As a truck accident lawyer our experience is that rear-end collisions are probably the most common kind of truck accident we see. They usually happen when the front of an 18 wheeler other big truck crashes into the rear of the vehicle ahead of it. Federal data indicates that approximately 18% of large truck crashes involved rear end collisions.
Rear-end collision truck accidents typically happen in one of two ways. The most common situation is when a semi or other heavy truck strikes or “rear ends” another vehicle from behind.
The second, and often deadlier, situation happens when a smaller passenger vehicle collides into the truck from behind. These are often known as underride collisions and happened when the passenger vehicle partially or fully slides underneath the truck or trailer—possibly crushing or shearing off the top portion of the smaller vehicle on impact.
The distance from the bottom of an 18-wheeler’s trailer to the ground is roughly the height of the windshield of the average passenger car, and occupants of the passenger vehicle are only protected by its windshield roof pillars. Truck underride accidents can result in the vehicle’s occupants suffering devastating and even fatal injuries.
Trucks rear-ending another vehicle
These collisions occur frequently when a car or other vehicle is stopped or slowed for traffic ahead like, for example, at an intersection for a traffic signal, a left turn or in rush-hour traffic. Inattention by the truck driver is a leading cause of these crashes.
Some other factors which contribute to these crashes are:
- Following too close
- Driving too fast
- Distracted driving
- Driver fatigue
- Defective brakes or other safety equipment
- Bad weather conditions
- Lack of familiarity with route
- Drug or alcohol intoxication or use
- Inadequate driver skill//experience
Steps truckers can take to avoid rear ending other vehicles include:
- Not driving when fatigued, sleepy or sick
- Not driving longer than FMCSR hours-of-service regulations allow
- Driving defensively
- Allowing sufficient following distance between the truck and vehicle ahead
- Recognizing dangerous situations enough in advance to avoid them.
- Making sure that the brakes and other safety equipment are working properly.
Truck underride accidents are more likely to take place at night, and poor lighting conditions may be a contributing factor. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and specific requirements for truck lighting and the use of reflective tape. Federal data indicates that commercial motor vehicles struck by passenger vehicles are often in violation of lighting regulations, making them harder to see.
To prevent underride accidents, many commercial trucks come equipped with an underride guard rail in order to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath the truck. However, not all trucks have this safety device installed. This form of safety equipment is also not entirely reliable.
Dangers of a rear-end truck crash
A rear end truck accident can be catastrophic regardless of whether it is the classic type of rear end collision where a truck crashes into the back end of another vehicle or an Underride collision.
Rear-end crashes involving large trucks are especially dangerous compared to rear end collisions involving smaller vehicles. A commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. while the average passenger vehicle only weighs roughly 3,000 pounds. The discrepancy in size and weight can lead to severe and potentially deadly injuries. A truck is also more likely to cause wrecks involving more than one vehicle, most commonly known as a multi-car pileup or multi-vehicle collision.
Tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks also often carry hazardous materials (hazmat) which can be flammable, explosive, poisonous or otherwise dangerous. If, as a result of the crash cargo of this type is released, catches fire or explodes the danger can much more severe.
Classic rear end truck accidents and underride collisions to cause a wide range of injuries ranging from the relatively simple to catastrophic, gruesome and fatal. In the typical rear end truck accident injuries to muscles and ligaments in the neck and back (sometimes called whiplash or “soft tissue injuries”) are probably the most common kind of injury.
Depending on severity and other factors rear end truck accidents can cause wide range of other fatal or non-fatal injuries like brain injury, herniated discs, spinal cord injury, broken bones and damage to internal organs, among others. These can include catastrophic injuries like complete spinal cord injury potentially rendering the victim quadriplegic and severe brain injuries dramatically reducing mental functioning. The severity of these injuries is often increased in crashes involving 18 wheelers and other big trucks due to the truck’s weight and forces involved. Underride collisions can cause truly gruesome like decapitation.
Determining Liability in Rear-End Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents are often complicated and determining liability can be a challenging. In many cases, rear-end accidents are considered the fault of the driver of the striking vehicle. Truck drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance and anticipate hazards. Fault on the part of the trucker may be established if, for example, he or she failed to allow enough room between his or her truck and the vehicle ahead, or was driving while distracted, for example, from a cell phone and did not notice that the vehicle ahead of them was stopping.
Claiming Compensation for Rear-End Truck Accident Injuries
Under Missouri and Kansas personal injury law for a surviving truck accident victims or the family of a fatally injured victim to recover compensation they must establish that another party like, for example, the truck driver and/or trucking company were at fault in some way. In certain cases, more than one company may be involved in a single truck accident claim, such as the trucking company, as well as the shipper of the goods.
In an truck accident, compensation your Kansas City 18 wheeler accident lawyer may pursue includes medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering. So you may have a lot at stake. These cases can be complex. Large truck companies and/or their insurance carriers usually hire experienced and capable truck accident attorneys who are often willing to fight legal battles over truck accident damages in order to pay as little as possible. To properly protect your interests, it is important that you are represented by a skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer.
Flick Law Firm can review your truck accident case and help determine the best legal approach for you. We have been successfully representing clients in Missouri and Kansas for over two decades, and helping them get recoveries for accidents such as yours. Contact Flick Law Firm to schedule a consultation.