Following too Closely

Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are among the heaviest vehicles on the road. Tractor-trailers weigh several tons—in fact, they may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Since these trucks are so much larger than standard motor vehicles, they take much longer to stop when they need to. Not only are these trucks much heavier than other vehicles, they are much longer as well. Both of these factors make braking much more difficult for these large trucks, increasing the odds of an accident.

As truck drivers travel from place to place, it is important that they leave enough space in front of them so that they do not risk hitting the cars they are traveling behind. A standard vehicle takes about 316 feet to completely stop. In contrast, a tractor-trailer takes about 525 feet to come to a stop. In comparison, a football field is 360 feet long—thus, it takes quite a bit of distance for a truck to come to a complete stop.

If a truck driver follows too closely and causes an accident, he may be liable for the damages he causes. There are three primary elements in a truck accident injury claim:

  • The truck driver owes the victim a duty;
  • That duty is breached; and
  • Due to that breach, the victim suffered injury.

The duty is the duty to drive a truck in a safe and reasonable manner. Following too closely and rear-ending other drivers is clearly a breach of this duty.

The third element is typically the most contested one. Many truck drivers will argue that a victim’s injuries are not as severe as he or she claims they are. Victims will argue that they are indeed injured and that the truck driver was entirely at fault for the extent of their injuries.

The parties may argue back and forth for several months. Each party will provide documentation that supports the claims or defenses in the case. For example, accident victims will provide their medical records that detail the nature of their injuries. In response, the truck driver may use a medical expert to argue that some of the conditions were present before the accident occurred.

Aside from gathering documents, some parties and witnesses may be deposed during the claim. During a deposition, a court reporter will transcribe testimony that is taken of an individual, such as a party or witness. An attorney will ask questions under oath. The deposition may be used to support or deny claims later on in the case. Deposition transcripts may be used in settlement negotiations or even in trials. Trials become necessary when the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement.

Our attorneys are experienced both inside and outside of the courtroom

At Stein & Shulman, our personal injury attorneys have over four decades of experience in injury claims. During a free consultation, you can find out how our attorneys may be able to help. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (312) 422-0509.