What Should Drivers Know About Car Accidents Involving Trucks?
May 30, 2021
Drivers should know that car accidents involving trucks are more likely to result in serious or fatal injuries to passenger vehicle occupants than other types of collisions. Because of the severity of a car-and-truck accident, injury victims should seek the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer.
How Common are Car Accidents Involving Trucks?
Although car accidents involving trucks are less common than passenger vehicle collisions, the number of fatal car-and-truck accidents has been rising steadily for about a decade. During 2019, more than 4,000 individuals died in car accidents involving trucks, representing a 30 percent increase over 2009. The types of fatal crashes include the following:
- Head-on collisions between a car and a truck, 29 percent
- Accidents in which cars were sideswiped by a truck, 24 percent
- Cars striking the rear of a truck, 24 percent
In all types of car accidents involving trucks, it is far more likely for individuals in the car to suffer fatal injuries. Information from the U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) indicates the following:
- Approximately 67 percent of those who die in car-and-truck accidents were passenger vehicle occupants.
- Another 15 percent were pedestrians or persons riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
Car-and-truck collisions are clearly more dangerous for automobile drivers than accidents involving only passenger vehicles.
Why are Car Accidents Involving Trucks More Dangerous?
There are several reasons why car accidents involving trucks are more dangerous than other types of automobile accidents:
- Difference in weight. Passenger cars weigh an average of 4,000 pounds. A fully loaded tractor trailer may weigh close to 80,000 pounds.
- Truck height. A truck’s center of gravity is much higher than a car’s, making it more likely for a truck to tip over in the event of a crash.
- It takes much longer for a truck to stop than a car, owing to the truck’s weight. Size also makes it more difficult for trucks to swerve out of the way to avoid an accident.
- The purpose of a truck is to carry freight, which may be flammable, toxic, or dangerous in other ways if it spills out on the road in an accident.
All of these factors contribute to the fact that car-and-truck accidents are likely to result in serious injury or death.
What Types of Injuries are Common in Car Accidents Involving Trucks?
Common injuries from car accidents involving trucks include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and other closed head injuries
- Burns from chemical explosions
- Whiplash, knee sprains, and other musculoskeletal injuries
- Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
All of these injuries require medical treatment. Individuals who suffer from these injuries may never regain full health and, as a result, face financial hardship. That is why it is so important for accident victims to reach out to a skilled car accident lawyer with experience handling cases involving trucks. Seeking qualified legal guidance is the best course of action for obtaining the financial compensation needed to pay for medical bills, therapy, lost income, and other expenses.
What are Some Common Causes of Car Accidents Involving Trucks?
The most common causes of car accident involving trucks are related to human factors, including driver fatigue, distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and reckless driving. Other causes include:
- Hours of service (HOS) violations, when the truck driver fails to take a required rest break
- Overloaded or improperly secured cargo
- Worn brakes or tires
- Other truck maintenance issues
Individuals who are injured in a car accident involving a truck should always seek immediate medical attention. It is also very important to avoid talking to insurance companies, particularly those representing the trucking company. Because there are multiple parties that may be liable for the accident, it is equally important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled lawyer will protect the rights of individuals injured and investigate the accident to determine who may be liable.
Who is Liable in a Car Accident Involving a Truck?
Car accidents involving trucks often present complex liability challenges. More than just the driver at fault may be deemed negligent. A number of parties may be liable in a car accident involving a truck like:
- Trucking company. Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that their trucks are inspected and well maintained. They are also responsible for screening and training drivers and keeping detailed logs of the drivers’ hours of service.
- Truck driver. Truck drivers are ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle.
- Loading crew. Drivers of tractor trailers and other large commercial trucks rarely load their own cargo. More often than not, third-party workers employed by customers of the truck company will load and unload trailer contents at the customer’s loading docks. These parties may be held liable if improperly loaded freight contributed to the cause of an accident.
- Truck manufacturer. If the tires, brakes, or other parts of a truck are determined to be defective, the truck manufacturer may also be held liable for the accident.
Given the multi-layered complexity of establishing liability in a truck accident, it is crucial that truck accident victims retain the legal services of qualified lawyer with years of experience handling these types of claims.
How Do Lawyers Prove Liability in Car Accidents Involving Trucks?
Lawyers prove liability in car accidents involving trucks by conducting a thorough investigation of the accident. This includes obtaining police reports, eyewitness accounts, and any photos taken at the accident scene. A lawyer may also review footage from a truck’s video camera or other device that provides data about the accident such as the truck’s speed, location, and force of impact.
A qualified lawyer will carefully review all of this evidence and request records from the trucking company as well to determine liability. Potential acts of negligence on the part of a trucking company include but are not limited to the following:
- Failure to properly maintain the truck
- Negligent hiring, which may include lack of proper screening for criminal violations or medical problems
- HOS violations, including driving too many hours without a break or failing to keep an accurate log
- Failing to properly train drivers
Proving a products liability claim against a truck manufacturer for defective parts is equally complex. All of this legal work is necessary, however, to ensure that accident victims recover the full damages to which they are entitled.
Galfand Berger LLP has a long and successful track record in recovery of full damages for car accident victims, including the following:
Car driver suffers severe injuries when struck by a tractor trailer. The client was driving on an Interstate Highway when his car was hit by a large commercial truck. After a thorough investigation, Galfand Berger lawyers were able to prove that the trucking company was negligent because the driver’s log was inaccurate, indicating that he had driven excessive hours. Moreover, the tractor-trailer brakes were worn and the tires were bald, indicating that the vehicle had not been properly maintained. Galfand Berger obtained a $3 million settlement for the client.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Bring Extensive Legal Skill and Experience When Helping Clients Injured in Collisions Involving Trucks
Although all car accidents are traumatic, those involving trucks are often more serious and legally complex. Determining liability and obtaining fair recovery for damages require a top-notch legal team. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are able to apply their legal skills and years of experience to help clients who are injured in collisions involving trucks. If you have been injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to reach out to us. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.