In a collision between a truck and a passenger vehicle, the injuries sustained by the vehicle occupants are frequently serious. The truck driver, on the other hand, is seldom injured at all. A truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more when fully loaded, but the average passenger vehicle only weighs about 3,000 pounds. Due to the tremendous weight disparity between the two, a collision is likely to cause serious injury to passenger vehicle occupants. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were approximately 3,900 people killed in crashes involving large trucks during 2014. Of these fatalities, only 17 percent were truck occupants. Additionally, 73 percent were occupants of other vehicles, and the remaining 10 percent were nonoccupants, such as bicyclists and pedestrians.
Car Versus Truck Accidents
An 80,000-pound vehicle barreling down the road can do an incredible amount of damage. If you’ve been injured in a collision with a truck, your case will differ from a traditional passenger vehicle negligence case. Truck accidents are frequently more complex, expensive, and harder to resolve than passenger vehicle collisions due to the differences between cars and trucks. Some of the primary ways they differ include:
Different Laws and Regulations
Truck companies and drivers must comply with Virginia laws and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules governing trucks. Federal and state regulations require trucking companies to review a driver’s record every year, including checking for traffic law violations that occurred during the previous 12 months. The company is legally obligated to ensure that its drivers are proficient and responsible by running background checks, regulating the hours driven in a day, and conducting drug and alcohol testing. The company must also verify that drivers are licensed and trained.
Violation of these laws and regulations frequently leads to vehicle collisions. Both the company and the driver are required to maintain numerous records, including documentation regarding truck inspections, the driver’s training, his medical condition, and hours of service. This information can be useful in establishing fault on the part of the truck driver and the company he drives for after a collision.
Insurance regulations mandate much higher minimum coverage amounts for trucks than for passenger vehicles. This means, the amount of compensation available to collision injury victims is typically much greater in truck accidents than in collisions between passenger vehicles. The FMCSA has established public liability insurance minimums for both bodily injury and property damage. The minimum required limit depends on the types of freight a truck hauls, as follows:
- Non-hazardous freight moved by vehicles weighing less than 10,001 lbs. - $300,000
- Non-hazardous freight moved by vehicles weighing more than 10,001 lbs. - $750,000
- Oil transported by for-hire and private carriers - $1,000,000
- Other hazardous materials transported by for-hire and private carriers - $5,000,000
Truck accidents often involve many at-fault parties. This means, you may have a number of insurance policies available to cover your losses. The involvement of so many different people and companies also means that truck collision cases are frequently more complex than the typical vehicle passenger injury case. Fault for the accident may lie with the:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck owner
- Trailer owner
- Truck manufacturer
- Loading and unloading facility
- Truck repair and maintenance facilities
- Suppliers of defective parts
- Truck mechanic
You Need an Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a collision with a truck, hiring an attorney who merely has personal injury experience is a mistake. You need a lawyer with truck accident experience. Large trucking companies have the financial resources necessary to hire attorneys to help them deny liability and aggressively fight against your claim. You need representation fighting just as aggressively on your behalf. We hold truck drivers and the companies that employ them accountable for the damage they cause. To learn more, contact the truck accident attorneys at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC by using the form on this page.