Articles Posted in Semi-Trailer Truck Accidents

Daniel DiNardi was a State Department of Transportation supervisor who was pulling his orange Department of Transportation pickup truck onto the right shoulder of a highway to remove debris. Before getting out of his truck, he activated the emergency lights and yellow strobe lights on his truck. After he placed the debris into the pickup truck bed and was walking to get back into his truck, Gina Davis, driving a tractor-trailer for PTX Services LLC, drifted off the road and struck DiNardi. He suffered multiple blunt-force trauma injuries and died shortly thereafter. DiNardi was survived by his parents and two minor children.

Davis pleaded guilty of misconduct with a motor vehicle and was sentenced to five years in prison, which was suspended after two years.

DiNardi’s family sued Davis and PTX Services claiming that Davis was negligent in choosing not to pay proper attention to her driving, keep a proper lookout and remain in her lane of traffic. The family also made a claim that Davis was fatigued from driving and had falsified her truck’s log book. The family presented evidence, including Davis’s own admission, that she had falsified her logs for the two days leading up to the collision. Davis also admitted at deposition and at trial that she drove onto the shoulder.

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Sandra Gibbs hired the defendant Blu-Sky Industries to do work on a septic tank on her property at 30658 S. Ashland Ave. in Beecher, Ill. The Village of Beecher is located in Chicago-area suburbs in Will County, Ill. On Dec. 8, 2009, Gibbs, 31 years old at the time, stood in her driveway supervising the work as the defendant Blu-Sky Industries’ workers completed the project. She was walking back toward her house when a Blu-Sky employee, Jacob Courtney, began backing up his truck, which was attached to a trailer.

Courtney did not see Gibbs and hit her twice, causing her to fall onto the trailer with a direct blow to her outstretched right arm. The truck continued in reverse with Gibbs halfway on the trailer and halfway on the ground for 10 additional feet before the truck finally stopped.

Gibbs suffered a right shoulder impingement with a partial thickness tear of the supraspinatus tendon in the rotator cuff, requiring injections and eventually surgery that consisted of arthroscopic distal clavicle excision and subacromial decompression. A subacromial decompression of the shoulder is a surgery designed to increase the size of the subacromial, which is designed to reduce the pressure on the muscle. In order to make room, the surgery involves cutting the ligament and shaving away the bone spur on the subacromial bone. This permits the muscle in that space to heal.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a defense verdict in a multi-vehicle crash on an icy Indiana highway that caused severe injuries to motorists. The big issue in the case was which state’s law should be applied at a Cook County Circuit Court jury trial.

On Dec. 26, 2007, Clifford Ruse, a truck driver for Harvey, Ill.-based Envirite of Illinois Inc. was driving eastbound on Interstate 80/94 in Hammond, Ind., when he was struck by an SUV whose driver had lost control on a patch of black ice.

Ruse swerved his truck to the left and hit the highway’s median wall. On impact, the container of mill dust in tow was detached from his truck and that container crossed into the westbound lanes of the interstate highway. The plaintiff in the case, Daniel Kovera, was one of several drivers injured when the container landed on their cars. In March 2008, Kovera and his wife filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill.

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On May 8, 2009, Becky Lynch was driving her car eastbound on Route 9 in Fiatt, Ill., when the defendant truck driver, Myron Rachinski, pulling a flatbed trailer, was traveling southbound on Route 97

and chose not to stop at the stop sign. Rachinski and his truck proceeded into the intersection directly in front of Becky’s SUV. The intersection is known locally as Teddy Bear Junction.

Lynch’s SUV hit the middle of the trailer and became lodged underneath it causing it to be dragged 150 feet down the road.

Lynch, 50, suffered a broken left arm, which required surgery with plates and screws, pelvic fractures, left lateral tibial plateau fracture, bilateral pulmonary embolism and right knee replacement surgery three years later. She is expected to have a hip replacement and left knee surgery in the future.

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On Sept. 10, 2007, Paul Ermel was driving a semi-tractor northbound on Route 47 in Sugar Grove, Ill., when the defendant, Zachary McVeigh, who was approaching in his car from the southbound, attempted a left turn. He was trying to turn on at Waubansee Drive, which is the entry for the Waubonsee Community College. McVeigh misjudged Ermel’s truck, thinking it was stuck and stopped as part of the construction work that was going on at the area. McVeigh turned his vehicle into the front driver’s side of Ermel’s semi-truck.

Ermel, 38, alleged that the impact of the crash caused him to sustain bulging discs or aggravation of pre-existing degenerative conditions in his cervical and thoracic spine, damage to neck ligaments, cervical instability and a cervical fistula. He required two cervical fusion surgeries. The first was at the level C6-7, and the second was at the level C4-6. His alleged medical expenses were $326,136. He also lost 10 weeks of work as a Teamsters union truck driver.

