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How Are Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?

August 29, 2023Trucking Accidents

The distinctions between car and truck accidents are not just in size and scale but also extend to legal complexities, liability, and even the type of injuries sustained. If you or a loved one have been injured in a trucking accident, contact our Houston truck accident lawyers for a free consultation.

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Severity of Injuries

While injuries from car accidents can be severe, they are generally less catastrophic compared to truck accidents due to the smaller size and weight of cars. The massive size and weight of trucks mean that injuries sustained in these accidents are often more severe, resulting in life-altering conditions or fatalities.

Legal Complexity

The legal process is usually more complicated when it comes to truck accident cases since multiple parties may be involved and liable—for instance, the driver, trucking company, cargo loaders, or truck manufacturers. Whereas, car accident claims typically involve fewer parties, often just the drivers and their respective insurance companies.

Regulatory Differences

The regulatory landscape governing car and truck accidents varies considerably, adding an extra layer of complexity to incidents involving commercial trucks. While car accidents are primarily subject to state laws, truck accidents are often governed by a mix of both federal and state regulations. Federal agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set stringent rules for commercial trucks, including hours-of-service limitations for drivers, maintenance requirements, and cargo-specific regulations. For example, there are explicit laws on how hazardous materials should be transported and the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can be on the road. As a result, violations of these rules can play a significant role in determining liability in the aftermath of a truck accident, making the legal landscape substantially more complicated than that of car accidents.

Investigation and Evidence

In a standard car accident, evidence often consists of police reports, eyewitness accounts, and, occasionally, traffic camera footage. These are generally straightforward cases, often resolved with readily available information. However, truck accidents typically require a more in-depth investigative approach. The truck itself may have a “black box” recorder that captures data such as speed, braking, and other driving behaviors, which can be crucial evidence in an accident case. Expert witnesses, like accident reconstruction specialists, are frequently called upon to analyze the crash scene, something less common in car accident investigations. Additionally, compliance with federal regulations, logbooks, maintenance records, and even the trucking company’s policies might all come under scrutiny, making the evidence-collection phase substantially more involved and technical.

Insurance Coverage

After a car accident, you usually file a claim against a standard auto insurance policy that will typically have lower coverage limits. The negotiation process is generally more straightforward, involving the drivers and their respective insurance companies. In contrast, truck accidents frequently involve commercial insurance policies with much higher coverage limits, sometimes extending into the millions of dollars. Additionally, multiple policies might be at play, covering not just the truck driver but also the trucking company, the cargo, and even the equipment. This higher financial stake often leads to a more vigorous defense from insurance companies, who are more likely to dispute claims in truck accidents. The complexity of navigating through these larger and more varied policies underscores the need for skilled legal guidance when dealing with truck accident claims.

Both types of accidents have unique challenges, but the stakes are usually higher in truck accidents, both in terms of potential settlement amounts and the complexity of the case. However, if you have been involved in any type of accident, speak to a trusted Houston Personal Injury Lawyer today to learn your rights and discuss your options for compensation.