Ask any truck accident lawyer: personal injury and wrongful death claims arising out of truck crashes are different than motor vehicle accidents involving automobiles only. Why the difference? First and foremost, when large commercial trucks are involved in a collision, the injuries tend to be worse. Commercial trucks are massive, they take longer to stop after braking, and they carry a force of impact that is multitudes greater than what a passenger car can deliver.
A truck accident lawyer will also tell you that state and federal regulations controlling the trucking industry makes it necessary to conduct a distinctive investigation into the root causes of truck collisions. A thorough investigation requires inquiry into whether the trucking company complied with hiring and training standards, maintenance standards, limitations on work hours, drug testing, and compliance with other regulatory standards. The investigation requires evaluation of satellite-mapping technology and “black box” data to understand the truck driver’s pre-crash actions.
Commercial trucking accidents are also unique in terms of the available sources of recovery. While the driver of a passenger vehicle may carry insurance coverage liability limits of $100,000 to $300,000, interstate trucking companies are required to carry coverage limits of $1,000,000. In addition, large trucking outfits often carry umbrella policies that far exceed the $1,000,000 coverage limit required by federal law. Finally, with consolidation in the trucking industry, many commercial outfits have vast collectible assets that go far beyond their insurance coverage limits.
Qualified truck accident lawyers also know that juries value truck-related crashes more so than run-of-the-mill car crashes. Verdicts and settlements in truck crash lawsuits often far exceed the recoveries in automobile accident cases, even where the injuries are the same. The main factor driving the trend toward larger verdicts and settlements in trucking cases is the fact that members of the public, who ultimately sit as jurors, recognize that these building-sized behemoths pose a risk of injury and death to all commuters, including themselves. The fear of a lethal collision with a semi-tractor trailer or big box truck motivates jurors to award full damages in these cases.
There are other unique aspects to trucking cases. For example, given how high trailers and flatbeds sit, they pose additional risks in underride collisions. Drivers have been decapitated when colliding with elevated undercarriages. This risk can be minimized by affixing side and rear guards to prevent underride fatalities.
When looking for a truck accident lawyer, it is important to find an experienced truck accident lawyer in Cleveland, OH who has litigated trucking crash cases in the past. These lawyers will know the unique nature of the investigation required in these cases. Further, it is important to hire an established law firm to represent you in such a case so that the law firm has sufficient resources to go toe-to-toe with insurance and trucking company lawyers.
Thanks to Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., LPA for their insight into personal injury claims and truck crash lawsuits.