What Are the Differences Between a Car and a Truck Accident Claim?

If you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident, the effects can be serious and long-lasting. In addition to physical injuries and property damages, you may also suffer from emotional and mental distress, as well as financial uncertainties. 

When you hire an experienced, qualified attorney to represent your case, healing can begin as quickly as possible. Your lawyer will fight for your rights and make sure you receive the compensation you need to reclaim your quality of life. 

It’s important to choose a legal team that’s well-equipped to handle your specific type of injury. A truck accident claim, for instance, will differ somewhat from a car accident claim.

While these two share some similarities, there are key distinctions to note. Today, we’re breaking down the factors that separate these two types of claims so you can find the right resources as you move forward. 

Car Accidents vs. Truck Accidents: A High-Level Overview

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 2.3 million Americans were injured in automobile accidents in 2020. This shows a slight decrease in average numbers from years prior, which totaled approximately 2.7 million in both 2019 and 2020. 

While this number is sizeable, it’s important to understand that it encompasses all types of vehicular crashes. This includes those that involve:

  • Passenger Cars
  • Light Trucks
  • Large Trucks
  • Motorcycles

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that around 510,000 police-reported crashes involve large trucks each year. Of those, roughly 29% result in injuries to the driver or passenger. 

While there may be fewer accidents involving large trucks, these claims still require the legal expertise and experience of a qualified personal injury lawyer. The serious nature of these accidents often necessitates an even higher degree of legal counsel. 

Types of Personal Injuries Experienced

Whether you’re involved in a car accident case or a truck accident case, there may be physical injuries involved. This is one way in which these two claims can differ from one another. Let’s take a look at the most common types of injuries, and the vehicles that lead to them. 

Common Truck Accident Injuries 

When a tractor-trailer or large commercial truck is involved in a collision, it can cause serious and catastrophic physical injuries. This is primarily due to the sheer weight and size of the vehicle. 

In addition, injuries tend to be more significant and numerous because collisions involving trucks often lead to multi-car pileups on roadways and highways. While accident victims can sustain injuries in any type of vehicular accident, certain afflictions are more common with trucks or tractor-trailers.

These include: 

  • Neck injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Burn injuries
  • Crushed, fractured, or broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ injuries 
  • Seat belt injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Amputations
  • Disfigurements

In addition to physical injuries, truck accidents can also cause afflictions that you can’t see from the outside. These are conditions that affect your mental health for the long term, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to anxiety and depression.  

The above conditions are categorized as catastrophic injuries. This means they occur suddenly and without warning, and leave victims with life-changing impacts. In most cases, a catastrophic injury will require extensive medical treatment, as well as other services, such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation 
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Ongoing care

While a settlement alone cannot help a victim regain their quality of life, it can go a long way toward paying for these services and easing their financial burden. Reputable truck accident lawyers, including the ones on our team, will work to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Common Car Accident Injuries

Personal injuries are also common in car accidents, although these are not always as severe or catastrophic. Minor injuries resulting from a car collision include:

  • Whiplash
  • Bruising
  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Facial injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Wrist and hand injuries
  • Pain and distress

Some of the more advanced or serious accidents that can occur include: 

  • Brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Back injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Internal bleeding
  • Scars and disfigurations 

Like truck accidents, car accidents can also lead to emotional and mental distress. Even after their bodies are healed, victims may still replay scenes from the collision or suffer from intrusive thoughts. These can manifest into myriad disorders, including PTSD and depression.

In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 39.2% of all motor vehicle accident survivors will develop PTSD following an accident. The odds are especially high if that individual experiences any of the following:

  • Disassociation during or immediately after the accident
  • High levels of emotion during or immediately after the accident
  • A history of prior trauma
  • A lack of social support 

Moving beyond both physical and psychological injuries can require therapy, medication, treatments, surgeries, and more. Again, these services are not always economical and accessible. A car accident lawyer can help victims recoup some of their losses so they can seek the support they need. 

Differences in Case Complexity

While the injuries that can stem from car and truck accidents may differ slightly, this isn’t the only way in which these claims are unique. 

If you’re involved in a truck accident, then you’ll also find that the claims process can be significantly more complex and involved. This is because these types of collisions are often multilayered and affect more than one party. Some of the different people who might be involved on the defendant’s side include:

  • The truck driver
  • The shipper
  • The cargo owner
  • The trucking company
  • The maintenance company
  • The parts manufacturer 

On one hand, this can work in your favor. If there are multiple parties involved, then there may also be multiple sources of insurance available to cover your losses. However, it also means that even basic, initial negotiations are inherently more complex. 

