Commercial truck accidents share some important similarities with passenger car accidents. For example, both types of crashes can lead to serious injuries and the law provides a path to financial compensation for injured victims. That being said, there are also some very important differences between semi-truck accidents and passenger car collisions.
If you or your loved one was injured in a trucking accident, you need an experienced legal advocate who understands these differences and knows how to protect your rights. Here, our Washington truck accident attorneys highlight the most important ways in which large truck accidents differ from car accidents.
Five Ways Truck Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
Truck Accidents are More Likely to Result in Serious Injuries
Commercial trucks are enormous. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a fully loaded semi-truck typically weighs somewhere between 30,000 pounds and 70,000 pounds—with some trucks being even larger than that. Of course, this dwarfs your average passenger car, which weighs a little less than 4,000 pounds.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of the immense size of commercial trucks, these accidents have the potential to result in truly catastrophic injuries. Indeed, while large trucks are involved in less than three percent of all highway collisions in the United States, they are involved in more than 12 percent of fatal accidents.
Trucking Companies are Governed By Complex State and Federal Regulations
In Washington, highway accident liability is based on negligence—this is true whether the crash involves a large commercial truck or only standard-sized vehicles. However, the types of actions and inactions that constitute “negligence” are different in truck accident claims. This is because commercial trucking is regulated by a complex web of regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes a list of regulations that apply to commercial operators in Washington state. If a trucking company violates a safety regulation—for example, if the truck driver fails to comply with the applicable service hour restrictions—the company can be held liable for a resulting accident.
Different Types of Evidence May Be Used to Prove Liability
All serious motor vehicle accidents require comprehensive investigation. The investigative process is different in truck accident cases. One of the primary reasons why is that there are unique forms of evidence that can be used to establish liability in a truck accident case.
For instance, trucking companies have a duty to conduct adequate inspections of the vehicle. A Washington truck accident lawyer can help you get access to those inspections. As another example, modern commercial trucks are often equipped with a “black box”. That electronic data may be relevant to your personal injury case. It is crucial that injured victims are represented by an attorney who knows how to obtain all relevant evidence.
Trucking Companies Have Larger Insurance Policies
In Washington state, commercial trucking companies are required to carry policies with much higher limits than those carried by passenger vehicles. As these policies have large limits, there is often much more on the line in a truck accident injury case than in other types of auto accident claims.
The large insurance companies that issue commercial truck policies are extremely aggressive in defending their own financial interests. They are not on the side of injured victims. You need a Washington truck accident injury lawyer who knows how to navigate commercial insurance policies and hold big corporations accountable.
There May Be Multiple Defendants in a Truck Crash
Another issue is that there are often multiple defendants—and thus, multiple insurance companies—involved in the same truck accident case. The trucking company, the truck driver, and the truck itself may all be insured by different policies. In practice, this means that these companies may try to shift blame to each other, working to limit their own liability. It is imperative that a plaintiff is represented by a truck accident lawyer who understands the process and knows how to hold all defendants and insurers liable for their share of crash damages.
Call Our Washington Truck Accident Lawyers Today
At Premier Law Group, our Seattle, WA commercial truck accident attorneys are skilled, client-focused advocates for injured victims. If you were injured in a crash, we will help you recover the full financial compensation that you deserve. To request a free, no commitment review of truck accident injury claim, please contact our law firm today. With law offices in Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, and Renton, we serve communities throughout Western Washington.