Many clients ask whether a truck accident is any different than a car accident. The simple answer is yes — truck accidents are very different. You’re talking about, for example, an 18-wheeler tractor trailer rig that legally can weigh up to 80,000 pound and be up to 70 or 80 feet long with a load hitting a small family car. The impact can be devastating.
In these kinds of cases, we want to get an expert witness on board, typically an engineer, to come right to the scene as quickly as possible to evaluate what evidence is at the scene of the wreck. We would do the same in any car accident case. But in a truck accident, it becomes a priority because you’re dealing with a large corporation who is trying to diminish the value of your claim or avoid responsibility.
Another difference with a truck accident is that you’re dealing with someone who drives for a living. A typical truck driver, in order to drive an 18-wheeler, has to have a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. They make a very good living hauling commerce across the United States. But these folks lose their job if they have too many violations. It’s not just losing the privilege to drive, but also their job, so there is an incentive for the truck driver to deny or not accept responsibility. So it’s really important that you have a lawyer that’s familiar with the federal and state regulations that apply to big rigs like that.
They can do a proper investigation and determine whether or not the driver was qualified to drive the truck. Did the driver have a health problem where they shouldn’t have been driving, such as epilepsy, a heart condition, or diabetes? Or it could be that there was a maintenance problem with the vehicle. Sometimes it’s also the corporate entity’s (the trucking company) fault because they’re responsible for maintaining the brakes, making sure they have adequate tread on the tires, and more. Maybe the issue doesn’t lie solely in the maintenance department. It could be that there is a systemic problem where they don’t have qualified people to work as mechanics on these trucks that drive hundreds of thousands of miles across the United States.
There are many issues that make these cases more complex. Many of these cases rely on expert witnesses hired early on in the case to provide as much information as possible to help prove your case. That’s why it’s always important to get the help of an experienced injury attorney if you’ve been injured by a truck.