5 Legal Complications of a Tractor-Trailer Accident

An accident with a tractor trailer can turn your world upside down, possibly leading to severe injuries, huge medical bills, a total car loss, and time out of work. Or you may have even lost a loved one in a truck accident. Many victims of big truck accidents assume “it’s like a car wreck but worse,” not realizing that the legal rules, insurance limits, and liability issues are much different for tractor trailers than cars. 

Most people need an experienced truck accident attorney in order to successfully win a case and receive fair compensation. Here’s a short guide to the five reasons truck accidents are legally complicated. 

1. There are more players involved and multiple people can be at fault.

Unlike a car accident, where there are only two drivers who may be at fault, a number of companies or people can have had a part in causing a commercial truck wreck. Responsible parties in a tractor-trailer accident could include the: 

  • truck driver
  • trucking company
  • company that owns the freight
  • person who loaded the truck
  • freight/cargo inspector
  • company that maintains the truck

A thorough investigation of the accident facts as they relate to all these possible parties is necessary to create a solid legal case. 

2. Federal laws and regulations govern tractor trailers and can help protect your rights.

Tractor trailers are regulated by an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This body makes rules about the number of hours truckers can stay behind the wheel, the weight of cargo, and other regulations designed to promote safety. If a trucking company is found to be in violation of these rules, it can help to establish fault in the accident investigation. 

3. Investigations of commercial truck accidents are more complex.

It’s not just the police and an insurance company investigating after a truck accident. The DOT requires that all commercial trucks are equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) to record the number of hours a truck driver is behind the wheel. 

Driver fatigue has been cited as the primary factor in at least 13 percent of tractor trailer accidents. The required electronic logging device can show if a driver was on duty more hours than the limit set by the government. 

In addition, many big trucks today are equipped with an Event Data Recorder (EDR), also known as a black box. This technology is similar to the black boxes found in airplanes, and it records more than the federally-required ELD device. An EDR often keeps data such as speed at the time of an accident, hard braking and sudden stops,  and the average speed of a driver over a period of time. 

In the case of an accident, trucking companies are required to share black box data with law enforcement agencies, but not with accident victims. However, skilled truck accident lawyers can often obtain this data through investigative or legal processes. 

4. Most tractor trailers are owned by large companies that have extensive insurance policies.

Because truck accidents often involve large companies instead of individuals, there is a potential for an accident victim to receive a higher sum of money for fair compensation for their injuries, either through a settlement or a court case.  Of course, these companies also have large insurance companies protecting their interests, which can quickly become overwhelming to deal with.

5. Trucking companies are often motivated to settle out of court.

Trucking companies and any insurance companies do not want to pay a settlement; however, they are often motivated to stay out of the courtroom and the glare of the media, motivating them to settle in order to avoid bad publicity. 

What Are the First Steps You Should Take After a Tractor-Trailer Accident?

Learn what to do after a tractor-trailer accident. The attorneys at Ward Black Law put together this website page to offer guidance on the first steps you should take after an accident as well as things to avoid, questions to ask, information about insurance company processes, and more. 

Wondering if an Attorney Can Help You?

You can work with the experienced truck accident attorneys at Ward Black Law without paying any money out of your pocket. Our team has a strong track record of success in helping truck accident victims get fair compensation, and we will be happy to evaluate your case for free. 

Call or text us at  (800) 531-9191 to discuss your case today.