The defendant McVeigh admitted negligence but contested the nature and extent of Ermel’s injuries. The defendant contended that Ermel suffered only soft tissue strains, which resolved within 4 months. It was also argued that there was a 9-month treatment gap before Ermel sought further medical care, that he continued working full time and raced a stock car during this 9-month period and that there were no recorded complaints of neurological symptoms in his medical records until 1½ years after the accident.

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Allen Ginn, the owner of a trucking company, drove his truck to a sawmill to unload the logs he was hauling. When he reached his designated unloading area, the mill employees instructed him to release the tie-down straps on his load. As he did that, a log fell onto him striking him directly on the head and back.

Ginn was 49 years old at the time and suffered a subdural hematoma, a subarachnoid hemorrhage and skull fractures. He also had spinal fractures at L1-3 and fractures to his right hip and the right side of his pelvis. He was in a coma for several days. He later went through a regimen of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

As a result of this incident, Ginn has suffered a brain injury, occasional seizures, memory loss and chronic fatigue. He will likely require supervision and assistance with daily living activities well into the future.

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On July 11, 2008, Tenesha Martin, an employee of a railroad, was operating a forklift while unloading the truck’s trailer at Canadian Pacific Railway’s docking area in Chicago. The forklift fell off the loading dock when the unmanned truck, owned by the defendant Central Transport Inc., rolled away from the dock causing her to sustain disabling lumbar disc injuries.

The defendant, Soo Line Railroad, argued that the trucking company, Central Transport, was at fault, while the trucking company blamed the railroad. Both defendants argued that Martin was contributorily negligent for choosing not to exercise due care and caution.

The presiding trial judge allowed evidence of Martin’s marijuana use in 2010 based on her history, which was given to a psychiatrist in 2011.

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The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated a tougher standard for the rear impact guards and other safety devices for single-unit trucks. This would also apply to rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has something to do with the change in safety rules that advocacy groups presented with signatures to promote the improvements in rear impact guards and rear impact protection. The effort was to require stronger underride guards for larger trucks and trailers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was instrumental in pushing for these rule changes. The study was done about three years ago and found that there were many underride fatalities because the passenger car slid under and beneath the truck or its trailer. This would happen even with the current standard of underride guards in place.

The testing included higher speeds, lower speeds and different underride guards that showed that there were regular failures of the underride guards that were in place. The regulations now do not have to meet the 1996 rules for strength of the underride guards. The long and short of it is that the 2010 study found that most underride guards in place on today’s highways and roads are ineffective in preventing serious injuries and deaths from rear impacts by cars and other vehicles with tractor trailers.

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Theodus Williams was driving a fully loaded dump truck owned by Valvano Construction when he lost control of the vehicle on a two-lane highway. This caused a crash with another car, which in turn rear-ended an SUV in which Holly Ann Cuchwara was riding. After being rear-ended, the SUV hit a utility pole before it came to a stop. Cuchwara, 38, suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured spine, closed-head injury, a broken ankle and a corneal abrasion. Cuchwara now suffers from headaches, chronic pain and fatigue.

Cuchwara and her husband sued Williams, claiming that he was negligent in his driving. The lawsuit also claimed that Valvano Construction and its corporate management had chosen not to maintain and inspect the dump truck that Williams was driving. The Cuchwaras claimed that the dump truck was not roadworthy due to the defective steering system and faulty brakes. Cuchwara did not claim lost income or past medical expenses.

After a jury trial, the jurors entered a verdict of $10.1 million and a finding that Williams was 30% responsible for Cuchwara’s injuries. The verdict would be paid by those defendants according to the jury’s percentage splits. The Cuchwara family was represented by attorneys Joseph A. Quinn, Jr. and Michael A. Lombardo III.

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On May 11, 2009, Manuel Banuelos was driving a dump truck through a construction zone on northbound Interstate 94 in Lake County, Ill., when he attempted to turn into a construction site a quarter-mile north of Illinois Route 176. At that point, Banuelos was rear-ended by a semi-tractor-trailer driven by the defendant Dezell Kelley, pushing Banuelos’ truck into a ditch causing his serious injuries.

Banuelos claimed that he had slowed down in advance of his turn, that his flashers were engaged and signs were present warning drivers of a flagger ahead and the trucks were entering and exiting this highway.

Two witnesses confirmed that Banuelos had slowed and his flashers were on. Banuelos was 39 years old at the time of the crash. He sustained a herniated L5-S1 disc that required a discectomy and fusion, a torn meniscus in his right knee that required arthroscopic surgery and a herniated C5-6 disc requiring treatment and future fusion surgery, all leaving him unable to return to work as a truck driver.

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