Although we depend on tractor trailers to haul the food and other goods that we all need, the presence of so many large, heavy vehicles on the roads inevitably leads to accidents. Unfortunately, in a tractor-trailer accident, drivers or passengers in smaller, lighter vehicles are more likely to be seriously injured or killed than in accidents involving other cars. Nearly three-quarters of the fatalities in multiple vehicle collisions involving tractor-trailers were the drivers of other vehicles, according to the National Highway and Safety Administration.
The Risks Of Tractor Trailers On The Road
The sheer size and weight of a tractor trailer make it more likely that a collision will result in serious or permanent injury or death. Other factors also contribute to the risk. In a collision with a truck carrying a heavy load, the contents may spill, causing secondary crashes or additional injury to those involved in the original collision. Often, trucks transport hazardous materials – if toxic or flammable chemicals spill in an accident, anyone near the scene of the crash is in danger. It is not unusual for accident victims to suffer complications or additional injuries after the accident if they are exposed to toxic chemicals. In rare cases, an individual may survive the original accident, only to die later from the effects of toxic chemicals. These risk factors make accident cases involving tractor trailers more likely to result in large settlements or verdicts.
In short, the amount of damages that might be collected in a tractor trailer accidents case is not necessarily any greater than those in any other accident case. However, settlements and verdicts tend to be higher on average because of the greater likelihood of serious injuries, permanent disability, and death, and because of the increased likelihood of multiple vehicles being involved in a crash.
Federal And State Regulations
That being said, there is another factor that could come into play in an accident involving a commercial trucking company. Commercial truckers are governed by both state and federal regulations covering everything from the maximum weight limits allowed to the amount of time a driver is allowed to be on the road without rest. After an accident involving a commercial truck, a thorough investigation should be done to determine if any violations contributed to the accident.
If a commercial trucking company is found to be in violation of safety regulations, and if the violations are considered serious enough, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are exactly what it sounds like – meant to punish individuals or companies for particularly egregious negligence. Punitive damages are often many times’ the number of actual damages, and will substantially increase the value of an award. Unfortunately, an award of punitive damages will inevitably lead to appeals, and an accident victim may not see any money for months or years. The number of punitive damages may be reduced on appeal. More frequently, the parties will reach a settlement in which the amount of punitive damages is reduced, but the injured person is able to receive compensation much more quickly.
Have You Been Injured In A Trucking Accident?
If you have experienced a tractor trailer accident, contact a reputable truck injury attorney to see if you are entitled to compensation. Call Campbell Law right away at 704-769-2316.