An accident involving a large vehicle such as a semi, “big rig” or other type of commercial truck is rarely the same as a straightforward car-on-car collision.
The main reason is simply the potential to cause large scale destruction and harm that an accident involving a large vehicle has. This means personal injuries, property damage and it also means that the legal process surrounding compensation is usually far more complex.
The main challenges when dealing with accident claims relating to a truck collision here in Pennsylvania are as follows:
1. Severity of injuries.
A fully loaded truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and be six times as long as your average automobile. This incredible weight moving at high speed means the potential for the severity and spread of a collision is much greater.
On average, in a collision between a truck and a car, those in the car are four times more likely to die than the driver of the truck is, so severe and life changing injuries are more common in accidents that involve heavy vehicles.
Because of the increased range in severity of injuries, the medical process is often also more complex. This means more money is involved and more time needs to be taken to get a satisfactory outcome to treatment.
2. Amount of destruction.
A fully laden truck the length of six cars can create an incredible amount of damage during a collision. The momentum of a fast moving truck can mean damage well beyond the usual car on car accident zone.
On average, accidents involving large trucks are responsible for more than 4000 deaths each year in the USA. On top of this 70,000 people are injured. Added to the personal damage, is an average of 300,000 property damage claims from truck accidents each year.
More people are usually involved in the actual collision and more parties are involved in the legal process afterward. All this adds layers of complexity to the process of establishing liability after a truck accident has happened.
3. Different types of accident.
Usually in an automobile accident, the collision relates simply to physical car damage and occupants injuries.
This is different in a semi accident. Diesel fuel fires are common, leading to an even more complex situation. Rollovers can occur, spreading the damage far and wide. Failed brakes can send a truck far beyond the distance a car could go, causing a path of destruction that can include third parties and property not usually involved in traffic accidents.
All these factors can add great complexity to personal injury claims involving large commercial vehicles.
For example, because the size of a truck, these type of vehicles have to use air brakes. Trucking accidents are often caused by air brake malfunctions. So the accident cause is often not simply about the driver, it will need to be investigated to see if any other party was to blame.
Was the vehicle overloaded?
Were the brakes properly maintained?
Was there a manufacturing fault with the brakes?
4. Dealing with commercial third parties.
Because trucks are usually owned by companies, you are rarely dealing with individuals. There are commercial issues to take into account.
Companies employing drivers are responsible for making sure that those truckers possess the training, instruction and licensing to operate those vehicles. If an accident is found to be through driver negligence, who is to blame? The person behind the wheel, or the person who put them there?
On top of this commercial complexity, is the fact that a lot of trucking companies are large multi-state, or even national companies. They have reputations to protect and deep pockets to protect them. The first reaction will be to minimize responsibility, potentially obscure evidence and seek a quick and quiet resolution before a claim is made in court.
Unless this complexity of accident is managed through an experienced legal team, the people involved can often miss out on the compensation they should receive. It is sometimes too easy to just want relief and to accept what seems like a good offer. But taking the advice of a lawyer with extensive experience of trucking injuries will greatly enhance the chances of a proper settlement, and one that takes into account medical circumstances that may occur long after the collision.
5. Severity of injury.
Due to the fact that injuries incurred in semi truck accidents are usually more extensive, it can be difficult to immediately know the value of a claim.
Potential injuries could be severe as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, internal injuries, lost limbs or multiple broken bones. It could be that the unfortunate individuals involved will be undergoing a long, complex medical stabilization and recuperation process. Such complexity can have knock-on effects in other areas of our lives. All of which adds up to a more complex claims process requiring specialist knowledge.
Treat An Accident Involving A Semi Seriously: Get Legal Advice
Every accident is unique and every accident can have unique repercussions for those involved in such traumatic circumstances. So it’s rare that two accidents involving trucks are the same, or are quick and easy to gain financial compensation from.
There is no set formula for any personal injury case involving a truck collision. Your case will be judged on your past and future medical expenses, your past and future loss of earning capacity and your past and future physical and mental injuries.
Added to this complex set of things to be considered are the different local state laws and limits, especially around non-economic damages, such as loss of enjoyment of life.
To increase the chances of you or a loved obtaining a fair settlement following a semi truck accident, it’s important you immediately consult with the team here at Donaghue & Labrum in Pennsylvania. We can take the stress and worry out of the claims process and advise you of your rights and best course of action at all stages.