Fast blurry car on highway

How Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

You might not realize how different a truck accident is from a regular car accident until the day you’re in one. The difference is obvious from the moment you’re hit!

In general, car accidents are caused by human error, but truck accidents arise from the physical size and forces of a big rig. Plus, these accidents come with additional considerations like the trucking company’s ownership, insurance, and maintenance.

In Traffic Accidents, Size Matters — and so Does Speed!

Semi-trucks are enormous vehicles packed with up to 80,000 pounds of weight. As they roar down the roads with heavy loads, they have trouble braking in time to avoid accidents.

When a big truck is in motion and needs to stop abruptly, it takes two football fields of space to come to a complete stop. That’s at least five to six seconds of driving time, which is double the three seconds of space California requires by law.

Plus, any type of truck equipment failure can lead to a catastrophic accident: worn brakes, lack of brake fluid, leaking fuel lines, tire blowouts, transmission failures, manufacturing defects … The list goes on and on. Hopefully, the trucking company has been doing regular maintenance.

Don’t forget about speeding! When a trucker is exceeding the speed limit, things get even worse. Speeding causes a loss of reaction time, and you could be crushed by a speeding semi-truck in the blink of an eye.

Types of Accidents Unique to Big Rigs

Big trucks cause a wide range of accidents that passenger cars rarely cause. For example, semi-truck rollover accidents are among the most deadly accidents on California’s roads and lead to severe physical injuries.

A rollover accident typically occurs when a truck skids or slides sideways into a barrel roll, smashing anything in its path. A common cause of this type of accident is a top-heavy or incorrectly secured semi-trailer load that tips the whole truck into a full-on roll.

The truck could even be carrying hazardous materials that spill out onto the roadway during the accident. Now there’s the risk of an explosion or chemical fire that threatens everyone nearby.

Jackknife Collision

A jackknife collision is another type of big truck accident we see on California’s roads. In a jackknife, the truck’s hinging hitch point pivots as the cab swings toward the trailer, folding the whole truck in half.

Jackknifes often happen when truckers brake too late to avoid stopped cars. As soon as the truck’s body begins to twist into a jackknife, there’s very little the driver can do to control the massive, destructive force of the vehicle.

Underride accidents can happen with very tall vehicles like semi-trucks. Typically, a small passenger car slides under a semi and becomes wedged there. As you can imagine, these accidents are devastating for the people who are lodged under the truck and unable to get out.

Blind spot accidents are also an ever-present danger. They can happen to anyone, but truckers are particularly vulnerable because big rigs have huge blind spots that extend 20 feet or more around their trucks. One failure to check a blind spot can cause a huge crash.

Placing the Responsibility Where It Belongs

Trucking accidents are also different from regular car accidents because they involve so many people. Numerous potential defendants can be held liable — plus, there could be lots of other victims and witnesses to the crash.

The typical truck accident involves more than 15 people and organizations, including you, your car insurance company, the trucker, the other victims, any witnesses, the trucking company, the trucking insurance company, the police, the emergency first responders, your doctors, the auto repair mechanics, and more.

Your case’s reach could also extend much further. It might involve the truck’s maintenance workers who failed to keep the truck in good working order or even a truck manufacturer that produced a defective design.

What about the person or crew that loaded the truck’s trailer? Was the cargo attached securely? Did they create a top-heavy load that was an accident waiting to happen?

And what about insurance? Will the trucking company’s insurance carrier cover your accident, or are they trying to shrug off the blame? What’s the best way to get your medical bills covered?

These are the kinds of questions the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers will discuss with you during your free and confidential consultation. We have plenty of experience with truck accidents, and we know how much they differ from regular car crashes.

After a semi-truck accident, you have many options for getting your bills paid and moving forward with your life. Let’s secure the full and fair compensation you deserve!

We Handle Your Accident Claim so You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of personal injury claims, including semi-truck accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. 

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

Video Transcript
How are truck accidents different than car accidents? So car accidents are most often caused by human error whereas a trucking accident is more often caused by the vehicle itself and the sheer size of the vehicle. When you have a big truck involved, it’s harder to brake, which means when you have trucks that are traveling at highway speed, the length of time it takes for them to brake is a lot longer than it is for a regular vehicle. It’s harder for these trucks to make turns. A lot of times, they have equipment failure. There might be a manufacturing defect. All of these things are factors about the vehicle itself as opposed to the driver, which we see more often with car accidents versus a truck accident.

Trucking accidents can also be caused by the cargo that’s being transported. So the cargo that’s on the back might’ve been secured incorrectly and fall off, causing an accident. Or the cargo might also be hazardous and contain dangerous chemicals, which as you can imagine, can cause explosions or other things like that. Aside from the cause of the accident itself, another key difference between car accidents and trucking accidents are the injuries that are involved. So with trucking accidents, the injuries are a lot more severe, given again, the size of the vehicle involved. A regular car is around 3,700 pounds versus a truck that’s 80,000 pounds. So these types of accidents usually involve catastrophic injuries. And a lot of times, they can also involve death.

Finally, one of the main differences between a car accident versus a trucking accident is that there are more potential defendants, which in other words, there are more people to be held liable and there are more people to sue. So when you have a normal car accident, you are usually only dealing with the driver. In a trucking accident, you could have the driver, the manufacturer of the truck itself, the trucking company that the driver is working for, the maintenance provider of the vehicle, let’s say they did a bad job doing their routine maintenance, they didn’t fix something that they should have, something like that, and also any of the individuals who load the cargo onto the truck. And this is what I was saying earlier when loads are secured incorrectly, those people can also be held liable. So those are some of the main differences quickly between the two types of accidents.
Accident Client

If you’re someone who is considering an attorney for a personal accident, I highly recommend Sally Morin and her professional staff of attorneys. If you would like to know more details, feel free to contact me via Yelp and I would be happy to share more details. While I use Yelp quite often, I rarely post reviews… unless I’m truly blown away by great service (or angry with horrible service). If there were a sixth star, I would certainly give it to Rebecca and Sally!

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We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible