Officials today, February 12, 2009, shut down the I-15 just south of Beaver, Utah, between mile markers 95 and 109, for a couple hours following a string of big truck-car accidents and the fatality of an 18 month-old infant.
According to a story in the Deseret News, the accidents first happened around 2:30 p.m. Around this time, witnesses say that the snow was coming down hard, yet it was bright outside. Witnesses report that it was a semi-truck and a passenger car that first collided, with the semi reportedly rear-ending the car in front of it. While they were trying to move the vehicles off the freeway, an 18-wheeler came along and hit the first semi, causing it to jacknife. Several cars that were by this truck, became involved in the crash. It is reported that other cars and trucks driving along this corridor also collided into each other.
Another tractor trailer truck carrying 1,000 gallons of fuel was also involved in a crash in this stretch of highway when it too hit another big rig in front of it. Several hundred gallons of fuel spilled onto the highway and areas surrounding the highway. The Utah Highway Patrol reports that 22 vehicles, including six semi trucks and one gas tanker, were involved in wrecks along this stretch of highway.
Seven people were taken to local hospitals. The infant child, who is now identified as Isaiah Rowley, of Orem, Utah, was taken to Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City where he passed away from injuries he received. By reports, the car the infant was in was rear ended by a semi-truck, which in turn caused the child’s car seat to push up into the front part of the vehicle. I offer my condolences to the family for the tragic loss of their child and best wishes to the others who were injured for a speedy recovery.
For the very reason that big rig trucks can inflict terrible injury and death on those they share the road with, the Dept. Of Transportation has issued a strict set of rules that truck drivers are required to follow. One of these rules, found in section 392.14, states:
“Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.”
The bottom line is that semi truck drivers have a higher duty to driver safely. Based on witness reports of heavy snow and ice on the highway, however, it doesn’t sound like the drivers of the big trucks involved in this crash fulfilled their duty under federal law.
After accidents involving semi trucks happen, the trucking companies, working with risk management companies that they belong to, will quite literally dispatch investigators to the scene to inspect the scene of the crash as well as the truck and document every conceivable aspect of the truck accident. They will review the driver’s log book, fuel receipts, dispatch reports, gps information, bills of lading, along with “black box” information. They will also physically inspect the cab of the truck to look to see if there are duplicate log books, that some less-than-honest truckers carry with them to see if the truck driver is honest in reporting his or her time behind the wheel. Fatigue and overworking have been shown to be big contributing factors to big rig crashes. All the information that the investigative team collects will then be analyzed by these risk managers and will be discussed by defense attorneys the organization keeps on retainer for situations like this. And all this will most likely happen in the first 24-36 hours, before the trucking victim or their family is even thinking about hiring an attorney.
It therefore goes without saying that those involved in this string of trucking crashes should consult with a personal injury attorney to find out what remedies they have available.
Published by: Ron Kramer