Rear-end truck collisions can be catastrophic, leaving victims with severe injuries or even facing the tragic loss of a loved one.
In many cases, negligent truck drivers and trucking companies cause these wrecks. If you suffered injuries in a rear-end truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced San Diego truck accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Mark Blane, APC, can protect your right to full and fair compensation during negotiations with insurance companies or in court.
Common Causes of San Diego Rear-End Truck Collisions
It's essential to understand the root causes of rear-end truck accidents if you are seeking compensation from the truck driver, trucking company, and other liable parties. Below are some of the most common reasons for rear-end truck crashes.
Speeding is a leading cause of rear-end truck accidents. Drivers who are speeding can't react as quickly to sudden traffic changes as drivers who are traveling at or below the speed limit. Commercial truck drivers are often under pressure to meet tight deadlines, leading them to exceed speed limits and compromise safety. Unfortunately, the force generated in a rear-end collision involving a speeding truck amplifies the severity of injuries sustained by victims.
Following too closely, or tailgating, is a dangerous practice that significantly increases the risk of rear-end collisions. Inadequate stopping distance is a common consequence of tailgating, making it a critical factor in rear-end truck accidents. In addition, tailgating violates California's traffic laws, which require truckers and other drivers to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them.
Long hours on the road can lead to driver fatigue, impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and overall inattentiveness. The trucking industry's demanding schedules and tight deadlines often cause drivers to push themselves beyond safe limits, contributing to fatigue-related rear-end truck crashes. In many cases, truckers who are too tired to drive safely also violate federal hours of service regulations, which limit how many hours truck drivers can drive without taking a rest break.
Distractions, such as talking on a cellphone, operating in-cab electronics, or texting, divert a truck driver's eyes off the road and their mind off their driving. They may fail to notice the motorist in front slowing down or stopping suddenly due to traffic conditions before it is too late to prevent a rear-end wreck.
Driving when intoxicated due to alcohol or drug consumption is a severe offense that compromises a truck driver's ability to operate their commercial truck safely. Intoxication can impair judgment, decrease coordination, and slow down reaction times, significantly increasing the risk of a rear-end collision.
Inexperienced Truck Drivers
Untrained or inexperienced truck drivers may lack the skills and judgment necessary to navigate the challenges of commercial driving, increasing the likelihood of accidents. They are likely to struggle with maintaining appropriate speeds, managing braking systems, and responding effectively to unexpected situations on the road, especially on Southern California's congested roads and highways.
Truckers and trucking companies must inspect, maintain, and repair their trucks. When they breach these duties, malfunctions in a truck's mechanical components, such as brakes or tires, can cause a truck driver to lose control of the truck and rear-end another motor vehicle.
Understanding Liability in a Rear-End Truck Crash
In a rear-end truck collision, the trucker in the back is typically deemed at fault. They would be presumed to be the negligent party, given the legal expectation that all motorists maintain a safe following distance under California law.
However, there are instances where the driver in the lead may share some or full responsibility for the rear-end crash. Here are situations where they may also be negligent.
Sudden and Unanticipated Stops
If the lead driver makes a sudden and unanticipated stop without any reasonable explanation or warning, they may be deemed partially at fault.
The front motorist could be liable for causing a rear-end collision if they reverse suddenly.
Reckless Lane Changes
Another scenario where the driver in front could be partially responsible for a rear-end truck collision is if they recklessly change lanes or start to merge into another lane and then change their mind.
Faulty Brake Lights
In cases where the lead vehicle has malfunctioning brake lights, it can make it impossible for the trailing driver to anticipate a stop. Liability may be shared between both drivers.
If the driver in front is found to be partially to blame for the collision, their damages would be reduced by their percentage of fault under California's pure comparative negligence laws. For example, if the value of their claim is $600,000 but the driver was found to be 20 percent at fault, they would only be entitled to $480,000.
Steps San Diego Truck Accident Victims Should Take After a Rear-End Collision
Your actions after a rear-end truck crash can directly affect the strength of your claim, your ability to resolve disputes with the insurance company, and the compensation you receive in your settlement. Here are immediate steps you can take that will strengthen your case.
Call the Police
You should contact the police at the collision scene and get a copy of the police report. It will provide you with valuable information you can use to convince the trucker's and trucking company's insurance company of their responsibility to pay you. Useful information the police report could contain includes:
- Date, time, and place of the wreck
- Details about how the collision occurred
- Statements from the truck driver, witnesses, and you
- Police officer's conclusions as to who caused the rear-end collision
- Whether any traffic citations were issued
Get Medical Care
If you suffered apparent injuries that require immediate treatment, call for an ambulance or go to a nearby hospital emergency room. Even if you believe that you suffered no or minor injuries, have a doctor examine you as soon as possible after the truck rear-end collision. Prompt medical care protects your health and establishes a crucial link between the accident and your injuries for legal purposes.
Gather Contact Information
Collect pertinent information from all parties involved, including names, contact details, insurance information, and the truck driver's commercial driver's license details. You will need this information to file a claim with their insurance company.
You have the burden of proving that the trucker's negligence caused your rear-end accident, the severity of your injuries, and the damages you deserve. You establish this through the production of evidence. You should start collecting evidence immediately after the crash.
Document the scene by taking photographs of the truck and other vehicles involved in the wreck, license plates, and any visible damages. Also, take photos of the accident scene and your injuries.
If there are witnesses to the collision, obtain their contact information so your lawyer can obtain written statements regarding what they observed. Eyewitness statements can be very persuasive in establishing that the truck driver was the negligent party.
Do Not Admit Fault
While exchanging information, avoid making statements that could be construed as admitting fault. Stick to the basic facts and allow the authorities and your attorney to determine liability.
Be cautious when discussing the accident with the other parties involved, and limit your interactions to exchanging necessary information.
Consult with a Truck Accident Attorney
Truck wrecks differ from auto collisions. You need a dedicated truck accident lawyer to investigate your rear-end truck crash and write the trucking company a spoliation letter so that essential evidence that could help you prove how your wreck occurred is not lost or destroyed.
Retain a knowledgeable San Diego truck accident attorney at the Law Offices of Mark Blane, APC, as soon as possible after your truck rear-end collision. I have helped many clients who were injured in crashes involving commercial trucks. I can guide you through the legal process, help determine all the liable parties, and advocate for your rights to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, property damages, and pain and suffering.