There is a popular myth that an accident case involving a semi truck is not much different than a case involving two passenger vehicles. There are many reasons why truck accident cases are different – here are ten.
1. Tractor trailers are bigger. Semi trailers come in a variety of lengths, up to a maximum
of 53 feet. The maximum width of a semi trailer is 8.5 feet. The maximum allowed vehicle height without special permits is 13.5 feet. The size of the vehicle is important in understanding factors in an accident such as visibility.
2. Tractor trailers are heavier. A loaded tractor trailer has a weight restriction of 80,000
pounds on most roads in most states. By comparison, a tractor trailer weights 25-30 times the weight of many passenger vehicles. Given the increased size and weight of a tractor trailer, stopping distances may increase. If there is a collision, the risk of harm will increase.
3. Truckers are professional drivers. Interstate truckers are required to have special
licenses, commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). This means that truckers are required to pass tests in addition to the standard tests for a regular driver’s license. Truckers are held to a different standard for than the typical driver. They are professional drivers.
4. Trucking companies and drivers are more heavily regulated. In addition to regular
traffic rules, trucking companies and drivers must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations are designed to regulate the trucking industry in such a way so as to keep the public safe.
5. Driver fatigue of and distracted driving by truckers is likely to be more common and
more deadly. Trucking companies and drivers are paid to move freight as quickly and efficiently as possible from one point to another. Sometimes, this means truckers drive too long, do not take appropriate breaks, and otherwise push the limits of safety.
6. Truckers and trucking companies are required to keep more records. For example, the
hours of service regulations required the trucking company to retain the drivers “record of duty status” (RODS), also known as “logs” for six months. There are many other records that should be secured in the event of an accident.
7. Big trucks have sophisticated electronic systems that can provide valuable information.
For example, there are systems that deal with tire pressure monitoring, engine control modules, speed control, backup systems, and a variety of other issues. Obtaining this information can make a significant difference in a case.
8. Evidence disappears more readily in trucking cases. In addition to records that are only
required to be kept for a short period of time by the trucking company, other evidence may disappear if not obtained shortly after the wreck. For example, electronic information available from the truck involved in the accident may not be retained by the trucking company indefinitely.
9. More and different experts may be required in a trucking case. For example, in many
trucking cases, an expert will be necessary to access the various electronic evidence that is available from the truck involved in the accident. Depending upon the facts of a case, accident reconstructionists, load securement experts, and other experts may also be important in the investigation.
10. Internal trucking company documents are available and important. For example, in a
trucking case, a victim may want to obtain the trucker’s personnel file, training records, and copies of any disciplinary actions taken by the trucking company. Similarly, a victim may want to obtain copies of trucking company policies and procedures regarding, hiring, training, supervision, and firing. This type of information can be useful in prosecuting a truck accident case.
If you have been involved in a wreck with a semi truck, you should consider these important differences when hiring a lawyer. If you have any questions regarding the differences do not hesitate to contact us directly.