What You Need to Know About How Trucking Accidents Differ From Passenger Vehicle Accidents

All auto accidents — no matter how many cars are involved or the extent of the damages — are unfortunate and sometimes tragic events. But when such accidents involve large trucks or commercial vehicles, the damages and injuries can be much more severe or even fatal.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucking accidents occur with alarming regularity in the United States. Each year, roughly 550,000 accidents involving trucks occur, killing more than 5,000 drivers or pedestrians.

Commercial vehicle crashes continue to increase in frequency as American roads become more congested with vehicles due to COVID-19-related factors like clogged shipping ports and increased online shopping — which requires the use of large cargo-carrying vehicles.

Commercial vehicle accidents can involve big rigs (“semis” or “18-wheelers”), coach buses, dump trucks, delivery vans, or taxis or rideshare vehicles.

Given the type of vehicles involved, it’s important for drivers to know the differences between crashes involving commercial trucks and other types of accidents, and what to do in the event of a serious injury or death.

Why Commercial Truck Accidents Happen

According to the FMCSA, commercial vehicle drivers may be the cause of roadway crashes involving passenger vehicles due to:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Brake or part failure due to poor maintenance
  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Falling asleep at the wheel
  • Lack of qualifications
  • Overloading cargo
  • Pay-based truck-driver incentives such as beating delivery deadlines
  • Speeding

When an accident involves a commercial truck, it’s in an injured party’s best interest to seek legal representation to help level the playing field between them and the companies that may be responsible.

Trucking Accidents vs. Passenger Vehicle Crashes

Several factors differentiate commercial trucking accidents from passenger vehicle crashes, most notably the following:

  • Higher likelihood of serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries
  • Increased vehicle and/or personal-property damage
  • The size of the company (or companies) involved and their insurance provider(s)

In commercial truck accidents, one or more companies or organizations may be at fault — unlike in ordinary motor vehicle crashes, which often involve private individuals. Many truck drivers are employees of companies that are backed by large insurance providers.

These companies have a vested interest in protecting their bottom line, which usually means accepting as little liability as possible in motor vehicle crashes — even when their drivers may have been at fault.

When a truck is involved in an accident, the injuries and damages can be much more severe because trucks are often 20 to 30 times as heavy as standard passenger vehicles.

Due to their additional size and weight, commercial trucks require nearly double the amount of brake time compared to ordinary vehicles. A truck traveling at 65 mph needs to start braking 525 feet before reaching a full stop. A passenger vehicle driving the same speed, on the other hand, may only need 300 feet or less.

In truck accidents there is a higher likelihood of severe injuries occurring, such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Disfigurement
  • Hearing or vision loss
  • Lacerations
  • Loss of limb(s)
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Death

On top of serious or fatal injuries, insurance companies aim to minimize the extent of damages and injuries resulting from commercial trucking accidents. Their goal is to get any injured parties to accept as small of a payout as possible in the shortest time possible, to lower their liability and overall costs.

All of these complicating factors make it necessary for any driver involved in a commercial vehicle crash to get legal help right away.

Involved in a Truck Accident? Know Your Legal Rights

Commercial trucks cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are very expensive to insure. For this reason, insurance companies seek to minimize any injuries or damages a commercial truck may have caused in an accident.

Holding accountable large enterprises that have the backing of insurance companies isn’t something easily done by ordinary citizens who don’t have legal experience and expertise.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured — or killed — in an accident that involved a commercial vehicle such as a big rig, coach bus, delivery van, or dump truck, it’s important to seek legal representation immediately.

An experienced truck accident lawyer can weigh the details of your circumstance and determine whether you may be eligible for significant compensation due to catastrophic injuries or death.

As a well-established national truck accident law firm, Sokolove Law has the resources to hold negligent drivers accountable for the injuries they may have caused you and your family. Over the last 40+ years, our firm has recovered more than $9.4 Billion for injured clients nationwide.

Get in touch with our team today to begin your free, no-obligation case review.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: February 18, 2022

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