Establishing Fault in a Rear-Ended Trucking Accident
Rear-ended trucking accidents are relatively common in Missouri and typically occur in one of two ways. Either a vehicle is stopped or slowed on the roadway and then is struck by a semi from behind or a semi is stopped or slowed on the roadway and is struck by a vehicle. There are circumstances in either case where the fault can lie with the semi driver or trucking company.
In the event that a vehicle is rear-ended by a semi, contributing factors include driver distraction, fatigue, aggressive driving, and lack of maintenance. Use of cell phones, driving without proper sleep, driving in excess of the speed limit, improper tire pressure, worn or imbalanced tires, and faulty brakes can all be factors that lead to an accident that could otherwise be avoided.
In the event that a semi is rear-ended by another vehicle, contributing factors include improper parking and vehicle maintenance. Semis that are not stopped in an authorized area or are not parked completely off the road, or rigs that have faulty brake lights or reflectors can all be factors that could establish fault in an accident.
Many verdicts and settlements have awarded compensation to victims in rear-end collisions. In Jane Doe v. CDE Trucking Company & Driver, a $5 million settlement was given to the relatives of the decedent for the wrongful death of Jane Doe. She was traveling along a three-lane interstate when one of her tires went flat. Her vehicle came to a stop straddling the far right lane and narrow shoulder. She was prevented from moving over further by a concrete wall bordering the shoulder. The driver of a semi rear-ended the vehicle, causing a puncture in the gas tank. The gas ignited and Jane Doe’s vehicle was engulfed in flames. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a combination of blunt force trauma to the decedent’s thoracic spine and smoke inhalation. The investigation conducted by the plaintiffs’ attorney revealed that the driver of the truck was exceeding the speed limit, was passing on the right, failed to keep a careful lookout, and did not maintain the ability to stop within the foreseeable distance. Furthermore, the investigation revealed that the driver was previously convicted of a felony conspiracy charge involving a semi truck and had lied on his job application regarding his experience as a driver.
This case is an excellent example of why victims and their families should consult a trucking accident attorney regarding an accident involving a semi truck. Many of the facts that contributed to the settlement may not have been discovered without a thorough investigation into the driver’s history and the circumstances of the accident.