Recently in Trucking Accidents Category

March 6, 2013

Two Recent Kentucky Car Accidents on I-65 Leave Six Dead, Injure Several Others

Some erratic snowfalls have caused several car accidents in and around Kentucky in the last few weeks. But while there may have been a few flurries in the air, two recent multi-car crashes on I-65 near Elizabethtown do not appear to have been caused by weather.

According to Kentucky State Police, on Saturday, March 2, 2013, a commercial truck driver was driving too close behind a passenger vehicle and the truck crashed into the back of vehicle, causing it to catch fire. Six of eight family members in the SUV tragically died in the fire. The two survivors were foster children of two of the adults killed, and they were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The accident occurred on the northbound side of I-65.

About 15 minutes after the northbound truck accident, another accident occurred in the same place in the southbound lanes. Another semi crashed into the back of one car, and hit another car that in turn hit a third car, resulting in a four-vehicle accident. The driver of the first car hit was the drummer of country singer Kellie Pickler. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment of extensive injuries. Two of the other drivers were also injured.

If the weather was not to blame, what caused these three very similar accidents? Officials do not know for sure, but they have a couple theories. Kentucky State Police think distracted driving could have played a part in the first accident. The truck driver that hit the SUV may have been on his phone or paying attention to something else in his cab, and he didn't see the SUV in time to stop. It would be sadly ironic if the trucker was on his phone at the time of the crash, because this stretch of I-65 is where a truck hit a van and killed 11 people in 2010. That accident led to the National Transportation Safety Board's request to make talking on a cell phone or texting against the law for long-distance commercial drivers. Investigators are also checking the driver's log to see how long he had been driving and if he had taken the amount of break time required by law. A blood sample was taken as well.

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January 23, 2013

Huge Car and Truck Accident North of Kentucky Takes a Life, Injures Many, and Poses Questions

On Monday, January 21, 2013, a freak snowfall caused whiteout conditions on I-275, just north of the Kentucky border in Ohio. Although temperatures were below freezing, officials think the pavement was warm enough to melt the snow as it fell, then the cool air refroze it into ice. As cars began to slip and slide, other drivers coming up behind them were unable to see them in time to stop, so the cars and trucks crashed into one another. By the time it was all said and done, at least 86 cars and trucks were involved in the accident.

Unfortunately, one 12-year-old girl was killed when she exited the damaged car she had been riding in. While some might question why someone would get out of a car on a highway, she or the driver she was with were probably afraid they would get hit in their car if they stayed inside. Someone else involved in the car crash confirmed this belief, saying, "I just hopped out of the car as fast as I could and ran to the side of the road, and it wasn't even five seconds after I exited my vehicle, my car got completely smashed by the semi." At least 20 other people were also taken to the hospital with injuries.

Initial reports said the girl who lost her life was hit by a barrier cable that had snapped during the accident. This information had people wondering if this type of barrier system is more dangerous than concrete or metal barriers. According to a news report from WCPO, a Cincinnati news station, the sheriff's deputies that were at the accident site said the cable barrier had not broken. Rather, it struck the girl as it was snapping back after several cars hit it. The Ohio Department of Transportation believes the cable barriers are actually safer than concrete or metal barriers because they do not cause cars and trucks that hit them to bounce back into traffic and cause more accidents.

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November 20, 2012

Midland Texas Train Crash a Tragedy

One cannot look online or read a newspaper without seeing an article about the tragic accident in Midland, Texas. Numerous war veterans and their spouses were riding on a parade float being pulled by a semi-truck when it was hit by a train. Four veterans lost their lives and several other people were injured. As the victims and their families try to put their lives back together, investigators are trying to determine what caused this tragic accident.

One of the things they will examine is the train itself. Was it working properly? Did the horn sound at the appropriate time, at the right volume, for the length of time required? Were the brakes and other components of the train in working order? They will question the conductors and engineers who were on board when the train crash occurred about what they witnessed and if they noticed anything that may have contributed to the crash.

Investigators will also examine the tracks and crossing gates. Initial reports are stating that the lights were flashing and the crossing gate bells were ringing before the truck attempted to cross the tracks. But witnesses say they don't think the crossing signals and gates are activated soon enough to allow enough time for the gates to be completely down before the train crosses the intersection. News reports have discussed that the speed of the trains at this crossing has increased over the years, and maybe the gates have not been adjusted to take this change into account.

