The simple answer is “Yes.” Although most truck accident lawyers could handle a car accident case, most car accident attorneys are not competent to handle truck accident cases. Why? Because truck accidents are much more complex and require a greater skill set than car wreck cases due to three factors:
- Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies are governed by federal law, state commercial driving regulations, company policies and other industry standards that do not apply to regular, non-commercial car drivers.
- Truck Wrecks Often Result in More Serious Injuries than Car Accidents.
- Trucking Companies, Truck Drivers and Trucking Insurance Companies Fight Harder because the Stakes are Higher.
Let us look at why Truck Accident Lawyers Different from Car Accident Lawyers.
Truck Drivers & Trucking Companies Are Governed By Federal Law & Commercial Regulations
First, truck drivers and trucking companies must comply not only with state traffic laws but also with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The FMCSRs are complex, numerous and confusing. An experienced trucking lawyer knows how to interpret these regulations and, more importantly, how the courts interpret them. This is essential in evaluating truck accident cases and determining the proper way to position the case in litigation or for settlement. All 50 states require special licenses for commercial truck drivers, who must undergo rigorous testing to even receive a permit to drive a large truck. Truck drivers must comply with these commercial driving manuals issued by the licensing state. In addition, trucking companies educate and train their drivers using industry-wide policies and procedures, like the Smith System, that is mandatory. A good trucking lawyer will know how to obtain these state licensing requirements and corporate policies so that they can be used to evaluate the conduct of the truck driver and company and find evidence of wrongdoing that will be hidden to the inexperienced auto wreck lawyer who does not know where to look.
Truck Accidents Are Often Involve More Serious Injuries
Second, truck wrecks typically involve more injuries than car wrecks because of a tractor-trailer combination. A typical car weighs under 5,000 pounds. A tractor-trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Using the physics equation that Force = Mass times Acceleration, the forces involved when a truck smashes into a car are much greater. These greater forces inflict greater injuries which mean more medical expenses, more missed work time and more emotional trauma to the unfortunate victim.
Because the damages are greater, more insurance coverage is required for commercial carriers. A commercial driver is required to have at least $750,000 in liability insurance, but most have many millions in coverage. Because more money is at stake, they fight harder and tougher than an auto insurer. A good trucking lawyer knows this. More complex injuries require a more sophisticated understanding of medicine and the future disabilities that catastrophically injured victims would face, compared to a simple whiplash injury from a car wreck.
Trucking Companies & Their Insurance Companies Are Tougher To Fight
Third, because of the competition in the trucking industry, the players desperately want to minimize their responsibility for truck accidents. Freight companies want low insurance rates to compete financially. Commercial drivers understand that a lot of wrecks, tickets or safety violations mean they will not be employed for long. Insurance companies want to avoid paying out high settlements to increase their bottom line. There is great incentive to fight hard and put a lot of money out to make sure the plaintiff goes away. Insurance companies have response teams that go onsite to every truck wreck and will get lawyers out to the scene within hours. They often try to lobby the police officer to not issue citations. The “black box” or Event Data Recorder (EDR) can be erased and with it all the data from the accident like the truck speed, braking, and trip history. An experienced trucking lawyer knows how to make the trucking company preserve all this data, which could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Injured truck accident victims need an experienced lawyer who has handled a lot of tractor trailer and commercial vehicle accidents. Hiring an auto wreck lawyer who has not handled a lot of truck cases is a recipe for disaster. These cases are hotly contested by extremely skilled defense attorneys who are paid a lot of money by truck insurance companies. Because the damages are usually much greater, the stakes are higher. More resources are available to defense attorneys and insurance companies and those must be matched measure for measure by the Plaintiff’s team or they could get run over. We have litigated and won trucking cases for 25 years and we are passionate about using our experience to protect our clients against trucking companies. If you have any questions or if you’d like to come in and talk to a lawyer about a trucking accident, please call us at 770-717-5100.