Understanding the Differences Between Car Accidents and Trucking Accidents
By HGD Staff
Victims of motor vehicle crashes are often dismayed when they receive a denial letter from an insurance company. Worse yet, many victims are even denied by their own insurance companiesafter years of dutifully paying their insurance premiums. If this is happening to you, or if you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle crash, you should not put up with the unfair insurance tactics.
Trust the attorneys of Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC. With offices in New York, New Jersey, Alabama and Georgia, we have the resources and experience to tackle any size case. For those who have been hurt in accidents involving semi tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles, it is extremely important to understand the key differences between these large scale claims and your usual car accidents.
Perhaps the most notable distinction between a typical car wreck and a trucking accident is the extent of the injuries. Motor vehicle crashes in general have been increasing in frequency and are quickly approaching the top 10 leading causes of death among all Americans. As of 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that they ranked 13th among all causes of death but ranked seventh among younger Americans.
Over 36,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year, of which approximately 4,000 are due to large truck accidents. In 2016, there were 3,986 people killed by large truck collisions, according to the Insurance Information Institute. While trucking collisions make up a small percentage of the total accidents that occur, they result in a disproportionate percentage of the fatal crashes. Therefore, there are rarely “minor” injuries in truck collisions.
A trucking accident will involve numerous potential defendants who may have conflicting interests in the case. In a typical two-car collision, both parties are regular people. They each may have a car insurance policy, they both have roughly the same resources and access to investigative tools. Both will contact their insurance companies, and they may each contact an attorney.
When a trucking company is involved, there may be numerous parties potentially responsible for causing the crash. These may include:
- Lumpers (people the driver hired to load the truck)
- Factories or warehouses where the truck was loaded improperly
- Mechanics who failed to properly fix defective equipment
- Truck or trailer manufacturers who incorrectly designed equipment
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Leasing company that supplied a truck or trailer
In addition to all the possible parties at fault in causing the crash, there may also be more complicated evidence. In a typical car accident, there is a crash report, maybe some witness statements and photographs, and perhaps some data from the car’s crash recorder. In a trucking case, there can be a lot more information available, and it can be difficult to obtain unless you know where to look.
- Electronic crash data recorder (black box)
- Log books
- GPS data
- Qualcomm data
- Cell phone records
- Maintenance logs
- Bills of lading and shipping records
- Witness statements
Likewise, federal motor carrier standards apply to most interstate hauling companies, so there are many cases in which a driver was in violation of the federal standards. These regulations can be a bit complicated unless you are familiar with them.
Fast Action Required
Finally, you cannot take your time investigating a truck accident. Trucking companies often immediately launch an investigation. There have been cases in which the company had investigators and engineers on site at the scene of the crash, already photographing damage, talking to police and witnesses, and trying to clean up debris. This is going on while you, as the injured person, are on your way to the hospital. Therefore, trucking companies already have a distinct advantage.
This is why it is important to work with skilled attorneys who can immediately begin investigating and working to preserve crucial evidence before it is destroyed or altered.
When to Call an Attorney
After a collision with a commercial vehicle, your first step should be to get emergency medical attention right away. Go straight to the hospital and let doctors evaluate your injuries. If you are able, contact a loved one and have them call an attorney right away. The attorney can begin quickly moving to gather evidence and preserve your rights. Once your injuries are stabilized, you will need to follow up on your medical care and do as your doctor recommends.
The earlier an attorney is involved, the better your chances of obtaining monetary compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a trucking accident, call Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC today. We offer private free consultations, and there is never any risk for calling because we do not get paid unless you do.