Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Last month, a Mississippi court issued an opinion in a truck accident case brought by a man who was injured in a chain-reaction accident when he rear-ended another vehicle that was stopped in a traffic jam caused by the original accident. In the case, Ready v. RWI Transportation, the court held that the second accident was too far removed from the first to establish liability against the truck driver. The court based its opinion not on a causation analysis, as one might expect, but instead on the holding that the truck driver did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care.

Semi-TruckThe Facts of the Case

The defendant truck driver caused an accident on a Mississippi highway when he changed lanes and collided with another vehicle. The accident significantly slowed passing traffic, causing a back-up leading up to the scene of the accident.

The plaintiff was driving on the highway toward the accident at approximately 65-70 miles per hour. As he approached the line of stopped vehicles, he was unable to stop and crashed into the rear of another vehicle. The plaintiff sustained injuries as a result of the crash and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver. He also named the truck driver’s employer under the theory of “negligent entrustment.”

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Good Samaritan laws were designed to protect passersby from liability when they try to help an injured person during an emergency. The idea is that if the law fails to offer protection to someone trying to help another person in peril, citizens are unlikely to ever offer such assistance for fear of civil liability. However, the type of conduct that is covered by a Good Samaritan law is not always clear.

Truck UnloadingIn a recent case in front of one state’s appellate court, the court had the opportunity to interpret that state’s Good Samaritan law. Interestingly, the court broadly interpreted the law to include a wide range of actors and a wide range of conduct.

Carter v. Reese:  The Facts

Carter, a truck driver, had arrived at his destination and unloaded his trailer at the loading dock. After he was finished, he pulled his trailer a few inches away from the loading dock and put the air brake on so that the truck would stay put. Carter then got out of the truck to head back inside through the loading dock doors. However, as he climbed up onto the loading dock, he fell and got his leg stuck in the small gap between the truck and the loading dock. Carter began calling for help, and Reese responded.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maryland issued a written opinion in a case involving allegations that a cement company was negligent in the hiring of an independent contractor. In the case, Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Services, Inc., the court ultimately decided that the plaintiff should not have been permitted to submit evidence of the truck driver’s lack of insurance unless the plaintiff was able to show that the lack of insurance was relevant to the negligent hiring claim.

tipper-417147_960_720The Facts of the Case

Back in 2009, the plaintiff, Perry, was crossing the street when he was struck by a dump truck. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered broken ribs as well as head trauma. After physically recovering from his injuries, Perry filed a negligence lawsuit against the truck’s driver, the trucking company, and the concrete company that hired the driver. Specific to the later claim, Perry asserted that the concrete company (ACS) negligently hired the driver, and that the company should be responsible for his injuries due to their negligence.

At trial, Perry tried to introduce evidence that the truck driver did not have insurance at the time of the accident. The court allowed the evidence to be considered by the jury, which found in favor of the plaintiff after hearing it. The total verdict amount was $529,500, including $500,000 for pain and suffering. Not satisfied with the court’s rulings on several evidentiary issues, ACS appealed.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a case that began when a truck carrying a large piece of logging equipment got too close to the side of a bridge as it crossed. The logging equipment came free, ultimately crashing into a passing car. The specific issue in the case was whether the truck driver’s employer could be held liable in addition to the truck driver himself. The employer was responsible for traveling across the bridge in front of the truck to make sure that no oncoming motorists crossed at the same time the truck was crossing.

silver-jubilee-bridge-402943_960_720Brown v. Davis: An Employer Fails to Ensure the Road is Clear

When the wife of the man who was killed in the accident filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer, the truck driver admitted that he was negligent. However, the employer denied that he was legally responsible for the man’s death. The case went to trial, and the jury ultimately awarded the plaintiff a $3 million verdict.

The defendant appealed to the intermediate appellate court, arguing that he owed no duty to the motorist, and even if it was determined that there was a duty owed, he did not breach that duty. The court disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s verdict. The defendant appealed again.

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A decision recently released in the case of Baumann v. Zhukov by the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of a truck driver who caused a September 2012 accident that later resulted in five members of a Maryland family losing their lives. The family was killed when their vehicles were hit at full speed by a semi-truck while they were stopped in traffic from the accident caused by the defendant. The family’s estate reached a settlement with the driver of the truck that directly hit their vehicles, but the Eighth Circuit’s ruling will prevent the plaintiffs from collecting any compensation from the negligent truck driver who caused the traffic build-up that eventually resulted in the deadly crash.

truck-on-hwy-1615510A Tragic and Preventable Accident Kills an Entire Family

The fatal accident occurred after the family members, who were driving in two cars, stopped in stalled traffic that was the result of an accident less than a mile ahead. Shortly after their cars came to a stop at the end of the line of traffic, a tractor-trailer crashed into one of their vehicles at 75 miles per hour, nearly demolishing both cars and killing both drivers and all of the passengers:  two adults and three children.

According to the ruling, the driver of the truck that crashed into the family’s vehicles had been driving for at least 14 hours straight prior to the accident, and he was unable to operate his vehicle safely. Lawsuits were filed on behalf of the family against the driver who crashed into them, as well as the negligent driver who caused the accident that initially stopped traffic.

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In a tragic truck accident that occurred near the Indianapolis International Airport, a truck driver was killed when he was acting as a good Samaritan trying to help other motorists in trouble. According to a report by IndyStar, the accident occurred on I-70 westbound just before four in the morning.

sunset-run-1427546-m.jpgEvidently, two cars had collided on the freeway and a passing truck driver stopped to render his assistance and do what he could to direct traffic away from the cars that were stopped in the center of the highway. However, as he was helping, another passing semi-truck struck the man, killing him instantly.

