Four ways Tractor-Trailer Accidents Differ From Accidents Involving Only Cars

by | Jan 5, 2016 | Auto Accidents, Truck Accidents

truck accident with semi overturned

In 2013 (the last year data is available), seventy-one percent of people killed in large-truck crashes were occupants of the other vehicles. If you or a loved one is involved in a accident in South Carolina with a tractor-trailer there are a few things that you need to know.

The company will start building a case immediately.

First, the tractor trailer company will begin building a case immediately. The tractor-trailer company or their insurance company may send out an investigator immediately to take pictures and measurements, collect evidence and interview witnesses. Usually the driver of the private vehicle is too injured after the accident to even take one picture. The injured party is already behind from just moments after the accident. A trucker is required to fill out daily logs detailing when they drive, take breaks, and sleep. They are only required to keep this information for a limited time. It is important that this information is requested from the company as soon as possible before it is destroyed.

There are Federal Regulations that are a factor

Second, there are the numerous federal regulations that the tractor trailer company must abide by. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for preventing commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. The FMCSA enforces safety regulations, such as hours of services limitations, drug and alcohol testing, training requirements, record keeping and vehicle inspection and maintenance. During the investigation into the accident, we look at the company’s driver manuals (if any), training aids, and the education and training of the driver. We review the driver’s safety records including any infractions, tickets or warnings. Many times we find that the dispatch logs and driver’s logs do not match the fuel receipts or odometer readings. This happens when the driver or company is trying to push the limits of how long a driver is supposed to drive in a 24 hour time period. Many tractor-trailer accidents happen because of driver fatigue or distraction. Knowing what documents are available can help determine the cause of the accident. These regulations and differences from an accident involving only cars, make it very difficult for a victim in a tractor trailer accident in South Carolina to go through the complex process without the aid of an experienced attorney.

Other parties may be on the hook other than the tractor-trailer driver

The third thing that is different about tractor-trailer accidents is the parties involved. Unlike most car accident cases, there may be multiple parties at fault. There is always the driver, but other parties may be brought in such as: the owner of the truck, the company that employs the driver, the trailer may be owned by a separate company, the shippers, truck manufacturer, repair shops, or even government entities.

Tractor-Trailers are required by law to carry much more insurance than a private vehicle

Fourth, tractor-trailers are required by law to carry much more insurance than a private vehicle. How much a tractor-trailer is required to carry depends on if it travels from state to state or stays within the same state. For tractor-trailers that travel from state to state, under Title 49, Section 387 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations, the minimum requirements for insurance for trucks that have a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more have been established. Here’s a look at these requirements:

  • A truck carrying only non-hazardous general goods is required to have a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage for damage to property or injuries to people.
  • Any truck that transports HAZMAT goods (excluding any type of explosives) needs to have a minimum insurance cover of $1,000,000, for bodily injury and damage to property.
  • A commercial truck carrying HAZMAT goods and/or explosives has to have a minimum insurance of $5,000,000 for bodily injury and property destruction.
  • Trucks that have a gross weight of less than 10,000 pounds have to carry $300,000 in insurance for general goods, and $5,000,000 for HAZMAT goods.

These are just the federal insurance requirements for trucks; most states having their own individual insurance cover limits.

Each case is unique. If you have questions about a tractor-trailer accident or any other questions about your legal rights, please contact Venus Poe today at 864-963-0310 or click here to fill out an online case evaluation form. We have offices in Greenville, South Carolina and Fountain Inn, South Carolina to better serve you anywhere in South Carolina. There is no obligation or charge for our initial consultation to see if we can help you.

The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.You should not read this article to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which you may have a case.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration- Truck Safety Facts- 2013 Data

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