Minnesota’s Truck Accident Lawyers

Truck accident cases are different than typical two-car collision cases, involving unique issues of law and fact which require an personal injury attorney experienced in truck accident litigation. The handling of truck accident claims is one of our firm’s primary areas of practice. Having personally handled many such claims, firm attorneys have extensive experience dealing with the accident reconstruction aspects of such litigation and the preparation necessary to bring such cases to trial. As a result of our work in this area, our firm has an excellent track record of obtaining successful results for our clients who have been injured in truck accidents.

The laws applicable to cases involving truck accident cases involve state and federal regulations which sometimes allow for negligence per se claims. Such cases usually also involve common law claims based on negligence. In certain cases punitive damages may be justified where there has been malicious or grossly negligent conduct. Potential defendants generally include, but are certainly not limited to, the driver, the motor carrier, the safety director for the carrier, the mechanic, and the vehicle inspector.

For a discussion of Minnesota’s no fault system and other considerations relevant to standard car accident cases, please visit our car accident page.

Circumstances Peculiar to Truck Cases

Pursuant to Federal regulations, professional truck drivers are charged with a heightened responsibility for public safety. This heightened responsibility results from the fact that truck drivers operate vehicles that can pose serious dangers to the public if not operated with an appropriate level of care.

It is important to understand that commercial trucks and the accidents associated with them often involve issues that are not common to typical motor-vehicle accidents. A few of these considerations are discussed below:

  1. Size: Semi-trucks are so massive, they can be extremely unwieldy. This fact alone is the cause of many highway trucking accidents.
  2. Stopping Distance: An important difference between cars and big rigs is the length of the distance it takes for each to stop. With size comes momentum. Trucks with greater mass have a more difficult time stopping than a typical car. While an average car moving at 65 miles per hour is able to stop in approximately 162 feet, it takes a semi-truck about 420 feet.
  3. Braking Systems: Tractor-trailers utilize braking systems that are completely different than regular cars. Generally, commercial trucks use an air brake system, in which pressure is used to increase the braking force, and the compressed air can multiply the force of mechanical braking several times. An experienced driver can sometimes use the air brakes to help keep a truck from sliding and jack-knifing. Truckers have to be cautious while driving downhill long distances, as their brakes can overheat and fail. Moreover, an unbalanced brake system can play an integral role in causing a collision—it can affect the steering, control, and the stopping distance of the vehicle.
  4. Jack-knifing: The configuration of tractor trailer rigs creates the danger that the trailer may swing out to the side during braking error or malfunction. Such situations are very dangerous for others on the highway.
  5. Rollovers: Trucks roll over much more easily than typical motor vehicles because of their high center of gravity and high profile. Side impact forces which might not cause a normal vehicle to tip can sometimes cause a big rig to topple.
  6. Empty Trailer Dynamics: Although it is not intuitively obvious, it is important to note that empty trailers require greater stopping distances than their loaded counterparts. The brakes, tires, springs, and shock absorbers on heavy trucks are designed to operate most efficiently when the trailer is fully loaded. As a result, when the trailer is empty, stopping distances can increase.
  7. Issues Unique to Tanker Trailers: Tanker trailers can greatly affect a truck’s maneuverability. For example, a tanker may experience significant internal sideways forces by the sloshing of the liquids it carries. Although a tank with internal dividers may reduce the sloshing effect, certain tankers, such as milk carriers, cannot have such dividers due to health regulations, and the danger of rollover increases with such tanker trailers.