Why Are Truck, Tractor-Trailer and Semi-Truck Accidents So Serious?

head on collision car accident with truck
August 2, 2018
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

There are about 5.6 million semi-trucks in the United States, and these trucks move about 70 percent of the nation’s freight. While the majority of truck drivers are dedicated professionals who make safety a priority, the reality is that not all truck drivers are safe behind the wheel. In some cases, truck drivers are also under a lot of pressure to make deliveries under a strict schedule. When carriers push their drivers to stay on the road for too many hours in a row, serious accidents can happen.

Most motorists have had the nerve-wracking experience of driving down the highway with a semi-truck barreling down the road behind them. There are few things more terrifying than trying to keep cool behind the wheel while a tractor-trailer breathes down your neck — especially when the weather is rainy, foggy, icy, or snowy. The average car weighs around 4,000 pounds, whereas a semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In truck, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck accidents, there is usually no contest between a standard-size car and a truck. More often than not, these are catastrophic car accidents that leave motorists with serious injuries. In the most devastating accidents, a motorist is killed.

Most people understand why truck, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck accidents are so serious, but these crashes are also extremely complicated. In addition to serious and long-term physical injuries and emotional trauma, the personal injury cases that result from a semi-truck accident are unlike standard car accident cases. Here is a look at what makes them different than other types of car accidents.

Multiple Defendants

In a typical car accident, there are usually just two vehicles involved. However, semi-truck accidents often involve multiple vehicles—especially in crashes that happen on the highway. Because it takes a tractor-trailer much longer to stop, trucks can collide with several cars in an accident.

Furthermore, most semi-truck accident cases involve more than just the truck driver. If the truck driver is an employee of a carrier or freight company that owns the truck, the injury victim might have to sue both the truck driver and the carrier company. Additionally, the case may also involve a manufacturing or maintenance defect on the truck, which means the plaintiff may also need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the truck’s manufacturer.

Multiple States and Jurisdictions

Many truck drivers cross state lines when they drive. Also, it’s common for carrier companies to be located in a central location, with their trucks driving routes all over the country. When a truck driver is involved in a crash, he or she may be from one state, the carrier company is located in another, and the crash itself takes place in a third state. This means the car accident case may be filed in federal court, as the parties are all from different states.

It’s important to note that even a two-vehicle car accident can be an extremely complicated personal injury case. When you factor in semi-trucks and multiple vehicles spread across several jurisdictions, however, the case can become exceedingly complex. It’s easy for semi-truck accident victims to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of a case. Fortunately, an experienced lawyer can provide support and guidance that helps an accident victim focus on their physical and emotional recovery.

Federal Laws and Regulations

Furthermore, the federal government, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), oversees semi-trucks and the trucking industry. This means that, in addition to state laws, federal law may apply in truck, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck accidents. This adds another layer of complexity to a semi-truck collision case.

While the local law enforcement authority will likely send its own investigators to the scene of a semi-truck collision, federal investigators may also conduct an investigation and file a report. When there are multiple agencies and investigations involved, a case can become extremely complicated. This is why it’s important for people hurt in semi-truck accidents to work with an experienced lawyer who understands the complexities of semi-truck accident cases.

Catastrophic Injuries

Unfortunately, the majority of truck, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck accidents result in serious injuries. More often than not, the people involved in these crashes suffer catastrophic injuries. Because their injuries are serious and long-term, they often require years if not a lifetime of medical care. No one should have to shoulder the burden of medical bills caused by another person’s negligence. This is why it’s important for victims of truck, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck accidents to work with an experienced automobile accident and a team of truck accident lawyers to ensure they receive the full and fair compensation they need to pay their bills and recover money damages for their other losses.

Rand Spear

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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved. This article is not to be considered advise, only the execution of the contingency agreement with this law firm will constitute an attorney-client relationship. The contents of this article are for general information only. If you would like to pursue a claim please contact an attorney immediately to discuss your specific facts and circumstances regarding your claim. Some cases accepted by this law firm may be referred to or worked on by other lawyers, depending on the area of practice and specifics of a particular case.