Understanding All the Differences in 18-Wheeler Accidents vs. Regular Car Accidents

The many differences between the design of 18-wheeler trucks and passenger vehicles are more than just aesthetic; they also mean huge differences in accident results. Take a look at a few key ways in which semi-truck accidents are distinctly different—and, often, more dangerous—than the typical Houston car accident.

1. Accident Causes

The causes of semi-truck accidents are often quite different from those of passenger car accidents. Most car accidents involve some manner of driver error and/or failure to obey traffic laws. In the case of trucks, things like equipment failure, overweight loads, and over-worked drivers are unfortunately common causes of accidents.

2.Vehicle Size and Weight

The total interior volume of a standard U.S. sedan ranges from under 85 cubic feet (mini-compact) to 120 cubic feet or more (large). In contrast, the average 18-wheeler is 70-80 feet long and 13.5 feet high. The maximum legal semi width is 8.5 feet, but, even if the truck were only 6 feet wide, its volume would be more than 5,000 cubic feet. That’s more than 40 times the volume of a midsize sedan!

Semi-trucks are also much heavier than most passenger vehicles. The legal weight maximum for an 18-wheeler truck is 80,000 pounds. The average passenger vehicle weighs roughly 5,000 lbs., and even large sport utility vehicles only weigh between 6,000 and 10,000 lbs.

In an accident, a much larger and heavier semi-truck can have a much more devastating impact than a standard passenger car.

3. Evidence Used in Legal Cases

In a typical car accident, drivers’ lawyers use things like photographs, police reports, witness statements, camera footage, and other common types of crash evidence to prove their case. In semi-truck accident cases, lawyers use things like maintenance records, onboard system and GPS data, weight tickets, delivery documents, bills of lading, training files, hours of service, driver qualifications, and drug/alcohol test results as evidence in their case.

4. Legal Liability

In car accidents, the fault can be attributed to one or more of the drivers. In many semi-truck accident cases, the root cause of an accident can be linked back to the trucking company. Unreasonable driver schedules, poor maintenance, failure to observe trucking regulations, and other issues can make the company partially or entirely liable for an accident.

5. Type and Severity of Injuries

There’s also a difference between 18-wheeler and car accidents in terms of the injuries they cause. The huge difference in weight, size, and impact force between the two types of vehicles makes semi-truck accidents significantly more likely to cause severe injuries. While many car accident victims are able to walk away with minimal injuries like whiplash or bruising, an 18-wheeler accident is far more likely to have severe physical repercussions like broken bones, brain damage, spinal injuries, or death.

6. Compensation for Accident Damage

The average driver of a passenger car carries just enough insurance to cover the most pressing concerns, like basic liability. In fact, many drivers are even under-insured, leaving accident victims with extremely limited settlements. Trucking companies, however, face a different set of coverage needs and, therefore, tend to carry more insurance on their vehicles. Because of this strong insurance coverage, victims have a greater likelihood of receiving a fair compensation amount.

Get Professional Legal Help from Johnson Garcia, LLP

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a semi-truck of any kind, you need the help of an experienced Houston 18-wheeler accident attorney. At Johnson Garcia, LLP, we’ll use our 30+ years of combined legal experience to build a strong case and get you the compensation you deserve as an accident victim. We strive to be an affordable choice for clients from all walks of life; that’s why if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.

Call us today at 832-44-6700 for your free initial consultation.