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Tractor-Trailer Rear-End Crashes Are Common; What You Should Do If You Are Crashed Into

Two local families recently mourned their loved ones’ deaths in a horrific tractor-trailer accident in Hunt County. A five-vehicle collision on Interstate 30 in Hunt County east of Dallas killed two woman from Dallas and Fort Worth and injured four others, just another example of the mayhem 18-wheelers cause on our highways.

Last year, commercial vehicles were involved in over 34,000 crashes that killed 601 people and injured over 17,000 others. That number would fill up the AAC Arena.

I am in the middle of a case where an 18-wheeler rear ended my client’s SUV and caused a six-vehicle pile up on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth. I’ve handled numerous other cases like this over the past 36 years as a personal injury lawyer.

You might assume that these are easy cases for an injury lawyer to win, but unfortunately this is not always true. Here’s why.

Proving liability in an 18 wheeler rear-end case

Some people believe that truck drivers are automatically liable for rear-end collisions but sometimes that is not what the company’s insurance adjuster or jury finds. Texas law puts the burden on the injured party (or the family of the person who was killed in the accident) to prove that the negligent driver is at fault for the collision.

For example, if a trucker is driving safely and a car cuts in front of the truck and slams on its brakes, the 18 wheeler driver is not 100% at fault. The lawyer will interview the other drivers and eyewitnesses, the police officer, and use accident reconstruction experts to better understand the chain of events and see what percentage of fault the truck driver is.

The attorney can also arrange for the “black box” to be downloaded and see when and if the driver applied his brakes. He can also subpoena the driver’s phone records to see if he was driving while using his cell phone, a violation of the FMCSA regulations.

Tactics used to defend the truck driver

The company that hired the negligent trucker and its insurance company representative and attorneys are exceedingly skilled at denying responsibility so they don’t have to pay you for your damages.  They often will blame you, the innocent driver, in an attempt to defeat the burden of proof standard.  They also blame other drivers, parties, and even the weather (God?).  I see the “mystery driver defense” used all the time to show that some unknown driver cut off the 18 wheeler.

The other side will also blame mechanical defects it claims it didn’t know about and couldn’t possible have known about, like brakes that suddenly went out.

It will ___

For example, assume that a person was injured after they were rear-ended by an 18-wheeler, but the jury found the victim twenty-five percent responsible for causing the crash because one of their brake lights were out. If the jury awarded the injury victim $1 million, the court will reduce the available recovery to reflect the percentage of fault; in this case, it will be reduced to $750,000. You can see why trucking companies will fight you even when it’s obvious that they are to blame for the accident. If they can convince a jury that you or some other party are also to blame, they can avoid having to pay for all of your losses.

If you or a loved one has suffered moderate to severe personal injuries or you are a wrongful death victim due to being rear-ended by an 18-wheeler, our experienced car accident lawyers and truck accident lawyers invite you to give us a call. We’re available toll free at (855) 326-0000 anytime, day or night, to answer your call and give you a free and confidential consultation based on the facts of your case.

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