The Difference Between Liability for Semi-Truck and Car Accidents
Automobile accidents are never ideal, but accidents involving a semi-truck can be disastrous and life-changing. Aside from the sheer size differences between a large truck and a car, additional issues can come into play. These issues can make the healing process much more difficult in all aspects of an accident, including insurance and liability.
The following are some of the ways a car accident is significantly different than an accident with a semi-truck.
Weight and Size Differences
Not unusually, the damage from a semi-truck accident is much worse than an accident with smaller cars. When a semi-truck wrecks, you could have multiple victims with traumatic injury or even death. This is in addition to the major property damage. A passenger vehicle weighs much less than a big rig and this factor alone creates a more dangerous situation for the car operator.
Another difference is how insurance is handled with a semi-truck accident. A truck driver and truck companies have different insurance than other drivers on the roadway, and the coverage has to cover many possible problems. Factors that come into play with trucker’s insurance include the age of the driver, the type of cargo in the truck, the miles driven, and the driver’s history.
If you are injured in an accident with a semi-truck, you may have a more difficult time recovering your damages when a truck driver acts negligently. Because trucking insurance policies are worth potentially millions of dollars in damages, you may experience a legal fight with the insurer to obtain compensation for your damages to keep their payout low.
The process to determine liability also differs from a traditional auto accident. Any number of factors come into play when an accident with a semi-truck happens. While you may think the truck driver was negligent, they may not be the only liable party, or hold any liability at all.
If another vehicle swerved quickly in front of a truck and the driver could not stop quickly, the driver may not be found liable. At that point, you then have to pursue damages from the party found liable.
Truck drivers are held to special standards because they are professional drivers. They have specialized training, so they have the knowledge to avoid negligence. However, if a driver is intoxicated, drives more hours per day than allotted, or speeding, for instance, they can be at least partially liable.
Evidence Collection Differences
In a typical car accident, the evidence collection process is generally the same in all instances. You collect photos of the damage, police reports, statements from witnesses, video footage, and so on. When a semi-truck is involved in an accident, you have to collect additional evidence to make a claim.
Collect three major categories of evidence after an accident with a semi-truck. The first is driver evidence. This evidence will include the driver’s qualification and training files, hours of service records, inspection files, and all drug and alcohol tests completed after the accident.
Another type of evidence pertains to the vehicle. This includes information from all onboard systems, the maintenance records for the truck, GPS data, and the inspection history of the truck.
You will also need to collect cargo evidence. Cargo evidence includes trip envelopes, bills of lading, weight tickets, and instructions for dispatch.
When you are in an accident with a semi-truck, you need to take action in a timely manner. This is due to the preservation of the evidence. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, some documents are only permissible as evidence during a specific timeframe. If you do not speak with your attorney soon, you could lose vital evidence for your case.
If you have any personal injury questions, please contact us at the Galligan Law. We are experienced in personal injury cases involving semi-truck accidents that require a truck accident lawyer.