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January 16, 2024

3 Key Ways Commercial Truck Accidents Are Different from Car Accidents

by Evan Breaux | Personal Injury Lawyers | 0 comments
Key Ways Commercial Truck Accidents Are Different from Car Accidents

In this article, the experienced personal injury attorneys of Breaux Law Firm cover the crucial differences between commercial truck accidents and car accidents in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and across Louisiana, and why you should hire a car accident lawyer for any accident involving truck collisions.

In New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and across Louisiana, you can find any number of vehicles sharing the road on a given day, from compact cars to massive commercial trucks.

While traffic accidents are an unfortunate reality, the dynamics and consequences of commercial truck accidents differ significantly from collisions involving regular automobiles.

Breaux Law Firm is committed to shedding light on the complexities surrounding commercial truck accidents in Louisiana and helping victims understand their rights and options in seeking justice.

What is a Commercial Truck or Big Rig?

A commercial truck, also referred to as a “big rig,” “semi-truck,” or “18-wheeler,” is a large motor vehicle designed for transporting cargo. These trucks are a vital component of the transportation industry, playing an important role in the movement of goods across long distances. Commercial trucks are distinct from regular automobiles in terms of their size, weight, and purpose.

For example, key characteristics of commercial trucks include:

Size and Weight:  Weighing up to 80,000 pounds or more, commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than typical passenger vehicles.

Tractor-Trailer Configuration: Most commercial trucks have a distinctive tractor-trailer configuration, consisting of a powerful front engine unit (the tractor or cab) that is connected to a trailer which carries the cargo. The trailer is supported by multiple wheels and axles.

Cargo Capacity: Commercial trucks carry a variety of goods and commodities. The cargo is typically loaded onto the trailer, which may be enclosed or open, depending on the transported goods.

Specialized Types: There are various types of commercial trucks tailored to specific purposes, such as flatbed trucks for transporting large or unusually shaped items like machinery, lumber, furniture, and containers, car carrier trailers for passenger vehicles, tanker trucks for liquids, and refrigerated trucks for perishable goods. Each type of truck is designed to meet the unique requirements of its cargo.

Long-Distance Hauling: Commercial trucks are commonly used for long-distance transportation, delivering goods between cities, states, and even countries. They are a vital component of the supply chain, facilitating the movement of products from manufacturers to distributors, retailers, and consumers. This also means that long-haul drivers often live on the road for days, weeks, or even months.

Professional Drivers: Commercial truck drivers are required to obtain special licenses and undergo training due to the complexity and size of the vehicles they operate.

These well-trained drivers must adhere to strict regulations around the hours they spend driving, the maintenance of their vehicles, and other elements related to the safety of everyone they share the road with.

Regulatory Oversight: Commercial trucks are subject to a comprehensive set of regulations imposed by government agencies to ensure safety on the roads, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which plays a central role in regulating the trucking industry.

What are Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents?

Driver Fatigue:

Long hours on the road, demanding schedules, and tight deadlines can easily lead to driver fatigue in the commercial trucking industry. Tired, overworked drivers are more prone to errors, slow reaction times, and impaired decision-making, all of which can contribute to devastating accidents.

Identifying and proving driver fatigue requires a thorough investigation, and the truck accident attorneys at Breaux Law Firm have the experience to uncover evidence crucial for building a strong case.

Mechanical Failures:

Driving across the country on a daily basis means that commercial trucks undergo significant wear and tear. Mechanical failures, such as brake malfunctions or tire blowouts, happen often, and can result in catastrophic accidents.

Determining whether negligence in maintenance or faulty equipment played a role in an accident requires a detailed examination of the truck’s maintenance records, and may even involve third-party experts. At Breaux Law Firm, we have the resources and knowledge needed to conduct such investigations for victims of commercial truck accidents.

Improper Loading or Cargo Issues:

Commercial trucks often carry large and heavy loads that must be properly secured. Improper loading or cargo issues can lead to a loss of control for the driver, causing crashes on the roadway and serious injuries. Determining responsibility for these issues may involve investigating the actions of not only the truck driver, but also the individuals responsible for loading and securing the cargo.

Breaux Law Firm’s expertise in commercial truck accident cases allows us to navigate these complexities and hold the responsible parties accountable, resulting in a more successful truck accident claim. 

