Commercial Truck vs. Car Accident Claims: What’s Different?
Motor vehicle accidents are stressful. In the aftermath, you will be dealing with a lot: recovering from injuries, the loss of your vehicle, and the financial impact of missed work and mounting medical bills. While all accidents can be serious, when an accident involves a commercial truck, it can be even more overwhelming. When the accident involves another passenger car, the process of tending to injuries, getting insurance information, and filing a police report is straightforward. In an accident with a commercial truck, injuries and damages can be significantly more serious, and the process of recovering damages is likewise more complicated.
Commercial Truck Accident Claims
Commercial truck accidents are not always as simple as getting a police report and filing a claim. Trucking fleets have teams of investigators and lawyers to fight for them. They go to work within minutes of the crash, even while you are still lying injured at the scene. And these teams do not play fair. This advantage can be overcome, but it will take quick and aggressive action to deal with all the complexities of commercial truck accidents:
In commercial truck accidents, there are potentially multiple liable parties. The driver, company, and others in the stream of commerce, such as freight brokers and shippers, can all hold a degree of fault. Maintenance records, the truck driver’s training, the log showing how many hours the driver has been on the road, camera footage, and a slew of other information needs to be gathered to be factored into the liability analysis.
Commercial vehicles are required to follow different rules of the road. There are often hundreds of specific regulations governing commercial trucks, and any violations of these regulations may impact liability and claims.
Severity of Injuries
The size and weight of a commercial truck unfortunately means that damage and injuries will be significantly more severe. The more serious the damage, the bigger the claim, and the bigger the claim, the more aggressively the trucking company will want to minimize its role and responsibility.
Car Accident Claims
Car accident claims are less complex with fewer factors involved. The insurance companies will use the police report as well as the report from the insurance adjuster to determine fault and liability. Fault is determined by a variety of factors that can usually be proven by the evidence at the scene. For example, if one driver left their lane of travel and hit another car, the driver who left their lane would be at fault. Police responding to the scene will often look for tire marks, gouges or other marks in the pavement, paint transfer, debris fields, fluid spills, where the car was hit. This information is then placed into a field sketch and considered along with witness statements to make a determination of fault. In some cases, phone records and substance use tests may also be considered. Once the police have determined fault, they will file a report. The parties to crash crashes often employ their own crash reconstruction teams to analyze this information to arrive at their own conclusions.
Factors That Affect Both Claims
In claims following any accident, there are several factors that will influence the amount that the innocent party can recover from the at-fault party. In both cases, you will need to gather evidence and documentation, and if there was any comparative negligence, the degree to which fault is shared will need to be established.
Comparative negligence is considered when the at-fault party claims that the other vehicle involved in the accident shares a degree of fault. For example, if both drivers were speeding, distracted, or failed to obey the rules of the road, the insurance company may attempt to assign a percentage of blame to each driver. Insurance companies want to accept the smallest degree of blame possible, and assigning each driver a degree of blame will lower the settlement amount the victim can recover.
Physical Evidence, Witness Statements and Documentation
Physical evidence, witness statements, and documentation are key in any kind of motor vehicle accident. While the first priority needs to be getting medical attention for injuries, it’s important to document as much as possible before too much time has passed. With a commercial vehicle, the company usually sends out a team of investigators immediately to begin documenting the scene, interviewing witnesses, and doing damage control. If you are able, take photos of the vehicles and your injuries, along with the names of any witnesses. Once you are working with an attorney, they can use the this information to help gather evidence to help support your claim. They will also employ a crash reconstructionist if liability is unclear, to help properly interpret all the data that is gathered.
Having Legal Representation During Your Claim Process
Legal representation is essential in both truck and car accident claims. The insurance companies are not on your side and may try to use a variety of tactics to get you to agree to a quick settlement that will likely not be enough for your financial recovery. The commercial insurance companies have teams of attorneys who are there to protect the business, and navigating the legal complexities and handling negotiations on your own can be overwhelming. Having an experienced attorney who understands the process, is well versed in the federal and state regulations for commercial drivers, knows the tactics used by insurance companies, and understands the documentation you need can not only get you through the process, but can help you maximize compensation to help you through your recovery.
Being involved in any vehicle accident can be traumatizing and overwhelming, particularly if you have been injured and are facing the financial consequences of missed work and medical bills while working through the claims process alone. When you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, the claims process can be even more stressful and intimidating. After a car accident you will be dealing with one driver and their insurance company, but after a commercial truck accident you will need to fight with a full team of investigators and attorneys who are there to protect their business – not you. For a successful claim in a commercial truck accident, you need the legal experience and expertise a truck crash attorney can provide. If you have been injured in an accident, contact Arthur Law Firm right away (419) 782-9881 right away for a free consultation about your case.