If you’ve ever sat inside a big semi truck, you know that it’s a lot different from a car. The instrument panel looks more like one you might see in an airplane, and the distance between you and the ground is substantially greater than when you’re in your car or even your pickup truck.
The rules of the road are different for semi trucks, too, as they have certain requirements for speed, time behind the wheel, and other parts of the driving/hauling process. All these factors and more make a semi truck accident lawsuit quite different from a regular car accident lawsuit. A qualified attorney can increase the odds of recovering appropriate damages.
Factors Unique to a Truck Accident
Though any car accident is traumatic, a semi truck accident can be even more so because of so many things. Gathering all the evidence required for a lawsuit is also much more complex.
1. Size: Because semi trucks are so much bigger and heavier (more than 10,000 pounds) than cars and pickup trucks, they typically cause more damage than cars do, leading to a higher recovery cost.
2. Injuries: Semi trucks cause more serious injuries than cars do. Examples include traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, whiplash, and more. Many require years of medical care. Truck accidents are also more likely to result in wrongful death
3. Driver files: Truck drivers must follow a number of regulations. After an accident, the driver’s training file, driving logs, inspection records, and qualifications may all be used as evidence.
4. Drugs & alcohol: A truck driver who is found to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol—even over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness—may be held at least partially liable in a truck accident lawsuit. Drug and alcohol screening can be used as evidence in a trial.
5. Distraction: A driver’s cell phone records are also likely to be reviewed after an accident. A driver who was found to be texting, posting to social media, or viewing Internet materials at the time of the accident can be held liable for damages.
6. Hours on the road: Sleepy or drowsy driving increases the risk of an accident. Truck drivers are under specific regulations for how long they may drive before they are required to take a rest period. A driver’s logs should reveal whether he or she was in violation of the laws.
7. Weight and balance: There are a number of rules about how much a truck may carry, how it is to be loaded, what paperwork must accompany the load, and more. If any of these items are found to be incomplete or incorrect, it could have a bearing on the case.
8. Condition of the vehicle: Trucks must be kept in good working order to be allowed on the road. Regular maintenance is required—and paperwork must accompany each maintenance procedure. Regular inspections are also required. After an accident, a truck accident lawyer is likely to review all of these materials to make sure the truck was in the right condition.
9. The trucking company: In most accidents, the truck driver was hauling for a company when the accident happened. That means that the trucking company may also be held liable for damages, especially if it is discovered that they were negligent in making sure the driver didn’t go over the hourly limit. They may also be found to be negligent in maintaining the vehicle, keeping up with required paperwork, or managing the cargo.
10. Truck manufacturer: If something went wrong with the truck, a truck accident attorney may be able to trace the problem back to the manufacturer. In that case, they may also be held at least partially liable for damages.
Don’t Wait to Consult an Attorney
Documents concerning the driver’s logbooks, the cargo, whether the driver was on the phone at the time of the accident, and more may be preserved for only a limited time. It’s important that injured parties move quickly in consulting an attorney before these documents can no longer be used for evidence.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.