Cars and semi-trucks are very different types of vehicles. Trucks are much larger and heavier, haul tens of thousands of pounds in cargo, and they frequently travel distances that the average car wouldn’t cover in a year.
Truck accidents also differ in a number of ways from collisions involving passenger cars. It is important to be aware of these differences if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident.
Seeking legal guidance is essential after any serious motor vehicle crash, especially one involving a semi-truck. A truck accident lawyer at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can assess your case for free and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Truck vs. Car Accident: 6 Big Differences
Most car accidents are relatively minor. Although the car may be totaled, it is not uncommon for victims to walk away with minimal injuries or no injuries at all.
Meanwhile, there is really no such thing as a “minor” truck accident. Both the physical injuries (usually to those inside the car) as well as the legal ramifications tend to be immense. Some of the most significant differences between car and truck accidents include:
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1. Severity of Injuries
Even the safest car cannot withstand the impact of a fully loaded semi-truck. In the event of a crash, the occupants of the car are highly likely to suffer serious and catastrophic injuries.
Although the following serious injuries can also occur in car accidents, a disproportionately high number arise due to collisions with 18-wheelers:
The likelihood of fatal injury is also greater in truck accidents than it is in car accidents. Many wrongful death claims arise due to fatalities in vehicle collisions, especially those involving big rig trucks.
2. Multi-Vehicle Collisions
The majority of car accidents involve a crash between two vehicles. In a truck accident, the size, weight, and speed of the semi makes it far more likely that multiple vehicles will be involved.
A commercial truck is unlikely to come to a stop upon striking a passenger vehicle. Unless the truck driver takes immediate action, one or more secondary collisions could occur as the big rig careens out of control.
3. Hazardous Cargo
Unlike cars, tractor-trailers are built to haul a wide range of items. In the event of an accident, the cargo can become a serious hazard.
Loose cargo can fall out of or off of the trailer, potentially crushing vehicles and presenting additional crash risks on the roadway. Perhaps the biggest danger is posed by tanker trucks, which often carry volatile and highly flammable chemicals that can catch fire or explode.
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4. Complex Liability
In addition to the circumstances of the accident, truck accident litigation also tends to be very different from bringing a car accident claim. One of the biggest differences concerns who is at fault.
Liability for a car accident typically rests with the driver(s) involved in the crash. A truck accident claim, conversely, can be brought against multiple parties.
Potential parties in your truck accident claim may include:
- The driver of the semi-truck
- The trucking company that employs the driver and/or owns the rig
- The owner of the truck or the trailer (if different from the parties above)
- The manufacturer of a defective part on the truck
- A third-party service provider
Many of these parties are businesses with significant resources and dedicated legal teams. It is crucial to work with a truck accident lawyer who can help you navigate issues of complex liability and protect your right to compensation.
5. High Damages
The extent of damages in any auto accident claim is directly linked to the seriousness of the injuries. The more serious the injury, the more money the victim(s) are generally due.
Because serious and fatal injuries are the norm rather than the exception in truck accident claims, victims are usually entitled to more in compensation than what tends to be recoverable for an “average” car accident. Depending on the circumstances, truck accident victims may be entitled to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for their injuries and/or the death of a loved one.
6. A Greater Likelihood of Going to Trial
In a no-fault state like New Jersey, the majority of accident claims are resolved strictly through insurance payouts. Although victims of serious injury and the survivors of a deceased loved one can bring fault-based claims, these matters are generally settled out of court.
Although a truck accident may also be resolved through an out-of-court settlement, multiple factors make it more likely that you will have to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve.
First, the trucking industry is subject to a complex web of federal regulations and state laws. Identifying negligence or wrongdoing can be complicated, and trucking companies and their lawyers will often fight efforts to hold them accountable. Second, insurers typically underpay high-dollar claims. Finally, because multiple parties tend to be at fault for truck accidents, the insurance companies are very likely to dispute liability.
A skilled lawyer may still be able to achieve a fair settlement in spite of these challenges. However, because of the potential for going to court, you should hire a trial attorney who can represent you effectively.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Get Help Today
Many lawyers who handle car accident cases have little to no experience with the complexities of truck accident litigation. You only have one chance to pursue compensation, so it is important to hire the right attorney.
With more than 80 years of combined experience, the lawyers at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi recognize the challenges victims and their families face after a trucking accident. Our lawyers have achieved millions of dollars in results on behalf of those who have been hit by a truck, and we will draw upon our advanced knowledge and extensive resources to pursue the full compensation you deserve.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free case evaluation. Our truck accident lawyers serve clients throughout New Jersey and New York.