Cars and Semi-Trucks: What Happens in an Accident?

Hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur every day across the U.S. While many are minor fender benders between two cars, more serious accidents can occur between a semi-truck and a car.

Due to the vast difference in size between a large semi and a standard-sized car, the steps for handling an accident between a semi-truck and a car are different than a collision between two regular-sized vehicles. Here’s what you need to know if you’re in an accident with a semi.

Which Vehicles Hold Up the Best In An Accident With A Semi?

How well your car holds up in an accident is dependent on several factors such as the type of accident, like rear-end or t-bone. Standard-sized vehicles and SUVs weigh up to about 5,000 pounds but a semi-truck can weigh around 18 times more, so the impact of the two vehicles colliding is often serious and life-threatening.

While there are no specific makes or models of a vehicle that will necessarily hold up better in an accident with a semi, there are specific safety features that can reduce the damage and severity of injury if an accident occurs.

If you are in the market for a new vehicle, or want to see how your car rates in safety, check out IIHS and NHTSA for their top picks for the safest cars. A vehicle with the following safety features is more likely to hold up better in an accident with a semi than those that have limited features.

Cars and Semi-Trucks: What Happens in an Accident?


Good Front Crash Test

Many newer vehicles have a good front crash test rating, which means that it holds up well in a 35 to 40 mph head-on crash test. Older makes and models may have a “good” or “acceptable” rating, but newer vehicles are more likely to have improved safety features like more airbags in the front of the vehicle.

Side Crash Ratings

Ideally, a car should have a good side crash rating, as well as side airbags. Since t-bone accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries, side airbags can be an integral safety feature that reduces the severity of an injury and possibly save your life in a crash with a larger vehicle like a semi.

Strong Reinforced Roof

When you’re in an accident with a larger vehicle like a semi-truck, you may be more likely to have a rollover crash (due to the impact). Most standard-sized vehicles that were manufactured after 2009 have roof ratings. A strong roof can help reduce the risk of severe or fatal head injuries in an accident.

Vehicle Weight

As we mentioned earlier, the standard vehicle weighs up to and around 5,000. The heavier your vehicle, the more likely that you will fare better in a crash with a semi. According to the IIHS, the safest vehicles weigh at least 3,500 pounds, so if you drive a compact and lightweight vehicle, you may want to consider upgrading to something heavier.

Other features to consider when selecting a safer vehicle is electronic stability control, which helps drivers have better control on the roads.

Newer vehicles have safety features like lane-centering and blind spot monitors, which can be helpful in preventing a crash but won’t do much if you are in an accident with a semi. Head restraints and adequate airbags throughout the vehicle are essential for your safety.

Common Injuries In Accidents Involving A Semi

Depending on the nature of the accident or the type of accident (head on vs. rear end), semi-truck drivers may sustain minor injuries, but typically they walk away from accidents free from injury.

Drivers of smaller vehicles are often the ones who sustain injuries and depending on your vehicle, the safety features, and the type of accident, your injuries may be minor to life-threatening.

Some common injuries that drivers in standard-sized vehicles sustain when in an accident with a semi include, but are not limited to:

  • Severe whiplash
  • Back and spinal injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fatal injuries

Due to the nature of the injuries that often result from an accident with a semi, the medical expenses are typically much higher as you’re more likely to be hospitalized for your injuries or need surgery. Other expenses may involve missing work due to your injury or facing a life with a temporary or permanent disability.

Who Pays For The Damages?

When passenger vehicles have a collision, the details concerning the crash (as well as who’s responsible) is pretty straightforward. The drivers typically exchange information, and insurance companies figure out the rest. In many accidents involving passenger vehicles, no further steps are needed, and there’s rarely the need to take a case to court.

Accidents with a semi-truck are often more complex. Since there may be many responsible parties involved in an accident involving a semi (such as the trucking company and even tire/parts manufacturers), it’s rarely a “cut and dry” settlement; all parties can be held liable for injuries or damage sustained in an accident.

Insurance policies are worth more than the policy on standard-sized vehicles due to the size and complexity of a semi. These policies are also higher due to the potential damage that a truck can cause in an accident.

In semi accidents, companies will often try to settle with accident victims quickly after an accident. If you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck, you may be tempted to accept the payout, but if you do this, you may ruin your chances of filing a claim in the future.

Since many accidents involving a semi-truck, may result in injury you may experience lasting physical and mental trauma. Rather than settling up shortly after the accident, it’s best to consult with a legal team that has experience dealing with semi-truck accident claims and can help you determine the kind of compensation you might be able to receive.

Semi-truck accidents are far more complicated than a standard fender bender, so it’s best to hire someone with professional experience rather than trying to represent yourself.

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Christian Morales

This common accident involve by semi-trucks everywhere. In our country, mostly common involve in road accidents are “Squid Riders”. Because of them, many innocent motorist are went to jailed due to negligence of “Squid Riders” in accident.

That’s why our law here is really sucks.

    Tracy Moore

    Traffic is too complicated, we should protect ourselves.

    Thank you

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