Tractor trailer crashes. They happen often and lead to death and serious injury every day. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports there were 3986 fatalities in large truck crashes in 2016.
Rear end crashes between tractor-trailers and cars are not the most common type of accident, but they are some of the deadliest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that big rigs caused 82 deaths, 6,000 injuries and 17,000 cases of property damage in 2013 alone. These serious truck crashes often happen on rural roads and highways where trucks and cars are going faster than normal. The wrecks tend to be deadlier and frequently become multi-vehicle crashes.
Rear end crashes are much more dangerous when they are caused by a tractor-trailer. Here is why:
- Weight: Big rigs weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. A passenger vehicle weighs a mere 3,000 or 4,000 pounds.
- Braking: Trucks take much longer to stop than cars. Truckers often find it impossible to slow down in time, if they were not paying attention, had poorly maintained brakes, etc.
- Multi-vehicle wrecks: The size and weight of these vehicles make it more likely to push the vehicle in front into other vehicles.
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Common Causes of Rear End Truck Crashes
Truck drivers are required to keep a safe distance from traffic in front of them, but they do not always do so. The reasons why include the following:
- Bad brakes: Poorly maintained brakes are a major problem for many truckers and trucking companies. Federal regulations require brakes to be well maintained, but trucks are often driven without proper brake maintenance.
- Impaired driver: Sadly, some truck drivers do not take their driving seriously and get behind the well high on drugs or intoxicated by alcohol. Obviously, driving skills are reduced when truckers are under the influence.
- Distraction: In the age of digital devices, such as cell phones, tablets and GPS devices, it is easy for truckers to not be watching the road. It is illegal for truck drivers to use handheld devices while driving.
- Drowsy driving: Truckers drive long hours without rest. They are under pressure to deliver their cargo on time and may drive far beyond when they are legally allowed to do so.
Common Injuries from Rear End Truck Crashes
If your vehicle is rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, it is very likely that you will suffer personal injuries. some of the most common types of personal injuries from rear end truck crashes are back injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, internal organ damage, lacerations, and head and neck injuries.
How Trucking Companies Avoid Liability
You might think that if a truck rear ends you and causes injury, liability is clear-cut. However, it is common for trucking companies to try to point fingers at someone else even in a rear end accident where the trucker hits you. Some common tactics include:
- Blame third party: Trucking company lawyers may attempt to blame the weather or a ‘mystery driver’ that cut off the trucker that no one else remembers.
- Blame you: Defense attorneys may even try to blame you and might do research on you to try to discredit you.
- Blame the situation: A common situation is a trucker coming upon an accident and not being able to stop in time. The attorneys will try to argue he did not have time to slow down, but in reality, he did; he may have been distracted or fell asleep.
The bottom line on rear end truck crashes is they are relatively uncommon, but usually devastating and often fatal. Trucking companies will try to avoid blame if possible. Rely on an experienced truck crash accident attorney in your state to provide you with the best possibility of recovering compensation.