When Big Rigs & Passenger Cars Crash: The Basics
If you've been involved in a collision with a commercial truck, you know how serious these accidents can be. A commercial truck with a full load may weigh more than 80,000 pounds, whereas a passenger car likely weighs about 3,000 pounds. Serious injuries and fatalities are not unusual.
The Antagonists: What are Commercial Trucks?
A commercial truck is any large truck that is used for hauling goods. Usually, we think of eighteen-wheelers as "trucks." However, commercial trucks can be eighteen-wheelers, delivery trucks, cement trucks, dump trucks, garbage trucks, or tanker trucks.
The Cast of Characters: The Parties Involved in a Missouri Car/Truck Wreck
If you are involved in a car/truck accident, it's not just you and the truck driver that are involved. There are multiple parties, including you, the truck driver, the trucking company, the owner of the truck, and any other injured parties. In addition, it's possible that multiple insurance companies, the tire company, the truck maintenance company, and/or the truck manufacturer could be involved.
The Plot: Common Causes of Car/Truck Accidents
Distracted driving, drunk driving, and driving without adequate rest are all common causes of car/truck accidents. Other possible causes include failure to yield, speeding, running off the road, overloading the truck, lack of experience, and poor driving conditions. Lastly, unsafe or improperly maintained safety systems, oversized trucks and dangerous or reckless driving are also common factors.
First and foremost, get yourself to safety if you can. Call 911 as soon as possible. If you are able to do so from a safe distance, it can be especially helpful to take photos of the accident scene with your cell phone. Jot down the truck driver's name, license number, insurance information, trucking company and any other facts you deem relevant. Don't discuss the crash with the truck driver.
We recommend contacting an attorney as soon as possible following the accident. The more time that passes, the more evidence may be lost, as memories fade and the accident scene changes. In addition, every Missouri car/truck crash lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations is a legal time limit for filing a lawsuit. If you miss the date, your claim will be forever barred.
Here are a few relevant facts about crashes between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
• Even though they primarily travel on interstates (the safest roadways), large trucks have a higher crash fatality rate per mile traveled than passenger vehicles.
• When commercial trucks cause fatal accidents, passenger vehicle occupants are most often the victims. The IIHS reports that "the main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars, and are taller with greater ground clearance."
• Braking systems in commercial trucks are commonly linked to these accidents. To come to a complete stop, big rigs require at least 20-40% more distance to stop than passenger vehicles, depending on the weight of the load the truck is carrying. When road conditions are bad or braking systems aren't properly maintained, "the discrepancy is greater," says the IIHS.
If you've been injured in an auto crash in or around Joplin, Missouri, contact the truck accident lawyers at Aaron Sachs and Associates. Call 1-888-777-AUTO to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.