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What’s the Difference Between Car Accidents and Truck Accidents?

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Posted on July 22, 2023

When motor vehicles collide, the human body sustains substantial trauma from the sudden, jarring motion of coming to an abrupt halt after moving at a high rate of speed. Any motor vehicle accident can cause serious injuries, but there’s a significant difference between typical car accidents and an accident involving a large truck. While an average car weighs around 4,000 pounds, a fully loaded commercial truck can eight as much as 80,000 pounds. Commercial trucks are large, unwieldy, and often carry loads that can impact their balance and maneuverability. When there’s a collision between a smaller, lightweight car and a large, heavy commercial truck, the driver and passengers in the car are far more likely to sustain severe and even grave injuries or death compared to the truck driver.

Not only is there a difference between the severity of car accidents and accidents involving trucks, but when it comes to pursuing a claim for property and personal injury damages after an accident, determining liability is more complex in an accident involving a commercial truck. 

Common Injuries in Truck Accidents Compared to Car Accidents

Any motor vehicle accident can result in damages, including serious personal injuries with life-altering consequences. Injuries in truck accidents can be catastrophic with serious implications for the rest of the victim’s life, including expensive medical treatments, equipment, home health care, and physical therapies. In some cases, permanent impairment and disability could result in seemingly insurmountable economic damages as well as a great deal of pain and suffering. Common injuries sustained by truck accident victims include:

  • Head injuries or traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
  • Fractures
  • Internal injuries
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Burns
  • Disfigurement

Severe injuries quickly become expensive, with medical bills piling up at the same time that the injury victim cannot return to work. In some cases, the injury could be disabling, preventing the ability to return to work in the future. In these cases, it’s important to investigate the circumstances of the accident to identify the party at fault for the truck accident and prove liability. A personal injury claim could help the victim recover damages—typically paid through the liable party’s insurance policy.

Liability Questions in Truck Accidents

Proving liability in a car accident usually requires examining evidence such as the accident report and traffic camera footage to identify the driver at fault for the accident. But in an accident involving a commercial truck, there are many more parties that could be liable for the damages. In truck accidents, liability could lie with the following entities:

  • The driver
  • The trucking company
  • A freight-loading company
  • A truck manufacturer
  • A truck parts manufacturer
  • A city road maintenance agency
  • A third-party freight contractor

It takes a thorough investigation of the circumstances of a truck accident to identify the liable party. Naming the wrong party liable could result in a failed claim. Proving liability in a truck accident claim requires demonstrating that the party at fault owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries, that they breached that duty through negligence, and that the negligent breach directly caused the injury and the victim’s damages.

Recovering Damages in Truck Accidents

The amount of compensation for damages in truck accidents is typically higher than for victims of car accidents. Damages a truck accident victim could claim for compensation include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses related to the injury
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity due to disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Any other applicable non-economic damages such as disfigurement, limb loss, loss of life quality, loss of consortium, or PTSD

It takes an experienced truck accident attorney to determine liability and carefully calculate damages to maximize an accident victim’s recovery. Contact a San Diego car accident lawyer today if you believe you have a case.