Because of the sheer size of 18-wheelers (as much as 80,0000 lbs.) and other commercial vehicles, accidents involving these vehicles often result in serious injuries or death. These accidents are less likely to occur on back roads, at night or on weekends. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, many crashes of these kinds occur on interstate highways, and three out of four occur on weekdays between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Top rated personal injury lawyers will tell you that the best course of action following such an accident will differ from an accident between two passenger cars. If you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler or commercial vehicle, you should know there are differences in:
- Insurance liability coverage
- Complexity of investigation
- Standards for owners of commercial vehicles
- Standards for drivers of commercial vehicles
Insurance liability coverage
Operators of personal vehicles typically have insurance coverage ranging from $30,000 to $250,000. The amount you might receive following an accident between passenger cars generally will be constrained by the amount of liability coverage held by the owners of the automobiles.
Businesses obtain much higher amounts of liability coverage so that the business is protected from any large claim. Trucking companies will have a minimum coverage of $1 million, and often are insured for multi-millions. A driver or passenger of a car involved in an accident with a semi-truck or 18-wheeler will be pursuing these larger damages.
Complexity of investigation
Investigating an accident with an 18-wheeler or commercial vehicle is nearly always more complex than investigating an accident between passenger cars. There may be several cars involved in an accident with these huge vehicles. The accident might have been caused by cargo falling off the truck, or by an issue with the truck itself that should have been discovered during inspection or maintenance. Authorities will have more potential witnesses to interview and technical inspections to conduct, and so will top accident attorneys.
Standards for owners of commercial vehicles
Businesses operating commercial vehicles are required to keep safety and maintenance records for every vehicle. Semi-trucks are subject to daily inspections before each shift. These higher standards are in place because a defect in a huge vehicle may result in greater damages and injuries on the highway than a personal passenger car. Businesses also are required to provide training to drivers, and to keep records that show whether drivers are following rules for commercial drivers.
Standards for drivers of commercial vehicles
Your car accident lawyer knows that many truck drivers drive long hours, and this raises the risk of truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel and causing a serious accident. That is why there are rules about how many hours a truck driver may drive in a day. Truck drivers are also required to keep a log book of their driving hours.
There is a lot to know about how to handle a personal injury case between a car and a commercial vehicle. Your first course of action is to contact an experienced attorney at Perna & Abracht LLC, who will take all the steps necessary to protect your rights and seek fair compensation for your injuries.