In this article, we’ll discuss what sets Tampa trucking accidents apart from other types of traffic collisions. The main reason truck accidents usually have much more disastrous outcomes than passenger collisions is because of their size. Large commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, whereas normal passenger vehicles weigh on average only 4,000 pounds.
The weight disparity makes a substantial difference in the collision outcome since larger trucks crash with much more force. In fact, about 97% of fatalities involving trucks and passenger vehicles are the occupants of the smaller vehicle. The risk of death is much higher for passenger vehicle occupants that collide with a truck.
Read on to learn more about some other key differences between truck accidents and regular car accidents.
Truck and Cars Have Larger Blind Spots
Truck drivers have more difficulty seeing the road than other cars because of how high up they sit. Therefore, poor visibility is a leading cause of truck accidents. 18-wheelers and big rigs have a huge blind spot, making those spots major danger zones for other, smaller cars. An entire vehicle can fit inside a truck’s blind spot without being visible to the truck driver. This makes it very risky whenever a truck driver switches lanes or makes a turn. As such, truck drivers need to be more cautious and go slower than other vehicles while changing lanes or turning.
If a truck driver fails to see a car, they could accidentally crush them or run them off the road. This wouldn’t normally be the case in an accident with two small passenger vehicles. For instance if a driver of a sedan didn’t see another driver in a small car in its blind spot, they may have gotten into a minor sideswipe collision or had a rear-end accident. When the same blind spot accident occurs with a truck, there’s a much higher likelihood of disastrous outcomes such as severe or catastrophic injuries and extensive property damage.
Trucks Require More Distance to Come to a Complete Stop
Trucks are nearly 20 times the size and weight of passenger vehicles. That means they need a lot more time and space to come to a complete stop than smaller vehicles. If a truck driver is unable to respond to a sudden accident in time, they can cause a severe collision. The stopping distance for a truck to come to a complete stop is nearly 20% to 40% more than a passenger vehicle needs. Consequently, a truck collision usually occurs at higher speeds than most other vehicles. When you mix the sheer size and weight of a truck with a higher traveling speed, the outcome can be deadly.
Trucks Are More Likely to Cause Rollover, Underride, and Jack-Knife Accidents
Typical truck accidents are generally far more dangerous than other types of motor vehicle collisions. One example is a rollover accident, which is when a vehicle tips over onto its side or roof. Since mack trucks and tractor-trailers have a higher center of gravity, they are more prone to rollover. This often occurs when the truck driver makes a sudden or emergency maneuver, such as swerving. When this happens, a truck has the capacity to crush a passenger vehicle and significantly increases the likelihood of fatalities.
A big-rig or semi-truck can crush a smaller vehicle due to its enormous size and massive weight. The clearance underneath trucks also increases the chance of an underride accident. An underride accident is when a smaller vehicle gets trapped underneath a truck. This is one of the most dangerous types of accidents and can shear off the entire top of the passenger vehicle. Underride accidents cause extensive property damage, catastrophic injuries, or death.
The structure of a tractor-trailer also makes it more prone to jack-knife accidents, which is where the tractor and the cab parts of the truck fold into each other. Jack-knife accidents usually occur when the driver loses control or the tractor loses traction. What happens is the trailer and the cab part of the truck move in different directions, causing the trailer to skid. The truck will then swerve in one different direction while the tractor continues in another direction.
Other causes of jack-knife accidents include slippery or icy roads, faulty brakes, or sudden movements such as swerving. Truck drivers should take precautions by driving slower on icy or wet roads to avoid jack-knifing accidents. Jack-knife accidents pose an extreme danger to passenger vehicles as they can get trapped between the truck and trailer and result in a pile-up accident. When a truck driver fails to take these precautions, they can be found negligent and held legally responsible for causing your injuries and damages.
Understanding Federal Trucking Regulations in Tampa
Since operating such a large vehicle is inherently risky, there are numerous state and federal regulations in place to prevent accidents. It’s imperative to understand these regulations when investigating a truck accident and determining liability. For example, federal regulations are in place to govern a truck’s maximum height and weight, as well as the maximum number of hours a truck driver is allowed to work in a given shift.
However, trucking companies often have large legal teams that put forth a vigorous defense for any claims made against their drivers for negligence. This is because they want to minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay injury victims for accidents caused by their drivers.
If you were injured in a Tampa truck accident, you need an experienced Tampa truck accident lawyer who is familiar with trucking laws and regulations. Knowledgeable attorneys with experience in handling truck accident cases understand how vital it is to conduct an in-depth investigation into the accident. Additionally, they can assist you in identifying all responsible parties and holding them accountable for your damages.
Why Truck Accident Investigations Involving Big-Rigs and Semi-trucks Are So Critical
Conducting an early and thorough investigation can spell the difference between the success or failure of your case. The trucking company will most likely dispatch their own team of experts to investigate the accident and collect evidence to defend themselves. To put up a fair fight, you need a skilled Tampa personal injury attorney who can help you launch an investigation as soon as possible and start collecting evidence to build a strong case in your favor.