The investigators will also thoroughly investigate the truck that was pulling the float when the accident occurred. The truck was donated by a local Texas company and was driven by a fellow military veteran. The driver of the truck will be interviewed and his background will be checked to make sure he had the proper training to be driving the truck. He will most likely be asked if he heard the warning bells at the crossing or saw the flashing lights or gates. The company that owned the truck will be questioned as well.

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June 25, 2012

Kentucky Bus Crash Lawsuits Filed

1119802_bus.jpgOn June 6, 2012, a tour bus carrying over 50 children and adults crashed in Hart County, Kentucky on its way to Washington DC. The driver had only traveled about seven miles with the passengers on board when the bus accident occurred. While the accident investigation has not been completed, it appears that the driver was speeding and lost control of the bus around a tight curve. The bus rolled over, causing multiple injuries that were fortunately not life-threatening.

Why would a driver speed around a tight curve, especially in a large tour bus? Some passengers said he was overconfident, refusing to slow down even when several of them warned him to reduce his speed because of the curvy road. Others said he had been drinking energy drinks that may have clouded his judgment. Another reason may have been because he had already driven eight hours from Chicago and he may have been too tired to realize how fast he was traveling.

Whatever the reason, it appears he was speeding, risking the lives of at least 50 other people. As a result, three families have joined together and filed a lawsuit. One child from each family was involved in the bus crash and their families believe someone should be held accountable. They have sued the driver of the bus, the bus company - Southwestern Illinois Bus Company - and Worldstrides International. The claim against the driver is fairly self-explanatory since he was the one that was operating the bus when it ran off the road and his negligence most likely contributed to the accident.

The bus company may be partially liable for the accident for a couple of reasons. It could be responsible if it is determined that the driver lacked enough experience to be driving the bus. Also, if any maintenance issues played a part in the accident, the company could be held accountable. The lawsuit alleges that the driver had already driven eight hours from Chicago to Kentucky and was setting out to drive an additional eight hours to Washington DC. If this is true and the company asked him to drive both routes without resting, it would be in violation of the federal law that states commercial bus drivers can only drive 11 hours at a time. Worldstrides International is the company that organized the trip. Its website ironically claims it is "the nation's largest and most respected accredited travel organization" and that its "programs are marked by exceptional service, a superior safety record, and a personalized approach to educational travel that is unmatched in the field." If they contracted with the bus company that employed the driver that caused the accident, they could be partially liable for the accident too.

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May 24, 2012

Kentucky Truck Crash Involving Four Vehicles Kills Two Motorcyclists

A recent Kentucky truck accident involved multiple vehicles and cars, most of whom were not even from the area. On May 22, 2012, traffic on I-24 over the Ohio River near Paducah was moving slowly due to some construction. One driver did not slow or stop in time and rear-ended the car in front of him. Both of these drivers survived the accident with only minor injuries.

Unfortunately, this initial car accident led to another more deadly accident in the same area. Traffic was backed up from the initial accident in both westbound lanes when semi driver reached the scene. He allegedly did not slow down or stop. He hit the mirror on a pickup truck first, then crashed into a motorcycle. Both people were knocked off the motorcycle. The truck driver then hit another semi before coming to a stop. Both truck drivers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The motorcycle riders were not so lucky; they were pronounced dead at the scene.

This accident was very tragic in that it claimed the lives of two innocent victims. It was also very unusual because almost every person involved was from a different state and no one was a Kentucky resident. The truck driver who allegedly caused the accident was from Wisconsin. The two motorcycle riders were from North Carolina and Texas. The pickup truck and second semi-truck drivers were both from Illinois. This raises the question of where a lawsuit, if necessary, should be filed.

Generally, lawsuits are filed in the state in which the accident occurred. We'll use the above case as an example. The accident happened in Kentucky, so a lawsuit should be filed in Kentucky. Most attorneys are licensed to practice law in one or two states that are in close proximity to each other. So it is unlikely that an attorney from Texas or North Carolina - the home states of the victims in this accident - would be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. It is also unlikely that the victims' families would know any Kentucky attorneys.

