On Friday afternoon a tractor trailer driver was muscling his way east on Interstate 20 in Weatherford when he collided into traffic that had backed up. The driver was not able to slow down, hit a stopped SUV, and set off a chain-reaction. The 18 wheeler hit the median wall and cable system that fortunately prevented it from going onto the other side of the highway and cause more mayhem. The big rig flipped over on its driver side, spilling plastic bottles all over the interstate. The interstate was shut down into the night-time hours. Here’s another fatal 18 wheeler crash that didn’t need to happen.
Sadly, a 44-year-old woman in one of the cars in front of the 18 wheeler lost her life. And seven other people had to be rushed to area hospitals and two other people were treated at the scene. We extend our condolences to the family of the woman and prayers for a speedy recovery to the injured victims.
Berenson Injury Law recently concluded a case for a man seriously injured in a 18 wheeler crash not far from this site and another where a woman lost her life when a tractor trailer rear ended her and other vehicles. We have unfortunately had to handle many other fatal 18 wheeler crashes like this over the past nearly 40 years.
We see how constant they are. But they shouldn’t be.
How to reduce fatal 18 wheeler crashes
What happened on Friday is a typical scenario. A personal injury lawyer sees the same causes for these very avoidable collisions:
- Speeding: a rushed driver of two vehicles weighing at least 80,000 pounds can’t stop in time to avoid stopped or slowing traffic ahead of him.
- Distracted driving: the driver may be looking at his cell phone in violation of federal regulations or over at his in-dash computer screen. Or he may be finding a new song to listen to, reaching over for a soft drink, or just looking out the window. We’ve handled cases where all of these distractions were to blame.
- Physical impairment: we have seen cases where the trucker suffered from medical conditions and was taking medications for heart, lung, diabetes, and sleep apnea. And many times, the truck driver is too tired and may be in violation of strict hours of service rules and manipulating the log books required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
- Unqualified driver: he is unfit to be driving in the first place and should never have been hired. Or he should have been terminated when prior and new crashes and safety violations come to the attention of his trucking company.
- Inadequate maintenance: the company fails to perform the required repairs and maintenance of the vehicles.
- Overweighted or unbalanced cargo: it is essential that the trailer be properly loaded to make sure that the contents do not shift or the trailer flips over, jack-knifes, or veers out of control.
It can be difficult to learn exactly which of these factors caused the collision. The services of an accident reconstruction expert are usually required. The trucking company sends its crash response team to the scene within 30 minutes, including an attorney, so the important evidence has already been examined and sometimes retained by them. The expert will need to perform a detailed inspection and download the data from the tractor’s black box to determine speed, braking, and other key information.
More information is necessary. Depositions of the truck driver, company officials, other drivers, police officers, and witnesses will reveal more evidence. If there is a trial, the court and jury will consider the evidence presented. They determine how much negligence to assign to the truck driver, his company, and other vehicle drivers.
Complicating the case is that there may be several causes. The FMCSA studied hundreds of commercial truck collisions and listed their conclusions in this report. One of the top three was the driver rear ending vehicles like what happened in Weatherford.
We have learned over the years that trucking companies know all too well about these problems but don’t do enough to stop them. They could make our highways safer. The only thing that will get their attention is when their insurance rates go up or they have to pay a substantial amount of company profits to pay the victims of crashes they cause.
We recently wrote about the serious problem of how companies don’t have enough qualified drivers. So they are not in a position to lose the ones they have, let alone control them. They knowingly allow their drivers to skirt federal regulations to increase their profits and remain competitive with other freight hauling companies.
We can help you
A truck crash attorney holds these companies and their drivers accountable. Berenson Injury Law immediately investigates the collision and does everything to help its clients get the medical care they require. After a lawsuit is filed and the discovery of evidence is completed, the liability and damage facts emerge and insurance companies usually make substantial settlements, usually at mediations. If they don’t, juries award verdicts to pay for the damages the negligent trucker and his company caused. Especially if a fatality occurred, it is essential that an experienced wrongful death lawyer be hired immediately.
Please call us at 1-888-801-8585 or fill out this form if you have been injured or someone you love has lost his or her life in a collision involving a tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle like a box truck, van, or pickup truck.