The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates almost ½ a million wrecks involving trucks occur every year. These accidents result in thousands of deaths and thousands more serious injuries annually. While any automobile accident can be a dangerous and stressful event, collisions that involve large commercial vehicles, trucks and semis bring their own host of big-rig particular complications. If you are involved in an accident with a truck or other large commercial vehicle, there are few key considerations you should keep in mind in order to protect the rights of you and your loved ones.
Bigger Vehicles Equals Bigger Damage
While bumping up against bumpers with another sedan during morning rush hour may yield a few minor dents or scratches, the same “bump” with a large truck has an exponentially greater impact and corresponding damage to property and persons. Along with the physical repercussions, the costs from a truck crash are much larger than a typical automobile accident.
Greater physical force equals a potential for a more severe injury which means more medical bills, higher costs of repairing your car and bigger spillover of potential damage to surrounding structures such as fences, houses or bystander’s automobiles. It can be difficult to recover larger amounts from individual drivers to help get you and your property made whole and insurance companies are often equally reluctant to pay out for the damage incurred during truck accidents.
Equipment Failure and Maintenance
In addition to increased accident costs, large trucks contain numerous additional parts and components, all of which are subject to failure. The real-world implication of this is that there is a greater opportunity for drivers and operators to blame mechanical or equipment failure as the cause of any accident. While in some cases this may be true, in others, complicated mechanics can make for a convenient scapegoat for negligent or reckless drivers. Additionally, blaming equipment may not remove liability from the truck driver as they, or their fleet operators, are responsible for inspecting and performing maintenance on all critical vehicle systems prior to hitting the road.
Drivers, Owners and Operators
During a typical automobile accident, you can be fairly certain that the person behind the wheel is the owner or lessor of the vehicle they are driving. Once fault is established, this makes determining who’s insurance will pay who and what they are responsible for, a straightforward process. When it comes to truck accidents, this is rarely the case.
Some truck drivers may be independent contractors with their own business, licenses, certifications and insurance. In other cases, trucks are owned by a larger company and the drivers are simply employees covered under the employer’s policies. If a driver was not acting within the scope of their orders from their employer the company may attempt to disclaim any liability for their actions. You need a lawyer who will fight.
A Complicated and Time Consuming Process
Each of these factors, specific to accidents with trucks and large commercial vehicles, can complicate the already stressful process involved in the wake of an automobile crash. Questions of liability, the scope of the damage and convoluted accident scenarios can frustrate even the most organized, experienced every day driver. If you have been involved in a crash with a truck, semi, big rig or other large vehicle, consider discussing your rights with an experienced auto accident lawyer Brookhaven GA relies on. A professional attorney will be able to guide you through your full range of options to protect the rights of you and your passengers and will help get you back on the road sooner after a truck involved accident.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into truck accidents and what to do in the event of a crash.