Rear-end truck accidents are common accidents that happen in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end accidents account for 29 percent of traffic accidents that end in severe injuries or death.
Everyone should know how rear-end truck accidents happen and what to do after getting involved in a collision. If you suffer injuries in this type of crash, you should first get immediate medical attention, and then consult with an experienced truck accident attorney about your legal rights.
What Is a Rear-End Accident?
A rear-end accident happens when a vehicle’s front end crashes into another vehicle’s back end. When a rear-end collision involves a large truck, the accident can cause lasting injuries, significant property damage, and emotional trauma.
Why Are Rear-End Accidents Dangerous When They Involve Trucks?
The size and weight of commercial trucks make getting into an accident with one of these vehicles potentially tragic. The following features make getting into a rear-end accident with a large truck especially dangerous:
The weight of large trucks can cause a bigger impact when they hit a passenger vehicle than if the accident involved two cars. In addition to the size of the truck itself, most commercial trucks carry thousands of pounds of cargo, which contributes to the danger of crashing with a truck. Commercial trucks can literally crush smaller vehicles.
The size of commercial trucks makes it harder for them to stop. A large truck can’t stop on a dime, so the driver is unlikely to avoid an accident. If the truck driver is speeding, they make the situation worse. The faster the truck is moving at the time of the accident, the more likely the results of the accident will cause serious injury or death.
The size and weight of commercial trucks make pile-up accidents more likely. Pile-up accidents happen when one vehicle hits another and causes it to crash into a third vehicle. This type of accident is a chain reaction. Because of the great size of these vehicles, the momentum they cause after getting in a rear-end accident can cause a pile-up.
Causes of Rear-End Truck Accidents
Most traffic accidents happen due to negligence. If a truck driver operates the commercial vehicle negligently, they risk causing a massive accident. Some common causes of rear-end truck accidents include:
A truck driver who speeds is more likely to get into an accident than a passenger vehicle driver because it is harder to stop a commercial truck than a passenger vehicle. The truck driver may find it impossible to slow down or stop to avoid an accident because of the braking system.
Rear-end accidents happen when drivers do not have enough time to stop before colliding with another vehicle. Tailgating happens when a driver is following too closely behind another vehicle. A rear-end collision can happen if the front driver stops too quickly or the rear driver cannot stop quickly enough.
Congested traffic is a concern in many major cities. A large number of vehicles on the road in bumper-to-bumper traffic can make rear-end accidents more likely to occur.
Distracted driving happens when a driver takes their attention off driving. Examples of distracted driving include texting and driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or fatigued driving. If a commercial truck driver is distracted, they can cause devastating rear-end accidents.
Poorly Maintained Roads
Sometimes road conditions are the reason for traffic collisions. State and local governments are responsible for maintaining safe roads. Traffic accidents might happen because of cracks in the road, potholes, and other poor road conditions.
If your injuries result from an accident caused by a poorly maintained road, you may have a claim against a governmental entity. Your truck accident attorney can help you name the right parties to your lawsuit by finding each responsible party and pursuing compensation from them.
How Do You Determine Fault in a Rear-End Accident?
Fault is determined based on the circumstances surrounding the crash. No matter the circumstance, however, every driver must operate their vehicle safely and avoid causing injuries or property damage to other drivers. When drivers fail to operate their vehicles safely, they are at fault for causing the accident.
Usually, in a rear-end accident, it may seem obvious that the rear driver caused the accident. However, in some cases, the front driver is at fault.
Here are some situations where a front driver causes a rear-end accident:
- The front car has a broken taillight or another mechanical failure
- The front driver stops suddenly
A person who suffers injuries in a rear-end accident with a truck driver should contact an attorney immediately to protect their legal rights.
Next Steps After Getting Into a Rear-End Accident With a Truck Driver
You need to take the proper steps after a rear-end accident with a truck driver.
What you do after an accident can be the difference between recovering full compensation and not getting the money you need to get your life back on track.
- See a doctor immediately after the crash. It is important to your case and, more important, to your physical well-being. Injuries like broken bones are obvious, but you may be suffering from internal injuries that a doctor will only diagnose after a physical examination. Seeing a doctor immediately after an accident can help your case, too. Some insurance companies will argue that your injuries are not as severe or not connected to the crash if you delay getting medical treatment.
- File a claim with your insurance company. You should remain compliant with the terms of your auto insurance policy, and you may be in breach if you do not promptly file a claim. While you should follow the terms of your policy, you should not negotiate with any insurance company without speaking to an attorney.
- Contact a truck accident attorney. Getting legal representation should be at the top of your list of steps to take immediately after a truck accident. Your attorney can help you know what to do when speaking with insurance companies, debt collectors, etc., so these issues never negatively affect your legal interests.