The driver of the semi-truck who hit the man was taken in by police for drug and alcohol testing. At the moment, police do not suspect that drugs or alcohol were involved in the fatal accident. However, the original accident for which the victim had stopped was caused by a drunk driver. Apparently, one of the two drivers involved in the initial accident was arrested for driving under the influence after she was found to have had a blood alcohol content of .11.
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A tragic accident occurred last month when a man and his two children were killed when the car they were travelling in crashed into a semi-truck which was slowing down to avoid a separate accident in which another semi-truck spilled nitric acid on the roadway.

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The Accident
It was around 10:40 P.M. on April 14 when a semi-tanker carrying nitric acid rolled over on I-65, near route 10 in Jasper County. The accident closed down part of the northbound traffic on the interstate and slowed traffic on the roadway. Around 11:40 P.M., a separate semi-truck was slowly driving past the rollover when a man from Renesselaer, Indiana was driving a Toyota Sequoia northbound on I-65 with three children in the car. According to an article by ABC affiliate WLS, the Toyota failed to slow down for the accident and rear-ended the semi-truck. The man and two of his children were killed in the crash, and the third child was treated at a nearby hospital
Existing Accidents on Roads can be Extremely Dangerous
It appears that this tragic accident was caused in part by the first accident, which led to lane closures and slowing on I-65 leading up to the collision. Unfortunately, this is a common contributing factor to Indiana auto accidents, because drivers often fail to slow down, or slow down soon enough, to safely pass by an existing accident. When injury or death is caused in a crash that may be related to an existing accident on the roadway, it can be difficult to determine who should be liable for any damages resulting from the accident.
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Last month, the driver of a 2002 Hyundai Elantra was fatally injured when he crashed into a semi-truck that had run a stop sign. According to a report by The Daily Standard, the truck driver did not see the stop sign at the intersection of Routes 118 and 29. As the truck driver sped through the intersection, the driver of the Hyundai also entered the intersection, colliding with the semi-truck just behind the truck’s wheels. The car went under the semi-truck and emerged on the other side. As the Hyundai emerged, it crashed into another vehicle that was stopped at a stop sign.

truck-delivery-1042539-m.jpgThe driver of the Hyundai was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the other vehicles were uninjured. Police took the truck driver to the hospital where his blood was drawn to test for the presence of alcohol or drugs. Police also suspect that weather may have played a role in the accident, that occurred the day after a snowstorm left over an inch of snow on the ground.

Semi-Truck Drivers and Government Regulations

Semi-trucks are the largest vehicles on the road. Fill a truck up with cargo and it can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Because of their size, weight, and inability to quickly maneuver, semi-trucks are some of the most dangerous hazards a driver can encounter on a daily basis.
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Earlier this week, Indiana State Troopers responded to a call where a semi-truck had rolled over onto a police car near Indianapolis. According to a report by 14News.com, the accident occurred on eastbound I-70. Apparently, the truck driver was near the police cruiser when it began to change lanes. Before the truck completed the lane change, however, the driver suddenly veered back into his own lane and crashed into the police car. As the semi-truck lost its load of steel sheets, the two vehicles spun out of control. Eventually the semi-truck came to a rest on top of the police cruiser.

semi-truck-3-232053-m.jpgBoth drivers, as well as a passenger in the police cruiser, were taken to the hospital for examination. All involved are in stable condition and are expected to recover. Police suspect that the semi-truck driver’s medical condition may have contributed to the accident. The driver was cited for an unsafe lane change.

Semi-Trucks Can Be Hazardous

Semi-trucks carry all kinds of goods across the country and are vital to our economy. However, the fact that so many of the drivers are under constant pressure to get to their destinations quickly can sometimes mean that commercial drivers are on the road when they shouldn’t be. This concern has led lawmakers to enact rules and regulations that require semi-truck drivers get a certain amount of rest during their trip. However, in some cases, these requirements are ignored and when they are, these semi-truck drivers are putting all drivers around them at risk.
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Conventional_18-wheeler_truck_diagram.PNGWe recently addressed a wrongful death lawsuit brought in federal court that invokes Nebraska’s fetal death statute, and how that law differs from corresponding statutes in Indiana. The lawsuit, Baumann v. Slezak, et al, also asserts a cause of action for alleged violations of federal commercial truck driving regulations, including restrictions on the number of hours a driver may be behind the wheel without a break. Indiana law has allowed for evidence of regulatory violations in order to prove a claim of negligence, although such evidence may not be sufficient to establish liability by itself.

The Nebraska lawsuit arises from a September 9, 2012 accident on westbound Interstate 80 in western Nebraska. A family traveling through the state in two separate cars was stopped at the rear of a line of traffic, which had backed up nearly a mile because of an accident involving two semi-trailers. Another semi-trailer collided with the back of one of the family’s vehicles. This propelled the car into the family’s other car, which collided with another vehicle. All occupants of the two vehicles died in the accident. The truck driver, Josef Slezak, was allegedly driving at seventy-five miles per hour, and did not slow or stop prior to the collision.

The family’s legal representatives filed suit against Slezak and his employer, alleging negligence per se and violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. The two regulations cited in the complaint prohibit operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired, such as by fatigue, and regulate the length of time a vehicle operator may drive without rest. The hours-of-service (HOS) regulations prescribe maximum lengths of time a driver can be on-duty or behind the wheel before a required period of time off duty. According to the complaint, Slezak had arrived at a trucking terminal in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 10:49 a.m. on September 8, and left after less than three hours off duty at 1:49 p.m. The accident occurred more than eighteen hours later, at around 5:19 a.m., and about 920 miles away.
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