Rear-Ended by a Semi-Truck? Here Is What You Need to Know

You were doing everything right, but then your life changed with the flick of an eye. As you were stopped at a red light with a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, a semi-truck suddenly slammed into your vehicle from behind. Your head snapped forward and back, hitting the steering wheel as you hear the rear end of your car crumple.

You have been rear-ended by a big truck, and life as you know it has just changed dramatically.

Phelan Petty’s team of experienced truck wreck lawyers helps victims of at-fault drivers, trucking companies, and other parties. We have built a reputation for our sophisticated strategies and detailed knowledge of Virginia’s truck accident laws. To learn more about our approach to rear-end collisions involving semi-trucks, keep reading.

Semi-Truck Crashes Are Both Common and Devasting

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,237 semi-trucks were involved in crashes with other vehicles between 2015 and 2017. Of those crashes, 3,896 involved a fatality and nearly 20% were rear-end collisions.

Semi-trucks weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle. Getting struck by one, even at a relatively low speed, can cause a great deal of damage.

RELATED VIDEO: Commercial Vehicles

What to Do After a Crash With a Semi-Truck in Virginia

Immediately following a crash with a semi-truck, it is critical that you make sure everyone is safe and out of harm’s way. You should get as far off the road as you can to avoid being injured by secondary crashes.

Next, call the authorities, and if someone is hurt, call 911 as well. When first responders arrive, cooperate with them. It is important to generate a police report, which will provide details about the accident — including noting which driver is at fault for the crash.

If you are able, take photos at the scene of the crash. While an experienced Virginia semi-truck crash lawyer can help you procure and preserve evidence, images from the moments after an 18-wheeler crash cannot be recreated or obtained after the fact. Take photos of your vehicle, the truck, the road, and any injuries sustained — even cell phone images are valuable.

Given the extensive force applied to your body by a tractor-trailer truck crash, it is important to get checked out by a doctor, even if you do not think you have suffered any serious injuries. A doctor can identify latent symptoms like internal bleeding or a concussion, which, if left untreated, can cause tremendous damage down the road. You should also let your doctor know if your symptoms get worse or if new issues develop.

Finally, you should contact an experienced semi-truck injury lawyer who can investigate the crash and preserve evidence that might win your case.

Investigating Semi-Truck Accidents

If you get rear-ended, the driver who struck your car is usually liable for your injuries. All drivers must drive safely and responsibly on the road, including leaving enough space between vehicles and enough room to stop safely. When one vehicle strikes another, unless the leading car braked suddenly or was driving erratically, the rear vehicle is usually at fault.

However, semi-truck crashes are more complicated than others. There are several other factors that could compromise the truck’s ability to navigate safely, including:

When any of these factors, or a combination of these factors, cause a crash, you may have a suit against multiple parties.

RELATED ARTICLE: Why an Attorney Investigation Matters for Your Truck Accident Case

Do I Need a Lawyer After a Big Truck Crash?

Getting justice from trucking companies, truck brokers, shippers, the insurance company, or the manufacturer is notoriously challenging. These entities have a reputation for bullying victims into accepting low settlements, despite sustaining devastating injuries. Consulting an experienced lawyer is one of the best ways that victims can protect themselves and their futures.

A skilled and experienced Virginia semi-truck crash lawyer can help you:

  • Preserve and collect evidence from hard-to-access sources that the trucking company might try to destroy illegally — including phone logs, on-dash cameras, and black boxes
  • Receive fair compensation from the insurance company
  • Recover compensation to cover your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, and other expenses
  • File a claim against the liable party or parties
  • Focus on your recovery while they cover the legal aspects of your claim

Injured by a Semi-Truck? Call Phelan Petty

At Phelan Petty, we are very familiar with complicated claims. In fact, we have decades of experience fighting for victims just like you who have suffered as a result of devasting and complex semi-truck crashes.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed by a semi-truck in Virginia, please contact us today to receive your free legal consultation. Simply call (804) 980-7100 or complete this brief online form, and we will respond promptly.


(2019, May 6). Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2017. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.