ClickCease How Are Truck Accidents Different Than Car Accidents

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Truck Accidents Versus Car Accidents

How Truck Accidents Differ From Car Accidents -- Insight from the Best Truck Accident Attorneys

Just by looking at the sizes of a semi-truck and a car, it’s easy to quantify the wreckage that would result from being involved in accidents with said vehicles. Commercial vehicles are significantly larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, therefore truck accidents tend to cause more severe injuries and property damage. However, large trucks are responsible for less accidents on highways compared to those caused by personal vehicles, increasing the possibilities for, though less severe in comparison, serious injuries and property damage in their own right.

Large trucks and semis are a leading cause of many traffic related deaths in the United States. California in particular has seen some of the worst trucking accidents in the country. A tractor-trailer or eighteen-wheeler can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. Due to their size and weight, commercial trucks are dangerous and virtually guaranteed to crush smaller vehicles in an accident.

The Los Angeles Police Department collected data that showed that 236 people died in crashes between the beginning of 2019 and December 14 alone, meeting or exceeding the 240 reported deaths in 2018. According to a report by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, car crashes are the fourth leading cause of premature death in the county, ahead of homicides, strokes, and lung cancer. 

A report compiled by the Analysis Division of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2017 showed that at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32% of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes, compared to 54% of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. "Speeding of Any Kind" was the most frequent driver-related factor for drivers of both vehicle types. "Distraction/Inattention" was the second most common for large truck drivers, and "Impairment (Fatigue, Alcohol, Illness, etc.)" was the second most common for passenger vehicle drivers.

Those who survive either truck or car accidents are often left to deal with various forms of injury, including permanent disabilities such as brain damage and spinal cord injuries. However, the legal processes concerning truck and car accidents couldn't be more different.   

When it comes to how a personal injury claim is handled, truck accidents are starkly different from car accidents. For example, there are different rules and accident investigation procedures that are unique to trucking accidents that differ to those of car accidents. Our excellent team of attorneys from West Coast Trial Lawyers break down the difference between truck and car accidents in California.

Truck Accidents Vs. Car Accidents

Truck accidents are complicated and far more complex than auto accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. In 2018, a total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes, with 16% of these deaths being truck occupants, 67% being occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15% being pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. 

Moreover, 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018 occurred in large truck crashes. Motor vehicle collisions, for their part, are the leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 14 years in Los Angeles county. 

Though compared to cars large trucks are responsible for less accidents on highways, the possibilities of catastrophic harm and property damage are way higher than usual. Here are some examples of factors unique to truck accidents you won’t find with car accidents:

  • Special Regulations For Drivers  Trucking companies must abide by federal regulations, such as The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act which requires, among other strict standards, background checks on all drivers, regular evaluation of employees, regulation of hours driven in a day, and drug and alcohol testing.
  • Special Regulations For Trucks There are other California and federal regulations that exist to limit truck size, weight, and route designations for trucks. Unfortunately, many commercial trucking companies will intentionally violate these safety regulations. They may also falsify their documentation process in order to hide evidence of their deliberate negligence.
  • Liability Even if a truck driver was directly responsible for causing an accident, the commercial trucking company can possibly be held liable for the negligence of their employees. According to California's Respondeat Superior laws, a trucking company can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their truck drivers.
  • Insurance Coverage Semi-trucks are required to carry greater amounts of insurance coverage, and for this reason, insurance companies might be more aggressive in defending their claims.
  • Investigation Process Investigations and gathering evidence for truck accident cases is significantly more extensive than in car accident cases. It is important to retain the services of a savvy truck accident lawyer who knows the protocol for gathering evidence and who will do so in a timely manner to preserve any crucial evidence.

Find Out How West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Help You 

Determining liability in both cases of truck and vehicle accidents can be a nightmare. In car accidents, if multiple parties were involved, more than one person can share responsibility. A multi-vehicle truck accident can also happen, and multiple parties can all be held liable. Navigating the legal process is an endeavor you shouldn’t take on your own, especially if you’ve sustained grave and costly injuries.  

California is a comparative negligence state, which means that more than one party may be found liable for causing a car accident. It also means that an at fault driver may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages, even if they were partially at fault for causing a trucking or car accident.

It is most important to understand that personal injury victims, including trucking and car accident victims, will typically have two years to file a claim for damages. After the two-year deadline, the court will almost certainly throw out the case without even hearing it. 

If you were injured in a truck or car accident that was caused by another driver, you have the right to obtain compensation for your losses. Victims of said accidents may be entitled to damages for:

If you sustained injuries as a result of a truck or car accident, let our experienced legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

Call us today at 888-341-9802 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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