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People who are hurt in car and truck accidents that weren’t their fault usually have two goals in mind: getting better and getting compensation for their damages.
However, the way that car accident victims and truck accident victims must go about getting compensation for their damages can be very different.
Most car accident claims have a single, easily identifiable at-fault party: the negligent driver. Truck accident claims, however, often have multiple potentially at-fault parties.
Truck drivers are frequently held liable for truck accidents, but so are truck companies and truck owners. In some cases, other drivers may be held liable for these crashes when they cause truck drivers to swerve, slam on their brakes, or perform an evasive maneuver than ends up causing a crash.
Determining who was at fault in truck accidents isn’t always obvious. To make matters more complicated, the parties associated with operating a commercial truck may blame each other after a crash.
For example, the truck driver may blame their employer, the trucking company, for improperly loading the truck, the trucking company may lease the truck and blame the truck owner for negligent maintenance, and the truck owner may blame the truck driver for speeding.
Because more things can go wrong with big trucks to cause crashes—and because more parties can be held liable—investigations of truck accidents often take longer, require more evidence, and often require accident reconstructions and expert witnesses.
Just because a truck driver wasn’t speeding, texting, or over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit at the time of a crash doesn’t mean he isn’t at fault. Truck drivers who engage in interstate commerce are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, which involve more restrictions than ordinary drivers face.
These restrictions include:
In some cases, truck drivers are ultimately found at fault for crashes because they violated FMCSA regulations, even if they didn’t violate local or state traffic laws.
Victims in car accidents can be severely injured, while victims in truck accidents may walk away with minor injuries. But there’s no denying that a vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds (the weight of a fully loaded semi-truck) is more likely to cause serious injuries and damages than a vehicle weighing around 4,100 pounds (the average passenger vehicle weight in 2020 according to the Environmental Protection Agency).
Simply put, people who are hurt in big truck crashes typically suffer more severe injuries that require more medical care and result in longer periods out of work for the victims than for people who are hurt in passenger vehicle crashes. That means truck accident victims and their lawyers need to seek more money for their crashes.
Around 13% of Ohio drivers are uninsured. When uninsured drivers cause accidents, the people they injure often must rely on their own uninsured/underinsured driver coverage to pay for their medical bills and lost wages.
However, the trucking industry is typically well-insured. Commercial truck drivers are much more likely to be insured, whether it’s through their own coverage if they’re independent owner-operators or through the companies for which they work. In addition, truck companies and third-party truck owners are also much more likely to insure their vehicles due to the heavy fines associated with uninsured trucks.
While this means that truck accident victims are less likely to need to tap into their own insurance, it does mean they often face uphill battles in getting compensation.
Insurance companies never want to pay fair settlements, but they’re usually a little more likely to settle in car accident claims than truck accident claims. The reason is simple: truck accident victims often seek more money to be fully compensated for their injuries and damages.
The more money that victims need in compensation, the harder insurance companies fight back. In some cases, truck accident settlements and verdicts can reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. When insurance companies know they’re possibly on the hook for these huge payouts, they will resort to any and every tactic in their playbooks to avoid paying in full—or at all.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our legal team helps injured motorists in Ohio every day. Whether they’re hurt by drivers in passenger vehicles or drivers in fully loaded semi-trucks, we know how to review, investigate, build, present, and ultimately WIN these types of claims for our clients.
Contact us today if you or someone you love was injured in a big truck accident. We have nearly a century of experience representing injured Ohioans, and we’ll use our vast resources and deep knowledge of both Ohio and federal laws to help you get the money you’re owed.
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