If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you will recognize that truck accidents are in their own unique category of accidents. There are numerous distinctions that demonstrate how trucking accidents differ from car accidents, and understanding these differences can help an accident victim to pursue his or her personal injury claim with greater confidence. For further guidance throughout the process, an experienced accident attorney may be able to help.
Truck Drivers Are Professional Drivers Subject to Extensive Regulation and Safety Requirements
While everyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle owes everyone else on the road a significant duty of care—a responsibility to the safety of others—truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to far more stringent laws at both the federal and state levels. To begin, truckers are required to have a Georgia commercial driver’s license (CDL) and must adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s exacting hours of service regulations. In other words, one of the most relevant responses to how trucking accidents differ from car accidents is the more specific, higher-level legalities that are involved.
Semi-Trucks Are Immense
When a tractor-trailer is fully loaded, it can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and this makes these monsters of our roadways many, many times heavier than the passenger vehicles that share the road. The following statistics reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) highlight exactly how significant this size difference can be:
- In 2019, a staggering 4,119 people lost their lives in accidents involving large trucks, and only 16 percent of those fatalities were occupants of the trucks themselves.
- Of all fatal two-vehicle crashes that involved a passenger vehicle and a semi in 2019, an incredible 97 percent of those killed were occupants of the passenger vehicles.
- The number of fatal truck accidents in 2019 was 31 percent higher than it was in 2009.
- In 2019, 11 percent of all fatal traffic accidents involved big rigs.
The immense size of 18-wheelers, therefore, is a prime example of how trucking accidents differ from car accidents.
Trucks Require Longer Stopping Distances
The massive weight behind the semi-trucks on our roads means that they require much longer stopping distances than the lighter passenger vehicles require. When truck drivers exceed the speed limit or fail to adjust the truck’s speed in relation to adverse factors—bad weather, poorly maintained roads, road construction, or heavy traffic—they further increase the distance necessary to come to a safe stop in an emergency.
Trucks Have Serious Blind Spots
Although truckers ride high off the road and have a good view of what is ahead, the sheer size of their rigs causes them to experience serious blind spots. One blind spot is located at the semi’s front, so when truckers approach too closely to vehicles ahead of them, they significantly increase the risks inherent to tailgating. The large blind spots along the left and right sides of tractor-trailers render any vehicles in those areas invisible to truckers, and they are often the impetus behind life-threatening traffic accidents when truckers fail to pay adequate attention to surrounded traffic.
The Trucking Company May Play a Role
When a driver has a car accident claim, the other motorist’s negligence is often identified as the cause. Truck driver negligence does often play the starring role in truck accident claims. However, the trucking company may also be found liable. In fact, trucking companies bear all of the following significant responsibilities:
- They are responsible for hiring safe, experienced truck drivers.
- They are responsible for maintaining their fleet of trucks in good working order.
- They are responsible for implementing and enforcing careful safety procedures, including regular safety checks on the road.
- They are responsible for ensuring that their drivers’ schedules do not exceed the federal and state hours of service restrictions.
Losses Suffered from a Trucking Accident
Overall, a wide range of distinctions determine how trucking accidents differ from car accidents, and each of them can be very serious. In fact, a final difference that distinguishes these accidents is the extent of the losses, or legal damages, that victims of these accidents are likely to face. The massive size differential between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles increases the risk for motorists, and the often significant damages can include:
- Extensive medical expenses that are likely to be ongoing
- Lost wages (if the victim is able to return to work at all)
- Profound physical and emotional pain and suffering
A focused and experienced Georgia truck accident attorney will know more about how trucking accidents differ from car accidents and can help with a personal injury claim.
This article was researched and written by Hall & Lampros, a personal injury law firm in Atlanta, Georgia. TruckAccidentAttorneyNetwork.org has edited the original text for style and format, and the facts presented in this article were found to be accurate as of the day it was published. Readers should not act, or refrain from acting due to any information presented in this article, or other information on this website.