Trucking Accidents Get Complicated Fast: Here’s Why

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( — June 23, 2019) — Car accidents can be legally nebulous territory. Most car collisions are the result of several interacting variables, including the actions of multiple drivers, posted signage and road conditions, and even the weather. On top of that, drivers and witnesses may make claims that contradict each other, or contradict the physical evidence, making it hard to determine who’s at fault, even with a full-on traffic collision reconstruction.

But as complicated as car accidents can get, truck accidents get even more complicated. Why is this the case?

Factors for Complexity in a Truck Accident

Many people involved in a truck accident end up seeking the help of a lawyer because the case gets so complicated. These are just some of the reasons why those cases are hard to resolve:

  • Sheer size and destruction. Consider the fact that the average car is something like 3,000 or 4,000 pounds. A truck with a full trailer is legally allowed to carry upwards of 80,000 pounds over 18 wheels, depending on the area. With trucks traveling at high speeds, that means (literally) tons of additional impact, and much more destructive capacity. It’s no wonder why truck accidents tend to cause more injuries, create more damage, and ultimately involve more vehicles. These additional variables all require extra consideration and calculation, which make the case much more complicated.
  • Truck ownership (and liability). There are some car accidents where the ownership of the car is hard to predict or pinpoint, but they tend to be exceptions; for example, if you borrowed a friend’s car and got into a wreck, you could be held liable for any resulting damages. With trucks, things are more complex. Truckers are frequently owner-operators, giving them full ownership and authority over their own trucks, but some drive trucks that are owned by another corporation (or even another trucker). This can make fault hard to determine in accidents partially determined by mechanical failures, and adds new parties to the case, which of course, complicates everything.
  • Trucking company efforts. If a trucking company is found to be negligent or otherwise responsible for paying the damages associated with an accident, they’ll likely fight hard to resist that culpability—both to protect their public image and to prevent paying thousands to millions of dollars in a settlement. Accordingly, they tend to employ robust and talented legal teams, fighting hard against claims made by the other people involved in the collision. This makes it difficult for ordinary individuals to stand a chance in the dispute.
  • Insurance company efforts. Insurance companies also fight hard to prevent paying for the damages associated with the truck accident. Damages are more extensive, and therefore cost more, so insurance companies are willing to shell out for good lawyers and take the time and effort necessary to avoid paying.
  • Additional laws, rules, and regulations. Federal and state governments, trucking companies, and trucking-related organizations all work together to create stricter rules for how truckers should be driving, all with the intention of keeping the roads safer for truckers and ordinary drivers alike. For example, most truckers are only allowed to work a maximum number of hours or drive a maximum number of miles per day, and must take breaks according to a schedule. If a trucker breaks any of these rules, they could be more likely to be found at fault for the accident, but proving violations can sometimes be difficult.
  • Data recording. While most accidents can be documented using dash cams, photos, and points of forensic evidence, new technologies are making it possible to record truck-related information before, during, and after the crash, including the speed of the vehicle and the force of collision. If these data conflict with other pieces of evidence in the case, it can introduce many new complexities to the resulting legal battle.

How to Handle a Truck Accident

If you’re ever in the unfortunate position of being involved in a truck-related accident, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. For starters, remain calm after the accident and get everyone involved to safety. Contact emergency services and the police, and get a detailed report on what happened. Be sure to document everything you can with photos and videos, and talk to any witnesses who saw the accident unfold.

Then, contact a lawyer. Navigating the legal complexities of a truck accident is difficult even for seasoned professionals, so it’s practically necessary to have someone on your side, fighting for you. Only a lawyer will be able to present your case fairly in light of the opposition, which may include a combination of the trucker in question, their trucking company, and their insurance company. Your initial consultation will likely be free.