Most people appreciate that in today’s society we can walk into a Walmart, Best Buy, or Kroger and buy almost anything we need or want. The trucking industry has been extremely powerful in helping businesses succeed as well as helping our economy thrive, but we have to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, the irresponsible actions of truck drivers and their companies can turn the trucking industry from one that businesses and consumers love, into an industry that ruins countless amounts of lives.
Distracted driving is one of the ways the trucking industry’s irresponsible actions can lead to deadly results. This occurs when a truck driver is engaged in other activities such as texting, surfing the Internet, talking on the phone, or looking up directions. These activities take the driver’s attention away from the road. It is bad enough when any driver is distracted, but when the driver of a semi-truck is not focused, the negative impact can be considerably worse due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.
In May 2016, the driver of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 traveling through Verona, Kentucky caused an accident by crossing the median and striking two vehicles head on. One of the drivers died at the scene, and the other was severely injured. Deputies of Boone County found strong evidence suggesting that the truck driver was texting at the time of the accident. The truck driver even tried to delete the messages before the authorities confiscated his phone, but all of the messages were recovered. Spoliation of evidence is taken very seriously by law enforcement authorities, judges, and juries.
Another example of distracted driving causing tragic results is a fuel tanker traveling through Arizona and hitting three police cars and two fire trucks that were already on the interstate due to another accident. According to reports, many officers were trying to flag down and get the driver’s attention, but it was clear that the driver of the fuel tanker was not focused on the road. It was later discovered the truck driver was on Facebook at the time of the accident. When a driver looks away from the road, he or she may not leave enough stopping distance to safely slow down. Due to the driver’s irresponsible actions, the truck driver hit and killed an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer.
Federal regulations such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that forbid drivers of commercial vehicles from engaging in activities that takes their attention away from the road. 49 C.F.R. § 392.80 and § 392.82 cover the limited use of electronic devices for commercial carriers. Violators of this law may be criminally punished by federal prosecutors, but a victim may pursue a civil claim for damages including medical costs, lost wages, permanent disability, and pain and suffering.
Many people do not know where to turn after experiencing an accident with a semi-truck or 18-wheeler. A significant car crash can be a terrifying experience, and as evidenced by the stories above, often a deadly one as well. One must pursue many steps to determine if the driver of the truck or the trucking company is liable for the injuries that occur from the delivery truck accident.
Some of these steps include preserving evidence at the scene, gathering information about the driver from the trucking company, requesting phone records, and taking witness statements. In certain situations, it may be appropriate to retain an accident reconstruction expert to testify how the wreck occurred. It takes a great deal of experience to ensure a victim’s legal rights are protected and that he or she receives the compensation they deserve for either losing a loved one or being harmed themselves.