Skip to Content
Schedule a Consultation 309-673-0069
Schedule a Consultation 309-673-0069

How Do Truck Accidents Differ From Car Accidents?

Fri 28 Oct, 2022 / by / Truck Accidents

There are six million passenger car accidents in the United States every year, with nearly 40,000 people losing their lives in them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 538,000 large trucks involved in traffic crashes in 2019. Truck accidents have been on the rise as well as fatality rates. Accidents involving cars and trucks typically have severe consequences for car drivers and passengers. Most fatalities involving truck accidents come from passengers in the cars rather than occupants of the trucks. Each year, there are roughly four thousand casualties in multiple-vehicle crashes that involve a truck. 

Car accidents and truck accidents are similar in a lot of ways, but there are some key differences. Read on to learn more about the differences in causes, types of accidents, and severity, as well as how this may impact the recovery process in the event that you are involved in an accident.

The Difference in Causes

Equipment Malfunction

One reason that accidents happen is due to equipment malfunction. On a passenger car, this could be due to anything from a braking issue, wipers not working, a popped tire, a faulty steering system, or lighting issues.

Trucks can suffer from the same mechanical failures. However, they can be more likely to suffer from equipment malfunction due to the increased complexity involved in a truck and their size. Many trucks are not designed to go faster than 75 MPH. Driving above that speed can cause excessive heat, leading to a tire breakdown.

The other element that can malfunction on a truck is the trailer. Trucks are hauling all sorts of cargo—from merchandise to chemicals. If the cargo did not get loaded or secured, it can become loose and cause an accident. Cargo can make an accident even more severe. This is especially the case if the cargo contains hazardous chemicals, which can affect the car or the passengers. Hazardous cargo is present in approximately four percent of large trucks involved in fatal collisions.


In the United States, drowsy driving contributes to over 100,000 crashes each year. This number is likely much higher due to difficulty in determining whether someone was tired during a crash. While fatigue can play a role in car accidents, it is much more common in cases of truck accidents. This is because truck drivers will drive for very long distances and may have deadlines to make. Roughly two-thirds of truck drivers experience regular fatigue.  A study on large truck crashes conducted by the FMSCA discovered that fatigue is one of the largest causes of truck accidents. 


Sheer physics can account for why truck accidents are generally so much worse than car accidents. Tractor trailers can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. Conversely, passenger vehicles can weigh a few thousand pounds.

Automobile drivers can contribute to truck accidents due to not understanding how trucks are limited by their size. Trucks do not handle the same way that cars do. It takes longer for trucks to brake given the amount of weight that they are towing. If a driver cuts in front of a truck without giving them enough space or time to stop, the truck can rear-end them. This is compounded when there are bad weather conditions, which makes it more difficult for both trucks and cars to stop in time.

Types of Accidents

Rollover Crash 

Rollover accidents happen when a vehicle flips onto its side or onto its roof. Poor weather conditions, excessive speed, or both can cause a rollover vehicle crash. Additionally, slamming the brakes onto a slick substance can cause a rollover crash.

While both cars and trucks can experience rollover crashes, trucks are susceptible for different reasons. They are generally hauling cargo. If that cargo shifts, the center of gravity will also shift. This can affect the truck’s momentum and lead to a rollover crash.


This is one of the most common types of accidents to happen to a truck. Jackknifing is the phenomenon of when the trailer that a truck is carrying pushes the front towing vehicle to one side or all the way around so it faces backward. This happens when the load being towed is particularly light or a driver has to stop abruptly.

It can put other drivers on the road at serious risk. Jackknifing incidents can cause severe injuries and deaths.

The Difference in the Severity of the Accident

 Bodily Injury 

The accidents caused by truck accidents tend to cause more damage to bodies. They can cause anything from whiplash, paralysis, or even death. This is due to the size of the truck and the impact that it has on a lower-set car. Rehabilitation may be more extensive than a car-on-car accident, resulting in higher medical costs.  

Property Damage

Accidents caused by trucks are also more likely to cause a higher dollar amount of property damage, whether the truck is involved in a collision with another car or the truck is the only vehicle involved. Trucks are more expensive than cars, so repairing them will cost more money. If the truck has caused damage to a car, the damage is likely to be severe, resulting in the car being totaled. In car-on-car accidents, there is a greater likelihood that property damage may be minimal. 

The Recovery Process 

In the case of an auto accident, recovery will involve suing the driver and recovering from their insurance company. If a vehicle equipment malfunction plays a role in the accident, it could involve suing the car manufacturer or the product manufacturer. Truck accidents can be much more complex in terms of recovery. Depending on what caused the accident, an injured party may need to sue the driver or the manufacturer. They also may need to bring suit against the transport company, that is the company that has the driver working for them. Another potential party to sue is the maintenance provider if faulty maintenance led to the truck to malfunction.

Truck accidents generally result in tricky cases, which is why an experienced truck accident lawyer is a good idea. Contact us to speak to someone about your truck accident.