Every type of car accident is dangerous.
However, accidents with semi-trucks are particularly hazardous. With 1.7 million people employed as truck drivers, trucking is one of the most common occupations in America today.
Unfortunately, with so many trucks on the road, truck accidents are an everyday reality.
Typical Injuries in Car Accidents and Truck Accidents
Just about any sort of injury can occur in car and truck accidents.
With that said, some injuries happen more than others. The most common injuries in car and truck accidents include:
- Whiplash and other back and neck injuries,
- Broken ribs,
- Punctured lungs,
- Brain injuries,
- Internal bleeding,
- Broken bones, and
- Leg and foot injuries.
Any injury is possible in a car accident, but these are particularly common.
What Makes These Injuries Common?
Each of the noted injury categories is common for a different reason.
While seat belts save lives, their sudden impact often causes broken ribs and other chest injuries.
The impact of seatbelts can also lead to further internal injuries, sometimes caused by broken ribs.
The impact of an accident often involves a vehicle coming to a sudden stop or sudden shift in momentum, which is why neck injuries are so common.
The most common fatal injuries in traffic accidents are those that involve head trauma.
Unlike a broken arm, which exposes ligaments and muscles to trauma, a broken skull exposes our brain to trauma, which can be deadly.
Finally, leg and foot accidents are particularly common because of how we sit in a car; our legs have very little room surrounding them compared to the rest of our bodies.
This smaller space makes it easier for our feet and legs to get crushed in an accident.
Any of these injuries can cause significant medical concerns.
Medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and the mental anguish of any of these injuries can cause considerable damage.
Liability in Semi-Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents
Semi-Truck Accident Severity
In a semi vs. car accident, the damages and injuries are often more severe than those that occur in a car vs. car accident.
The main reason for this is that trucks are big. With their large mass and weight moving fast, the impact force they expose cars to in an accident is far more than the force in a typical car vs. car accident.
If a truck hits a small car from behind or cargo falls off a truck, it may crush the smaller vehicle entirely.
With their increased severity, truck accidents are also more deadly than other car accidents.
The National Safety Council (NSC) demonstrates the statistics.
According to their data from 2018, large trucks accounted for only 4% of all registered vehicles in the US.
However, in the same year, truck accidents accounted for 9% of all traffic accident fatalities. That’s more than twice their share of total registered vehicles.
A key question after someone suffers damage and injury in an accident is,
Who is liable for damages? One of the main differences between car accidents and semi-truck accidents is in the way liability works.
On the one hand, attribution of liability in a car accident is most often relatively straightforward.
On the other hand, liability can become complicated in a semi-truck accident.
Car Accident Liability
The question of who is liable for damages after a car accident comes down to each party’s percentage of fault in the accident.
Most of the time, who is at fault is limited to the drivers involved in the crash.
However, if a vehicle malfunction causes a collision, the vehicle or parts manufacturer may be held liable.
California uses a pure comparative fault system to assess liability in traffic accidents.
The amount of liability shifts based on each party’s percentage of fault.
If one driver is 70% at fault and the other driver 30% at fault, the driver who is 70% at fault can recover 30% of their total damages from the opposing party. Even if one driver is 99% at fault for an accident, they can recover some damages.
However, in such a case, they will only recover 1% of total damages.
Truck Accident Liability
In California semi-truck crashes, the same fault rules apply as in other traffic accidents. However, unlike most car accidents, there are more potential at-fault parties.
If the driver causes the semi-truck accident themself, they will be liable for damages.
Their employer may also be held vicariously liable for their employee’s actions. But it is not always the driver’s negligence that causes the accident.
A semi-truck accident may be caused by faulty equipment, in which case the equipment manufacturer may be held liable.
The company that loads the cargo may also be responsible for damages if they negligently fail to secure the load properly.
In such an event, if the cargo falls off the truck and causes an accident, they bear some liability.
In other cases, the trucking company itself may be held liable for damages.
The trucking company may be liable if an attorney can prove that a faulty inspection or negligent safety rules caused the accident.
The trucking company may also be liable if they promote unsafe or illegal working conditions.
For example, a company may require or expect its drivers to drive beyond the legal time limits set by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
If a company has such a policy and a driver’s fatigue causes the accident, they may be held liable for the damages caused by the accident.
In other cases, the owner of the truck may be liable for damages.
Often, semi-truck companies rent or lease their vehicles from a third party. If that third party negligently fails to properly maintain their truck’s safety as required by federal law, they may also be liable for damages.
Oftentimes, the truck driver is the responsible party in trucking accidents.
With that said, there are many other potentially liable parties.
It all depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Figuring out who is ultimately responsible for the accident is essential in the claims process.
Were You in an Accident with a Semi-Truck?
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, you need an attorney with specific experience in trucking accidents.
It may be complicated determining who is ultimately liable for the accident, so expertise in such investigations is essential.
Joseph Farzam of Farzam Law Firm has helped countless clients in the Los Angeles area over the last 20 years.
Our team at Farzam Law Firm has recovered damages of $750,000 and $1 million for clients who were victims of truck accidents.
Let us fight to get you the compensation you deserve—contact us today for a free consultation!