The Difference Between Car Accidents and Truck Accidents
As commercial trucks share the road with passenger vehicles, it is natural to think a crash involving one is similar to an accident involving another. Truthfully, though, there are many differences between truck accidents and car crashes. These are as follows:
- Severity of injuries: A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. According to theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA), the weight of the average passenger vehicle is just a fraction of that, with these vehicles weighing approximately 4,000 pounds. This weight difference means that occupants of passenger vehicles are going to sustain the most serious injuries when they are involved in a crash.
- Insurance disputes: Due to the fact that truck accidents cause such serious injuries, victims are often entitled to large settlements. Insurance companies do not want to pay out on these claims because they prioritize their own profits over the safety and well-being of accident victims. Negotiations with insurers are typically much more difficult after a truck accident.
- Determining liability is complex: Determining which party is at fault for any accident is never easy. After a truck crash, it is even more complicated. There are many potentially liable parties for truck accidents, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the loading company, and maintenance and inspection companies. A full and comprehensive investigation is needed to determine who is liable for a truck accident, which is challenging for victims who are trying to recover from serious injuries.
Truck Accident Negotiations
What Violations of the Law Cause Truck Accidents?
There are many state and federal laws in place regarding trucks that are meant to keep everyone on the road safe. Unfortunately, truck drivers and trucking companies do not always comply with these laws, which can result in serious accidents. These violations are not always clear during an initial police investigation, and it requires a full analysis of the accident scene. Some of the most common violations of the law a Beaverton truck accident attorney will investigate are as follows:
- Hours of operation violation: Truck drivers are limited by a number of laws that dictate how many hours they can be on the road without taking time off for a meal or to sleep. Truck drivers do not always comply with this law, as they are under immense pressure to deliver their cargo on time. As a result, many truck drivers are incredibly drowsy while they are behind the wheel, which takes their focus from the road and can cause a crash.
- Driving while impaired: Truck drivers are responsible for controlling the largest vehicles on the road. To try and ensure this goes smoothly, truckers are held to much higher standards than other motorists when it comes to driving while impaired. A trucker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) cannot exceed 0.4 percent. However, many truck drivers believe that drinking or using drugs will help keep them awake and so, they drive while impaired quite often.
- Negligent hiring practices: Trucking companies often skip important steps during the hiring practice in an effort to take shortcuts and save time and money. They may not perform background checks on their drivers, or they may fail to train them properly. When trucking companies prioritize their own bottom line over the safety of others, they can be held liable.
- Improperly loaded cargo: It is essential that cargo is loaded properly in the truck. If it is not, it will shift during transport and could throw the entire truck off balance. It then becomes very difficult for the truck driver to control, and could cause a crash.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Although truck accidents do differ significantly from car accidents, the steps you take are largely the same. While still at the scene, you should exchange information with all other drivers involved and take pictures of the vehicles involved, as well as your injuries. There are three other steps to take that are critical to your health and to any future claim you may file. These are as follows:
- See a doctor: Your well-being is the most important priority after a crash. You must see a doctor to ensure your injuries receive treatment and that they do not become worse. Additionally, if you do not see a doctor, the insurance company will use that fact to argue that you are not injured.
- Do not speak to the insurance company: The insurance company will contact you shortly after the crash. They will act as though they are your friend and that they want to act in your best interests. They do not. Do not speak to them, as that could hurt your claim.
- Contact an attorney: When working with an attorney, you can direct the insurer to them and the lawyer will speak to them on your behalf. A lawyer will also handle every other aspect of your claim so you have the best chance of success with it.
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