What makes an accident with a tractor trailer different than a regular automobile accident?
Accidents involving tractor trailers (also commonly known as either Semi-Trucks or 18 Wheelers) can be far more complex than accidents involving regular consumer vehicles. Most significantly, due to their size and sheer power, accidents involving Tractor Trailers can produce a higher degree of catastrophic damage and serious traumatic injuries. It is generally a good practice to be extra cautious when driving on major highways where commercial trucks are likely to traverse.
There are many similarities between Tractor Trailer accidents and standard automobile accidents, so it is important to discuss the various differences.
- Time becomes a greater factor: Most Tractor Trailers are owned by a business and therefore and generally insured through a Commercial Insurance Policy. Some of the insurance companies will actually hire a third party claims company to investigate and handle settlement of the claim. After an accident involving one of their trucks, companies will usually contact the insurance company immediately. From commencement of the claim, investigators from the company itself, the insurance carrier, and even perhaps the third-party claims company will deploy investigators to gather as much information as possible, including statements from the driver, pictures of the damaged vehicles and interviews from witnesses. We highly advise that you speak with an attorney before speaking to anyone affiliated with the owner or insurance company of the Tractor Trailer. Remember, these are not impartial investigators or adjusters, they work for the commercial truck company or the insurance company!
- Commercial Insurance Policies are often more complex than standard auto policies: Commercials Insurance Policies often involve coverage for multiple drivers and vehicles. Furthermore, there may be specific language as to which company is held liable for which occurrence and for how much. These Commercial Policies will sometime allot specific liability coverage for damage to property versus injury to person. Conversely, the policy may combine all damage and injury into a Combined Single Limit (CSL) Policy. In either and any case, it is important to have an attorney experienced with handling accidents involving commercial policies thoroughly review the commercial policy to insure that all coverage is being aggressively pursued.
- There may be many parties liable for your injuries: Very often, we see an accident involving a Tractor Trailer wherein the truck is owned by one commercial carrier and the cargo trailer is owned by another. Furthermore, oftentimes, the truck is individually owned and the cargo trailer is the only portion commercially owned. Who is responsible for your injuries? The answer to that question lies in the thorough examination of all contracts and policies between the various parties. It is important to fully explore the relationship between the driver and the company in order to establish that the driver was operating as an employee of the company. Furthermore, if this relationship is established, the company may be liable for negligent hiring and supervision depending on the driver’s past record. We pride ourselves in our thorough examination of all contractual documents to explore and examine all relationships between liable parties. Remember, all investigations and legal services are covered under our No Fee Guarantee, which ensures that you pay us nothing unless we win your case.
- Catastrophic injuries: Unfortunately, accidents involving large commercial trucks often involve serious bodily injury and in some cases even fatalities. These injuries could involve major surgeries, lengthy hospital stays and months of rehabilitative therapy. In addition to potentially life-altering injuries, victims and the families are faced with the immediate burden of expensive medical bills. It is very important that in arguing your case, your attorney is able to aggressively pursue just compensation not only for past medical bills but for pain, suffering, mental anguish and the costs of future medical care. With the magnitude of injuries, Commercial Insurance carriers will likely employ an attorney immediately to assist is minimizing their and the company’s exposure.
*Before hiring an attorney to represent you or a loved one for injuries sustained in an accident involving a Tractor Trailer, we highly recommend that you ask the attorney to share with you the results of similar cases involving commercial vehicles and commercial insurance coverage.
We invite you to call us or request a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys who can share with you our results in handling accidents involving Tractor Trailers.