Fatal Truck Accidents
In most accidents involving 18-wheeler trucks, a rear end collision can easily prove fatal to any passenger, simply because many commercial cars and trucks lack any substantial trunk or back end that can absorb a fearsome impact. However, an accident on I-35 near Pearsall, south of San Antonio, shows that multiple trucks colliding can be just as bad if not worse. On August 3, 2017, three or four semi trucks (accounts vary) came together in a chain rear-end collision as debris on the road required a sudden traffic slowdown. One driver was killed, and the others were transported to the nearest hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Even Truckers Must Be Careful
What accidents like this show us is that even truckers must exercise due care at all time, despite the stereotype that nothing can injure the driver of a semi-truck. Rear-end collisions, in particular, do not discriminate; any impact from the rear that is strong enough to be felt (and strong enough to cause a semi truck to jackknife or drift out of its lane) will leave significant marks on drivers and passengers. The most common injury sustained in rear-end collisions is whiplash, which can cause significant soft tissue damage that lasts.
Like automobile drivers, truckers do have a duty to exercise reasonable care toward other motorists on the road, and the definition of “reasonable” can differ when dealing with a car or another 18-wheeler. For example, the following distance that a reasonable truck driver should leave between their truck and the vehicle in front of them will be greater if it is another semi and slightly less if it is a car or pickup truck. If that duty is breached by their own conduct, and someone is injured, they may very well be on the proverbial hook for their negligence.
Fault Is Not Always Clear
The other major issue that can be seen in an accident like this is that while in theory, fault in a rear-end collision is clear, this is simply not always the case, and even if you believe fault is obvious, your insurance company may not always see it that way. It is not uncommon for insurers to attempt to pin blame on the plaintiff, arguing that they negligently failed to stop when a reasonable person would have been able to do so. While there are defenses to this argument - namely, that the opportunity to stop must have been foreseeable, and such things tend to happen far faster than human reflexes can react - being denied or low-balled by one’s insurance company is still a worry.
If you believe you have a case, as a driver, against the semi-truck that hit you, the same issue may apply in court as would apply in negotiating with an insurer, and that is that the defendant may try to claim that the crash was foreseeable - if an accident is foreseeable, it is often held that the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for their injuries, thus not entitling them to any recovery under Texas’s comparative fault theory. If foreseeability of the accident cannot be proven - and accidents with semi trucks are perhaps less common than those involving two cars - the plaintiff stands a greater chance of recovering.
Call Our Truck Accident Attorneys
While the accident near Pearsall may have had tragic consequences, one hopes the injured will be able to recover for the harm they have suffered. If you are in a similar situation, having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side can help improve your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve. The passionate New Braunfels truck accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to try and assist you.