Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Each year, 3,000 people on average die and 450,000 are injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Ten percent of all drivers who are 15 to 19 years of age involved in fatal crashes were distracted when the car, truck or motorcycle crash occurred. The significant safety problem of distracted driving has grown very rapidly over the past ten years.

Without regard to where it may rank on the list of the most distracting and dangerous activities drivers engage in, there is no dispute that using a cell phone, sending or receiving texts, or trying to use hand-held devices while driving are high on the list. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), at any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using or manipulating cell phones while driving.

There are three main types of distractions while driving:

  • Visual: The driver actually looks away from the roadway.
  • Manual: The driver temporarily removes his or her hands from the wheel.
  • Cognitive: The driver’s mind is taken off of driving and goes elsewhere.

 

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Kerry Hogland was 36 years old when driving her sedan on a highway near Fredericktown, Mo. An employee of Town & Country Grocers of Fredericktown drove onto the highway from an on-ramp. The driver of the Town & Country Grocers vehicle did not heed a stop sign at the end of the ramp and crashed broadside into Hogland’s sedan on the passenger side.

Hogland’s vehicle spun out of control and landed in a field next to the highway.

She suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, an epidural hematoma that necessitated a craniotomy and a skull fracture that left her deaf in her right ear. A craniotomy is a surgical procedure where a bone flap is removed from the skull to allow access to the brain. The surgery removes a part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain. The bone flap is temporarily removed and then replaced after the brain surgery is completed.  Obviously, this is a very serious and dangerous surgery.

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded at an all-day conference that deadly truck underride crashes could be prevented when passenger vehicles crash into a tractor-trailer truck or straight struck from behind.

In underride crashes, a passenger car crashes into the rear of a tractor-trailer truck and the car ends up jammed under the truck, flattening the passenger compartment and injuring or killing the car’s driver and passengers. Underride crashes are extremely dangerous and many times lead to serious injuries and/or death. Underride incidents also can occur when bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists slide under the truck body.

There are federal rules and regulations that require trailers and some straight trucks to be equipped with rear underride guards, which are steel bars designed to prevent vehicles from sliding under the backs of trucks or trailers. The same rules and regulations imposed by the federal government have been in place since 1953. Now there is movement to amend rules of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is considering a new standard for the guards to make them stronger.

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Petar Kuzmanov, 23 at the time of a car accident, was a backseat passenger in a car driven by Hristo Hristov. Lauren Weiner was in the front seat passenger side allegedly engaged in a sexual act with Hristov while he was driving. Distracted, Hristov swerved onto a grassy median. As he moved the vehicle back onto the roadway, it overturned, struck a guardrail and was hit by 3 other vehicles including a fully loaded tractor-trailer and a pickup truck.

 

Kuzmanov was comatose for several months after the crash. He sustained a traumatic brain injury, which has affected his speech and cognitive abilities. He now requires therapy and assistance with daily living activities. He also suffered an amputation of his left index finger, degloving injuries to his right foot and a fractured right femur that required surgery. His medical bills were $530,000.

 

The guardian for Kuzmanov filed a lawsuit against Hristov and Weiner, the drivers involved in the subsequent collisions and the owner of the pickup truck, alleging negligent failure to safely operate their respective vehicles. It was also claimed that the defendants were traveling at an unsafe speed and made other claims of negligence. The lawsuit did claim lost income.

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Russell Sheaffer was a graduate film student at Indiana University. He was in California making a documentary and was driving in moderate stop-and-go traffic on a freeway. As he was stopped in the line of traffic, Thomas Mose, driving a tanker truck for NuCO2, rear-ended a vehicle two cars behind Sheaffer’s while traveling at about 25 mph. A chain-reaction impact occurred. The car behind Sheaffer’s rear-ended his car causing his seat to break. His car was then propelled into the SUV in front of him.

Sheaffer suffered multiple skull and facial fractures, including fractures to his jaw and sinus, and a traumatic brain injury. He underwent open reduction internal fixation of the jaw, and his jaw was wired shut for 8 weeks. The trauma and fractures caused Sheaffer to develop ischemic bone disease, osteoarthritis of the jaw, and deterioration and degeneration of the condyles and mandible. A condyle is the smooth surface area at the end of the bone forming a part of a joint. His past medical expenses totaled $141,900.

