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Commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, are vital to both the economy of California and of the United States. These vehicles transport billions of dollars in goods and materials all around the country every day. While they are certainly vital to the economy, they are also inherently more dangerous than any other vehicle on the road simply due to their sheer size.
The average fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh about 80,000 pounds and stand more than 13 feet off the ground, dwarfing the size of the average passenger car. Size is just one of the many ways truck accidents are different from car accidents, and the lawsuits that emerge from these two types of motor vehicle accidents are very different as well.
Severity of Damages
The size and weight of most commercial trucks means that accidents involving these large vehicles are typically far more damaging than accidents involving smaller passenger cars. When a tractor-trailer crashes at high speed, it’s possible for the truck and the trailer it’s towing to strike multiple smaller vehicles, the occupants of which face the risk of severe or even fatal injuries.
Vehicles hit by large commercial trucks are more likely to be total losses than cars involved in typical passenger vehicle accidents. The injuries common in all motor vehicle accidents, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries, are far more likely to occur in truck accidents. The higher severity of the damages involved in truck accident lawsuits typically leads to much higher case values in the subsequent legal proceedings.
When a passenger vehicle driver causes an accident with another driver, liability is relatively clear in most of these cases. If a driver is negligent and commits a moving violation, drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or drives while distracted by a mobile device, this constitutes a liability for any resulting damages their negligent behavior might have. When it comes to truck accidents, liability could potentially fall to one or more parties, including the truck driver, the truck driver’s employer, the manufacturer of a defective truck part, or the party responsible for the care and maintenance of the truck.
Some truck accident claims involve the legal concept of vicarious liability. This legal concept describes an employer’s liability for the actions of its employee. If a trucking company failed to perform necessary background checks on a driver responsible for an accident, or if their driver never completed required training or certification, vicarious liability will almost certainly come into play.
While truck accidents and car accidents are both motor vehicle accidents, they typically happen for many of the same reasons. However, there are many other risk factors when it comes to truck accidents that can easily lead to severe accidents. The size and weight of most commercial trucks mean that these vehicles have higher centers of gravity than typical passenger vehicles. A higher center of gravity means the vehicle is more likely to tip or roll over during sharp turns, or if the driver turns with an improperly balanced cargo load.
Trucks are responsible for transporting large amounts of goods as well as oversize cargo in some cases. These payloads require careful safety considerations, and there are specific securing methods used to ensure balanced, stable cargo. If a distributor or shipping company fails to properly secure a commercial truck’s cargo, this could lead to an accident and liability for the resulting damages.
More Complex Cases
Truck accident cases are usually far more complex than average car accident claims. The severity of the damages involved in most truck accident claims, the various types of unique variables that can cause truck accidents, and the complicated questions of liability that often arise in these claims are a few of the ways truck accident lawsuits are far more complicated than car accident claims.
When it comes to the damages involved in a truck accident case, they are typically far more substantial than those of a car accident claim. Medical expenses are likely to be much higher for the victim, and their higher chance of more severe injuries translates to a higher chance of lost income and lost earning potential. Since many truck accident cases involve multiple defendants, it’s vital to find an attorney with the truck accident case experience necessary for determining liability for all of these substantial damages.
If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries and economic losses in a truck accident in the Sacramento area, it’s best to find legal counsel from an attorney with specific experience handling these complex and often misunderstood legal claims. Contact the Kreeger Law Firm today to schedule a complimentary evaluation of your case from an experienced Sacramento car accident lawyer.