Here are some steps your attorney will take to create a strategic plan to support your Tampa truck accident claim:
- Reconstructing the accident scene to understand how the accident occured
- Visit the actual scene of the accident to take photos and collect evidence
- Locate witnesses who can give testimonies as to what happened
- Recover other relevant evidence such as gas receipts (this can help prove the speed at which the truck driver was traveling)
- Obtaining cell phone records if necessary, which can help prove truck driver negligence
- Preserving all evidence for your case
- Sending a formal preservation of evidence letter to the appropriate parties
Time Is of the Essence After a Tampa Truck Accident
We advise you to consult a knowledgeable Tampa truck accident lawyer as soon as possible so they can get started on your case right away. Evidence can deteriorate quickly, so the sooner you launch an investigation, the better. If you decide to file a lawsuit, the discovery process becomes very important for your case. During the discovery process, your attorney will request pertinent evidence and information from the opposing party’s attorneys. They may even want to directly question the at-fault truck driver. Every truck accident is different, so you need an experienced attorney who knows the steps to take and how to tailor a winning strategy for your case. That might include obtaining records of the driver’s training, driving records, employment history, and any previous accidents they were involved in.
Other Key Differences Between Truck Accidents & Car Accidents in Tampa
The recovery process after a truck accident is more complicated than a regular car accident for several reasons, including:
- Determining financial liability
- Liability of the driver
- Federal regulations that affect your accident case
- The severity of your injuries (which are usually more severe after a truck accident)
Truck Accidents Almost Always Cause More Severe Injuries
Car accidents have the potential to inflict serious injuries, but that propensity increases dramatically with truck accidents. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that people involved in a major truck collision will sustain serious or severe injuries.
Truck accidents result in catastrophic injuries far more often than regular car accidents. That’s because of the massive weight and size of trucks; they have the ability to do a lot more damage than a passenger vehicle. From a legal and medical perspective, a catastrophic injury is one that burdens the injury victim with life-changing injuries. They might require extensive medical treatment and face permanent damages that drastically change the course of their lives after the accident.
In addition to causing severe and long-term medical damages, catastrophic injuries also place greater financial strain on victims and their families. The medical treatment required to treat such injuries and the on-going services needed to fully rehabilitate or recover can take years or even a lifetime. The injury victim could lose their ability to return to the same job, resulting in a diminished earning capacity. In short, truck accidents usually result in severe injuries that permit victims to seek much larger settlements since they endured more damages and losses.
Determining & Proving Negligence in a Tampa Truck Accident Case
In most car accident cases, determining liability is fairly straightforward. The at-fault driver or their insurance would be liable for financial reparations. However, determining liability in truck accident cases is often much more complex. That’s because there are many possible defendants which complicate the process of identifying who is liable. When there are only two parties involved, it’s much easier to establish liability. But in a truck accident case, there are many potential defendants, including:
- The truck driver
- The truck driver’s employer
- A manufacturer if the accident was caused by a defective truck part
- The truck retailer
- The loading company
- A repair facility that was negligent in properly maintaining or repairing a truck
- A government entity responsible for keeping roadways in good condition
Insurance policies and procedures also differ when it comes to truck accidents versus standard car accidents. Trucking companies are required to carry insurance but the trucking company isn’t legally obligated to disclose their insurance coverage amount until litigation begins.
Another aspect that is unique to commercial trucking insurance is that they are required to provide coverage to vehicles that are not listed on the policy. Under the MSC90 endorsement, trucking companies are legally obligated to pay for any judgment that results from negligent truck operation, maintenance, or use of a commercial motor vehicle, even if the vehicle is not covered in the insurance policy attached to the endorsement.
Given the complexity of truck accidents and the insurance considerations, it’s in your best interest to hire a legal professional who can guide you through the process after a truck accident. Most people don’t understand the legal intricacies involved in a trucking accident, and it’s a bad idea to guess your way through the aftermath. You could unintentionally jeopardize your opportunity to win the full and fair compensation you’re entitled to if you decide to try to handle a truck accident case without an attorney.
Contact Experienced Counsel Today If You Were Injured in a Tampa Truck Accident
Regardless of the circumstances of your truck accident, if you were injured due to a truck driver or someone else’s negligence, they need to be held liable. Whether the accident was caused by faulty equipment, poor driving, or unkempt roadways, someone is responsible for the injuries you suffered. If a trucking company failed to abide by any regulations and contributed to the accident, we can hold them accountable too.
It’s not fair to pay the price for someone else’s carelessness, especially with your health and well-being, or even your life. Sadly, this is often the case with truck accidents; innocent people get injured or die due to carelessness or negligence. If your loved one died in a truck accident, we may be able to help you file a Tampa wrongful death claim.
If you, a family member, or a loved one was injured in a Tampa truck accident, our attorneys want to help you. We have specific experience handling numerous truck accident cases and holding trucking companies or other liable parties accountable for causing harm to others. Truck accidents are some of the most serious collisions that occur on Tampa’s roadways, so it’s likely you or your loved one sustained severe or life-threatening injuries.
We know how to handle complex truck accident cases and have the experience, resources, and skill to win you the compensation you deserve.
Call us today for a free initial consultation.