According to the latest Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 25 percent of all fatal crashes involving commercial trucks happen by the truck rear-ending another vehicle.
Several tractor-trailer crashes this summer have heightened awareness of the danger, prompting legal action and commentary by law enforcement officers who want truck drivers and trucking companies to do more to prevent the tragedy of getting hit from behind by a semi-truck.
Truck accident deaths account for more than 10 percent of traffic fatalities on America’s roadways and most of those deadly collisions are preventable. Moreover, the victims are predominantly people who are driving passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, motorcycles and bicycles.
Time of Need
Truck accident lawyers Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman said families victimized by out-of-control commercial trucks are entitled to take legal action to address losses they have suffered. A truck lawsuit is filed if the trucking interest at fault doesn’t fulfill its complete legal liability. Pritzker Hageman, P.A., has recovered tens of millions of dollars in legal actions on behalf of survivors of commercial truck crashes. The firm represents truck accident victims regardless of where the crash occurred.
Precise laws apply to motor carrier collisions and truck court case experience is vital. The best outcomes require expediency by the legal team, including timely and thorough accident investigation – independent of police. Pritzker Hageman’s large truck litigation team is headed by Eric Hageman, a leading trial lawyer with deep knowledge of state and federal regulations governing common carriers.
“Protecting families is what we do,’’ Pritzker said. “Our work is dedicated to their future.’’
Said Hageman: “We see tragic consequences and it’s up to us to get the most for our clients in their time of need.’’
Rear-ended by Truck
One of this summer’s devastating hit-from-behind truck crashes occurred last month in Nevada, prompting an outcry from law enforcement about the danger of “drowsy driving.’’ The Nevada Highway Patrol told reporters that the truck driver in the case admitted to being sleepy and may have nodded off at the wheel. The rear-end truck crash took the lives of two people: Christopher Markley, 34, and Robert Jay Barns, 50, of Idaho.
“Drowsy driving is just as bad as if you were impaired or texting and driving,” Nevada Trooper Jason Buratczuk told reporters after the rear-end truck crash. “It is just as dangerous and it has the same tragic consequences.’’
It was 6 a.m. when the semi-truck slammed into the back of the Toyota Corolla that was carrying the two victims. Both men were thrown from the vehicle by the impact of the heavyweight truck. They had been stopped in traffic on U.S. Highway 93 for a flagger in an active construction zone in Clark County, Nevada.
Apart from any semi-truck lawsuit in this case, the Highway Patrol says the driver of the tractor trailer could face criminal charges under public safety laws. The 18-wheeler, loaded with heavy sand, caused other damages in the five-vehicle crash.
Semi Driver at Fault
With freight transportation on U.S. highways at an all-time high, tough questions are being raised about truck driver error. Statistics show that impairment, including fatigue, is a leading cause of large truck crashes when the cause of the crash is determined to be the trucker’s fault.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” cites driver behavior as the critical reason for more than 88 percent of large truck crashes. Last year’s statistics are still being compiled, but from 2015 to 2016, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 6 percent.
In Michigan this summer, a truck driver has been convicted in connection with a multi-vehicle crash that killed three people on U.S. 23 in southeastern Michigan.
A jury recently found 62-year-old Gary Bryce Erard of Snover guilty of three misdemeanor counts of moving violation causing death in the April 2017 crash. Sentencing was delayed. The trucker faces up to a year behind bars.
Erard has said there’s nothing he could say or do to bring peace to the victims’ families.
Initially, he pleaded no contest to the charges, but withdrew his plea and opted for trial after a judge sentenced him to six months in jail. Authorities say Erard failed to stop as he approached traffic that was stopped in a construction area in Livingston County.
Construction Zone Crashes
In Naperville, Illinois, in late August 2018, an 11-year-old boy from Montgomery suffered serious injuries when the passenger car he was riding in was rear-ended by a semi-truck.
Illinois State Police said the tractor-trailer failed to reduce speed while other cars ahead of it were slowed down or stopped in heavy traffic on Interstate 88. An ambulance took the injured boy to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
Another tragedy involving an 18-wheeler this summer happened recently In Idaho. A semi-truck rear-ended a car carrying three airmen from Mountain Home Air Force Base, resulting in their deaths. Now, two months after the tragedy, the Idaho State Police issued a report saying the crash on Interstate 84 was likely caused by the truck driver’s inattention.
The 18-wheeler was driven by illya D. Tsar, 42, of Rochester, New York. The 2019 model year semi-truck crashed into the Jeep carrying the Air Force officers. The impact set off a chain reaction of other collisions and a vehicle fire. It all took place in a construction zone where traffic was being funneled down to fewer lanes.
The rear-end semi-truck crash took the lives of Senior Airman Carlos Johnson, 23, of Key West, Florida; Senior Airman Lawrence P. Manlapit III, 26, of Bridgeport, Connecticut and Senior Airman Karlie A. Westall, 21, of Harrisburg, South Dakota.