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March 21, 2012

Motorcyclist Killed in Truck Accident on I-65 in Louisville Kentucky

1016169_speed_of_motorcycle.jpgOn Tuesday, March 6, 2012, a motorcyclist was killed on I-65 in Louisville, Kentucky. It appears that the motorcyclist was travelling in the middle lane between a pickup truck and a tractor-trailer truck. According to Louisville police, the accident seems to have been caused when the driver of the pickup truck moved into the lane the motorcycle was in, causing the motorcycle to collide with the semi. Traffic on I-65 and the nearby ramps of the Watterson were closed for several hours and rush-hour traffic had to be diverted.

This horrific crash illustrates a few points of driver safety that bear repeating. First, riding a motorcycle can be fun and exhilarating, but it is inherently much more dangerous than driving a car. As a result, motorcyclists have to take extra precautions, especially when riding on a multi-lane highway. Motorcycles are smaller than cars or trucks and can be overlooked by other drivers on the road. Motorcycle riders have to be incredibly alert when riding to make up for other drivers possibly not seeing them. Proper gear should be worn at all times, including long pants, boots, a protective jacket and a helmet. The motorcyclist in this accident does not appear to have played any role in this accident, he was an innocent victim, and all of the above precautions still may not have saved his life.

Second, car and truck drivers need to always be alert when driving, paying attention to the road and those around them. It is even more important when travelling at higher speeds on a freeway or interstate. As noted above, motorcycles are smaller and may be harder to notice, especially in a rearview mirror. Any distraction may be enough to cause a driver to not see a motorcyclist, or another car driver, before it is too late. It is unknown whether the pickup truck driver in this wreck was distracted by the radio, a cellphone, or even a snack, or if distraction played no role in the accident.

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November 21, 2011

Kentucky Company Found Negligent in Truck Accident

Kentucky trucking company Dunaway Timber Company has been ordered to pay $7 million in damages to the family of a Missouri man who was killed by one of their truck drivers in Yellville Arkansas. On September 3, 2008, Morgan Quisenberry was driving a tractor-trailer when it crossed the center line and hit two passenger vehicles before colliding with the cab of the victim's tractor-trailer. The victim was able to climb out of the cab, but became trapped under the burning vehicle. He died before arriving at the hospital, leaving a wife and two children.

This was not the first truck accident Mr. Quisenberry had caused. Before being hired by Dunaway, he had been in an accident while hauling hazardous materials. He had also lost his license twice for driving under the influence. While Dunaway Timber wasn't aware of these infractions because Mr. Quisenberry lied on his application, the information could have been obtained through a background search that would have taken little time and cost the company about $15.00.

While Mr. Quisenberry was not actually intoxicated at the time of the accident, he was fatigued, which can have the same effect on a person's driving ability as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He had been driving three hours longer than allowed. Laws forbid truck drivers to drive more than 11 out of 14 straight hours before taking a 10-hour break. Mr. Quisenberry knew that he had exceeded the number of hours allowed and falsified the information in his log book.

Taking all of this information into consideration, the jury determined that the driver was 25 percent responsible for the accident and the company was 75 percent responsible. How can the company be more responsible than the person actually operating the vehicle? The company hired Quisenberry without doing a background check on his driving record and sent him out only 19 days after he was hired, allegedly without adequate training. The route the company assigned to him could not be completed in less than 13 hours, well over the 11-hour driving limit, forcing him to drive while fatigued. Supervision and oversight by the company were lacking. All of these factors caused the jury to find Dunaway Timber guilty of negligent hiring and negligent supervision. The driver's smaller percentage of fault was most likely attributed to his allowing the trailer of his truck to cross over the center of the road while he was driving around a curve and falsifying the number of hours he had driven in one shift in his log book.

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November 10, 2011

Kentucky School Bus Accident Injures Nineteen

911468_school_bus_with_child.jpgOn November 3, 2011, two school buses full of students and adults from Louisville Collegiate School in Kentucky were headed to Mammoth Cave on a field trip when one of the buses left the road and rolled over near Glasgow, Kentucky. Of the passengers aboard, 16 children and 3 adults were admitted to a hospital in Glasgow. Their injuries ranged from broken bones and cuts and bruises to a potential back and head injury. Lawrence Austin, the bus driver, stated that the trailer of a truck hit the side of the bus, causing the bus to leave the roadway and roll down the embankment. The driver of the truck did not stop and investigators initially saw no signs of collision on the bus.