Again, this underscores the importance of hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who has worked on multiple, concurrent accident claims. To win these types of claims, the attorney will need to be adept at collecting critical evidence and proving fault. These can be complicated steps that require the support of multiple parties, including the victim.

Gathering Evidence

Truck accidents often involve different types of evidence than you’ll find at a car accident. In addition to photos and video surveillance footage, you’re also looking for any data that can tell you more about the truck driver and their competency on the road. 

You can find these insights in multiple places, including:

  • Truck maintenance records
  • Driver training and employment records
  • Driver medical records
  • Results of driver’s drug and alcohol tests
  • Driver mobile phone records
  • Camera footage from the truck’s interior

In addition, your lawyer may request information from the driver’s log, which includes data on how far they’ve driven and every break or stop they’ve taken along the way. They’ll also be interested in the truck’s black box recorder, which captures a range of insights about a truck’s performance, including: 

  • Speed
  • GPS
  • Engine data
  • Driver inputs
  • Pre-crash vehicle dynamics 

Why is evidence important? If a trucker is involved in a collision, their company or insurer may be held responsible. As soon as an accident occurs, they will send investigators and adjusters to the scene.

These parties are there to gather details about what happened. They’re also looking for any type of evidence that may suggest the trucker was not at fault. If you experience an injury due to a truck driver’s negligent act, then it’s important to gather as much evidence from the scene of the collision as you can.

Take photos and videos of your injuries, as well as any property damages that your vehicle sustained. If you’re able, get contact information and insurance information from the truck driver, as well as any other drivers involved. In addition, request names and contact information for any key witnesses who saw what happened. 

After you leave the crash site, keep detailed records of any physician visits you attend, as well as follow-up therapy sessions. All of this data can help fortify your version of events and will strengthen your claim. 

Navigating Settlement Offers

In the days or weeks following an accident, a representative from the trucking company or insurance company may try to contact you. If they do, then you do not have to speak to them. 

Despite what they might say or offer, do not accept any settlement or sign any documents until you meet with your personal injury attorney. They will be able to advise you on whether the offer is a sound one, and can act as an intermediary between you and the insurer. 

Settlements are another way that truck accident claims differ from car accident ones. Trucking companies usually have high liability insurance policies that eclipse most standard auto insurance policies. Because they have these resources in place, they may be able to offer you a higher settlement than you’d receive if you’d been injured in a car accident. 

While these figures might seem solid, it’s still smart to confer with your attorney before accepting any terms. Keep in mind that while the offer might be higher, the problems can be higher, too. 

If you ever need to negotiate or litigate a truck accident claim down the road, it can be much more difficult to do so with such a high amount at stake. 

Understanding Commercial Safety Standards

Like all drivers, truck operators have to comply with basic traffic laws. In addition, they must also follow special state and federal rules to stay safe on the road. 

The FMCSA defines certain standards and regulations that commercial vehicle owners and drivers must meet. In many cases, these standards differ somewhat from regular driving rules. For instance, most states hold commercial truckers to a lower allowable blood alcohol content (BAC) level than the normal legal limit. 

A lawyer with experience in truck accident claims can research the details of the accident to determine if those standards were met during the time of the collision. This is one of the factors that can greatly influence the outcome of your case. If your lawyer can prove that the truck driver was not acting in accordance with FMCSA guidelines, then it’s easier to prove fault. 

It can be challenging and even daunting to go up against large trucking companies on your own. This is why knowledge is key. Your lawyer can explain the regulatory requirements and help you identify any areas of non-compliance that can work in your favor. 

Enlisting Expert Support

If the trucking company or insurance company isn’t willing to negotiate on their offer or is unwilling to accept blame, then your lawyer may need to call in outside support. 

Some experts can help demonstrate how an accident occurred, as well as the extent of your injuries. These include:

  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Medical experts
  • Investigators

Combined with your witness testimonies, the professional influence of these individuals can add value to your case. If you’re seeking to recover a large sum from a trucking company, it’s critical to find a legal team that has these relationships and partnerships in place. 

On the other hand, car accidents aren’t always as complex. Gathering evidence, proving liability, and explaining the full extent of your injuries may not require the services of such experts. This makes it easier to negotiate with the other party and could help you receive your compensation more quickly. 

Find Help With Your Truck Accident Claim

In many ways, a truck accident claim is similar to any other motor vehicle accident claim. However, there are special nuances that make these cases a little more complex. From the injuries you could sustain to the evidence you need to gather, there’s an extra layer of intricacy to consider. 

This is why it’s smart to hire a personal injury attorney who specializes specifically in truck accident law. At Sweet Law, we’re well-versed in handling a range of different accident claims, including ones involving cars, motorcycles, and trucks.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.  

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