Rear-end accidents are the most common type of traffic collision. Large trucks can be involved in two types of rear-end accidents.
The first involves a commercial vehicle hitting a car that is stopped at a light, stop sign, or due to traffic. The second type consists of a truck hitting the car ahead while both vehicles are moving. Both types of rear-end truck accidents can lead to serious injuries.
Rear-end truck accidents are more dangerous than other collisions involving commercial vehicles. A rear-end accident refers to the front bumper of a large truck colliding with the rear-end of a passenger car. When a car accident occurs between two vehicles of similar size, the damage can be significant.
However, a commercial truck is massive compared to most passenger cars. A typical tractor-trailer can weigh between 33,000 and 80,000 pounds. Passenger cars may weigh as little as 3,000 pounds, according to data from the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.
When 80,000 pounds of cargo and metal crash into the back of a 3,000-pound car, the force can easily crush the smaller vehicle. In some cases, the smaller car may be pulled underneath the large truck.
Injuries in rear-end truck accidents can be life-threatening. Most fatalities involving large commercial trucks are the occupants of the passenger vehicle. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in the last reporting year:
Survivors of rear-end truck accidents can suffer catastrophic injuries that require a lifetime of medical care.
Victims in rear-end truck accidents often suffer serious and catastrophic bodily harm. Injuries are considered catastrophic when they happen suddenly and have life-altering consequences. For example, losing a limb or becoming paralyzed are life-changing injuries associated with truck accidents.
The most common injuries accident victims suffer in a rear-end truck crash include:
Extreme physical trauma usually has lasting mental and emotional implications. Some truck accident victims may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a collision. Others may develop problems sleeping or severe anxiety while in recovery.
Motor carrier vehicles are inherently hazardous on the road. Operating a tractor-trailer or semi-truck is an enormous undertaking. Truck drivers must pass rigorous testing to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Like teenagers first developing spatial awareness for their vehicles, truck drivers must undergo special training to accurately judge their truck’s size and relation to other objects. Drivers must understand braking distance, turning a 72-foot long semi without rolling over, and straight-line and offset backing (i.e., backing up properly without causing the trailer to jackknife).
Additionally, a CDL driver must know how to properly inspect their vehicle for potential problems. The average semi-truck drives over 45,000 miles per year, requiring frequent maintenance checks and servicing. Pre-trip inspections include:
Routine inspection can prevent a brake failure truck accident or a tire blowout accident. When an issue is discovered, a truck driver is required complete a vehicle inspection report and fix the problem before continuing on the road.
When trucking companies hire drivers without the proper training or drivers fail to complete their pre-trip inspections, they can be found liable in a rear-end truck accident.
The primary causes for rear-end truck accidents can vary from mechanical failure to driver negligence. Errors that lead to rear-end collisions include:
Negligence per se in a truck accident refers to liability. In most truck accidents, a claimant must prove that the driver acted negligently and caused the rear-end collision.
Negligence can be difficult to establish, even in rear-end truck accidents. If a car pulls in front of a tractor-trailer and brakes hard, the passenger car driver may be found liable for the accident and not the truck driver.
However, negligence per se may be proven if a trucker violates the laws and regulations set by FMCSA. Speeding, driving under the influence, or failing to yield the right-of-way may result in a truck driver being found negligent per se, i.e., inherently negligent by breaking the law.
Large tractor-trailers and semi-trucks can be especially destructive when colliding with other vehicles. Injury victims often require intensive medical care. Healing can take several months to over a year.
Filing a claim through the responsible party’s insurance company should recover most property damages and medical bills. Unfortunately, many truck accident victims have their claims denied.
Truck accidents typically involve multiple parties that may be potentially liable in a rear-end accident, including:
If an insurance company suspects another party is responsible for the crash, they will deny the claim. Claimants are then forced to undergo a complicated appeals process or try again and file their claim through a different party. When each potentially liable party can deny responsibility and pass it off to the next, injury victims can run out their statute of limitations and never receive the settlement they need.
For claimants facing denials and delays from the insurance company, it is important to know when the statute of limitations runs out. The statute of limitations for a Tulsa rear-end truck accident claim is two years.
A statute of limitations is a set window for accident victims to file a personal injury claim. The two-year statute in Oklahoma starts on the date of the truck accident. At Graves McLain, our Tulsa truck accident lawyers can assist with the claims process and avoid many denials and delays. Schedule a free consultation by dialing (918) 359-6600.
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