Difference Between a Tractor-Trailer Accident and a Car Accident

  • By:David Bate

Tractor-Trailer Accidents

When you’re involved in an accident it’s important to know what to do next so you can act quickly and do everything required to ensure your damages and injuries are covered in case you were not at fault. Depending on what type of accident you were in, you should know what the differences are between being hit by another car, and being hit by a tractor-trailer or commercial semi-truck.


While regular car accidents can cause major damages and fatalities, being hit by a heavy semi is much more likely to cause severe injuries and total destruction to your vehicle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, from 2016 to 2017, fatal large truck crashes increased by 10%.

Driving Laws

Both regular vehicles and tractor-trailers are required to follow general traffic laws; however, there is another set of federal laws that truck drivers must also comply with. The drivers and large transport companies must be registered with the FMCSA and the Department of Transportation and stay up-to-date with new regulations.

The federal laws include requirements for driver health, education, training, and license maintenance. There are also break requirements, which are rules regarding how long drivers can be on the road. Drivers must also record precise logbooks of their driving time, routes, and the cargo they hauled.


The amount of coverage and cost of insurance you carry for your personal vehicle is determined by the laws in your state and your driving record. Because semi-trucks are used for commercial purposes, they carry liability insurance. The amount they carry is determined by things such as:

  • State commercial driving laws
  • Driving record
  • Whether they drive as an independent contractor or are directly employed by a large trucking company
  • What type of cargo they transport

The larger insurance companies that hold expensive policies hire adjusters who are trained to keep as much money as possible. These adjusters could attempt to settle with you for an amount that will not cover everything you need to fully recover. This is why if you are in a serious accident with a semi-truck, it is vital that you speak with an attorney, like a truck accident lawyer in Fredericksburg, VA, who can help you collect the evidence necessary to prove your case and ensure you are treated fairly by the insurance company or in court.

Types of evidence the attorney may consider include drug and alcohol screenings, logbook hours, truck maintenance, cargo, and weight. Keep in mind that the FMCSA only requires trucking companies and drivers to keep records for six months. While some may keep their paperwork for longer, it is better to consult your attorney as soon as possible.

Thanks to MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into the difference between a tractor-trailer accident and a car accident.

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