Insurance companies routinely dismiss the severity of rear-end collisions as “low impact crashes.” This biased representation of the severe injuries that can result in rear impact crashes is misleading. However, this image is especially inapplicable to the damage that can result from a rear-ender where the vehicle that slams into you is a forty ton fully loaded tractor-trailer. The force of impact caused by an 80,000 pound commercial truck crashing into a 3,000 pound passenger car that has stopped for traffic is both predicable and devastating. Our Miami truck accident lawyers know that when a fatality occurs in a trucking accident, 98 percent of the time the victim is someone other than the driver of the big-rig, such as occupants of the smaller vehicle, bicyclists or pedestrians.
The weight and size disparity between a tractor-trailer and passenger car create several particularly dangerous scenarios. The truck may literally crush the smaller vehicle, shove the vehicle into cross-traffic or ride over the top of the passenger car. This latter type of rear-end trucking accident is referred to as a “truck override accident”. Override accidents occur when the front of a tractor-trailer with a higher bumper passes over the back of another vehicle like a passenger car. While tractor-trailers are supposed to have override and underride guards that prevent this type of crash, there is evidence that federal safety requirements and industry standards for these guards may not be sufficient to protect the occupants of small passenger vehicles. This safety feature may also be defectively designed or manufactured so that they fail under the force of a collision. We recently handled a tragic case, where a teenage boy, riding as a passenger in a car was killed in just such an “override” crash. Although we were successful and got our client’s money, the pain and anguish of losing a loved one can never be taken away. As trial lawyers we hope and history has proven, that our investigations into crashes and their causes had changed many defective and dangerous conditions. Presently in the news, there are daily reports about the engine ignition failures in GM vehicles leading to mass recalls. The defect was uncovered by a lawyer for the family of the victim. Our firm and others across the country have had cases which have resulted in changes which have saved lives or diminished injuries,
Rear-end accidents involving tractor-trailers may be the result of various forms of negligence by the trucking company or commercial driver. Some of these forms of negligent conduct include:
• Truck driver following too closely (tailgating)
• Alcohol or drug impaired operator • Failure to conduct brake system inspections and maintenance • Commercial drivers traveling at an unsafe speed • Distracted truck drivers • Fatigued or drowsy truck drivers ( the reported number 1 causes of truck crashes)
• Failure of the trucking company to adequately screen, train or supervise the trucker • Commercial carrier’s non-compliance with drug and alcohol testing requirements • Trucking company’s failure to take an unsafe driver out of service
There are approximately 400,000 trucking accidents annually, and 18,000 of these are rear end truck collisions according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA). This means that there are 70,000 rear end truck collisions annually. With this many rear end trucking accidents each year and the diverse list of causes above, there are a range of parties that may be financially responsible for injuries or wrongful death in rear end truck crashes. These potentially liable parties include but are not limited to owner-operators, mechanics, cargo loaders, trucking companies, parts manufacturers and transportation management companies.
Time is of the essence when pursuing a claim arising out of a rear end trucking accident because critical evidence must be gathered and preserved before it “conveniently” disappears. Our Miami trucking accident lawyers frequently send trucking company spoliation letters that indicate a commercial truck and its black box are the subject of litigation, so they may not be placed back in service or repaired. If this notice is disregarded, the commercial carrier can face significant sanctions including some or all of the following:
• Liability for attorney fees, fines and punitive damages • Evidentiary sanctions that assume missing evidence favors the plaintiff • Issue sanctions deciding an issue in favor of the party prejudiced by the failure to preserve evidence • Other appropriate remedies
In each and every case our office handles we make it a practice to go over each and every complaint our client has from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. We do this because patients fail to tell their physician all of their complaints, thinking that what they are feeling is not related to the injuries received in their case. We are not doctors but we explain to the client to let the doctor know because he/she may feel that there is a relation. For example, a person complaining of lower back pain may not tell their doctor that they are having tingling or numbness in their leg. By telling the doctor this, they can examine the patient and determine the cause of the complaint.
Our Miami trucking accident attorneys have handled dozens of rear impact crashes involving tractor-trailers resulting in death and significant injuries. We have recovered from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for our clients in these cases. If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or if a loved one has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. With more than 70 years of combined professional experience handling truck accident cases, the lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have seen how trucking companies and truck drivers disregard trucking regulations and safe driving practices. Please call 1-888-499-9700 or 305-595-2400 for a Free Consultation.