Whether you've been involved in a hit-and-run, a car wreck that included texting-while-driving as a factor, or someone simply ran a stop sign — there are a thousand ways for a collision to happen while on the road.
Some of the most potentially destructive types of vehicle collisions involve semi trucks, also known as tractor trailers.
These types of vehicle collisions are on the rise, fueled in part by changes in legislation that are allowing companies to keep drivers on the road for longer hours and with heavier loads.
Let's take a look at how wrecks involving tractor trailers are different from large truck collisions.
Potential Damage Rates Are Higher
The sheer size and weight of the average "big rig" semi dwarfs even the largest pickup truck. This means that any collision, even relatively minor ones, has the capacity to cause serious, potentially irreparable damage to the other vehicle — and the other driver.
Fatalities in collisions that included a semi were about 10% of all vehicle fatalities in 2015, which seems like a small number until you realize that semi trucks only make up about 4% of the vehicles on the road.
While about 16% of the occupants of semi trucks die in these wrecks, nearly 74% of fatalities in wrecks involving tractor trailers include drivers or passengers in the other car.
The best defense against being involved in such a large-scale accident is awareness.
- Drive carefully, giving plenty of time between signaling a lane change and making your move, especially if you'll be getting just in front of or behind a semi.
- If you find yourself in the semi's "blind spot" (as illustrated here), either speed up or slow down until you are no longer in a space that is difficult for the semi driver to see.
- When the light turns green at a stoplight and a tractor trailer appears to be heading your direction, it's worth taking a second to pause and ensure the semi stops at the light.
- The same goes for a four-way or three-way stop sign. Make sure the semi is coming to a stop before you move.
You May Be Entitled to More Compensation
In South Carolina, non-commercial drivers are only legally required to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person (and $50,000) per accident of liability coverage. In contract, the average trucker or trucking company generally maintains a large insurance policy, from around $750,000 to over $5 million, in liability insurance.
A plaintiff who is successful in bringing a trucking company or independent driver to court may be able to receive a higher level of compensation than in collisions involving other types of vehicles.
There's one subject in which semi truck collision cases can be complex, however, and that is the issue of determining liability.
Liability in Tractor Trailer Wrecks Can Be Complicated
The biggest difference between other types of automobile accidents and wrecks involving tractor trailers? Determining liability after the accident occurs.
In your average automobile collision involving two cars, fault in many cases simply comes down to proving which of the two drivers was primarily responsible for the wreck.
When it comes to semi truck collisions, things can be significantly more complex.
In some cases the semi truck's driver may be found at fault. In other cases, however, fault can be found in many different places — the trucking company, the employer of the trucker, the truck owner, other vehicles, or even the manufacturers of the truck or its parts may all bear at least some fault.
Some complicated wrecks have led to multiple lawsuits against several defendants, and involved bringing in many experts who were able to reconstruct the accident.
When you're the victim of a wreck involving a tractor trailer, it's essential to meet with a legal representative right away. They'll help you sort through the police report, other accident documentation, damages and repairs to the vehicle (or the insurance payouts if the car is totaled), medical records and bills, and any other documents that will be needed to help you protect your rights as the victim of the collision.
A legal representative can work with you to build an idea of both present costs related to the accident and potential future costs incurred by being unable to work during recovery, potential future medical costs relating to the wreck, and then put together a compelling case to gain you the compensation that you deserve.
Injured in a Wreck Involving a Tractor Trailer?
Our Personal Injury team is dedicated to helping you protect your individual rights.
Reach us by phone at (803) 779-7599 or contact us online at any time to request your FREE consultation.