What Makes Commercial Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

1. Size and Weight Disparities:

One of the most apparent distinctions between commercial truck accidents and regular auto accidents lies in the sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved. Commercial trucks, often weighing up to 80,000 pounds or more, exert a substantial force during a collision, leading to more severe injuries and property damage. Understanding the physics behind these accidents is crucial when assessing liability and determining appropriate compensation.

2. Regulatory Framework:

Commercial trucks are subject to a complex set of federal and state regulations designed to ensure safety on the roads. Entities such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set standards for issues like driver qualifications, maintenance schedules, and cargo securement.

Violations of these regulations can significantly impact the liability assessment in the event of an accident. Breaux Law Firm‘s expertise in navigating this regulatory framework is essential for building a robust case for victims.

3. Unique Legal Challenges in Commercial Truck Accident Cases

This is the most important difference between accidents involving just passenger vehicles and those that involve trucks and truck drivers: the legal landscape. To explain further, there are three elements that create a major difference: the liability, the fact that commercial drivers work across many states, and the complex insurance coverage. Let’s dive into these three elements:

Multiple Parties and Complex Liability:

Unlike regular auto accidents, where liability often rests solely on the driver, commercial truck accidents can involve multiple parties. The truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo loaders, and even the manufacturer of faulty equipment may share liability.

Identifying and proving the extent of each party’s responsibility requires a deep understanding of the legal intricacies surrounding commercial truck accidents. This is why hiring a truck accident lawyer is very important if you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck.

An attorney who specializes in personal injury and truck accident laws will know your legal options and will help you file a personal injury claim with a higher likelihood of success than if you try to file a claim without working with a lawyer.

Interstate Commerce and Jurisdictional Issues:

Many commercial truck accidents involve vehicles engaged in interstate commerce, which means the vehicle and truck driver work across state lines. This complicates a victim’s claim or lawsuit, and can affect the compensation you deserve as a victim of a car and truck crash.

As experts in standard passenger car accidents and truck accidents, Breaux Law Firm’s familiarity with the federal and state laws governing interstate trucking allows us to navigate these complexities and determine the most appropriate way forward for all legal proceedings.

Insurance Coverage Challenges:

Commercial trucks are usually covered by insurance policies with higher coverage limits than regular automobiles receive.

However, navigating these policies and ensuring fair compensation for victims can be challenging and frustrating! Breaux Law Firm’s experience in negotiating with insurance companies and pursuing litigation ensures that our clients receive the compensation they deserve after any vehicle accident.

Seeking Justice and Compensation after a Louisiana Truck Accident? Reach Out to Breaux Law Firm

A collision with a large truck can be frightening, stressful, and life-changing. Dealing with truck drivers and trucking companies, much less their insurance companies and lawyers, can be a nightmare. Accident victims should not be tackling such an intense, challenging pursuit after a car crash. Instead, they need to be focused on healing and recovering physically, financially, and emotionally.

Hiring a personal injury attorney means you can rely on someone else to assist you. The team of experienced attorneys at Breaux Law Firm works diligently to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and collaborate with accident reconstruction experts to establish the facts surrounding a commercial truck accident.

For example, we’ll explore questions like: Did the driver abide by hours of service rules and regulations? Does the driver have a non-expired commercial driver’s license? Were the driver and the trucking company following federal laws and regulations around cargo and interstate transportation? 

The legal team at Breaux Law Firm possesses the skills and experience necessary to negotiate with a commercial trucking company’s insurance provider and legal teams. Our goal is always to secure fair compensation for our clients, to cover a victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

In cases where a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, Breaux Law Firm is prepared to take matters to court. Our experienced truck accident litigation experience means we can present a compelling case on behalf of victims, holding negligent parties accountable and successfully winning full financial compensation for our clients’ past and future pain and suffering.

Contact Personal Injury Attorneys Breaux Law Firm Today for Help With Your Truck Accident

Commercial truck accidents across Louisiana and the entire U.S. present unique challenges that require the expertise of a law firm well-versed in the complexities of this specific type of litigation. Breaux Law Firm stands ready to assist victims in navigating the legal landscape, providing support, healing from your truck accident injuries, and pursuing fair compensation.

We treat our clients as if they are members of our own families.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by truck drivers or any type of big rig, schedule a free consultation with Breaux Law Firm today. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will provide a free review of your case and will let you know how we can help you in your recovery.