Car and Truck Accidents – What’s the Difference?

October 16, 2019
Car and Truck Accidents – What’s the Difference?

Though more than 7.2 million car accidents occur in the U.S. each year, the number of accidents involving large trucks increased by 5% from 2015-2016. While there are many more car accidents than those involving trucks, they and other large commercial vehicles cause more damage. This is not surprising considering that they weigh 20-30 times more than the average car. But that’s not the only way that they differ. Here are the 5 main differences between car and truck accidents.

1. Trucks Carry More Insurance

Cars are insured according to what your state requires, and information such as your driving record and the type of vehicle that you drive all play into the cost of your premiums. However, when it comes to semi-truck insurance, the coverage is dependant upon whether they are an owner-operator or an owner-operator that leases with a carrier. The latter carry average annual insurance policies with costs from $9,000-$12,000. The following is also considered:

  • The worth of the truck
  • What the truck is hauling
  • How far the individual drives
  • The age of the individual
  • The driver’s credit history
  • The driver’s CDL history

Since these policies are worth millions, insurance companies will do their best to ensure that they never pay out.

2. Large and Commercial Vehicles Adhere to Federal Laws & Guidelines

Whereas cars and passenger vehicles follow state and local law, semi-trucks and other large and commercial vehicles must also follow federal regulations dictating things such as how much they may drive within a certain period of time and how much they can haul. This is because they travel interstates. All trucking companies and drivers must register with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

3. Necessary Evidence Differs

Evidence is collected after any accident. Attorneys will review things such as photos of the vehicles, police reports, witness statements, and security videos. But when it comes to semi accidents, different evidence is necessary. This includes evidence concerning:

  • Vehicle
  • Cargo
  • Truck Driver

Since the FMCSA only requires that truckers keep records for six months, attorneys will likely collect evidence quickly when the accident involves a truck.

4. Liability Issues Are Different

Truck drivers must hold correct licenses and certifications. In a regular car accident, only the driver and insurance company is involved. When it comes to a truck accident, many parties can be involved. The owner of the trucking company may be liable. Since the truck (tractor) and trailer are considered separate entities under FMCSR guidelines, they are not always owned by the same company. Drivers are usually not responsible for loading or unloading the cargo. That’s why liability may involve freight forwarders, brokers, warehouse workers, and shippers. If improper maintenance is to blame, maintenance and repair shops could also be liable.

5. Compensation is Greater

Since semis have the potential to cause more damage than standard passenger cars, injuries are generally more severe. Since medical bills are generally higher, so is compensation.

If you’d like more information about tractor-trailer accidents and factors that can contribute to them, check out our infographic here.

Graves McLain can help.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle through no fault of your own, call Graves McLain right away at 918-359-6600. When you call one of our experienced attorneys, we will speak with you for FREE and determine the best course of action.

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