If you were hit from behind by a big truck and were seriously injured, you may have a personal injury claim against the truck driver, the trucking company and others. If a family member died as a result of the accident, you may have a wrongful death claim.
The key to having a case is finding evidence that the driver of the big rig was at fault.
Is a big rig that hit a car from behind automatically at fault?
No, a vehicle that rear ends another vehicle is not automatically considered at fault. Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman recently won a $2.5 million personal injury settlement for a couple whose car was hit in back by a big rig. The case turned out to be a complex case where the trucking company claimed our client (the wife) was driving negligently and was at fault for the accident.
We investigated the accident and hired an accident reconstruction expert to produce a video showing what the evidence proved—that the semi-trailer driver was at fault. Our efforts paid off for our clients, but money was not the most important thing to them. They wanted justice and an acknowledgment from the trucking company that its driver was at fault. This is one of our many multimillion-dollar cases, including a $45 million settlement for one client who was severely burned.
What if the driver of the big truck broke the law?
If you were injured because a truck driver broke the law and crashed into your vehicle, you may have a “punitive damages” claim, which is a claim seeking additional money to punish the bad behavior. In some cases, punitive damages amounts can be in the millions.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require commercial vehicle operators to operate their big trucks with the highest degree of care. Operators are negligent if they do one or more of the following:
- Drive too fast (for posted speed limit or for weather or road conditions);
- Fail to be observant (should notice someone going more slowly or slowing down);
- Drive in a careless manner (includes being inattentive);
- Fail to slow or stop his vehicle to avoid collision with another vehicle (this includes avoiding a hit from behind accident);
- Fail to maintain proper control of their tractor trailer;
- Fail to maintain vehicle in a single lane of travel in violation of state law;
- Fail to yield the right-of-way;
- Fail to stop, swerve, slacken speed, and/or maintain control of a truck when there is a reasonable likelihood of a collision with another vehicle;
- Drive a commercial motor vehicle in violation of state and federal laws and regulations;
- Drive their big rig in excess of the hours allowed pursuant to §395.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations;
- Fail to accurately maintain a current record of his or her duty status as required by §395.8 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations;
- Drive a commercial truck when fatigued or likely to become fatigued in violation of §392.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations;
- Leave the scene of an injury accident in violation of state law;
- Operate a motor vehicle in a defective condition;
- Fail to report an accident.
Who can I sue if I was hit from behind by a big truck?
If your vehicle (car, van, pickup, motorcycle) was hit from behind by a big truck, you may have a lawsuit against the driver and associated companies. Finding all of the people and businesses that are legally responsible can be a complex process, and filing a lawsuit may be the only way to get access to the corporate documents needed to prove who can be sued. Those responsible may include:
- the driver of the big truck;
- the transportation or retail company that owned the tractor, trailer and/or freight;
- the maintenance company that serviced the big rig before the crash;
- if a defective part caused or contributed to the accident, the manufacturer of that part.
Is there a personal injury lawsuit if my loved one is too injured to sue?
If your close family member (husband, wife, child, parent) is too injured to sue for compensation, you can contact our law firm and ask one of our lawyers how to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit. We can start our investigation, gathering evidence before it is destroyed, and then your family can decide if it is best to wait to sue or if you want to file a lawsuit on your loved one’s behalf to get compensation needed to make sure he or she gets the best possible medical care and that wrongdoers are held accountable.