Key Differences in Handling 18-Wheeler Accident Claims

By David Hammond

If another driver hits and injures you, you can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against them, seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost income, property damage, and more. This is true whether the person was operating a family sedan or a commercial vehicle. However, there are certain key differences in handling 18-wheeler accident claims versus other types of traffic collisions that could make pursuing full and fair compensation more difficult. Here are the top five to know—plus the best ways to overcome them. 

Difference #1: Size Disparity

One of the most obvious differences between 18-wheelers and passenger vehicles is their size. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average car weighs around 4,000 pounds. This significant size disparity means that when a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, the results are often catastrophic for the occupants of the passenger vehicle.

Difference #2: Handling

Due to their size, weight, and components, 18-wheelers handle much differently than passenger cars. Trucks require more time and space to brake, turn, and maneuver, especially in adverse weather conditions. Truck drivers must be highly skilled and attentive to operate their vehicles safely. An undertrained or inattentive truck driver who fails to account for these differences in handling is far likelier to cause an accident than an experienced and careful driver.

Difference #3: Involvement of Multiple Parties

In a typical car accident, the claim usually involves only the drivers directly involved in the accident. However, in an 18-wheeler accident, multiple parties may be liable, including:

  • The truck driver, if their inattentiveness, aggressive behavior, or substance use caused the crash
  • The trucking company, if they failed to vet or train their drivers properly, conduct regular vehicle repairs, or follow relevant trucking regulations
  • The truck manufacturer, if a faulty component contributed to the collision
  • The cargo loader, if they failed to balance or secure the cargo properly
  • The truck maintenance provider, if they failed to diagnose or address mechanical issues that a reasonable mechanic would have

Each of these parties may have contributed to the accident, complicating the claims process and requiring a thorough investigation to determine liability.

Difference #4: Severity of Injuries

Given the size and weight of 18-wheelers, accidents involving these vehicles can often severely injure the occupants of passenger vehicles. Common injuries in truck accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Internal organ damage
  • Amputations
  • Burn injuries

These injuries often require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care, resulting in substantial financial burdens for victims and their families.

Difference #5: Value of Claims

Due to the severity of injuries and the involvement of multiple parties, 18-wheeler accident claims tend to have a much higher value than typical car accident claims. Victims may be entitled to compensation for their:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if the truck driver or trucking company engaged in particularly egregious behavior, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or falsifying records of regulatory compliance. A knowledgeable New York truck accident attorney can give you an informed estimate of how much your claim is worth.

Contact a Central New York & Syracuse 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney Today

If you have suffered injuries in an 18-wheeler accident in Syracuse or anywhere in Central New York, the experienced legal team at CDH Law PLLC is ready to offer you the support and advocacy you require at this challenging time. Our skilled personal injury team has the experience you can trust when results matter most. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how our Syracuse 18-wheeler accident lawyers can help you.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.