Trucks, tractors, semi trucks — the designations can be confusing to anyone who isn’t involved with driving commercial vehicles. According to the Truck Driving Institute, a truck is any vehicle that requires you to have a commercial driver’s license to drive it. From pickup trucks to semis to garbage trucks to eighteen-wheelers, the designation “truck” includes many different vehicles.
Is a tractor a commercial vehicle? A tractor is a type of truck that is capable of carrying heavier loads than a straight truck. While the term “tractor” has a specific meaning in farming and agriculture, on the road, it denotes a specific type of truck that is specifically designed to pull trailers using a fifth wheel mounted over the rear axle. Essentially, tractors are used when cargo needs to be supported by an additional power.
Not surprisingly, this makes tractors prime candidates for pulling extremely heavy cargo. It also makes tractors potentially very dangerous on the road. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that a total of 4,119 people died in large truck crashes in 2019, and two-thirds of those victims were passengers in other (usually smaller) vehicles. A tractor accident can be one of the most frightening and devastating — sometimes deadly — experiences.
Tractor Accidents and Resulting Injuries
Accidents involving tractors can be caused by various factors. For example:
- Driver error or misconduct, such as reckless driving, disobeying traffic signals, going dangerously above the speed limit, or driving distracted, intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs
- Negligence by the trucking company, such as failure to inspect and maintain the tractor, overloading cargo, or failure to train the driver properly
- Mechanical or manufacturing defects by the tractor manufacturer
When a tractor accident occurs, it often results in serious injuries. This is due to several reasons: first, tractors are heavy and large, making it more likely that a victim traveling in a car will bear the brunt of the accident. They also tend to take place on highways, making speed an important factor and often leading to very severe injuries. Victims of tractor accidents often experience some of the following:
- Head injuries, concussions, or even traumatic brain injuries
- Personal injuries, such as broken bones, abrasions, and more
- Spinal cord injuries, and even paralysis
- Whiplash and back pain
- In some cases, wrongful death
Personal injuries can result in significant damages — when you add up medical bills, hospital stays, doctor’s visits, medical testing, and prescription drug costs, a severe injury can have a detrimental financial impact. Additionally, victims of tractor accidents can have significant damage to their vehicle, requiring costly repairs, which may also be recoverable in court or during settlement negotiations.
Lost wages and income often result as well, if the victim cannot go to work due to their injuries. Mental anguish, pain and suffering, and a general impact on the victim’s lifestyle can also cause serious damages and loss. It may even be possible to recover for future expenses, such as the loss of future income or the loss of enjoyment of life activities, particularly if you are so severely injured as to affect your future well-being.
Recovery for Victims of Tractor Accidents
If you have been involved in a tractor accident, there are opportunities to recover your damages. First, it is important to note that commercial motor vehicle accident lawsuits often involve multiple parties. For example, you may sue the driver for their negligence on the road, as well as sue the trucking company for its own negligence, as long as that contributed to the cause of the accident. Additionally, there may be several insurance companies involved in the suit or settlement negotiations. This makes for complex cases, and a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney can be an invaluable asset to your case.
Most tractor accidents involve negligence claims, but other laws may also be at stake. For instance, federal safety regulations govern motor carriers, and many states also have safety laws in place. Additionally, the law of vicarious liability may apply, if you are seeking to hold a trucking company liable for the negligence of its tractor driver. Because multiple legal issues can present in a tractor accident, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced car accident attorney.
FVF Can Help
If you were injured in a tractor accident and wonder what comes next, reach out to us. We will help you understand your options and provide insight on whether engaging an attorney will benefit your case. Being informed about tractor accidents is crucial. Contact our truck accident lawyers for a free consultation.