As commercial semi trucks are much larger than cars, it’s no surprise that a vehicle accident involving a semi truck can lead to more serious damages than an accident between two or more cars. Big truck accidents are different from car crashes in several respects: the potential for catastrophic injury, the special regulations governing commercial vehicles, the involvement of large trucking companies, and the resulting complexity/aggression of insurance companies defending claims against truck drivers.
TRUCK ACCIDENTS VERSUS CAR ACCIDENTS
While it’s not a surprise that the factors mentioned above make truck accidents and car crashes vastly different, it’s important to understand the obstacles that a person in a car involved in a truck accident may face when filing a truck accident claim.
The first difference in a truck accident versus a car accident is the most obvious; trucking accidents have the potential to create catastrophic injuries. The sheer scale of commercial vehicles makes them more dangerous. If you can imagine, your vehicle being rear-ended at 35 mph by a fully loaded delivery truck is more likely to lead to significant injury than being rear-ended by a Nissan sedan going the same speed. Now, think about what could happen if the delivery truck was driving 55 mph; a semi truck traveling at high speeds can do some serious damage.
The second difference of being in an accident with a commercial truck versus a car is less obvious, unless you are familiar with commercial trucking regulations. In addition to the rules applicable to regular drivers (speed limits, turn signals, stop signs, lane changes, etc.) there is a whole body of State and Federal regulations that apply specifically to commercial vehicles (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations). These commercial vehicle regulations cover fees, inspections, record keeping, drive times, safety issues, equipment, travel restrictions, weight restrictions, and so on. While these regulations are not particularly complicated, there is a lot of information to know that can be particularly important when investigating a trucking accident claim. For example, in a trucking accident claim it is important to ask questions such as:
- Did the truck driver fall asleep at the wheel? If so, what do his drive logs say about how long he has been on the road?
- Was the truck driver on the road longer than permitted by law?
- Did the truck fail to stop in time?
- What do the truck’s inspection logs say? What is the condition of the truck’s brake hoses? What do the truck’s tire treads look like?
The third difference of a truck accident is the involvement of large trucking companies. Think of these companies: UPS, Fed Ex, Walmart, ABF Freight, Old Dominion Freight which all have trucks as part of their operations. Trucks can be owned by some of the biggest corporations in the world.
Even if a truck involved in an accident is not owned by a large corporation, local trucking companies are relatively big in comparison to the average driver. When one of their trucks is involved, trucking companies have a rapid response team that handles the accident scene. They have top attorneys whose only job is to defend truck accident claims. Truck defense attorneys do everything they can to protect the large trucking companies, even if the trucking accident was obviously not your fault.
WHAT TO DO IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT
Responding to a truck crash is different too. There are two primary differences between responding to a trucking accident and responding to a car crash. The first difference is speed. In some cases, a trucking company will literally fly in a rapid response team to the scene. A rapid response team is a team of analysts and engineers who will document the scene and gather evidence before anyone else does. (While rapid response teams are not necessarily biased, they are working for the trucking company and not for you.) The second difference is the source and methods of data collection- recovering the black box, extracting the data, recovering logbooks, reviewing the inspection notes, and physically examining the trucking systems.
Three Things to Do After A Truck Accident
After a truck crash, in order to put yourself on equal footing with the trucking company, you must act fast.
Follow these steps or have someone, a friend or family member, help you complete these steps of response after being in an accident with a truck:
- Step One: The first thing you should always do is call the police and seek medical assistance if needed.
- Step Two: Second, if you are able, document the scene of the truck accident. Take photographs of the vehicles involved, all the damage, any marks on the road (tire or gouge marks), and get witness names and contact info. If you are not able to do this, see if a friend or family member can do this for you.
- Step Three: Third, once you are in stable condition, contact an truck accident attorney who knows the ropes when it comes to suing trucking companies. A good truck accident attorney will put together a team to help you level the playing field against the trucking companies.
Despite increased safety regulations, commercial trucking vehicles still cause catastrophic damages. Crashes involving commercial trucks killed more than 4,000 people in 2015. (https://www.cdlknowledge.com/truck-accident-statistics/). The frequency of truck crashes is due in part to their size (making visibility and maneuverability difficult) and in part is due to truck drivers driving long hours on the road. In 2015, the top truck accident causes were: prescription drugs, speed, fatigue, and alcohol (https://www.cdlknowledge.com/truck-accident-statistics/).
TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS IN VIRGINIA
At Cuthbert Law Offices we know the ins and outs of suing trucking companies. We are experienced truck accident attorneys. We know which experts to recruit, what evidence to look for, where to find it, and how to put your truck accident case together. We know how to respond when catastrophic injuries are at stake. If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident in Virginia, contact us online or give us a call at Cuthbert Law Offices. We’ll discuss your case with you and give you our honest opinion about your options. We are your local Virginia personal injury attorneys and we are here to help.