Around 8 p.m. on March 9, 2018 in Tinley Park to the near south of Chicago, a car crashed into a truck in front of the gun store, Freddie Bear Sports. Luckily, no one was injured, but the truck caught on fire and onlookers were worried that there would be an imminent explosion because of the close proximity of the ammunitions.
The onlookers tried using a fire extinguisher, but they couldn’t put out the fire. The situation was neutralized eventually with the help of the local fire department.
After Being Informed, A Truck Accident Attorney Would Already Have Hit Certain Illinois Entities on Speed Dial
Accidents involving flaming trucks aren’t too common, but a car accident involving a truck actually happens quite frequently across the U.S.. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that over 333,000 trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds were involved in accidents in 2012.
But, just because truck accidents are common, doesn’t mean you’re well-prepared for one. You should call a truck accident attorney instead of a general car accident attorney in the unfortunate event that you’re involved in a truck accident.
A truck accident attorney would act quicker because he knows that some legal aspects of a truck accident are more time-sensitive than a simple car accident involving two cars. For example, the truck accident may have been significantly caused by the truck being overweight. Trucks have weight limitations, and they’re routinely weighed at weigh stations and other routine third-party checkpoints. But weigh stations and other truck stops routinely destroy records within relatively short periods of time!
These receipts and truck visit records could be the only proof that the truck involved was overweight – or could shed light on some underlying negligence committed by the driver or company. A truck accident attorney would attempt to quickly preserve this evidence by promptly going through the proper channels that would order these truck checkpoints to preserve the evidence.
A Truck Accident Attorney Knows That a Truck Accident Is Very Different From a Normal Car Accident
You might not realize that most normal aspects of a car accident radically change when a truck is involved. Here are just a few of the possible legal differences between a car accident and a truck accident that a truck accident attorney is well-trained to spot and react to:
1. Respondeat Superior
Car accidents are usually between two people driving their own personal cars. Truck accidents usually involve trucks that are usually driven by employees or contractors who answer to a boss. There’s a legal doctrine called respondeat superior that applies in most states, but varies by state in the magnitude it affects a truck accident.
Respondeat superior can hold an employer or boss liable for any truck accident that their employees or contractors are involved in. That means, the company or person who owns the truck and employs the truck’s driver could be responsible for the truck accident even if they weren’t actually physically present at the scene.
2. Different People and Companies With Different Levels of Fault
Car accidents usually involve two cars owned by one person each. Truck accidents frequently involve multiple ownerships. For example, the truck may be owned by the driver, but the trailer it was pulling may be owned by the employer or third-party company. Since both the trailer and the truck were involved in the truck accident, the trailer’s owner may also be held responsible.
These different owners have also insured their truck, tractor, trailer, and other significant property differently, which leads to a more complex level of insurance liability compared with two simple car insurance policies. For example, an underlying bobtail coverage policy takes effect if the truck wasn’t carrying a load or being used on an active job. The insurance policies of each of the different owners of each of the different components involved in a truck accident can come into play.
There are also truck insurance legislations that can force insurance companies to provide coverage for uninsured or uncovered trucks and their drivers, like MCS-90. Car accidents often don’t involve such complex insurance issues.
3. Federal Law and Complex Conflicts of Law Issues
Car accidents usually happen between people who are from the same state. People don’t drive out of state on a daily basis, so you’re more likely to get into a fender bender with someone heading to work or the grocery store. But truck accidents usually involve trucks delivering supplies from out-of-state suppliers.
Different states have different legal thresholds when it comes to fault, liability, and reimbursement. When the two parties involved in a truck accident are from different states, the court has to decide which laws from which states apply.
This can be a huge mess that a typical car accident attorney wouldn’t have regular experience in. But, a truck accident attorney would be well-versed in figuring out which states’ laws would apply surrounding a truck accident or how to get the most ideal law to apply in favor of his client. For example, the state where the truck accident occurred may have a cap on how much money the injured client can recover, but the state where the other party is from may be more plaintiff-friendly and allow for more damages recovered.
These issues can also get extremely complex if the truck driver, employer, and owners of the various add-on vehicles carried by the truck are all from different states.
4. Truck Drivers and Their Employers Are Held to a Higher Standard of Care
Car accidents usually involve two drivers who are only required to possesses a driver’s license to prove they’re legally allowed to drive. The only other common complication is whether alcohol was involved during the time of the accident. Rarer complications include whether a doctor has ordered that a driver not drive because his medication or current physical state would put him at a higher risk of getting into a car accident.
Truck drivers and the companies and employers who hire them and who own the trucks have higher requirements to be legally allowed to let these 10,000-pound vehicles on the highway. Truck drivers have to go through CDL school, which includes a minimum amount of supervised truck driving hours in order to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Part of this training teaches truck drivers how to accelerate and brake a lot longer before when a car would need to.
These higher standards for truck drivers open the doors for more legal reasons why a truck driver or his employer are at fault in a truck accident. For example, if the truck driver didn’t have a CDL or didn’t follow accepted procedures for coming to a stop or accelerating during the time of the truck accident, then he and his employer will be more likely to be at fault in the court’s eyes. Car drivers aren’t really legally held to such higher standards.
Trucking companies, their drivers, and a scattered select employees in the chain of maintenance and administration are also responsible to inspect the truck routinely. If the truck accident is caused by failing equipment within the truck, then any of these people and entities could be held responsible for not properly inspecting the truck.
A truck accident attorney would be sensitive to all of these possible avenues of recovery. Compared to a normal car accident attorney, he would be best capable of maximizing a client’s probability of getting reimbursed by any or all of these multiple parties who may be liable due to them being expected to carry out a higher standard of care.
5. Unique Situations Can Cause Truck Accidents
Car accidents usually involve fender benders or some kind of car-to-car interaction. Truck accidents can involve unique situations that two normal cars usually can’t physically create – like jackknifing, which is when the cargo or trailer suddenly swerves at an angle and collides into nearby vehicles.
Jackknifing truck accidents can also cause the truck itself to swing with the trailer and cause an even more serious accident.
A truck accident attorney would be more familiar with these unique situations and would promptly explore all the possible causes, like faulty hookups between the trailer and tractor. He would be quicker to weed out the potentially liable parties whose negligence caused the unique situation that led to the truck accident.
These are just a few main differences between a car accident and a truck accident. What’s important to remember is that if you’re ever involved in a truck accident, it’s most probably in your best interests to call up a truck accident attorney instead of your regular car accident attorney.