Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Earlier this month, a husband and wife were killed in a fatal Indiana dump truck accident involving a total of eleven vehicles. According to a recent news report covering the tragic accident, the crash occurred near the intersection of U.S. 36 and South County Road 625 East, at around 3:30 in the afternoon.

Evidently, the dump truck rear-ended an SUV that was stopped in traffic. After the initial collision, the dump truck drifted across the center median and collided with a minivan head-on. The driver and passenger of the minivan were both killed in the accident. In all, a total of eleven vehicles were involved in the accident, including a school bus. Thankfully, no children were on board at the time. An additional victim in one of the other cars suffered serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries and fractures to her femur, pelvis, and spine.

After police arrived on the scene, they conducted a field sobriety test on the driver of the dump truck, which he failed. The driver then admitted to police that he had snorted heroin earlier in the day. The driver was arrested and charged with several serious crimes, including reckless homicide and causing death operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Police officers also noted that there was a white powdery substance lining the inside of the driver’s nostrils, which they believe to have been heroin.

Last month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a case raising an important issue that frequently comes up in Indiana personal injury cases. The case required the court to assess whether a company that provided maintenance for machinery could be held responsible for an accident that may have been able to be prevented if certain safety features had been installed on the machinery. Ultimately, the court concluded that the maintenance company could not be held liable, and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff worked as a truck driver. One day, the plaintiff was waiting at his employer’s warehouse for another employee to load his empty tractor-trailer with goods. As the plaintiff was waiting for the trailer to be loaded, the employee who was operating the forklift backed up over the plaintiff’s foot. The forklift did not have a back-up alarm installed.

Evidently, the plaintiff’s employer had a contract with the defendant company to provide maintenance for the forklift. That agreement called for the defendant company to provide preventative maintenance on the forklift every 90 days. Apparently, the forklift had been serviced just a few months prior to the accident by one of the defendant’s employees, and the installation of a back-up alarm was not recommended. After the accident, the defendant installed a back-up alarm on the forklift.

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Due to Indiana’s location in the central part of the country, the state sees a constant flow of large commercial vehicles traveling along the state’s highways as trucks travel from the East to West Coast and vice-versa. For the most part, semi-truck drivers are well-trained, responsible motorists who take pride in the work they do. However, each year there are thousands of Indiana truck accidents that are caused by negligent truck drivers.

According to the state’s most recent data, there are approximately 14,000 Indiana truck accidents per year. While some of these accidents are minor, it is reported that there are over 3,500 people injured and 120 killed each year due to Indiana truck accidents. In most cases, the motorist who is injured is not the truck driver, but instead the drivers or passengers of the other vehicle that is involved in the collision.

There are several causes of truck accidents in the state, and in some cases the most common causes overlap with the common causes of Indiana car accidents. However, equipment related accidents accounts for a higher percentage of the total number of truck accidents. These incidents include those that are the result of improperly maintained or inflated tires, brakes, signals, and lights.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing what the court called the “sudden emergency doctrine,” explaining how it may be applied to excuse what may otherwise be considered negligent behavior. The case is important to Indiana car accident victims because the doctrine is also applied by Indiana courts.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving in a line of cars, all of which were entering the highway. As one of the cars was proceeding up the on-ramp, another motorist pulled around the side of her vehicle, passed her at a high speed, and made an obscene gesture in her direction. The passing motorist then slammed on her brakes, causing the motorist to also suddenly brake.

The plaintiff was traveling immediately behind the motorist who had just been passed. When that motorist applied the brakes, so did the plaintiff. The plaintiff stopped in time to avoid a collision. However, the defendant truck driver was immediately behind the plaintiff and, as the cars in front of him quickly slowed down, the defendant also applied the brakes.

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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.

The 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.

In 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.

The 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.

Brown 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.

A 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.Evidently, 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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