Out of the two million people that die each year in the United States, over 32,000 people die as a result of an auto accident, and nearly 5,000 of those people who die as a result of an auto accident, were in an accident involving a semi-truck.
Two million semis operate in the U.S., all together they drive over a billion miles each year, 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.
Differences between Semi Trucks and Cars
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 when you are involved in an auto accident, and because of this accidents with a semi truck tend to be more damaging 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 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 an Accident
Since tractor trailers have more of an impact, even if they are going the speed limit, the injuries and property damage can be very serious and even deadly. A rear-end from a vehicle could cause someone to have 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 could 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.
The driver cannot mess with these logs due to it being 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 tractor trailer, all become evidence. Where as, if you were involved in an accident with another vehicle, it’s your word against theirs, unless there are witnesses to help your case.
Who’s at-fault in a Trucking Accident
Although vehicles have recalls, most car accidents happen because of someone else’s 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.
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.
Although, some people think that they can handle insurance companies on their own, it is better to seek help from an auto accident Attorney because most of the time you are dealing with bigger insurance companies who provide larger amounts of coverage, so 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 really bad blind spots so as a driver, help the truckers by trying to stay out of those blind spots (if possible).
A lot of people also hate being stuck behind a tractor trailer, but let one in front of you every once in a while when they are trying to get over and don’t try to speed past them and get in front of them. 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 and which will cause them to rear-end you. 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.
In order to cut the number of fatalities and auto accidents, take that extra second to look around even if you are in hurry because no life is worth being taken and no one should have to go suffering 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 an accident with a tractor trailer, do some research and find a truck accident attorney that is going help you with your case. Although, choosing the right attorney is a tough choice to make, and direct referrals from friends and family members can be the best, every case is different. 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.