There are a number of distinctions between auto-to-auto and truck-to-auto collisions, and they start with the crash itself. Tractor-trailer trucks are enormous. An empty semi can weigh up to 40,000 pounds, and the maximum legal weight for a truck is 80,000. In 2004, the EPA determined that the average personal vehicle weighs about 4,000 pounds. The additional weight and mass of a semi needs more time to stop, start and maneuver than a car does. And the laws of physics make it such that almost all accidents involving big rigs occur with force far greater than two cars striking one another could possibly create.
All of this means that a big rig accident is much more likely to result in destruction and the serious injury or death of the drivers of cars involved than other types of auto accidents.
Lawsuits connected with trucking accidents are also different. In a “normal” car accident, each individual involved would file a claim with his or her insurance company. A lawyer would help a victim pursue the claim with the company and litigate against the insurance companies of the at-fault parties if necessary.
Insurance companies are still involved in trucking accidents; a person’s car insurance should cover a collision with a semi and with another car in the same way. However, when a commercial truck is involved in an accident, the companies that own it, operate it and employ its driver also become involved. Expert legal advice becomes all the more crucial when a person is negotiating with a trucking insurance company, transport company, cargo owner, truck owner, truck driver and his or her own insurance company — all at once.
Furthermore, federal and state government regulates commercial truck operation specifically because of the safety risks they pose. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) are intended to protect trucks and the general public while preventing accidents. The regulations are meant to be exhaustive, and trucks involved in accidents were often violating one or more of them, including those pertaining to sleep deprivation, driving time maximums, regular inspections and consistent maintenance. Failures to adhere to these regulations frequently form the basis of a person’s lawsuit directly against a trucking-related company in a personal injury case.