Bagen Law Firm | January 23, 2023 | Truck Accidents
Commercial truck drivers have an obligation to operate their huge vehicles safely and carefully at all times. When they violate speed limits, drive while distracted, and violate other traffic laws, they may cause a rear-end accident that severely injures other drivers and passengers.
If you suffered injuries in a recent rear-end truck accident resulting from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, you have legal options. A knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your area can help you evaluate your options and pursue the monetary compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can also help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and pursue damages for your injuries.
Injuries That Rear-end Truck Accident Victims Often Sustain
When the front of a large tractor-trailer, big rig, or 18-wheeler hits the back of a smaller vehicle, it is usually the occupants of the smaller vehicle who suffer more severe injuries.
The force of a rear-end crash from a large truck often causes an accident victim’s body to move forward and backward abruptly, causing severe soft tissue injuries to the accident victim’s neck or back. Generally speaking, the more violent the crash, the more severe the accident victim’s injuries.
In some rear-end truck crashes, the collision force is so great that it causes a part of the accident victim’s body to strike something in their vehicle, like the steering wheel, headrest, window, or door frame, causing a traumatic head injury such as a concussion or broken bone.
Rear-end truck accidents may also lead to internal organ injuries, spinal cord damage, and full or partial paralysis.
If you suffered any of these injuries in a truck accident, you should call 9-1-1 from the scene if you can. Then, you should travel to the hospital in an ambulance or have someone drive you there. The medical provider on duty can order the necessary imaging studies at a hospital or urgent care facility to fully diagnose your injuries.
The provider can also render emergency treatment if you need it and make recommendations for future medical care. For example, depending on your injuries, you may need emergency surgery and a later follow-up with an orthopedic doctor, physical therapist, or another specialist.
While you complete your medical treatment, a truck accident attorney in your area can begin advocating for your legal interests. First, your lawyer can start gathering up your medical treatment records to date, along with your medical bills and lost wage documentation from your employer.
Your lawyer may also obtain copies of the police report, witness statements, and photographs of your injuries. Once your medical treatment is over, your lawyer can submit these documents to the insurance company adjuster handling your claim. At that point, settlement negotiations may begin in your case.
Common Causes of Rear-end Truck Crashes
Rear-end truck accidents typically happen when commercial truck drivers are reckless or careless. One common cause of these accidents is distracted driving.
A distracted truck driver does not properly observe the road. Instead of watching the road, a distracted truck driver might be listening to loud music in the cab of their truck, fiddling with a GPS navigation system, or sending a text message on their cellular phone while driving.
Unfortunately, these distractions may divert a truck driver’s attention away from the road, preventing them from seeing a vehicle in front of them and stopping. Moreover, if the truck driver is operating their vehicle too fast, they may be unable to stop in time to avoid a rear-end crash. These accidents are widespread near traffic intersections and on stretches of highway where traffic back-ups frequently occur.
Speeding is only one type of road rule violation that leads to rear-end truck accidents. These accidents may also happen when truck drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to other drivers at the appropriate times, fail to use their turn signals, or aggressively weave in and out of busy highway traffic.
In addition to road rule violations, some rear-end truck accidents occur when drivers exhibit road rage. Road rage is a truck driver’s overreaction to a perceived or actual set of circumstances that occur while on the road. Truck drivers often operate under tight deadlines and may resort to speeding or other aggressive driving maneuvers to get ahead of other traffic. In the process, however, they might negligently cause their truck to strike a smaller vehicle.
Rear-end truck accidents can also happen when truck drivers and trucking companies violate state or federal motor carrier regulations. These regulations prescribe load limits for large trucks, as well as loading and unloading procedures that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow.
When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to properly load or secure cargo to their trucks, the truck’s center of balance may become offset, or the truck may become top-heavy. As a result, a driver may have a more challenging time stopping their vehicle, especially when traveling at high speeds.
Moreover, some rear-end truck accidents are due to driver fatigue. Drivers often use their vehicles for hours on end without stopping to take a break or sleep. Many trucking companies offer their drivers financial incentives if they deliver their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Truck drivers may even resort to stimulant drugs to stay awake for long hours. Unfortunately, these drugs sometimes have the opposite effect and make a driver feel drowsy while behind the wheel.
A tired truck driver might fall utterly asleep at the wheel, causing them to negligently rear-end a vehicle in front of them. Alternatively, the drowsy truck driver might lose concentration or become distracted, preventing them from seeing a vehicle in front of them and causing a severe crash.
