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Rear-End Truck Accident Lawyer

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported an estimated 146,930 injuries and 4,965 fatalities in large truck traffic accidents in 2020. Though fatality rates declined by 1% from 2019, the number of drivers on the road dropped by 6%. Despite the slight drop in overall fatality rates, the percentage of people who died from a rear-end truck collision increased from 6% to 7%.

Rear-end collisions can cause serious injuries, especially when they involve a loaded semi. You may want to speak to an attorney to find out what options you have for seeking just compensation.

Potential Injuries From Rear-End Truck Collisions

The sudden change in motion your body takes when your vehicle is struck from behind causes it to move in ways it isn’t used to and more quickly than your body can respond. One of the most common injuries is whiplash. Though most people recover from whiplash, there is also the potential for long-term neck issues if the injury is serious.

Motorists involved in rear-end truck collisions may sustain broken bones in their hands, wrists, arms and legs. More serious injuries include:

  • Head injuries: These accidents can cause head injuries ranging from a mild concussion to a severe traumatic brain injury. TBIs can lead to significant long-term medical and mental health challenges. Other head trauma includes broken cheek, jaw, or nose bones and severe facial lacerations, all potentially leading to permanent disfigurement.
  • Neck and back injuries: In addition to whiplash, rear-end truck collisions often lead to serious neck and back injuries involving soft tissues. Bone fractures along the spinal column and ribs are also possible. These physical damages are painful and can take a long time to heal.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Vertebra fractures are just one of the potential injuries to the spinal cord. Victims may also suffer from slipped or bulging discs. Nerve damage is also common and can be permanent. Severe spinal cord damage can cause paralysis, a life-changing injury that is seldom reversed.

The cost of serious injuries from a rear-end truck collision often far exceeds policy limits and coverages.

Challenges in a Rear-End Truck Accident Case

When a truck strikes your vehicle from behind, you may think determining fault is a simple matter. However, truck accident cases are often inherently complex, and multiple parties may share liability.

Rear-End Accident Causes

One of the challenges in determining fault in a rear-end collision is that multiple factors can lead to this type of crash. One of the most common reasons a truck hits a car from behind is that the truck was tailgating or following too close to stop before hitting the vehicle in front. In this case, the trucker holds some of the responsibility (but the driver might not be the only liable party).

As a driver, you may also have some responsibility if any of the following occur:

  • You slam on the brakes for no apparent reason
  • You change lanes abruptly and cut the trucker off
  • Your brake lights don’t work

Even if none of these is true, the semi-driver or the insurance company may attempt to claim one of them occurred to sidestep responsibility. An attorney practiced in handling rear-end truck accident cases understands how the insurers operate and knows how to interpret the evidence to determine fault.

Multiple At-Fault Parties

The trucking industry is a complex network consisting of multiple parties responsible for ensuring semis are safe when on the roads. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration is responsible for establishing the rules and regulations for the industry. These laws also serve to outline responsibility and accountability at each industry level.

Failure to comply with the federal guidelines may result in dangerous conditions contributing to a rear-end collision. The following are examples of parties that may have some responsibility when a truck strikes a vehicle from behind:

  • Truck driver: The driver is the most apparent potentially responsible party. Tailgating, distracted driving and drowsy driving are all reasons a trucker may be liable in a rear-end collision.
  • Motor carrier: If the driver is a motor carrier employee, the motor carrier is responsible for its employee’s behaviors. Additionally, if the trucking company demands drivers to reach their destinations faster, requiring them to take shorter breaks and drive longer, they are breaking the law.
  • Maintenance contractors: If the truck driver or motor carrier fulfilled their responsibilities to perform regular maintenance, but the contractors did not do their jobs sufficiently, they may be liable. Brake failure is one potential cause of a rear-end truck crash.
  • Manufacturers: Part and truck manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the integrity of their products. Faulty truck components may also prevent a trucker from stopping in time to avoid a collision.

It is unlikely that any of these parties or insurers will step forward to claim responsibility. It can help to have an attorney on your side who knows what to look for when determining who is at fault in the accident that led to your injuries.

Factors That Impact Claim Outcomes

In addition to determining who is at fault in the accident, several factors impact the outcome of your case. A Fielding Law attorney can provide the assistance you need to help you get a more favorable outcome.

Insurance Laws

The FMCTSA establishes insurance requirements for the trucking industry. Minimum liability coverages are dependent upon truck size and freight classification. Semis weighing more than 10,000 pounds and carrying non-hazardous cargo require a minimum of $750,000 in liability coverage. Large trucks carrying hazardous materials need a $1 million or $5 million policy, depending on the specific cargo type. Though these levels seem high, rear-end truck accidents frequently result in damages that exceed these limits.

Individual states determine insurance guidelines for passenger vehicles. In at-fault states, drivers file their claims with the at-fault party’s insurance company and report the accident to their own provider. However, you can’t be guaranteed that your assessment of fault is the same as what the insurance companies come up with.

No-fault car insurance states require drivers to have personal injury protection on their car insurance policy. When they have an accident, they file with their own insurance provider, regardless of who is at fault. Unfortunately, in these instances, victims find themselves fighting with their insurance company over what constitutes a fair settlement.

Personal Injury Laws

When you can’t reach a satisfactory settlement through the insurance companies, you may be able to file a lawsuit. State personal injury laws determine the criteria for filing a legal claim. In most instances, you must satisfy the state’s definition of a serious injury before you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Legal claims allow you to seek compensation for long-term economic and non-economic costs.

If you live in one of 33 states that follow modified comparative negligence rules, your settlement outcome depends on how much responsibility you have for the accident. If you are more than 50% liable, you lose the right to collect any compensation. If you are less than half to blame, your settlement is reduced by your liability percentage.

Rear-End Truck Accident Attorney Assistance

Fielding Law’s rear-end truck accident attorneys can help you navigate negotiations with insurance companies and legal teams or fight for you in court. If you’ve been injured, don’t wait to get the help you deserve. Our lawyers are here to assist you on your road to recovery. We don’t get paid unless you do. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.