Passenger car crashes can be devastating, but a crash involving a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle can be even worse. There are many different variables that impact how truck claims are evaluated and processed compared to passenger vehicle collision claims. If you or a loved one suffered in a wreck with a big rig, here's what you should know.
Important Differences Between Truck and Auto Injury Claims
If a negligent truck driver caused an accident, there are other factors to consider than if the wreck was between two or more motorists. Some critical differences include:
- Size and weight. A commercial truck is much bigger and weighs substantially more than a passenger vehicle. Because of this, the force of the impact in a collision is much greater in a truck accident for the passenger vehicle victims. This can cause semi wreck victims to suffer much more catastrophic injuries or even death than those injured in a car wreck.
- Severity of injuries. Truck accident victims are more likely to suffer life-altering injuries, such as internal burns, bleeding and organ damage, traumatic brain injury, and paralysis. They also have a greater chance of suffering these injuries or even death than the truck driver, who's often protected by a massive commercial vehicle.
- Federal regulations. Operators and trucking companies must follow many federal safety rules regarding the rig’s maintenance, number of hours the operator can drive, hiring processes, and other regulations. Violations of these mandates often contribute to or are the cause of a truck wreck.
- Different causes. Some semi and car wrecks are caused by similar negligent driver behaviors—speeding, intoxication, failing to yield, and distracted driving are a few. However, in other cases, the crash is caused by reasons specific to large commercial vehicles, such as braking problems, tire or axel issues, improper loading, lack of maintenance, blind spots, and the aforementioned violation of federal regulations.
- Liable parties. You're much more likely to have claims against multiple parties in a truck accident vs. a car accident. The shipper, vehicle maintenance facility, trucking company, and parts manufacturer are some of the parties potentially liable for compensating for your injuries. Proving the negligence of multiple parties and negotiating settlements simultaneously can be more complicated than just resolving a claim with a negligent driver’s insurance company.
- Larger claims. Because your injuries could be more severe in a truck accident, the value of your claim will most likely be higher. This could mean the fleet company’s insurance provider investigates your case more thoroughly. This might raise additional disputes in order to reduce or deny your claim, making it more challenging to reach a fair settlement. If your attorney is unable to obtain a rightful settlement, he may need to file a lawsuit and litigate your case in order to convince the insurance company to be reasonable.
- More insurance coverage. The commercial operator, trucking company, and other liable parties often have much more insurance coverage to pay for accident compensation. For example, in Missouri, large truck businesses are required to carry a minimum of $750,000, which is based on the driver, the weight of the vehicle, and the cargo. The individual car insurance policyholder has a minimum that starts at $25,000.
Your Best Strategy: Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Because semi-truck accident claims are so complex, you would be at a disadvantage if you hire an attorney who only handles auto wreck cases. You need an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the complicated issues in these cases and the federal regulations that could apply to your situation. He or she should also have a track record of both settling and taking these cases to trial.
Retain a truck accident attorney as soon as possible so he or she can thoroughly investigate your crash and send the trucking company a spoliation letter notifying it of your claim and preserving important evidence to your case that's in its possession. The insurance provider for the trucking company will begin an immediate investigation of your accident, and you don't want to be at disadvantage by not having an attorney do this for you as well.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, we can help. Our experienced truck accident attorneys are available to explain your legal options, file claims with any liable parties, and negotiate the settlement you deserve. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.