

Truck drivers are also held to federal and state regulations governing substance abuse and are required to be given random tests for illegal substances.  As most people are aware, the speed limits for truck drivers are generally lower than speeds for cars in various locations and at various times of the day.

Sometimes people involved in a truck accident are not aware who they should sue.   Any party who is at fault for causing the truck accident can become a defendant including the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipper, the owner of the trailer, or even the manufacturer of a specific part of the truck that contributed to the truck accident.

Trucking companies and their insurers are often quick to offer a “fair” settlement in a trucking accident.  Their idea of “fair” may be very different from the type of settlement or verdict you deserve.

In Ohio truck accidents, the experienced lawyers at Slater & Zurz LLP work with independent investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, and other professionals to build strong and convincing cases for our clients.  We know the risks posed by some truck drivers and under these circumstances we hold the drivers and the trucking companies responsible for their actions.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a semi truck crash, please call our office at 1-888-534-4850 for a free consultation about your accident.  If you prefer, go onto our website at www.slaterzurz.com and fill out the FREE CASE REVIEW located on the top right hand side of the home page.  We will get back to you immediately to help you get started in pursuing your truck accident case.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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