While individuals hurt in a car accident can suffer serious injuries, a victim of a commercial truck accident can suffer devasting injuries that affect them for the rest of their lives. If you or a family member were injured in a truck collision in Southern California, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Five Ways California Truck Accidents Are Different From Car Collisions
You need to understand the critical differences between truck and car crashes to know what to expect when you file your claim with the insurance company. Our San Diego truck accident attorney explains further.
#1: Higher Risk of Severe Injuries
An 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Drivers and passengers in an automobile, motorcycle riders, pedestrians, and bicycle riders who are struck by a truck have little protection from the massive force of the impact. They are more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries or death than if they were hurt in a car crash.
Common injuries that truck accident victims suffer include:
- Serious fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
#2: Federal Regulations
Truck drivers and trucking companies are highly regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Often violations of these rules cause or contribute to truck collisions. Regulations include:
- Hours of service rules. Truck drivers are only permitted to drive a certain number of hours during the work week and must take required rest breaks during their trips to prevent drowsy driving accidents. They must also keep detailed records of their rest breaks in a logbook.
- Qualifications. Trucking companies must ensure that the truck drivers they hire are properly licensed and qualified to drive a big-rig truck.
- Certification. Truck drivers must pass a medical exam and obtain a medical certificate verifying that they are medically fit to drive a truck. They must renew their certification every two years.
- Inspections and maintenance. Truckers and trucking companies have duties to inspect their trucks before, during, and after trips and to maintain and repair them regularly.
#3: Multiple Liable Parties
In most car collisions, there are only two motorists. The negligence of one or both of them is the cause of the crash.
Determining the cause of a truck accident is much more complicated. There could be more than one cause of the collision, and many parties could face liability to compensate the victim. Potentially responsible parties include:
- Truck drivers. Speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and failure to obey traffic laws are a few of the negligent actions of truckers that result in accidents.
- Trucking companies. A trucking company may be vicariously liable for its trucker’s negligence. They may also be responsible if they failed to maintain the truck, negligently hired the trucker, violated hours of service rules, or engaged in other negligent actions.
- Tractor or trailer owners. If a separate company owned the truck’s tractor or trailer, they could face liability if their lack of maintenance caused the crash.
- Truck maintenance facilities. Trucking companies often contract with a truck maintenance facility to perform maintenance and repairs. If a repair or maintenance issue contributed to the wreck, they could be a liable party.
- The shipper or another party responsible for loading the truck. Trucks are usually packed and unloaded by a shipper or other parties. If a truck accident was caused by the failure to load or secure the cargo properly, they could be responsible for compensating the crash victim.
- Truck and parts manufacturers. The 18-wheeler and parts manufacturer might be the negligent parties if a defective part caused a trucker to lose control and cause a collision.
#4: More Extensive Investigations
Truck collision investigations are much more complicated because there could be more than one cause of the crash, violations of federal regulations, and multiple liable parties. It is essential to hire a knowledgeable truck accident and personal injury lawyer who understands the complexities of these cases.
#5: The Potential for More Compensation
Because truck accident victims suffer more long-term injuries than other collisions, the amount of past and future compensation they would be entitled to for their medical expenses lost wages, and pain and suffering will be higher than in car accidents. Unfortunately, the insurance company could fight harder and longer to deny these claims or pay lower damages in their settlement.