Statute of Limitations for Rear-End Truck Accident Claims
You must file a claim to recover compensation for a rear-end truck accident claim within the appropriate statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a deadline set by law that requires accident victims to settle their claims or file a lawsuit within a specified period. If the statute of limitations passes without the victim filing a claim, they will lose their right to recover with very limited exceptions.
Each state has its own statute of limitations for filing a claim after a truck accident case. In most states, claimants have one year from the date of the accident to settle or file a lawsuit, but the timeframe can vary. Contact an attorney immediately to reduce the risk that the court will dismiss your claim on technical grounds.
Consequences of Rear-End Truck Accidents
Rear-end truck accidents can lead to temporary and permanent physical injuries, property damage, and intangible losses. You might be entitled to compensation if you suffered an injury in a rear-end truck accident.
Examples of injuries caused by rear-end truck accidents include:
- Back injuries
- Knee injuries
- Internal injuries
- Short-term and long-term disability
- Broken bones
- Cuts and bruises
- Mental anguish
- Emotional trauma
- Property damage
Damages Available in Rear-End Truck Accidents
The types of damages available in rear-end truck accidents may fall into one of three specific categories: economic, non-economic, or punitive.
Economic damages are available to compensate an accident victim for tangible losses. Economic damages put the victim back in the financial position they were in before the accident.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Property damage
- Current and future lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Current and future medical bills and costs
Non-economic damages repay an accident victim for their unseen losses. Non-economic damages address intangible losses that are usually hard to prove. Accident victims need an attorney to help them build a case to prove non-economic damages.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
Non-economic damages are challenging to calculate, as they do not stem from bills, expenses, or future financial obligations. Your lawyer can help you accurately value these losses.
There is another category of damages called punitive damages. The law uses punitive damages to deter the defendant’s wildly outrageous conduct. Punitive damages equate to punishment. Since these damages aim to change a defendant’s conduct and not to compensate the victim, there are limitations on punitive damages. The availability of punitive damages depends on the state, and the amount of money available may be limited depending on your state.
Benefits of Having a Rear-End Accident Attorney
It may be tempting to represent yourself after a rear-end accident with a commercial truck. Still, to maximize your chances of getting the compensation you are entitled to, you should contact an experienced attorney.
A rear-end truck accident attorney can help you in the following ways and more:
Focus on Legal Matters
If you hire an attorney, you can focus on your physical and mental wellness, and your attorney will focus on your legal recovery. Having an attorney can ensure you do not need to worry about correspondence with insurance companies and other third parties, procedural rules, or how to present your case in court.
Negotiate With the Insurance Company on Your Behalf
Insurance companies will prey on your lack of experience with the legal system and filing accident claims. Having an attorney represent you helps protect you against any tactics that insurance companies may try to avoid paying out on your claim.
Your attorney will negotiate a satisfactory settlement outcome that will cover all your losses, including your pain and suffering and your other non-economic damages.
Get Access to Medical Care
Your accident lawyer might help get you access to medical care. Some doctors, even primary care physicians, are hesitant to treat patients injured in traffic accidents because they do not want to get involved in a lawsuit. Your attorney may help you pursue medical care from doctors willing to treat accident victims.
Help Build Your Case
The attorney you choose should have experience handling truck-related claims. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you build a strong case to ensure you can receive the compensation you deserve after an accident. Accident attorneys can also spot legal issues that you cannot see. Not only can an attorney help you spot these issues, but they can also help you resolve them, too.
Represent You at Trial
If you and the insurance company cannot reach a satisfactory settlement, your case will proceed to trial. Trials are intimidating, especially if you have not been involved in one before. It is hard to represent oneself and present the facts of the case coherently without getting emotionally involved. You need an objective advocate who also wants to see you get the best outcome for your case.
Can I Afford an Attorney?
If you are worried about being unable to find an attorney you can afford to represent you, you may be relieved that many civil action attorneys work on a contingency fee arrangement.
A contingency fee agreement is a payment arrangement that allows you to defer payment for legal services until after the case settles. Under the terms of a contingency fee arrangement, the client and attorney agree that if the case settles, the attorney will receive a percentage of the final settlement amount as payment for their work.
Contingency fee agreements allow more accident victims to pursue justice and keep commercial truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for sharing the responsibility for keeping the roads safe.
Contact a Florida Truck Accident Attorney Today
Contact a Florida personal injury attorney immediately if you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a rear-end truck accident.
Take advantage of the skill and experience of a truck accident attorney to help you get the compensation you may be entitled to after an accident.