Many of us have had the misfortune of becoming involved in a car accident at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a minor fender-bender that occurred due to a motorist failing to brake in time or a more serious crash caused by an inexperienced driver not using sound judgment or texting and driving. Most of us, thus, have a general idea of how car accident cases unfold in terms of getting quotes for property damage from a body shop and filing an insurance claim to recover accident-related expenses if someone else was at fault for the crash.
How to move forward after a truck accident may be less familiar to you. After all, some motorists who drive local streets tend to share the road with far fewer tractor-trailers than those who frequently use main thoroughfares such as interstates. So, below, we’ll deep dive into how truck accident claims unfold and explain how that is different from car wreck ones in hopes that this insight helps you if you have unexpectedly become entangled in such a crash.
Similarities Between Car and Tractor-Trailer Accident Claims
To gain a better perspective on the differences between car accident claims and truck accident ones, let’s start by discussing similarities between the two types of cases.
Anytime either one of these crashes occurs, it’s important to:
- Summon law enforcement to the scene of the crash to prepare an accident report.
- Take photographs of the crash scene as you wait for the police to arrive or ask someone else to do so (if at all possible).
- Identify any potential witnesses who might have seen what occurred leading up to your crash while at the scene where it occurred (again, if possible) and take down their contact information.
- Only make factual statements as responses to questions posed by the police; don’t engage in discussions about fault with the other party or law enforcement while at the accident scene.
- Request an ambulance at the accident scene or take a visit to an urgent care or hospital emergency room to be checked to see if you have any potential injuries right after a crash, and follow any treatment plans they recommend.
- Be careful when interacting with insurance companies not to speculate about liability nor to discuss where your post-accident medical prognosis stands.
Again, the details above are ones you need to be mindful of whether you’re involved in a truck accident, car wreck, or any other type of motor vehicle crash. Doing so preserves your rights—the same ones that may allow you to recover compensation if someone else’s negligence resulted in you getting seriously hurt in a crash.
How Car Accident and Truck Accident Claims Differ
There are some marked differences between how truck and car accident cases unfold. Some of those distinctions include:
Insurance Coverage in the Commercial Trucking Industry Functions Differently
A common misconception is that a trucker is a direct employee of the company they’re hauling freight for. That’s not necessarily the case. Truckers may be:
- Independent contractors who are using their cab to haul a company’s trailer or operating another business’ truck
- Direct employees who work for a specific employer and carry their cargo (e.g., Amazon, UPS, Walmart, FedEx)
The importance of pointing out these different trucker staffing arrangements is because each party within this construct may have different obligations to ensure a truck and its driver are safe (known as a duty of care).
Depending on the existing employment or truck ownership arrangement, there’s also the potential for more than one party to carry insurance that a motorist can tap into if an accident occurs.
Understanding the dynamic that exists can impact who you can hold liable for a crash and how much you may be able to recover if you suffered serious injuries in a crash. In truck accident cases involving particularly catastrophic injuries, it may be possible to stack insurance coverage, thus allowing you to max out the limits of a policy, if necessary, to cover your medical expenses.
Truckers Are Subject to Additional Laws Compared to Passenger Car Drivers
As you’re likely aware, not just anyone can operate a tractor-trailer. Instead, states like Georgia, Ohio, and Kentucky issue a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that allows would-be truckers to drive an 18-wheeler.
Anyone operating a vehicle that requires the possession of a CDL license to do so must adhere to specified state and federal laws, including ones that restrict:
- How long they can operate their truck without taking a rest period (hours of service rules), and how many weekly hours they’re allowed to drive before having to take a mandated break
- Their ability to leave their hub without first performing a multi-point inspection of their commercial truck
- How much time must lapse between a trucker consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel of their tractor-trailer (it’s at least four hours)
- How truckers must undergo mandatory drug testing after any crash and be willing to undergo random testing as requested by their employer
The examples above are just some of the many additional requirements truckers must adhere to per state or federal law. Violations of these are not only unlawful but also paint a picture of a pattern of negligence that can help your attorney forward any liability claim you may file under your legal representative’s guidance.
Building Car Crash and Truck Accident Cases
The information mentioned above, such as an accident report, witness accounts of what happened, and medical records, can help paint a clearer picture of liability for any crash. However, when liability is unclear, personal injury attorneys like ours at Bey & Associates often request the services of other professionals, such as crash scene reconstructionists or highly skilled automotive mechanics. We do this so that they can assess what went wrong and, thus, who is legally responsible for any negligence that occurred.
In truck accident cases, in particular, one of our attorneys may request the following as they look to build an injury accident case:
- 18-wheeler maintenance records
- Trucker driving logs
- Tractor-trailer operator employment files
- A trucker’s past physical results
All of the insight above ensures a solid case that meets all the necessary elements of a valid car or truck accident claim.
From there, your attorney will better understand who to pursue for the negligence that resulted in your injuries. They can then begin securing documentation from respective insurance companies showing policy limits that you can stake a claim to cover your accident-related damages.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You
It may seem straightforward enough to see a doctor until you get better and then negotiate a settlement with an insurer to recover any expenditures you’ve incurred once you’re done with treatment. After all, insurance companies will likely reach out to you regularly after you report your crash and seem like they care about you and are eager to settle your case.
Don’t fall for shady insurance tactics like these, though. Insurance companies aren’t friends. They’re in the money-making business. They’ll try to trip you up, getting you to admit some degree of fault if that means they can get out of paying as much on your claim as they’d otherwise have to in the end.
Our truck and car accident attorneys are keen on protecting our clients’ rights so that you remain eligible for maximum compensation for what you’ve been through. Let us share more about the differences between car and truck accident claims and how we advocate for you every step of the way by sitting down with a personal injury attorney from our law office, Bey & Associates, during a free initial consultation. Reach out to schedule that free case evaluation today.