How do commercial truck accidents differ from other auto accidents?

Commercial truck accidents differ from passenger car accidents in a number of ways, including:

• Severity of damage
• The potential causes of the crash
• The evidence gathering process
• The number of potentially liable parties
• Potential compensation

Below, the legal team at Tronfeld West & Durrett details these differences and how they can affect a truck accident claim.

Severity of Damage

Commercial trucks are much bigger and heavier than typical vehicles; thus, they have the potential to cause far more destruction. The force of a tractor-trailer accelerating at the same speed as a car, truck, or SUV is significantly higher, and therefore can cause much
more damage.

Property damage and personal injuries tend to be much worse in commercial truck accidents. The other vehicle is often a total loss, its driver and passengers frequently suffering severe injuries, such as head trauma, spinal injuries, and broken bones.

Potential Accident Causes

Most traditional auto accidents result from a variation of one thing: driver error. It could be texting, driving under the influence, failing to check a blind spot, following too closely, or any number of mistakes. But it almost always involves a mistake by one or both drivers.

Commercial truck accidents are not always so cut and dry. One, semi-trucks are more complex machines than traditional automobiles; thus, there is a higher possibility of mechanical error.

Also, truck drivers are known for keeping brutal hours, and fatigue is an inescapable part of the job. Though legislation in recent years has tightened the rules on how many hours truckers can drive and how long they must rest, fatigued driving remains a factor in many accidents involving commercial trucks. While driving drowsy is still negligence, it can be difficult to determine whether the truck driver or the trucking company was the primary negligent party.

The Evidence Gathering Process

In a typical car accident, much of the evidence is mostly out in the open for each party to recover. However, in a truck accident, much of the evidence rests in the hands of the trucking company, which may legally destroy it after a certain period of time. A good truck accident lawyer will know to send a spoliation letter immediately to preserve any necessary evidence.

Liable Parties

In typical auto accidents, the liable parties usually involve one or both drivers. However, in a trucking accident, the trucking company, not the driver, is often your liable party. This is because of the vicarious liability doctrine which holds employers liable for their employees’ actions so long as the employee was acting within the scope of his employment. This can be a good thing for drivers involved in semi-truck accidents, as trucking companies tend to have greater financial resources than individual drivers, and as a result, they have more money available to pay large settlements. However, it can also make recovering compensation more difficult.

Compensation Level

The amount of compensation is often higher in a commercial truck accident. This is for two reasons. One, the damage is usually greater, resulting in higher medical bills, more time away from work, and so on. Also, trucking companies are more likely to have the money available to pay out a large settlement than an individual driver.

Involved in a Commercial Truck Accident? Call the Legal Team at Tronfeld West & Durrett for Help.

The attorneys at Tronfeld West & Durrett can help Virginia residents win maximum compensation after a commercial truck accident. They know how to gather evidence, prove liability, and aggressively negotiate for a large settlement. Let them put their knowledge, experience, and resources to work. To set up a free consultation, call our office today at 804-358-6741.