Kentucky State Police completed their investigation of the bus accident and released their findings earlier this week. They did discover some white paint on the on the left side of the front fender of the bus, which confirms the bus driver's account of being hit by a white semi. The damage was so minimal the truck driver may not have even been aware that he struck the bus, so he did not stop. The search for the truck driver was called off just hours after the accident because there was no evidence of a collision found initially and the description of the truck was very limited. Kentucky State Police spokesman Jonathan Biven said searching for the truck would have been like "looking for a needle in a stack of needles."

What caused the truck trailer to veer into the other lane and hit the school bus will probably never be determined. Investigators believe the weather may have been involved because it was raining. Other factors such as the condition of the truck, the weight of the load in the trailer, and the truck driver's driving record and attention to the road will never be known since the driver did not stop and the search for the truck was called off before it was found. Charges are not expected to be brought against Mr. Austin, the driver of the bus. He has no known driving issues and the bus was recently inspected over the summer and had no mechanical issues.

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October 18, 2011

Trucking and Driving Safely on Kentucky Roads

232052_semi-truck_2.jpgA recent report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding the truck accident in which 11 people were killed brings to light again the safety issues of truck drivers and those around them. The recommendations in the NTSB report and other changes will hopefully make the roads safer for all drivers.

After a March 2010 collision in Kentucky killed a truck driver and 10 passengers in a van, NTSB began a thorough investigation of the accident. Almost 18 months later, the board concluded the accident occurred because the truck driver was distracted by his cell phone when he crossed the median and hit the passenger van. The recommendation that all commercial drivers be prohibited from using a cell phone, regardless of whether it is handheld or hands-free, while operating a vehicle, was sent to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Current rules already ban texting for commercial drivers, and a ban for handheld cell phone use for commercial drivers is expected to be ruled on this fall. The rule currently under consideration does not include hands-free calls, which may be just as distracting and dangerous as handheld calls.

Several other changes have been implemented or are being considered to help keep drivers in and around trucks safer on the road. In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) added new regulations to make the driver of the truck more liable for both the operation and maintenance of the truck. Just as commercial carriers are graded, commercial drivers will be graded on factors including their driving abilities, accident records, and vehicle maintenance. For example, if the truck the driver is operating fails an inspection, or if the driver is involved in an accident or found to be fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it will be reflected on the driver's record. Too many negative reports can cause the truck driver's license to be suspended, effectively removing him from the roadways.

Some safety changes do not directly involve Kentucky truck or car drivers, but rather the road itself. Crossover barriers installed between highway lanes can help to stop vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic and causing deadly head-on collisions. These barriers do not always help, as was evidenced in the March 2010 accident mentioned above - the semi drove right through the steel cable barriers into oncoming traffic. But they have helped in other situations, and stronger types of barriers are being considered. The widening of Kentucky highways as traffic increases also makes the roadways safer for all drivers.

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September 19, 2011

Cell-Phone Ban for Commercial Drivers May Save Lives

In March, 2010, 11 people were killed in Munfordville, Kentucky when a commercial truck crossed the median and collided with a 15-passenger van. After reviewing the accident for almost 18 months, the National Transportation Safety Board Commission (NTSB) determined that the semi driver was using his cell phone at the time of the collision. The last of four calls the driver made in the 23 minutes before the accident was only connected for one second before the crash at 5:14a.m. A total of 69 calls and text messages appeared on the phone in the 24 hours leading up to the accident.

As a result of this truck accident, NTSB is recommending that hand-held and hands-free cell phone use by commercial drivers be banned, unless there is an emergency. What the states and other transportation agencies do with the recommendation remains to be seen. Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, suggested that the banning of cell-phone use be handled by Congress rather than by the state of Kentucky since the drivers operate in multiple states. Kentucky currently has laws that prohibit all drivers from texting while driving and drivers under 18 from any cell-phone use. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman encourages everyone to consider eliminating cell-phone use while driving, saying, "Changing behavior can start right now, for big-rig drivers and also for the rest of us. When you are at the wheel, driving safely should be your only focus. You owe it to yourself and all the people on the road you put at risk..."

While the families of the victims in the van did not file any lawsuits because of their religious beliefs, accidents that are attributed to driver distraction can have legal consequences. Gross negligence can be charged if the driver was distracted by texting. The fact that the semi driver was operating the vehicle on only four hours of sleep could have also been a basis for gross negligence. Employers of individuals who cause accidents while using their cell phones could be liable as well. A 2002 New York Times article regarding doing business by cell phone discusses a settlement of $500,000 between Smith Barney and the family of a motorcyclist killed by one of its brokers who was on the phone when the accident occurred. The actual driver of the car was charged individually with manslaughter and pled guilty.

