How Are Truck Accidents Different Than Car Accidents?

How Are Truck Accidents Different Than Car Accidents?

18 wheeler on the road driving truck accident

For the purposes of this article, a truck may include semi-trucks, tractor trailers, or any type of commercial vehicle such as a cement truck, delivery/box truck, etc.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2016:

  • 4,440 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes
  • 77,000 injuries were reported
  • 287,000 property damage claims were filed

While truck and car accidents both generally occur on the road, there are several major differences when a truck is involved. While accidents involving trucks account for a smaller number of over-the-road accidents, the damage and injuries that can be sustained are generally more substantial. Accidents involving trucks are time-consuming and complex to investigate many factors that differ from a normal car accident.

1. Injuries When a truck is involved in an accident the extent of injuries suffered by the victims is generally more substantial due to the size and weight of the vehicle. According to Truckers Report, a semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, not taking into account oversize or overweight limit permits. When you compare that to the average weight of a car, which is around 3,000 pounds, there are significant differences in momentum during accidents. The sheer weight and size can have substantial effects on the extent and severity of injuries as well as compensation that may be awarded to injured parties.

2. Licensing In order to operate a truck, the driver must have a specialized license which requires additional training, especially when transporting specific materials such as hazardous waste. In certain circumstances, a truck may be required to take designated routes as well. If you are involved in an accident and the driver of the truck does not have the special license required to operate the vehicle or is not using the designated routes, negligence is apparent.

3. Cause Most car accidents are caused by human error such as running a red light or failing to merge properly, but that’s not always the case when it comes to trucking accidents. Did you know that if a trucking accident is caused by an equipment malfunction, failure to secure equipment or the load, or improper loading, the truck driver and trucking company may also be negligent if they failed to conduct proper inspections of the vehicle? Situations like this can be more complicated than a “normal” car accident which is why it’s always important to have an experienced attorney handling your case if your accident involved a truck.

4. Regulations Both state and federal regulations apply when a truck is involved in an accident. Recordkeeping, record retention periods, inspection and maintenance standards, and driver’s logs are all areas that need to be evaluated for possible negligence and liability when a truck has been involved in an accident.

5. Insurance Policies Multiple insurance policies may be applicable depending on who is at fault. In some cases, there may be one policy covering the truck and another covering the driver. There may also be the possibility that the trailer and contents are covered under a separate policy.

6. History Under current laws the federal government keeps records on all accidents, inspections, and tickets and citations received by individual truck drivers and trucking companies. A history of maintenance problems with a driver or trucking company’s vehicles or a history of accidents and citations can be important in proving knowledge and negligence and can ultimately affect the damages that may be awarded to someone injured in an accident with a truck.

The main thing to remember when it comes to truck accidents is that they are not like a typical car accident. They are complex and time-consuming and are generally best handled with an experienced attorney on your side. Severe injuries, death, large insurance policies, federal regulations, and sometimes intense legal battles aren’t something you likely want to deal with if you are trying to recover from a truck accident.

If you’ve suffered an injury due to a truck accident, contact VanDerGinst Law today. We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve. The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win. Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391. The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.


The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.