We’ve all experienced it. Your heart pounds and your hands nervously clench the steering wheel when you notice a semi-truck in your rearview mirror. Your body tenses and the car shakes when it quickly passes you on the road. You then relax with relief; you made it, no crash. But, not all of us are so lucky.

Unfortunately, in 2018 there were nearly 5,000 people killed, and an estimated 151,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks (vehicles with a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds), as reported by the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis [1]. What makes crashes involving big-rigs, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, or tractor-trailers – so complex and different are the multiple layers of liability and injuries resulting from the crash.

Collisions involving a passenger vehicle typically have one negligent party and one insurance carrier.  However, when a commercial truck passed you on the road, multiple parties are potentially responsible for a crash.  Possible defendants include:

  • the truck driver
  • truck driver’s employer
  • truck/company owner
  • truck manufacture
  • truck parts manufacture
  • truck maintenance companies

Many of these companies or businesses may be from other states. Additionally, each of these entities’ will be represented by a different multi-million dollar insurance company adding to the layers of complexity in the case.

Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) drivers and companies also abide by a different set of roadway rules and standards than a Class D driver. Many of us are unaware of these rules because unless you are driving a big-rig, why would you?

Missouri[2] and Illinois[3] host their own interstate operating standards combined with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA).  The FMCSA is the lead government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversite of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). FMCSA partners with industry, safety advocates, and state and local governments to keep roadways safe.[4]

Personal Injury lawyers who are well versed in commercial truck crashes understand the rules and use a combination of company and industry sources to find the negligent party and develop a personal injury case, especially when it comes to the discovery and preservation of evidence.

Trucking companies/employers are required by the FMCSA (Pt 379, App A)[5] to retain information regarding a truck crash. Retention periods range from 6 months to 3 years, depending on the information. The information may consist of reports of inspections, drug testing, service hours, load weight, accident history, etc.

The sheer size and weight of the load can contribute to devastating injuries as well. Heavy-duty, Class 7-8(a)(b), semis can weigh up to 80,000 pounds in comparison to a Class 1 passenger car or truck weighing less than 6,000 pounds.[6]

In our experience, clients experience these types of injuries as a result of a semi-truck crash:

  • minor to severe neck and back injuries
  • cervical spinal injury
  • traumatic brain injury(TBI)
  • pituitary dysfunction

Many of these injuries require therapy, surgery, or life care plans resulting in medical bills that can reach well over six figures and could have adverse effects on the crash victims for the remainder of their life.

Passenger motor vehicles(Car, Truck, or SUV) still account for an overwhelming percentage of motor vehicle accidents. However, knowing the basic differences in a personal injury claim involving a commercial truck will help you make informed decisions when dealing with the negligent parties and their insurance companies.

If you are in need of strong representation, don’t hesitate to contact Finney Injury Law today. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.


[1] NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis 2018 Safety Facts is available at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812663

[2] Missouri Department of Transportation Safety and Compliance information is available at https://www.modot.org/SC

[3]Illinois Department of Transportation is available at http://www.idot.illinois.gov/index

[4] Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) regulations, rules, and notices can be found at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/

[5] Complete list of items, category of records and retention period is available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/appendix-A_to_part_379

[6] Energy.org is available at https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/fact-621-may-3-2010-gross-vehicle-weight-vs-empty-vehicle-weight

[i] The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available are for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon an advertisement.

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