Articles Posted in Truck Accident

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Back in April 2015, a truck driver rear-ended a car full of nursing students on their way to the last day of their clinical rotation. According to news reports at the time, the truck driver was traveling in excess of 70 miles per hour at the time of the collision, and he failed to apply his brakes before slamming into the back of the students’ vehicle that was last in a long line of stopped traffic. In all, five students were killed in the crash, leaving just one survivor.

Semi-TruckAfter the accident, the truck driver pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, receiving a sentence of five years in jail. Additionally, the families of the deceased students filed wrongful death cases against the driver and his employer, which have since all been settled out of court. However, the trucking company could not reach a settlement with the only surviving victim of the terrible accident.

According to a recent news report, a Georgia jury just awarded the lone survivor $15 million as compensation for her physical injuries as well as the emotional pain and suffering that she was put through as a result of the accident. The jury heard evidence that the woman not only incurred significant medical expenses as a result of the accident but also lives with the persistent anxiety, manifesting itself as frequent nightmares and an ever-present fear of dying.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia trucking company was ordered to remove its entire fleet of commercial vehicles from operation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to one industry news source covering the recently imposed sanctions, the order came after a fatal accident that occurred back in August of this year.

Gas TankerEvidently, one of the trucking company’s drivers was speeding around a curve when he lost control of his rig. The truck crashed into a home, where it caught fire and then exploded. One woman inside the home was killed as a result of the explosion, and several other people were injured as a result. In addition, four nearby homes sustained notable damage.

The FMCSA further justified its decision ordering the company to cease operation by pointing to the fact that the past 10 times the company’s trucks have been pulled over for random inspection, the inspector determined that the truck was unsafe to operate and either cited the driver or required that the truck remain off the road. Over the course of the random inspections, it was determined that the trucking company committed the following violations:

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Determining fault in car and truck accidents is not always cut-and-dry. Of course, in some situations it is clear that there is only one party at fault, and establishing that fact at trial is fairly straightforward. However, in other situations multiple parties are involved, each with varying degrees of fault. Still other accidents involve just two parties, each of whom may be a certain percentage at fault. When a case is filed by an accident victim in a Georgia court, it is the judge or jury’s job to determine who bore primary responsibility for the accident and how that should affect the accident victim’s total recovery amount.

Tanker TruckA Recent Example of Divvying Up Responsibility:  Quilez-Velar v. Ox Bodies, Inc.

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a product liability case that illustrates how fault can be apportioned among several liable parties. The plaintiffs in the case were the surviving family members of a woman who had died when she rear-ended a truck that was not properly fitted with a safe under-ride guard. An under-ride guard is a metal guard placed on the rear of large trucks to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath the truck in the event of a rear-end collision.

The facts presented to the court indicated that the municipality that owned the truck installed the guard, which was manufactured by the defendant. The municipality was not named in the lawsuit.

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Back in April of last year, an accident involving a semi-truck and two vehicles claimed the lives of five women, all nursing students. According to one local news report, the families of four of the five women involved in the accident have reached a settlement agreement with the trucking company that owned the truck and employed the driver.

Tanker TruckThe Facts of the Case

The nursing students were on their way to a hospital, traveling on Interstate 16, when they were struck from behind by the semi-truck. According to subsequent investigations conducted by police, it was determined that the two cars carrying the nursing students were stuck in stop-and-go traffic on the highway that was caused by an unrelated accident up ahead. As the students were stuck in traffic, the truck approached full-speed from behind. The truck first made contact with one of the cars and then smashed into the other.

In the end, five of the nursing students in two of the cars were pronounced dead. A later investigation also discovered that the driver of the truck had been previously fired by another trucking company for falling asleep while behind the wheel. When asked about his role in a deposition taken in anticipation of trial, the truck driver admitted that the accident was his fault, but he denied that he had fallen asleep. He did not offer any other explanation.

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Whenever a plaintiff seeks compensation from a defendant for the defendant’s allegedly negligent actions, the burden of proof is placed on the plaintiff to submit evidence sufficient to establish liability. However, not all evidence will be admitted and considered by the finder of fact, whether it be a judge or jury. The Georgia Rules of Evidence govern which evidence a judge or jury can hear in deciding a case. One such rule is the inadmissibility of evidence that one party did not have insurance at the time of the accident.

caterpillar-625629_960_720A recent case decided by a Maryland appellate court illustrates the point. In the case of Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Services, Inc., the plaintiff, Perry, was injured when he was struck by a dump truck as he was crossing the road. As a result of the collision, the man suffered serious injuries, including broken ribs and head trauma.

Perry filed a lawsuit against several parties, seeking compensation for his injuries. Specifically, he named the truck’s driver, the company that employed the truck driver, and Asphalt & Concrete Services (ACS), the company that contracted for the truck. The issue presented in this case involved only the claim that ACS was negligent in hiring the truck driver to help complete the job.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court upheld a jury verdict in favor of a woman who lost her husband in a truck accident that occurred on a narrow bridge between Missouri and Illinois. In the case, Brown v. Davis, the court determined that both the truck driver and the truck driver’s employer should be jointly liable for the accident.

narrows-bridge-287553_960_720Brown v. Davis: The Facts of the Case

The defendant was the owner of a company which was transporting logging equipment across state lines. As a part of the truck’s journey, the driver had to negotiate a narrow bridge across the Mississippi River. The employer was traveling in front of the truck, and did so to ensure that the truck’s route was safe. This mean crossing the bridge in front of the truck, and ensuring that no oncoming traffic came over the bridge as the truck was crossing, because the truck’s load made it too wide to fit within a single lane.