Finally, some rear-end truck accidents happen when truck drivers are under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and severely slows down a truck driver’s central nervous system. Consequently, the driver may exhibit physical symptoms, like blurred vision, as well as limited concentration and delayed reaction time. These symptoms may prevent a driver from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid a rear-end crash with a smaller vehicle.
In most jurisdictions, passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated if a breathalyzer device shows their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be at least 0.08 percent. However, the law usually holds commercial truck drivers to stricter standards. This is because commercial drivers receive compensation for their driving. In most jurisdictions, a commercial truck driver is legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of at least 0.04 percent.
If you sustained injuries in a rear-end truck accident that resulted from one of these types of truck driver negligence, an experienced truck accident attorney in your area can help. Your lawyer can review the accident circumstances with you, visit the accident scene, and, if necessary, retain an accident reconstructionist to identify exactly how your crash occurred. Your lawyer can then help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit that seeks the monetary damages you deserve for your injuries.
Trucking Company Responsibility for Rear-end Accidents
In many jurisdictions, the trucking companies that employ negligent truck drivers may also be responsible for rear-end accidents that their drivers cause. This type of liability is called vicarious liability. Moreover, if an accident victim can demonstrate that the trucking company hired or retained a negligent driver with a known record of moving violations, the trucking company may also be negligent.
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your jurisdiction can determine whether the negligent truck driver’s employer is wholly or partially responsible for your accident. If so, your attorney can name the trucking company as a defendant in any lawsuit they file in the court system.
The Burden of Proof in a Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit
In a truck accident claim or lawsuit that results from a rear-end crash, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. In addition to establishing that a truck driver violated their legal duty of care, such as by violating a traffic law, the accident victim has to show that the driver’s negligence caused the accident, that they suffered at least one physical injury, and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
To establish this legal burden, it may become necessary for your lawyer to retain one or more experts in your case. For example, your lawyer may need to retain an accident reconstructionist to prove that the truck driver or trucking company caused the rear-end crash.
In addition, your lawyer may need to retain a medical expert who can establish that your injury or injuries directly resulted from the collision. You may also need a doctor to prove that you suffered a permanent injury in your accident that will not get better over time.
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your jurisdiction will know which experts to retain to help you maximize the monetary damages you recover in your case.
Recoverable Truck Accident Monetary Damages
If you can prove the legal elements of your truck accident claim or lawsuit, you may be eligible to recover various monetary damages to compensate you for your injuries. Since every truck accident case is different, the damages one accident victim recovers may differ from those another accident victim receives.
Factors that influence the types and amounts of recoverable damages include the force of the truck collision, the injuries that the accident victim suffers, the cost of the accident victim’s medical treatment, and whether the accident victim suffered a permanent impairment or disability in their crash.
First, truck accident victims may be eligible to recover compensation for their related medical expenses and long-term care costs. If they need to miss time from work to recover from their injuries, they can also pursue lost wage compensation.
In addition to economic damages and other out-of-pocket costs, truck accident victims can recover non-economic damages. Those damages compensate truck accident victims for their mental distress, inconvenience, and pain and suffering stemming from the accident and their injuries. They can also pursue monetary damages for their loss of life enjoyment, loss of the ability to use a body part, permanent disfigurement, and loss of spousal companionship.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer advocating for you can assist with recovering the total monetary damages you deserve. If the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf and litigate your case at a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
Call an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney About Your Legal Matter Today
If you suffered injuries in a recent truck accident, a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your area can help.
In any truck accident claim or lawsuit, time is of the essence. This is because no matter where your truck accident happened, you have a limited time to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for monetary damages.
If you miss the statute of limitations in your jurisdiction and fail to file a timely lawsuit in your case, the court can prevent you from recovering the monetary compensation you deserve. Therefore, the sooner you retain a truck accident attorney to represent you, the better off you will be.
Sometimes people think their accident is straightforward and there is no need to consult a lawyer. You should never do this. Insurance companies will make every effort to show they are not at fault.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can investigate the circumstances of your accident, help you file a claim in the court system, and negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf.
Your lawyer can also explain the pros and cons of settling versus litigating your case in court. Finally, if the insurance company refuses to offer you the monetary damages you deserve for your truck accident injuries, your lawyer can represent you in all court proceedings and advocate for the best possible result on your behalf.
You have nothing to lose by consulting with a truck accident lawyer for free today. Start protecting your rights and seek legal help.