According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end crashes caused 595,000 injuries and 2,346 fatalities in 2019. Also known as fender benders, these accidents may be relatively minor when they involve two passenger vehicles. However, when a passenger vehicle is rear-ended by a large truck, the consequences can be devastating.
Why are truck rear-end accidents more serious than passenger vehicle rear-endings?
The increase in impact drastically increases the effects of the crash. This was evident in a rear-end crash on I-40 in Texas reported by the Amarillo Globe-News in May 2022. According to the report, when a semi rear-ended a Volvo, the two vehicles stuck together, traveled across the left lane, collided with a median, struck a cable barrier and burst into flames.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles. This weight difference combined with the substantially larger mass makes maneuvering more challenging and affects acceleration on hills, increasing crash risks and effects.
Common Causes of Truck Rear-Endings
Rear-end accidents are almost always preventable and are generally the result of negligence. The most common causes of rear-end accidents, according to AICA Orthopedics, include the following:
Markel Insurance has also identified the following mechanical issues that can cause rear-endings:
Most mechanical issues can be avoided by performing daily inspections and routine maintenance.
Injuries in Rear-End Truck Collisions
AICA Orthopedics has observed the following common injuries in rear-end collisions:
These injuries occur in rear-endings involving passenger vehicles. It can be much worse in rear-endings by semis due to the massive force involved and the likelihood of a domino effect, resulting in multiple impacts.
How much compensation can I recover for my rear-end truck accident injuries?
It is impossible to estimate how much compensation might be available after a rear-end truck accident. Compensation after any accident varies based on several factors specific to your case, with the extent of your injuries being the most important factor. The three basic types of compensation you could recover include economic, non-economic and punitive damages.
Economic damages are the verifiable monetary losses that occur as a result of an accident, including the following:
In the case of wrongful death, economic damages also include the following:
Non-economic damages are the subjective, non-monetary impacts that occur as a result of the accident and include the following:
In wrongful death cases, family members can claim non-economic damages such as the following:
Punitive damages are non-compensatory damages, which means they are not awarded for the purpose of compensating the victim. They are awarded as a punishment against a defendant whose injurious conduct was willful, reckless, fraudulent, oppressive or grossly negligent.
The state of Texas limits punitive damages to the greater of $200,000 or the sum of the non-economic damages, up to $750,000. New York and California do not impose any such caps.
Is it better to settle or go to court after a rear-end truck accident?
Settling is ideal if the negligent party or the insurance company can be persuaded to offer a fair and reasonable settlement. Settling cases results in receiving compensation sooner, and it removes uncertainties for all parties involved. However, it is better to take a case to court than to accept a low-ball offer that will not adequately cover your needs.
Who is most often at fault in a rear-end collision?
According to the Trottier Insurance Group, the rear driver is most often at fault in rear-end collisions. However, this is not automatic. The front driver may be at fault if they do any of the following:
It is possible for both drivers to be assigned a percentage of the fault when these factors are present. Sharing fault in an accident does not necessarily preclude you from recovering compensation, but it can diminish the compensation you can recover. In Texas, you cannot recover compensation if your share of the fault exceeds 50 percent.
If the truck driver is at fault, you may be able to hold the driver and the trucking company liable. The trucking company is liable for the negligence of the driver in California and New York, but not necessarily in Texas.
Texas law separates driver liability and trucking company liability, with truckers liable for their own negligence and companies liable for their own negligence. Before a Texas trucking company can incur liability, the negligence of the driver must be established in a separate trial. The trucking company can then be tried in a bifurcated proceeding for such acts of negligence as the following:
Do I really need a rear-end truck accident lawyer?
Even if your case appears to be straightforward, dealing with insurance companies without representation places you at a strong disadvantage. Insurance companies employ adjusters and high-paid attorneys to help them minimize or avoid compensation. Adjusters often seem friendly and helpful, but no matter what they say, they are not representing your interests.
They may pressure you to accept low-ball offers while you are facing the worst of your pain and distress. During this time, they will take advantage of your compromised state of mind and employ various tactics to induce you to make statements that harm your case or sign your rights away.
The experienced truck accident lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm cannot be bullied by persuasive tactics, and unlike the insurance company, our lawyers are committed to protecting your interests.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer?
Why should I choose The Lanier Law Firm?
The Lanier Law Firm is a respected law firm with a team of nationally and internationally recognized attorneys with distinguished reputations. The firm’s founder, Mark Lanier, has been recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the Most Influential Lawyers in America, and it has awarded him the Elite Trial Lawyers Award.
During the 32 years since the firm’s establishment, the attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm have consistently achieved remarkable results for clients. Our law firm has won billions on behalf of our clients and has been recognized with the Most Impressive Plaintiff Verdict award.
Our firm of over 60 experienced attorneys has law offices in Houston, New York and Los Angeles, and we accept clients throughout all three states.
When should I contact a rear-end truck accident attorney at The Lanier Law Firm?
It is important to contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. This will allow you to focus on your recovery while we actively guard your interests and handle the legal details.
State laws limit the amount of time accident victims have to file civil claims for damages. In California and Texas, the time limit is two years for most personal injuries and wrongful deaths, while the time limit in New York is three years for most personal injuries and two years for most wrongful deaths.
Contacting us right away will ensure we can thoroughly investigate your accident and review your medical records well ahead of the deadlines. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.