However, the employer failed to stop one motorist from crossing the bridge. As that motorist approached the truck about half-way across the bridge, the truck driver moved over to allow the vehicle to pass. However, as the truck moved over, the logging equipment on the trailer struck the side of the bridge and came loose. The passing motorist then collided with the equipment and was killed as a result.

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A drunk driver has recently been charged in a fatal accident that occurred earlier this year in Georgia. According to a local news report, a Georgia Port Authority officer was hit by a tractor-trailer driver back in March. The officer was at the Garden City Terminal at around 3:30 p.m., conducting his normal traffic control procedures, when the drunk driver slammed into the officer.

martini-1255400The tractor-trailer driver was immediately arrested and was originally charged with driving under the influence. An additional charge of operating a vehicle without a tag was added at a later time. The officer was taken to a local hospital and remained in a coma for several months. Tragically, the officer passed away a few weeks ago from the injuries he sustained in the March accident. It is likely that the tractor-trailer driver will face more serious charges after the death of the young officer. The officer left behind a wife and children.

Claims by Spouses under Georgia Law

In Georgia, if someone has been seriously injured or killed, their family members may bring a claim on behalf of the victim as well as in their own name. After an accident, the impact can ripple, affecting many other individuals, including bystanders, family members, and other people who know and love the victim.

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A tragic accident led to a personal injury suit and a series of appeals after the court found in favor of the defendants. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently released its opinion stemming from an accident that occurred back in June. According to the court’s written opinion, the family was traveling down a highway in two separate cars when one of the cars was hit by a semi-tractor trailer and subsequently slammed into their family member’s car that was in front of them. All of the family members died in the accident.

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Evidently, the accident occurred after a series of fateful events. A man driving a tractor-trailer hit an object in the road, and he pulled over to the right-hand lane. Although it was determined that the man could have moved over completely to the shoulder, experts did find that he followed all other safety procedures beyond the required regulations. As he was stopped, a semi-truck driver did not slow down and slammed into the tractor-trailer. The semi-truck driver was killed in the fiery accident.

The family safely stopped their car as emergency personnel arrived, but another semi-tractor trailer driver failed to stop and slammed into the family at a rate of about 75 mph. Investigators found that the driver was driving for more than three hours past the time that drivers are allowed to drive without a break, and he did not attempt to brake before the accident. In addition to bringing a suit against the semi-tractor trailer driver, they brought a suit against both of the other drivers and their employers. Those individuals responded to the suit by filing a motion for summary judgment, asking that the case be dismissed under the theory of “efficient intervening cause.” The Circuit Court determined the family’s injuries were not proximately caused by the negligence of the other drivers, and the semi-tractor trailer driver that crashed into the family’s cars was an “efficient intervening cause.”

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A federal jury recently released a verdict in the case of Wallace v. Wiley Sanders Truck Lines after a three-day trial earlier this month. The jury found that the plaintiff, a log truck driver who was injured after an accident with another semi truck near a logging site, will be awarded $650,000 to compensate him for the damages caused by the negligence of the other driver, who failed to yield to Mr. Wallace as he was making a right turn into a logging site, causing a crash that seriously injured Mr. Wallace’s shoulder, requiring him to undergo surgery only to regain limited use of the shoulder.

trucks-on-the-road-1449684The Dangers of Driving Around Semi Trucks, Buses, and Vehicles Towing Trailers

Many Georgia auto accidents involve at least one semi truck, bus, or another type of vehicle towing a trailer. There are specific dangers to sharing the road with these vehicles, and drivers of both the large vehicles and the surrounding vehicles on the road need to know how to address them.

In the case of the accident that resulted in the recently awarded jury verdict, it appears the crash was caused by the second driver failing to respect the logging truck driver’s need to make a wide right turn, and it also could have been caused by the second driver driving in the blind spot of the first driver. According to the 2015 Georgia Driver’s Guide, other drivers need to steer clear of the “no zones” or blind spots that surround large vehicles while they are on the road, and they must also allow large vehicles room to make wide right turns when they properly signal.

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A young Georgia mother was killed and her two children and husband seriously injured in an accident involving a semi-truck in Bartow County. Local news reports have been following this case, and the trucking company’s safety history is now being scrutinized. According to one such report, the truck driver stopped his giant truck on a steep roadway to conduct a pre-trip safety inspection. However, the driver failed to put the emergency brake on. The truck began to roll down a hill and straight onto the highway. It eventually stopped after ramming into the pickup carrying the young mother, her husband, and two children.

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As the investigation of the truck driver moved forward, it came to light that the trucking company had a history of safety infractions. Apparently, the Indiana-based company was cited about 703 times for unsafe driving by its employees. Additionally, the company had over 1,500 maintenance infractions. In addition to the company’s possible negligence, the truck driver was also cited for several criminal charges, including driving under the influence. A subsequent investigation has revealed that the driver was under the influence of prescription medication when the event occurred. The driver had previously been cited about 10 times for various drug and alcohol related violations.

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