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August 16, 2010

Big Changes To Trucking Hours

Trucking accident attorneys are anxious about the proposed changes to the truck driver hours of service rules which were sent to the White House for review on July 26, 2010. These proposed changes would limit truck driving hours to ten in a day, a change from the current eleven hour rule. The current limits have been in place since 2003. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will likely make a final decision about trucking hours by this time next year.

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Currently, truck drivers are allowed to drive a total of eleven hours each day, but are allowed to work a total of fourteen hours daily including loading, unloading and waiting following ten hours required off-duty time. The new proposed rules would allow drivers to work a total of twelve hours but limit driving time to only ten hours.

Consumer advocates have been pushing for even shorter driving times with some groups, such as Public Citizen, pushing for limits as low as eight hours. The rationale, of course, is that limiting truck driving hours will reduce extremely dangerous accidents.

If you have been injured in a trucking accident, a seasoned attorney should evaluate whether the driver was on the road for too long.

July 15, 2010

Kentucky Text Ban Effective Today

Today, a new Kentucky Law goes into effect banning texting while driving. Until January 1, 2011, drivers found in violation of the law will receive a warning ticket. After the new year, law enforcement will impose fines of $25 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses.
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The law, of course, was imposed to curb distracted driving which has been cited by the United States Department of Transportation as significant problem on America's roads. According to one report, more than 57,000 crashes in Kentucky were attributed to driver distraction and inattention. According to Acting Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock,"The message to drivers is to eliminate distractions and stay focused on the road. Driving a motor vehicle requires your undivided attention."

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May 6, 2010

Sellersburg Indiana Multiple Vehicle Crash Kills One and Injures Several

A 19-year-old woman was killed today in a multiple vehicle collision that occurred on Old State Road 60 near Sellersburg, Indiana. Five vehicles were involed in the chain reaction collision including a Jeffersonville, Indiana garbage truck that strucky the rear of the 1994 Ford vehicle being driven by the 19-year-old woman. Also there were two men seriously injured that were flown to nearby University Louisville Hospital.

See coverage from WLKY-TV Louisville, Kentucky
http://www.wlky.com/news/23475309/detail.html

October 2, 2009

Louisville Bicyclist Dies From Injuries Suffered In Accident with Truck

The Courier Journal reported that a bicyclist was killed after he was hit by a truck. The accident occurred on Poplar Level Road near Bishop Lane on October 1, 2009. The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene as he suffered severe head injuries.

Accidents like the one that occurred on Poplar Level Road are extremely unfortunate but common. 1932 was the first year bicycle accidents were recorded and since then more than 51,000 bicyclists have died in traffic accidents. You can take precautions to ensure that you are not injured in a similar accident.

Wearing a helmet while riding your bike is the best way to protect yourself from head injuries. In addition, while riding your bike remember that you are expected to obey traffic laws just as any motor vehicle must. Bicyclists should always travel with traffic, never against it. Finally, wearing fluorescent or bright colors will help motorists see you while you ride your bike. For additional safety tips please see the National Highway and Traffic Administration's website.

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September 25, 2009

Wet Road Conditions Cause Several Car Accidents in Louisville

Driving in the rain can be very dangerous. For example, during rush hour on the rainy morning of Friday, September 25, there were numerous accidents reported. At least four of those accidents resulted in injuries. Most of these accidents were caused because motorists were driving too fast in the slick conditions.

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Wet roads are particularly dangerous because water brings dirt and oil set in the pavement up to the surface. The combination of oil, dirt, and water make the roads slick and tires have a harder time getting traction. The most effective way to ensure safety on wet roads is to drive slower. Slowing down allows more of your tire to grip the roadway and increases your traction. Avoiding sudden stopping and turning will also ensure you get the best traction possible.

Wet roadways also increases the chance that you may hydroplane on the road. Hydroplaning is when your tires skid across the water surface on the road causing you to lose control of your vehicle. Driving slowly can reduce your risk of hydroplaning.

Unfortunately, many drivers on Kentucky and Indiana roadways do not practice safe driving in wet conditions and accidents result.

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