How is a semi-truck accident different from a normal accident?

By: Zack Hendon | Posted on: December 1, 2015 9:00 am

If you’ve been involved in a wreck with a semi-truck, you need to know how an accident with a commercial vehicle is different from one with a non-commercial vehicle. The injuries and damages that you’ve sustained are more than likely going to be more severe, but there are other ways that these accidents are different.

How is semi-truck accident different from car accident?

Most of these tractor trailer trucks you see out on the interstate are interstate carriers. They are required to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and to obtain a DOT, or Department of Transportation, operating number. This means that the trucking company is governed by hundreds of regulations concerning the operation of their vehicles, which are found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulation book.

These regulations include just about everything you can think of in terms of these tractor trailer trucks and their drivers. Includes maintenance of the vehicles, driver qualification for getting to commercial driver’s license, how they have to keep their log books, which outline how many hours they’ve driven and how many hours these drivers have rested. The drivers also subject to the commercial driver’s license manual, which outlines the proper manner in operating commercial vehicles.

Drivers of these big trucks are also required to conduct pre-trip inspections of their trucks. Trucking companies are required to conduct annual trucking inspections that are very detailed on these trucks. There’s just a vast amount of regulation that goes into making sure that a truck driver and trucking company is properly operating the vehicle.

You don’t have those same types of regulations with a non-commercial vehicle or your next door neighbor driving just a regular car. Because of that, there’s just a lot of areas that need to be looked at to determine whether any of those areas were part of the cause of the accident.

Because of the complexities of that, is there anything that I should do differently because a commercial truck or a semi-truck is involved?

If you’re involved in an accident with one of those trucks and you’re injured, it’s not like if you’re just involved in a little fender bender out in the road and you go and talk to the insurance adjuster and you handle your case on your own. Let’s say that the case, you’re hurt a little bit, but after a week of being a little bit sore, you’re okay. You know, in that kind of case, you’re probably all right to gather your medical bills and your medical records and send them to the adjuster and try and negotiate. You might even negotiate that yourself.

More than likely, if you’re involved in an accident, or I should say wreck, because an accident sometimes invokes the theory that no one was negligent. We tend to call them wrecks because usually when a wreck happens, it’s because someone did something negligent.

If you’re involved in a wreck with one of these massive trucks, you’re probably going to be hurt very badly. When that happens, just because of the regulations that are involved with the truck drivers and trucking companies, it’s a much more different animal to try to negotiate a settlement with a trucking company and these commercial liability adjusters that really know what they’re doing.

You need to hire an attorney immediately in these types of cases as well as an accident reconstructionist. An accident reconstructionist is going to go out immediately before skid marks and divots in the road get washed away by rain or the divots get covered up by new pavement coming out. These accident reconstructionists can tell you exactly what the truck was doing.

A lot of these accident reconstructionists also know and are good at getting to the trucks’ black boxes. The black boxes that these trucks contain kind of like on an airline. Well, these commercial trucks have those as well. There is a lot of complex information and complex regulations … If you’re hurt seriously in one of those accidents, it’s just not a case that you can handle by yourself. You should hire an attorney immediately in those types of cases.

Who are you suing?

A lot of times when people call me on cases, it may be on the accident scene they like the person that they’re dealing with and they’ll tell me, “Oh, well, I don’t want to sue them. I want to sue the insurance company.” Well normally, you can’t sue their insurance company. Normally, their insurance is not even admissible in regular auto accident case.

In a trucking case, that’s different because there’s a direct action statute which allows you not only to have insurance be admissible, but it allows you to bring the insurance company in as an actual party to the case. You’re suing the driver, the trucking company, and the insurance company. That’s a great advantage in these trucking cases. I just wanted to add that one thing before we left the trucking accident issue.

Don’t wait! Get help now.

When it’s a commercial vehicle, you’re dealing so many laws, so many regulations, so many different moving parts. People really need an expert to look at it.

If you’re in the Metro Atlanta area and you need a consultation or you or a loved one has been in an auto accident with a semi-truck, please call The Hendon Law Firm for a consultation at 770-284-3737.

Disclaimer: information purposes only. Zack is an attorney with over 30 years experience, and provides this information to help you, but this cannot be seen as legal advice. For legal advice, you need to have a consultation with an attorney in your area. If you’re in the metro Atlanta area, please give the Hendon Law Firm a call.