Rear Ended in a Truck
A Facebook post about this article about an SUV that
rear ended a
truck received a response. We
made another post that we
feel compelled to
Before we go farther, we sorrow that people died
Disclaimer: We have no access to any
of the documentation concerning this accident and obviously weren't
there to see it first hand. We are not in a position to render legal
advice nor can we render a verdict in this matter.
But we like to look at matters as objectively as
possible and Vicki has a knack of asking questions that make people
think. In light of that, here is the pertinent part of the rear-ended
There is no indication in the article that the trucker
had set out his emergency triangles. The article stated, "In their
deliberation, the jury agreed that the girl’s father was also
negligent, but determined his actions were not a substantial factor in
causing his family's deaths."
However, we have a few questions to ask.
1. If a truck is parked on the shoulder, completely
of the lanes of travel, why doesn't the driver of another vehicle know
that he/she has moved out of the lane of travel when he/she rear-ends
2. If the driver of a vehicle -- no matter what size
comes up on stopped traffic in the lanes of travel (such as during
heavy rush hour traffic), is unable to stop and rear-ends the vehicle
in his/her lane of travel, who is at fault for the accident?
3. What is the difference between the two scenarios
above besides the location of the stopped vehicle that is hit?
4. If a car rear-ended another car pulled over on the
shoulder of a road, who would be at fault?
5. Isn't it likely that the reason why the truck
in the article linked above was blamed for the accident was because he
was driving a big truck and nothing else?
These questions are food for thought. Thanks.
Other Accidents Where
Vehicle Hit From Rear
Numerous documents on the FMCSA's website provide historical info on Large Trucks in Crashes by Crash Type and Severity.
Yes, some trucks have rear ended other trucks:
- 2007 on I-80 in Oregon (link)
- 2013 on I-39 in Illinois (link)
- 2013 on Route 1 in Maryland, in which the box truck
a tractor-trailer" that was "stopped or slowing in traffic" and the box
truck driver died. (link)
Here is a search link for accidents where a car rear-ended a truck.
Take this accident, for example, where a car rear ended
truck while traveling in Yate, near Bristol, England, in July 2004.
By User Arpingstone on en.wikipedia
[Public domain], via
According to Wikipedia's article on a rear-end collision:
For purposes of insurance and policing, the driver of
the car that rear-ends the other car is almost always considered to be
at fault due to not leaving enough stopping distance or lack of
attention. An exception to this rule comes into play if the rear-ended
vehicle is in reverse gear. If the driver of the car that was
rear-ended files a claim against the driver who hit him, said driver
could be responsible for all damages to the other driver's car.
If rear ending a parked truck is the fault of the driver
in the rear vehicle -- except when the truck is in reverse -- why
should that not hold true even when a vehicle is parked in an emergency
or breakdown lane?
Would it have mattered if the driver that rear ended the
parked truck had done so after the truck
- had had a steering
- had experienced mechanical
trouble that rendered the
article does not say what form of punishment
resulted from the trucker and his trucking company being "deemed
negligent" in this situation.
But let's pursue this a bit more because we've had
- "parking on shoulder"
- "stopped on the road"
situations when traffic
congestion was so thick that no one was moving, including at toll
booths (as shown here).
Our Experiences Where
We Could Have Been Rear Ended
Not counting the many, many times when we've slowed or
stopped the truck in heavy traffic on the road -- or when approaching a
toll plaza -- we've had some experiences where we've had to park
on the shoulders of roads or ramps over the years. Here's a
summary of them with a bit of commentary.
Where We Could Have Been Rear Ended
|Truck lost part of driveline
while Vicki was driving for U.S. Xpress in the Greensboro, NC, area.
Truck was supposed to have been serviced (and lubricated) over
Christmas break, but had not been. Had to wait for a tow truck.
|As we describe on our budgeting page, we ran out of fuel in the
greater Atlanta area and had to wait for a service vehicle not only to
provide fuel but to recharge the batteries (because the flashers ran so
long that the charge was way down).
|Trucks that blew a turbo.
Without this part of the truck running, power is very limited. Had to
wait for a tow truck each time. More info about one situation is on our semi
truck repair page.
|When making an emergency
(using our in-truck portable
|When communicating about load
changes with driver manager over QualComm.
||Not when load canceled en
Although we've had numerous blown tires through the
years, we've never experienced a steering tire blow-out. Were we to
have one, this situation could also render the truck inoperable.
Guilty of Negligence?
In some of the situations listed above, we've
park on the side of the road or ramp because of mechanical problems --
problems that we could not have foreseen or done anything to prevent.
