When we think of rear-end collisions, the first thing that comes to mind is whiplash. But what about when a rear-end collision involves a vehicle that is 20-30 times heavier than a car? Rear-end collisions involving large trucks happen more often than you may realize. FleetOwner recently covered a fatal incident involving a distracted truck driver in Minnesota. The driver began browsing the internet on his cellphone after his girlfriend notified him of a real estate listing.
It only took eight seconds of distraction before he plowed into the back of a smaller car that was legally stopped at a red light. The crash was so bad, that the large truck ended up on top of the car. The driver of the car had to be extracted from the car at a nearby fire station, where he was pronounced dead.
Due to the sheer size and weight of large trucks, rear-end collisions tend to be severe. Those who survive these types of crashes often end up with debilitating life-long injuries.
What causes rear-end collisions involving large trucks?
There are many causes of rear-end collisions, most of which involve the negligent actions of a truck driver. Sometimes, they are caused by the negligence of a trucking company. These are the most common causes:
Truck drivers sometimes get distracted by handheld devices. Federal law prohibits truck drivers from using cellphones while driving, unless they use hands-free or voice-activated technology. Truck drivers also find themselves distracted by paperwork, eating and driving, and multitasking.
Believe it or not, some truck drivers get behind the wheel after having too much to drink or using drugs. Federal law requires trucking companies to administer drug tests to new drivers, randomized drug tests to existing drivers, and return-to-duty testing for drivers with suspended CDLs. Some truck drivers go under the radar after drinking alcohol or using recreational or prescription drugs.
Fatigue is a common problem with truck drivers. In fact, it's so common that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had to establish the federal hours-of-service rule. Drowsy driving truck crashes often happen at full speed because drivers don't make any attempt to stop. This is often caused by lack of sleep, spending too much time on the road, using alcohol or drugs, or suffering from an untreated sleep disorder.
Speeding and aggressive driving
Some trucking companies push their drivers to go the extra mile to make deliveries. When truckers find themselves in a time crunch, they may increase their speed or drive aggressively to meet expectations.
Trucking companies are required by federal law to maintain, repair and inspect their trucks. They must also produce and maintain records of repairs and inspections. When a mechanical defect occurs on a large truck, the consequences are often deadly. A tire blowout or brake failure can cause a truck to careen out of control and injure or kill multiple people.
Inclement weather isn't necessarily a cause of truck accidents, but it is a common contributor. Collisions can be prevented when truck drivers travel at a speed that is safe and prudent. There are very rare cases where inclement weather is the cause, however. For instance, when the roads suddenly freeze after a swift drop in temperature, it can be difficult for a truck driver to safely slow down or stop, especially on hills.
Why you need an attorney after a truck crash
When a rear-end collision occurs, there is no question as to who was at fault, but trucking companies and their insurers don't see it that way. They'll fight tooth and nail to avoid compensating crash victims, even if they have to use a slew of dirty tricks. That's why it's critical that you consult with an experienced truck accident attorney at Jabar LaLiberty & Dubord, LLC in Maine.
When the trucking company tries to cover its tracks, our investigation will uncover the truth. When the insurance companies try to downplay your claim, we'll work tirelessly to negotiate for a full financial settlement on your behalf. Contact us online or call our law offices in Waterville or Portland to discuss your legal options.