How Are Truck Accident Claims Different from Car Accident Claims?
The aftermath of a truck accident presents unique challenges compared to those resulting from car accident claims. Liability of multiple parties, the seriousness of injuries, and federal regulations in truck accidents often lead to higher stakes for all parties involved.
Understanding how truck accident claims differ from car accident claims can help you prepare your case and know what to expect when filing for compensation. You can work with our Fox Cities truck accident lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers to help you navigate your truck accident case and seek a fair settlement for your injuries.
In truck accidents, multiple parties are usually involved, including the driver, the trucking company, a truck owner, or parts manufacturer. This differs from car accidents, which typically only involve two parties.
- Drivers: The truck driver is often the primary party held responsible for accidents. Negligent actions such as distracted driving, speeding, fatigue, or impaired driving can contribute to truck accidents. Proper training, adherence to regulations, and responsible driving are crucial.
- Trucking companies: Trucking companies ensure fleet safety and regulatory compliance. They are responsible for hiring qualified drivers, conducting vehicle maintenance, and implementing safety protocols. Failure to fulfill these responsibilities can lead to liability for the company.
- Truck owners: If the truck owner is someone other than the trucking company, they can be liable for the accident. For example, if the truck driver is an independent contractor who owns the vehicle, did not maintain the truck’s tires, and caused an accident, they may be responsible.
- Cargo loaders: Improperly loaded or secured cargo can lead to accidents. If cargo loaders fail to follow proper procedures, resulting in shifting loads or cargo spills, they may share liability.
- Vehicle maintenance providers: Mechanics or maintenance personnel who fail to perform adequate inspections, repairs, or maintenance work on the truck may be held responsible if their negligence contributed to the accident.
- Parts manufacturers: If a defective truck part or component played a role in the accident, the manufacturer of that part may face liability for producing a faulty product. For example, if the braking system fails due to manufacturing defects, the company that made it could be liable.
- Government entities: In some cases, government entities may be partially responsible for accidents due to inadequate road design, poor maintenance, or failure to address known safety hazards.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to federal regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If they fail to follow these regulations and Wisconsin traffic laws, they can be held liable for your injuries in a truck accident claim.
- Driving and Break Hours
To prevent driver fatigue, the FMCSA imposes certain limitations on the number of hours a truck driver can be on duty and drive within a specific time frame. The regulations include:
- 11-hour driving limit: Drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 30-minute driving break: Drivers must take a 30-minute break after 8 cumulative hours of driving without at least a 30-minute interruption.
- Logging Hours Requirements
Truck drivers must accurately log their hours of service to ensure compliance with FMCSA regulations. This can be done through an electronic logging device (ELD) or record of duty status (RODS).
Motor carriers must keep RODS and ELD records and supporting docs for six months, making it necessary to work with your attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure you can access these records.
- Cargo Securement Requirements
The FMCSA mandates specific regulations for adequately securing cargo to prevent it from shifting or causing accidents. The required number of tie-downs depends on the length and weight of the articles being transported.
- One tie-down is required for articles 5’ or less in length and 1,100 lbs. or less in weight. If the article is heavier or longer, additional tie-downs are necessary.
- If the article is blocked, braced, or immobilized, one tie-down is needed for every 10’ of article length.
Commercial trucks’ larger size and weight can lead to devastating consequences, resulting in more severe injuries than car accidents, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, internal organ damage, and lacerations.
In 2021, traffic crashes involving large trucks caused 5,788 fatalities. This was a 17% increase from 2020, which saw 4,945. Of these fatalities, 4,149, or 72%, were occupants of other vehicles.
The number of reported injuries in 2021 has also risen to 154,993, a 9% increase from the estimated 141,613 in 2020. Of those injured, approximately 71% (109,981) were occupants of other vehicles.
More severe injuries often mean higher compensation for victims. Because trucking companies and insurers want to minimize payouts to save money, they often use more oppressive or intimidating tactics to get victims to settle for less than they deserve. Working with a skilled truck accident attorney can help you negotiate with insurers for fair compensation.
Truck accidents often involve higher insurance limits for commercial trucks. These elevated limits allow victims to receive sufficient funds to cover medical bills, property damage, and other losses resulting from the accident.
FMCSA mandates that commercial trucks carry public liability insurance with specific coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and environmental restoration. Insurance limits for trucks range from $750,000 to $5,000,000, depending on the type of freight and vehicle weight. Even for non-hazardous freight in vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs., a minimum coverage of $300,000 is required.
For comparison, car insurance liability coverage in Wisconsin has lower minimum requirements. The state mandates only $10,000 for property damage, $25,000 for the injury or death of one person, and $50,000 for the injuries or deaths of multiple people.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Wisconsin, you may be eligible for substantial compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress.
At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we have years of experience navigating Wisconsin’s trucking laws and are ready to fight for your rights. Our team is committed to achieving the best possible results for your case. Contact us today for a free case review, and let us advocate for the compensation you deserve.