When tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles collide, accident victims often sustain severe injuries, and their cars may be beyond repair. Once your medical condition is stabilized, one of the first things you’ll probably wonder is how you’re going to pay for everything.
Can you file an insurance claim? Do you need to file a lawsuit? Should you hire a lawyer? The Johnson Attorneys Group explains everything you know about your options after truck accidents.
Can You Sue for a Rear-End Truck Collision?
If a semi-truck causes an accident that injures you or damages your car, you can file an insurance claim or civil lawsuit. Determining who is responsible for causing the accident is necessary, and that can be complicated when tractor-trailers are involved.
When two cars collide, there are usually only two potentially liable parties: the drivers. With trucks, that’s a different story. One or more parties can be responsible for the truck, and an investigation needs to be performed in order to assign fault where it belongs. The investigators will search for evidence proving negligence on the part of one or more of these parties:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The truck’s owner or leasing company
- The cargo’s loader, owner, or shipper
- Parts or truck manufacturers
- Companies or people responsible for the truck’s mechanical maintenance
Each has its own insurance company, and those companies will likely try to place blame on another to avoid paying you. When you hire a truck accident lawyer from the Johnson Attorneys Group, we won’t allow them to prolong the claims process.
What Is Negligence?
People in certain circumstances have a duty of care. This is an obligation to provide reasonable care to avoid harming others. Licensed drivers have a duty of care to practice safe driving, and those who drive, own, and work on tractor-trailers must be especially diligent.
To prove negligence in California, you must show that:
- Someone owed you a duty of care.
- That party breached their duty of care.
- The breach caused an accident.
- That accident injured you and caused damage.
Negligent parties — and their insurance companies — are responsible for compensating those injured by their negligence. Multiple parties are often at fault for causing accidents, meaning that several insurance companies are liable for paying compensation.
Some examples of driver negligence are:
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Improper merging
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving
Truck drivers spend long hours on the road traveling sometimes-monotonous routes, and face an increased risk of distractions. These can include:
- Using electronic devices or cell phones
- Eating, drinking, and smoking
- Searching for an object inside the cab
- Grooming activities
A distraction is anything that takes a driver’s attention and focus away from the road or their hands away from the steering wheel. Distractions are dangerous because they can cause delayed reaction times and increase the risk of collisions.
What If You’re Partially Responsible?
Each state has laws governing who can seek damages after an accident that causes injuries. California uses pure comparative negligence, meaning you can obtain compensation even if you’re 99% at fault.
Each party partially responsible for causing an accident is assigned a percentage of fault. You’ll need to ensure that you’re not given an unfair amount of blame for your accident because it directly affects how much money you can receive. Say your assigned percentage is 20%; the amount of compensation you can receive is reduced by 20%.
Hiring a truck accident lawyer to protect your interests can mean the difference between receiving minimal and maximum compensation. Accident victims typically obtain significantly more compensation when they have a competent attorney fighting on their sides.
What Kinds of Collisions Do Trucks Have?
Tractor-trailers cause many of the same types of accidents that passenger cars do, but a few are unique due to a truck’s size and structure. Semi-trucks have a cab that is separate from the trailer it pulls. When combined, they are around 72 feet long, 13.5 feet tall, and can weigh 80,000 pounds. Passenger cars, on the other hand, average 4,100 pounds and 15 feet in length.
When large trucks are involved in rear-end accidents, you also need to take heights into account: the bed of a trailer is typically five feet off the ground. The hood of many cars is about three feet from ground level.
Cars and passenger trucks traveling behind tractor-trailers may not have time to slow down and avoid a collision if the truck suddenly brakes. While rear-end collisions between passenger vehicles can produce significant injuries and damage, a car’s driver and passengers face the risk of deadly injuries when they hit a semi-truck.
Because most car hoods are lower than the bottom of a truck’s trailer, a car can travel under the truck. The windshield and passenger compartment may collide with the back of the trailer, wedging and dragging the vehicle. This potentially causes life-threatening or fatal injuries.
Trucks that hit passenger vehicles from behind can also cause catastrophic injuries. Similar to how a car can travel under the back of a truck, a tractor-trailer can travel over the rear of a passenger automobile, wedging the vehicle underneath. The rear of the passenger compartment is often crushed.
It takes time for a fully loaded truck to stop after braking. The cargo’s weight can sometimes push a truck’s trailer into the cab, causing the two parts to form a 90-degree angle. The weight creates forward momentum, meaning that it takes longer for a trailer to slow. Drivers often lose control of their trucks, which may roll over or slide into other vehicles.
A truck’s cargo is heavy. Loaders must distribute the weight evenly and secure the cargo to prevent shifting during transit. If a truck’s load becomes unbalanced, the driver may lose control.
Loose cargo can cause accidents even if the truck doesn’t collide with another vehicle. It can fall off the truck onto the road or nearby cars.
No Man’s Land
All vehicles have blind spots, but a truck’s blind spot is so large it has a name: no man’s land. Drivers can’t see anything in these areas, so they can inadvertently begin a lane change and hit surrounding traffic.
As we’ve mentioned, tractor-trailers are extremely heavy and require 18 tires to distribute their loads safely. Unfortunately, truck tires often blow out, causing drivers to lose control and collide with other vehicles.
Were You Injured in a Rear-End Truck Accident?
If you sustained injuries or a loved one lost their life in a truck accident, you’ll benefit immensely from hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer from the Johnson Attorneys Group. Because we focus on truck accidents, we have the necessary knowledge to handle your claim successfully. Our firm has a 98.7% case success rate, and we’ve won more than $100 million in settlements for our clients. We have 12 offices throughout California, so one is conveniently located for you.
You won’t pay us any fees until we win compensation for you. Request your free case review 24/7 by calling the Johnson Attorneys Group at (800) 208-3538, submitting our online form, or speaking to a live agent via live chat.