Sheaffer continues to suffer from chronic pain and he will require additional surgeries and therapies to treat jaw pain and other problems. In addition, the brain injury has adversely affected his memory and his ability to cope with his jaw injuries. Sheaffer still plans a career in filmmaking, but he is no longer able to function at the level he was accustomed to before this crash.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a jury’s wrongful death verdict regarding the death of a woman who was hit by a truck as she stood on the side of a road next to her disabled car. The woman’s husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver, the truck’s owner, the trucking company that hired both of them and the logistics company who arranged for the shipping.

The woman’s family was successful at trial against all of the defendants in obtaining a jury verdict. On appeal the defendant’s argument centered on trial errors and agency issues.

The truck involved in the incident was in a supply chain routed for a major automaker. The automaker had arranged a particular supply change to reduce the time it would take to buy and hold parts, getting them only when the parts were needed.

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On Nov. 21, 2010, Amelia Scott was driving her Grand Prix southbound on Interstate 57 in Marion County, Ill., when her car was hit by the southbound truck owned by EQ Industrial Services Inc. and driven by Warren Himes. Scott, 42, claimed a right shoulder injury that required rotator cuff repair surgery and shoulder manipulation under anesthesia. She also suffered a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, permanent post-concussion syndrome, memory loss and aggravation of a back/neck pain and fibromyalgia.

Scott claimed she was unable to raise her right arm above her shoulder. She is on permanent pain management, which includes spinal cord stimulation and prescription medicine. She will need a future knee replacement surgery. Her past medical bills alone totalled $143,508. The expected future surgery may cost $45,000.

The defendant admitted liability before trial and conceded that Scott’s shoulder and knee injuries were related to the crash but disputed the nature and extent of the other injuries claimed by Scott. The defendants denied Scott suffered permanent memory loss, cognitive deficits, psychological damage or aggravation of her pre-existing neck and back pain, as she was actively undergoing treatment for those conditions before this incident.

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On Nov. 12, 2004, 50-year-old truck driver Billy Coleman, who was employed by Hines Lumber, drove to a construction site in Des Plaines, Ill. He was there to deliver construction materials from his flatbed truck. The defendant, Premier Construction, was the general contractor for the project.

Coleman was standing on his flatbed when a forklift driver employed by Premier hit the truck and knocked Coleman off of the flatbed injuring him. He suffered a severe hip fracture, which required two surgeries including a total hip replacement.

Even with extensive rehabilitation efforts, Coleman is permanently disabled and unable to return to work. In the future he will need a second hip replacement.

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Chanttel Ortiz was 19 and seated in the rear passenger seat of a car driven by Luinis Sosa Rosa when an unidentified SUV allegedly cut off the car from the left. The driver, Sosa Rosa, veered to the right shoulder but saw a tanker truck parked ahead. Sosa Rosa braked, leaving about 90 feet of skid marks, but the left front of the car struck the tanker’s right rear corner.

The Sosa Rosa car was propelled across 40 feet of snow-covered grass and became wedged under the trailer of a second truck, which had stopped on a plant’s access road.

Ortiz suffered multiple injuries including injuries to her face that caused scarring and affected the function of her right eye. She also suffered a transverse process spinal fracture at C-5 and a fracture to her left, non-dominant wrist.

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In this case, which was settled as a confidential settlement, the plaintiff Ms. Doe was traveling on a northbound interstate highway when she stopped because of heavy approaching traffic. The defendant Roe, a commercial truck driver, rear-ended Doe’s car causing her to collide with the vehicle in front of her.

Doe suffered hand and cervical injuries and later underwent several surgeries, including a cervical fusion at C5-7.

Doe, a medical unit clerk, missed more than three months of work amounting to $25,000 in lost earnings. Her medical bills were $355,000. Doe, 51, has recovered fairly well from her injuries and surgeries.

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