If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you will quickly realize that truck accidents are in their own category of accidents. There are numerous distinctions that demonstrate how trucking accidents differ from car accidents, and understanding these differences can help an accident victim pursue their personal injury case with more confidence.
Truck Drivers Are Professionals Subject to Extensive Regulation and Safety Requirements
While everyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle owes everyone else on the road a significant duty of care—a responsibility to the safety of others—truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to far more stringent laws at both the federal and state levels. In other words, one of the most relevant responses to how trucking accidents differ from car accidents is the more specific, higher-level legalities that are involved.
Semi-Trucks Are Immense
When a tractor-trailer is fully loaded, it can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and this makes these large vehicles on our roadways many times heavier than the passenger vehicles that share the road.
The immense size of 18-wheelers, therefore, is a prime example of how trucking accidents differ from car accidents.
Trucks Require Greater Stopping Distances
The massive weight behind the large trucks on our roads means that they require much longer stopping distances than the lighter passenger vehicles require. When truck drivers exceed the speed limit or fail to adjust the truck’s speed in relation to adverse factors—bad weather, poorly maintained roads, road construction, or heavy traffic—they further increase the distance necessary to come to a safe stop in an emergency.
Trucks Have Serious Blind Spots
Although truckers ride high off the road and have a good view of what is ahead, the sheer size of their rigs causes them to experience serious blind spots. One blind spot is located at the semi’s front, so when truckers approach too closely to vehicles ahead of them, they significantly increase the risks inherent to tailgating. These big blind spots along the left and right sides of tractor-trailers render any vehicles in those areas invisible to truckers, and they are often the impetus behind life-threatening traffic accidents when truckers fail to pay adequate attention to surrounded traffic.
The Trucking Company May Play a Role
When a driver has a car accident claim, the other motorist’s negligence is often identified as the cause. Truck driver negligence often plays a role in the happening of the accident. However, the trucking company may also be found liable. In fact, trucking companies bear all the following significant responsibilities:
- They are responsible for hiring safe, experienced truck drivers.
- They are responsible for maintaining their fleet of trucks in good working order.
- They are responsible for implementing and enforcing careful safety procedures, including regular safety checks on the road.
- They are responsible for ensuring that their drivers’ schedules do not exceed the federal and state hours of service restrictions.
Losses Suffered from a Trucking Accident
Overall, a wide range of distinctions determine how trucking accidents differ from car accidents, and each of them can be very serious. In fact, a final difference that distinguishes these accidents is the extent of the losses, or legal damages, that victims of these accidents are likely to face. The massive size differential between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles increases the risk for motorists, and the often-significant damages can include:
- Extensive medical expenses that are likely to be ongoing
- Lost wages (if the victim can return to work at all)
- Profound physical and emotional pain and suffering
A focused and experienced truck accident lawyer will know more about how trucking accidents differ from car accidents and can help with a personal injury claim.