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How Do Truck Accidents Differ From Car Accidents? 

April 22, 2024 | Injury Law,Truck Accidents

Truck accidents stand apart from car accidents not only in their scale but also in the complexities they introduce to the aftermath and legal proceedings. For injured parties, understanding these distinctions is crucial, as it impacts the approach to seeking compensation.

Trucks are Governed by Different State and Federal Regulations

Commercial trucks are regulated by a complex system of both state and federal laws meant to provide safer roads. Understanding these specific regulations is helpful if you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck driver. Some of the most relevant ones include:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: These federal regulations limit the number of hours drivers may operate within a given time period. If a commercial driver violates this rule, this can be evidence of negligence and can cause them to be liable for the accident.
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirements: Drivers must meet higher qualification standards, including specialized training and testing. Lack of a proper CDL can impact liability.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing: Mandatory testing for truck drivers aims to reduce the risk of impaired driving accidents. Positive tests can directly influence fault and legal proceedings.
  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) Mandate: This requires the use of ELDs to accurately record driving hours, replacing paper logs. Non-compliance can be evidence of HOS violations.

Understanding these regulations is essential as it can help determine liability by using standards and evidence that may not exist in car accident cases.

Size and Weight Differences Between Trucks and Smaller Vehicles

The considerable size and weight of commercial trucks have a profound impact on the dynamics of accidents, potential for damage, and the severity of injuries when compared to accidents involving smaller vehicles. These differences include:

Increased Braking Distance

Trucks require significantly more distance to come to a complete stop than smaller vehicles, especially at higher speeds or in poor weather conditions. This can lead to collisions if trucks cannot stop in time.

Reduced Maneuverability

The large size of trucks limits their ability to maneuver quickly in response to road hazards or traffic conditions, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Greater Force at Impact

The mass of a truck means that any collision with a smaller vehicle is likely to result in more severe damage and injuries due to the higher force of impact.

Investigation Process for Truck Accidents

The investigation of a truck accident is a meticulous process that looks into various records and devices to uncover the factors leading to the incident. This detailed examination is essential for building a strong case. Key components of this investigation include:

Logbooks: Investigators scrutinize drivers’ logbooks for compliance with HOS regulations. Discrepancies or violations can indicate driver fatigue, a significant factor in many truck accidents.

Electronic Logging Devices: Electronic logging devices essentially create a digital copy of how long a truck has been operating. Analyzing ELD data can show you and your attorney if the truck driver exceeded the HOS limits and could lead to a determination that the driver was negligent.

Dash Cam Footage: Many trucks have a dashboard camera that records the moment of the accident. This video can be crucial in reconstructing the accident and assessing who was at fault.

Cargo Records: Analyzing how the cargo was loaded or secured can provide evidence of whether this played a role in the accident. Overloaded or poorly secured cargoes affect a truck’s stability and braking, which could lead to an accident.

Knowing the differences between car and truck accidents and the different types of evidence that may be available is helpful so you know what is needed to prove someone else was responsible for the accident. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation.