Car vs. Semi-Truck Accidents: Understanding the Differences

Semi-truck accidents are very different from car accidents because semi-trucks weigh an average of about 75,000 pounds more than most cars. This means that any accident (or associated injury) resulting from a semi-truck accident will be more intense and more severe than the average auto accident. 

When a car is in a collision with a semi-truck, it will undergo an extreme amount of force causing very serious damage. This often results in more severe injuries and damages. Because the truck industry is highly regulated with many parties and stakeholders involved, cases involving commercial truck collisions will vary greatly from car crashes. 

Causes of truck accidents

  • Mechanical issues
  • Falling asleep at the wheel
  • Fatigue resulting in a lack of focus 
  • Distracted driving 
  • Speeding 
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs 

Laws that apply to only truck accidents in Georgia

Safety Regulations for motor carriers

Federal law regulates tractor-trailer companies in many different ways. Georgia law has adopted a very similar set of regulations that apply to semi-truck companies in Georgia. Because there are many different laws and regulations at play in these kinds of cases, hiring a car accident attorney with knowledge of applicable laws can help you navigate your situation. 

How does the law define a commercial motor vehicle?

Georgia and Federal law both define a “commercial motor vehicle” as “any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in intrastate and interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle…”

(A) Has a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 10,001 or more pounds;

(B) Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers, including the driver, for compensation;

(C) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

(D) Is used to transport material determined to be hazardous by the secretary of the United States Department of Transportation under 49 U.S.C. Section 5103 and transported in a quantity that requires placards under regulations prescribed under 49 C.F.R., Subtitle B, Chapter I, Subchapter C.

O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(8.3); FMCSR § 390.5.

Discovering the cause of the accident

Usually, semi-truck accidents are caused by a different set of circumstances than typical auto accidents. Because of the size and weight of semi-trucks, accidents typically happen because the tractor-trailers are not able to slow or stop quickly. Accidents can also occur when a driver makes an improper turn. Semi-truck collisions also might happen as a result of equipment or mechanical failure. A large truck requires a lot of maintenance and without proper care, things can easily go wrong. 

Truck accidents tend to be more severe

Again, because of the sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler, collisions are usually fairly devastating. Fatalities are unfortunately more common with these accidents and survivors typically suffer very serious medical injuries. Some of the most common injuries that result from semi-truck accidents include: 

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Bone fractures
  • Burn injuries
  • Amputations
  • Neck and head injuries
  • Irreversible bone damage
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Permanent muscle and nerve damage

Filing a Truck accident lawsuit

Truck accident lawsuits are different in many ways from typical auto lawsuits. In a car accident lawsuit, an attorney is not allowed by law to identify the driver’s car insurance. In a truck accident, an attorney can and should identify the driver, the insurance company that insures the vehicle, and the company responsible for hiring the driver in the title of the lawsuit. This is important because the trucking company can be held liable for the accident. This means that when the driver is employed by a trucking company and driving within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the collision, the company can be held liable for the driver’s actions. A personal injury attorney with auto experience will understand this liability under Georgia law and can help you seek damages after an accident with a semi-truck. 

Truck accidents can be very complex

Truck accidents can be more complex than most auto accident cases. Finding out the cause of a truck accident can be difficult and complicated. Placing liability and negligence is even more difficult because there can be so many factors involved. Because there are so many parties and stakeholders involved in the commercial trucking industry, this process can be even more complex. This is why contacting an experienced personal injury attorney can be a game-changer when navigating a sticky semi-truck accident claim. 

For more information about semi-truck accident law, call (678) 819-5200 for a free consultation.