Bigger Claims: Large Vehicle Accidents Can be Very Serious

Photo of author

( — March 5, 2018) — Fully-loaded semi trucks weigh over 80,000 pounds, and it is difficult or impossible even for experienced drivers to control these massive vehicles. Making matters worse, many drivers lack this basic experience. Although the government has cracked down on so-called CDL mills which authorize commercial drivers’ licenses yet give students little training, the problem remains.

Serious collisions are only part of the story. Large truck collisions also often involve complicated liability questions, as outlined below. 

So, if you are involved in such an accident, it’s important to work with a semi truck accident lawyer who is very familiar with all the issues involved. Otherwise, you may not get maximum compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. 

Injuries in Large Vehicle Collisions 

Semi truck wrecks kill or seriously injure thousands of people each year, mostly due to the unique nature of these wrecks. Some common injuries include: 

  • Serious Burns: Diesel fuel and ordinary gasoline burn at different temperatures. So, large truck crash victims often sustain third and even fourth-degree burns. These serious injuries always require painful skin grafts and extensive treatment at expensive burn centers.
  • Head Injuries: An 80,000-pound vehicle travelling at full speed generates a lot of force. Upon impact, that force causes a victim’s head to rush forward then snap back. This motion often causes whiplash and other neck injuries in addition to brain injuries.
  • Broken Bones: Passenger car victims are often pinned underneath the entire weight of the large truck. As a result, their bones may even be crushed as opposed to simply fractured. 

In serious cases like these, medical bills alone often exceed $100,000. Since most people simply do not have these funds available, it’s very important for an aggressive attorney to hold the responsible parties liable for damages. 

First Party Liability 

Speed is often a factor in large truck crashes. Even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was operating below the posted speed limit, excessive velocity could still cause a car crash. Primarily, that’s because a large truck’s stopping distance is so vast that these operators must give extra-wide cushions as they travel. 

Drowsy driving is a significant problem as well. Once again, fatigue can be a significant factor even if the tortfeasor has complied with HOS (Hours of Service) requirements. Most people are naturally sleepy at certain times of the day, no matter how much rest they got the night before. 

Third Party Liability 

The tortfeasor is usually not the only party responsible for damages in these cases. Vicarious liability is especially important in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Individual tortfeasors sometimes lack the insurance coverage to provide fair compensation in these cases. Fortunately, the respondeat superior rule usually applies. There are two main prongs: 

  • Scope of Employment: If a tortfeasor is doing anything that benefits the employer in any way, the activity is within the scope of employment. That includes things like driving empty trucks back to warehouses.
  • Employee: Owner-operators and independent contractors are “employees” in this context. The employer controls key details of the work relationship, such as work hours, delivery/pickup schedules, and driving routes. 

Other employer liability theories include negligent hiring and its legal cousin, negligent supervision. The crux of these theories is that the employer either hired an incompetent worker or allowed such a person to continue working.

To get the money you deserve in a large truck accident, you need a good attorney who knows the legal landscape.