Why Truck Accidents Are Different From Other Vehicle Accidents
The impact of a truck against a car is far more devastating than that of a car versus a car. The size and weight of a semi mean that the damage your car will suffer and the injuries you sustain could be devastating. A fully loaded semi can weigh 80,000 pounds. Most passenger cars weigh in at about 3,500 pounds.
Another huge difference between a truck accident and a car accident is the number of potentially liable people or parties with whom you’ll file insurance claims. Thanks to the complex ownership issues of commercial trucks, making an insurance claim when you’ve been hit by a big rig is different than when you are hit by a car.
No-Fault Insurance and Truck Accidents
Minnesota has a comprehensive no-fault insurance law that requires all drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) to the value of $20,000 for medical bills and $20,000 for other costs (which can be used for medical expenses). Your PIP payments will not cover “non-economic losses” like pain and suffering. The no-fault insurance law does not cover property damage.
You may be able to make a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy if you meet two criteria:
- Your medical expenses are over $4,000, and/or,
- You suffered more than 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement because of the accident.
A visit to the emergency room for even a minor injury can set you back thousands of dollars, so a car accident involving a semi will probably clear the $4,000 threshold without difficulty. You may still only receive compensation for losses above those covered by your PIP, but in a serious accident, you can anticipate extensive medical costs.
You are also allowed to sue for lost income and future wages, pain and suffering, and property damage not covered by your vehicle insurance. The benefits of filing a claim against the truck driver and company can be significant.
Determining Who Is Liable
When you file a third-party insurance claim in a commercial vehicle case, there are multiple parties you need to keep in mind. You should consult a truck accident attorney when making your claim so that your claim is sent to the correct companies.
In a commercial truck accident, there are a variety of entities that might be held liable for your injuries and losses:
- The driver is responsible for how the truck was being driven at the time of the accident. You will need to see the electronic logging device (ELD) and any written logs and inspection reports to determine if the driver was getting enough rest and keeping the truck maintained.
- The trucking company is responsible for maintaining their truck on a regular basis, hiring their drivers, and ensuring they are properly trained and obey company policy and federal regulations. The company is also required to keep insurance on its drivers and trucks.
- The shipping or loading company may be different from the trucking company. If so, they are the ones responsible for keeping the trailer in good condition and maintaining the tires, chassis, and hookups. They are also the ones who must ensure the load was secured when it was sent out and that all placards and warning signs were visible.
- If either the trucking company or the shipping company uses an outside maintenance company to service their equipment, this agency could be responsible for any mechanical failure that may have caused the accident, if the failures were not detected during the last maintenance check or if the company failed to report the issue to the owners of the equipment.
- Finally, any equipment failure that can be traced to a faulty product, such as bad brakes or tires, might be a product liability issue, in which case the manufacturer could be held liable.
As you can see, making a claim against a trucking company is not as simple as filing a single insurance claim and waiting to see what happens.
If you have been involved in an accident involving a semi or other commercial vehicle, you need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you file your claim in the right place and be prepared to take the case to trial if necessary.
Call the Minnesota personal injury lawyers of Robert Wilson & Associates at (612) 334-3444 for a confidential consultation and review of your case today. We can help you sort out the companies and individuals involved and work to get you the compensation you deserve from those who are responsible for your injuries.