Out of the two million people that die each year in the United States, more than 32,000 people die due to an auto accident. Of those killed in auto accidents, nearly 5,000 were in an accident involving a semi-truck.
Two million semis operate in the U.S. the can account for more than 200 billion miles per year collectively, so there is no surprise that there are about 500,000 accidents that involve tractor trailers. In the accidents that do involve tractor trailers, 80% of those accidents are caused by car drivers and 20% are cause by truck drivers.
Semi vs. Car Accidents
Although people may think that car accidents and accidents with tractor trailers are the same, they are not.
Size and Weight of Semis and Automobiles
An average car weighs around 4,000 pounds, compared to an average tractor trailer that weighs around 80,000 pounds. Size is everything in an auto accident, and because of this, accidents with a semi truck tend to cause more damage than an accident with another car.
For example, if you were sitting at a complete stop at an intersection and you were rear-ended by another vehicle that was going to 35mph, the impact would be much less than if it was a tractor trailer going the same speed and rear-ended you. Since the tractor trailer is larger in size and weight, you are going to feel more of an impact even though the vehicle and tractor trailer were going the same speed.
Injuries and Property Damage in a Truck Accident
Since tractor trailers have more of an impact, the injuries and property damage can be very serious and even deadly. A rear-end from a passenger vehicle could give someone whiplash, but that same rear-end from a tractor trailer could cause someone to have neck pain, back pain, or even sprains and broken bones.
The property damage from that same rear-end from the vehicle may cause a scratch on your rear bumper, but the property damage from the tractor trailer can result in a total loss or cause frame damage to your vehicle.
Truck Driver Logs and Files
A truck driver is not allowed to use their cell phone unless they are on a wireless Bluetooth ear piece. They have logs for the amount of time they drive, how many times they stop, how long they stop for and how long they rest. Their time on the clock is completely accounted for
The driver cannot mess with these logs due as they are recorded by a computer inside the truck. When an accident happens, these logs, the drivers’ cell phone records and all inspections that have been done to the semi all become evidence. Where as, if you were involved in an accident with another vehicle, it’s more likely to be your word against theirs unless there are witnesses to help your case.
Are Truck Drivers At Fault in a Trucking Accident?
Most car accidents happen because of driver negligence. When you are involved in an accident with a tractor trailer and it was their fault, not only is the truck driver at fault, but the trucking company and the truck manufacturer could be liable too.
A trucking company is responsible for the drivers’ hours, their logs and files and the truck maintenance. Their negligence could also come into play depending on the facts of the accident. The truck manufacturer could be liable for malfunctions that are found on the truck that caused the accident to happen as they should have been taken care of in truck maintenance.
Automobile Insurance Coverage in a Semi Accident
While the state of Florida requires that if you live within the state and have a valid license plate, you have to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP), $20,000 in property damage (PD); a tractor trailers minimum is $300,000, and some may carry up to a million dollars or more.
A tractor trailer is required to carry more coverage due to them being larger in size and weight, carrying cargo, and they are more at risk of getting into an accident because they are constantly on the road. They also need more coverage because they can cause serious injuries and property damage in an accident. This is why being involved in a truck accident can be so deadly.
Although some people think that they can handle insurance companies on their own, it is better to seek help from an auto accident and truck accident attorney because most of the time you are dealing with bigger insurance companies who provide larger amounts of coverage. It may be harder to get the most back from your case when you try to settle it on your own.
Preventing Accidents Between Semi Trucks and Automobiles
There are ways to help prevent these accidents. For example, truck drivers have large blind spots, so as a driver, you can help the truckers by trying to stay out of those blind spots whenever possible.
A lot of people also hate being stuck behind a tractor trailer, but being reckless when trying to pass is a frequent cause of truck accidents. If you get in front of them and slam on your brakes for whatever reason, you may not be giving them enough time to stop. Remember, a tractor trailer and a vehicle could be going the same speed but it takes longer for the tractor trailer to stop because of its size and weight. Much longer.
In order to cut the number of fatalities and auto accidents, take that extra second to look around even if you are in hurry. No life is worth being taken and no one should have to suffer with injuries for the rest of their life. As a driver, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep aware of their surroundings at all times.
If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident or an accident with a tractor trailer, do some research and find an auto accident and truck accident attorney that is going help you with your case. Although choosing the right attorney is a tough choice to make, it is an incredibly important one. If your case is complex, you want to make sure your attorney has knowledge, experience, and success in their auto accident cases so you know that you are getting the most back from your case.