Car accident claims and truck accident claims seem similar, on the surface. They both involve injured victims seeking compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after crashes that weren’t their fault. But when it comes to victims getting checks, the outcomes can be very different.
Although both car accident settlements and truck accident settlements are based on many factors, truck accident claims typically involve far, far more money than car accidents. Here’s why that’s the case.
Truck Accidents Usually Cause More Severe Injuries
People tend to get more seriously injured in crashes involving semi-trucks, and the reason for that is physics. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while big SUVs and pickup trucks usually weigh around 6,000 pounds.
The momentum of semi-trucks vastly exceeds that of passenger vehicles during crashes. This means the occupants of the vehicles they collide with absorb more of the weight, speed, and energy, resulting in a greater likelihood of serious injuries.
The worse the injury, the longer and more intensive the recovery—and the more expensive the medical bills are to regain mobility and function. In addition, people injured in truck accidents may be more likely to experience non-economic damages (pain and suffering), including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions.
More severe injuries mean more time away from work. Many truck accident victims can’t go back to work for months, and some become permanently disabled. Their injury claims typically include wage replacement compensation, and that can significantly increase the amount of money they’re eligible to receive.
Truck Accidents Often Involve Greater Liability
Most semi-trucks on the road in Oklahoma have to not only abide by state traffic laws, but they also must abide by federal trucking laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has its own set of guidelines that must be followed for things like weight limits, hours of service limits for drivers, vehicle maintenance schedules, and more.
In many cases, truck accidents occur because both a state and federal law were violated. For example, a truck may crash while driving on a road where it’s not allowed to be due to weight restrictions.
Upon further investigation, it may be determined that the truck was also overloaded even for normal, unrestricted roads. Another example is a truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel just before a crash while also being “on the clock” four hours beyond their maximum hours of service in a given time period.
Truck Accidents May Have Multiple Liable Parties
Injured victims may be able to sue multiple parties after truck accidents that weren’t their fault. For example, when a truck driver runs a red light because they tried to beat a yellow. They may still have been able to slow in time to prevent a serious accident but were unable to do so because their truck was overloaded and had worn-out brakes. That means the injured victims may have three claims:
- one against the truck driver for running the red light,
- one against the truck company for overloading the truck,
- and one against the truck owner for failing to maintain the truck.
When victims file claims like this, they may file three separate claims, or they may file a single claim if the truck drivers are employees of the at-fault companies, and the companies they work for also own the truck involved.
As a single claim, the amount of compensation that victims can receive is usually greater than what they’d receive after a car accident because multiple parties are being held liable, and commercial trucking companies are required by federal law to have much more liability insurance available than ordinary passenger vehicle drivers.
Truck Accident Claims Are More Likely to End up in Court
Because truck companies and their insurers often owe victims huge settlements after crashes, they’re usually reluctant to pay. They often offer either lowball settlements or simply deny victims the money they’re owed. When that happens, victims and their lawyers usually have no choice but to take the trucking companies and their insurers to court.
When injury claims go to court, damages are awarded by juries rather than by negotiation. In many cases, the amount of money that juries award is more than what would be awarded through negotiation. Juries also have the power to award victims punitive damages. Although punitive damages are designed to punish at-fault parties, they are added to the grand total that victims receive when their trials conclude.
Let Us Help You Maximize Your Truck Accident Settlement
If you were injured in a truck accident, you’re probably facing a long road to recovery, huge medical bills, and weeks, months, or even years away from work. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know how to build winning truck accident claims for our clients. Contact our Oklahoma truck accident lawyers today for a free consultation.