What Makes a Truck Accident Different?
The biggest difference between a truck accident (one involving a tractor-trailer or another large commercial motor vehicle) and a car accident is that a truck accident is more likely to be deadly.
In fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a heavy truck and a passenger vehicle, it’s the passenger vehicle occupants – 98 percent – who die, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says.
For people who have lost a loved one in a trucking accident in Western North Carolina or were seriously injured themselves, what makes a truck accident different may also be the difficulty they face in obtaining appropriate compensation for their losses.
Many times, a commercial motor vehicle is put on the road by a large corporation that employs lawyers specifically to protect the bottom line after a crash. They and the trucking company’s insurance company often work hard to deny accident victims the compensation they deserve.
That’s why The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC works hard for truck accident victims in Western North Carolina. You shouldn’t be outgunned by a trucking company and its insurance company when a trucker or carrier’s negligence is the cause of your injuries or a loved one’s death.
Call us now or contact us online to even the odds after a trucking accident.
Truck Accidents Often Have Higher Stakes
The truck involved in an accident and, in many cases, the trucking company that put it on the road make a truck accident different from a collision involving only passenger cars. Truck accidents are different in the amount of damage and injuries they can potentially cause, and in how injured parties should deal with them afterward.
A fully loaded large tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, or more in some cases. A large truck travelling 70 mph hits with far more force than a 2,000-pound passenger car.
The design of commercial trucks also makes them more dangerous in a collision, the IIHS says. Large trucks are taller and have greater ground clearance than cars, which means that cars may slide beneath a truck’s trailer, which is known as “underride,” in a collision with deadly consequences. Guards on trucks that are supposed to prevent this can fail in even relatively low-speed crashes, according to the IIHS.
The driver and passengers in a car hit by a large truck are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries, if not death. In 2011, more than 3,370 people died in crashes involving large trucks and 88,000 people suffered personal injuries, according to the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Only 16 percent of these deaths were truck occupants, while 66 percent were passenger vehicle occupants. Another16 percent of truck accident fatalities were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
Large trucks represent about 4 percent of vehicles on the road, but were involved in 10 percent of all crash deaths and 22 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes in 2011, the IIHS says.
Truck Accidents Are Often More Complex
The second thing that makes a truck accident different is that there are often more parties involved than just the vehicles’ drivers. This has two effects on the aftermath of a crash.
First, if a commercial truck is owned by corporation that employs the driver, the trucking company’s legal team is likely to get involved in the wreck quickly. You can expect a trucking firm’s lawyers and its insurance company to do everything they can to protect the company’s interests after an accident. This may range from denying or blurring facts or evidence related to the accident, to offering a quick low ball settlement to end the investigation – which you should never accept without first talking to a lawyer.
The trucking company and its legal team typically become this involved because the company itself may have contributed to the accident. Trucking companies have been known to push fatigued truck drivers to stay on the road to meet delivery deadlines. Some hire drivers who they know (or should have discovered) have previously been involved in traffic violations or violations of federal trucking regulations. Others may direct or allow employees to neglect maintenance of their trucks or disobey regulations for loading and securing cargo, either of which can cause problems that lead to wrecks.
There have also been cases in which a manufacturing defect in the truck or a component of the truck (tires, brakes, steering, etc.) caused or contributed to a truck wreck. In such a case, the vehicle or parts manufacturer may be held liable.
Because of the complexity of a commercial truck accident, the investigation into a truck crash should include examining multiple parties whose negligence may have contributed to it. There is often more than one factor involved in a truck accident and more than one individual or organization that may be held accountable.
Let Our Western NC Truck Accident Lawyer Investigate Your Accident
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills and other losses. You need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney to investigate your crash.
Let The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC based in Asheville, advise you about your legal rights to seek compensation from the at-fault truck driver, trucking company and other parties responsible for your wreck. Contact us by phone or online for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights and options.