7 Ways a Semi Truck Accident is Different from an Auto Accident

semi truck on highway

The devastating injuries or loss of a loved one due to a semi-truck accident creates many family stressors, including overwhelming financial burdens.

In 2019, several crashes involving semi-truck tractor-trailers in Missouri and Illinois were the result of distracted truck drivers, operators driving too fast for conditions, and preventable load errors caused by improper cargo weights.

Even though semi-truck operators are highly trained and insured, many commercial truck drivers can be held liable for a crash and proven at-fault for causing a fatal crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration census of fatal crashes involving 18 wheelers shows common truck driver errors include dangerous lane drifting, driving distracted by in-vehicle technologies, fatigue, and prescription drug impairment. In addition, semi-truck haulers and trucking companies too often ignore regulations designed to minimize dangerous travel in hopes to cut operational costs and ensure scheduled deliveries.

7 Ways a Semi Truck Accident is Different from an Auto Accident:

  1. Bigger Insurance Policies
    Because of the size, nature, and interstate movement of a commercial truck, the insurance policy they carry can be worth 50 times more than an insurance policy on a passenger vehicle. Mostly, this amount of coverage is necessary because of the damage such a large truck can inflict. These insurance policies can be worth millions of dollars, which is why the insurance carrier for the commercial truck will do almost anything to find a way out of liability. This often means that they will put their most experienced insurance adjusters on the case. These highly experienced adjusters will employ complex tactics in an attempt to reduce their client’s liability and increase the blame on the injured party. If they are successful in placing even a small amount of liability on the injured, they may be able to significantly reduce or outright deny the claim.Likewise, in order to avoid a million-dollar payout, they may also offer a seemingly large sum of money right at the beginning in order to distract the injured victim from the real value of their case. Don’t fall for it; hire a lawyer.
  2. Different Regulations
    Commercial trucks that you see traveling the roads are often interstate deliveries. Because of this, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation. Because of the interstate nature of their job, these trucking companies are governed by hundreds more regulations than a typical passenger car. These regulations include maintenance of the trucks, special driver’s licenses and qualifications, annual inspections, and logbooks. It is this increase in regulations that opens the door to unique ways to gain compensation. Because passenger vehicles don’t have the same regulations, truck accidents are often much more complicated when it comes to determining the cause and liability of the accident.
  3. More Property Damage
    Semi-trucks with a full trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds. This weight, combined with the truck’s size, can inflict serious damage on anything that gets in its path. As a result, commercial truck accidents often result in significant and costly property damage. With so much destruction, number four on our list is really no surprise.
  4. Greater Injuries
    One of the most devastating differences between trucking accidents and car accidents is the injuries they can cause. When an 80,000-pound truck goes up against a 3,000-pound car, the results can be shattering. Because of this, injuries from a truck accident are often much more severe than those from an accident not involving a truck. Injuries to the car passengers can range from severe whiplash, back injuries, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and death. Although trucking companies often carry much larger policies to compensate for this risk, the effects of such an injury are still life-changing.
  5. More Expensive Medical Bills
    Because injuries from a truck accident are often more severe than a passenger wreck, it only makes sense that the medical bills associated with the personal injury are usually much higher. As we have discussed, traumatic injuries are a very real possibility in trucking accidents. This often means longer stays at the hospital, more extensive testing and diagnoses, greater lengths and measures of recovery, and the repercussions that come with lifelong injuries and disability. This can translate into a long period of missed work, which severely affects a victim’s financial situation. Not being able to go to work means not getting paid. This factor must be taken into account when deciding on an acceptable settlement amount. An experienced personal injury attorney will understand how to calculate the current and future costs and how to see to it that you receive sufficient compensation.
  6. Increased Chance of Death
    According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), accidents involving large trucks are responsible for about 3,000 to 5,000 deaths each year. It is an unsettling fact, but commercial truck accidents are simply more likely to cause a death than a wreck involving two passenger vehicles. If someone you loved has been killed in a commercial truck accident, speak with a personal injury attorney before you file any type of claim. Deaths are hard enough without taking on the financial burden that can accompany them.
  7. Requires Unique Attorney Experience
    In each of the 6 areas described above, an experienced truck accident attorney is vital in ensuring that an injured victim receives the compensation they deserve. An experienced semi-truck lawyer understands the tactics employed by the insurance companies, the regulations truckers must adhere to, and how their complex insurance policies work. Don’t be fooled by what seems like a significant first-offer. If the insurance company offers to pay anything at all, you can bet that it’s a lowball number.
Brent Sumner

Brent A. Sumner is the Managing Partner at Sumner Law Group, LLC. He focuses his practice exclusively on cases that involve serious personal injuries. Over the years, he has successfully represented thousands of individuals and families, recovering millions of dollars in compensation for injured accident victims.