The reason truck accidents are so much more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents is a simple matter of physics. As Newton’s Second Law of Motion puts it, force equals mass times acceleration. The more mass something has, the more force it has when it collides with something else.
All that force can be deadly, especially when the collision is with a smaller vehicle. A loaded semitrailer can weigh 20-30 times as much as a typical passenger car. And, since a semitrailer’s suspension is much higher off the ground than that of a typical passenger car, a collision between a large truck and a car often leads to the larger vehicle riding over the smaller one. The result is often serious injury or death for the occupants of the smaller vehicle, even if the truck driver walks away without a scratch.
According to the Department of Transportation, 4,119 people died in truck accidents in 2019. Only 16% of these were occupants of the trucks. Occupants of smaller vehicles accounted for 67%. The rest were made up of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
The complicated part
While the danger of truck accidents may be a relatively simple matter, the legal issues around these accidents can be quite complicated.
Most motor vehicle accident personal injury lawsuits are based on the theory of negligence. All drivers owe a duty to others to avoid unreasonable risks of accidents. If they breach this duty and injure someone else as a result, the injured party can hold the negligent driver liable for their damages. This holds true in truck accident cases as well, and since the injuries are so great in these cases, the amount of damages in truck accident cases may be extremely high.
However, truck accident cases can raise issues of liability that are not common in other motor vehicle accident lawsuits. In a case involving a commercial truck, the company that employs the driver may be held liable as well as the individual truck driver responsible for the accident. Other parties may sometimes be liable as well.
Expanding the pool of potentially liable parties can increase the injured party’s chances of recovering the full amount of compensation they deserve, and desperately need. However, it does complicate the legal issues in their case. This is why the injured and their families should seek out help from a personal injury attorney with experience in truck accident cases.