Even in a case where a trucker makes an error -- such
as by running over something in the road that causes tire damage that
renders the truck inoperable --
should that automatically make him or her guilty of "negligence" if a
vehicle approaching from behind ends up causing a rear end accident
involving the slowing, stopped
or parked truck?
Legally speaking, what is "negligence"?
The 'Lectric Law Library
says in part:
The failure to use reasonable care. The doing of
something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the
failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do
under like circumstances. A departure from what an ordinary reasonable
member of the community would do in the same community.
The Legal Dictionary part of TheFreeDictionary.com says in part:
Conduct that falls below the standards of behavior
established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable
risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed
from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under
In order to establish negligence as a Cause of Action
under the law of torts, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a
duty to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty by failing to
conform to the required standard of conduct, the defendant's negligent
conduct was the cause of the harm to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff
was, in fact, harmed or damaged.
To Prevent Being Rear
Ended After You Stop Your
In a June 2012 news release, a law firm stated in
part (emphasis added):
rear-end accident caused by a commercial
truck is more common, collision of a passenger car into a truck is more
likely to result in fatalities. The study conducted by the FMCSA found
that this type of accident was
more likely to occur when visibility was
diminished, such as during the evening.
occurrence of these accidents at night
may be connected to the visibility of commercial trucks. Researches
with FMCSA noted that trucks involved in this type of accident were
often in violation of lighting regulations. As a result, it may not be
easy for the driver of a passenger car to see the commercial truck, let
alone notice that it has stopped or slowed.
Although the driver of the impacting vehicle is
generally liable for rear-end collisions, in cases like this there is a
strong argument that the commercial truck driver is at least partially
the commercial truck was in violation of lighting
regulations the company or driver may have contributed to the accident.
In addition to faulty brakes and lighting violations,
other factors that can contribute to commercial truck accidents include:
- Driver of the truck received inadequate training
- Compensation based on faster delivery leading to focus on speedy
delivery of product instead of safety
- Unrealistic schedules that lead to fatigued driving
these factors can result in liability on the
part of the commercial truck driver or company. As a
injured in these accidents are likely eligible to receive compensation
to cover medical and rehabilitative expenses.
A December 2013 news release from Houston truck
accident injury lawyers states this:
...when a truck driving fatality occurs due to a
driver not following safety precautions, a wrongful death claim may be
filed on behalf of the injured victim. Survivors of those whose lives
have been lost in this type of tragic occurrence may be eligible to
file a claim for compensation for related medical costs, funeral
expenses, economic losses, loss of companionship, or other damages they
may have incurred.
What kind of "safety precaution" or "visibility"
situation is being described here? To avoid being rear ended, this
could possibly mean having the truck's flashers
The FMCSR addresses the use of flashers in § 392.22.
The article about the SUV that rear ended the large
In addition, both the trucker and the California-based
trucking company were deemed negligent for parking on the side of the
freeway in night-like conditions without setting up any light or
emergency reflectors around the rig.
Assuming the trucker had not stopped long enough to put
out his triangular reflectors, if he had had his flashers on -- and the
article doesn't say whether he did or didn't -- perhaps the SUV driver
would not have rear ended his truck. This is purely speculation.
Assuming that the trucker had his medication
within easy reach while driving, having ingested it while driving could
have set up a distracted driving situation. (Reference our eating
while driving page.)
Money saving tip: Do the "reasonable" and
"reasonably prudent" thing to avoid setting up a rear-ending situation.
This could be while you're driving your rig or parked. This could be in
terrain where your truck is going slowly. This could be in various
weather situations (including fog, smoke and snow). Think proactively.
If necessary, think like a prosecuting attorney who loves to make
truckers' wallets bleed.
While state laws may vary regarding the use of flashers, use them
anytime you're slowing or stopping -- in or near traffic. It is better
to be safe than be rear ended.
Should you ever be involved in a situation when
your truck is
rear ended, we recommend that you have a trucker
attorney and a trucker
legal plan in place to defend you.
Whenever possible, seek a non-emergency place to
park your truck. Plan ahead as much as possible.
If you are prone to having health situations that
require medication while you are driving -- bearing in mind that the
trucker in the article
pulled over to "take medication in order to quell a severe headache" --
you may wish to plan ahead. Also, you may want to evaluate your diet
and lifestyle to see if there are positive changes you can make to your
Consult your trucking company's policies, employee
handbook or Safety Director for more guidance about how to prevent
being rear ended.
from On Being Rear Ended
in a Truck to our Truck
Operations page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips