Articles Posted in Truck Accident

Isaac Espinoza was helping a friend with his broken down car on a stretch of highway I-81 just outside Chambersburg, Pennsylvania when he was hit by a truck driver with a blood alcohol level more than 4x the legal limit. The driver, Ricky Hatfield, ran from the scene of the accident and was later found and arrested by Pennsylvania State Police. His employer, J.B. Hunt, a major transportation logistics company headquartered in Lowell, Arkansas, failed to screen Hatfield’s employment and driving records, which included a previous DUI arrest while operating a tractor-trailer, 2 charges for reckless driving, speeding in a construction zone while driving a tractor-trailer, and job termination for failure of a drug and alcohol test and attempting to bribe the test administrator. These charges and Mr. Hatfield’s firing from a previous employer all occurred within the past 5 years.

Jury Finds Both Driver and Employer Negligent

Ricky Hatfield was considered an independent operator, a trucker who ran his own company but contracted with J.B. Hunt under an Outsource Carriage Agreement. The agreement requires the contracted employee to self-certify their driving record, with the logical expectation that J.B. Hunt would conduct a background check to verify the information. The company never checked Hatfield’s record, arguing that Mr. Hatfield was technically self-employed and had a duty to screen his own record. The company also attempted to argue that Ricky Hatfield personally made the decision to become intoxicated and that he was technically driving on his day off. Mr. Espinoza’s attorneys quickly refuted these claims, proving that Hatfield had been contracted to drive for J.B. Hunt and was operating the tractor-trailer and not his personal vehicle because he was out on dispatch for the company.

Trucking accidents occur often here in Illinois. These accidents can be severe and even fatal. As a matter of fact, Illinois is one of a few states that account for over 50 percent of all truck fatalities in the United States. These happen often. In the past five years alone, Illinois experienced around 600 truck-related fatalities.

In the year 2014, across the United States, 3,660 people died in trucking accidents. Of these, 16 percent involved truck drivers or passengers, 68 percent involved occupants of passenger vehicles, such as cars, and 15 percent involved pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. There were 16 percent more truck-related accident deaths in 2014 when compared to 2009.

It is imperative that you hire a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one are injured from a truck-related accident.
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As our readers know, truck accidents can be extremely dangerous to all involved. Even when these accidents are not fatal, they often result in victims suffering serious injuries that are sometimes permanent and disabling. These are the types of accidents we need to work together as a community to prevent, whether by contacting our legislature, reporting unsafe driving to trucking companies or authorities to hold employees/employers accountable, or encouraging friends and family members to drive safely and avoid negligence. With extra efforts, we can bring the numbers of these accidents down.

CBS News, recently reported that the number of fatal accidents involving big-rigs is on the rise. that the report links this increase to the fact that most tires on trucks are not meant to handle maximum constant speeds over 75 mph, yet many truckers travel at for long distances on expressways for their routes. Trucks across the nation consistently exceed that limit, and federal investigators believe this is leading to crashes. The article also reports data that between 2009 and 2013, large trucks and buses were responsible for 14,000 fatal accidents across the county. Of those fatalities, 223 were related to heavy truck tires, according to government data.

The same article notes that last month, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation revealed that multiple Michelin tire blowouts were to the result of a deadly combination of high speeds and lack of maintenance. The NHTSA stated that no truck tire is rated above 81 mph and most are rated at 75 mph. However, 16 of our states have truck speeds equal to or greater than 75 mph. Four states even have speeds at 80 mph. For these reasons, some argue that state laws are an explanation of failures to combat big-rig fatalities.
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As our readers know, truck accidents can be extremely dangerous. These vehicles that are extremely large in height and size are very common in our area, as Chicago is a large hub for business. Trucks are constantly going to and from our metropolitan area, carrying all sorts of products and goods for businesses. However, sometimes the things they carry are not your everyday consumer items but may be hazardous materials. While truck accidents are already dangerous on their own, consider the gravity of an impact when a hazardous material like gasoline or other chemicals are involved.

According to a recent report by Fox17 News, a tanker truck exploded on Interstate 94. The fire started in the morning, and emergency crews had to battle the fire for several hours into the afternoon. Because of the fire, the interstate was shut down in both directions due to the extreme danger and emergency crews responding. The truck driver was transported to the hospital, and is expected to recover from his injuries. The accident is currently under investigation, as authorities are trying to determine what caused the tanker to explode.

The Chicago Tribune also reported on this explosion, describing how the accident sent huge plumes of smoke into the air, requiring the interstate to be closed. Emergency responders had to battle the fire for several hours, and the fire continued to flare up multiple times as firefighters fought to extinguish it. Apparently, even after the fire was contained on the scene, fires in the city’s sewer system continue to pose dangers and problems for the interstate and local area. A spokesperson from the state’s department of transportation stated that the truck had more than 13,000 gallons of diesel and gasoline in the tanker.
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Trucks and trains are two of the largest modes sizewise of ground transportation used traveling or transporting goods for businesses. However, because these vehicles are so large in height and weight and extremely fast in speed, when they are in an accident, the crash is likely to result in serious personal injuries or fatalities. One of the worst situations though, is when trains and semi-trucks collide. Not only can their size and speed cause serious damage, but a large number of people are usually involved or affected by the accident as well.

According to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a train and a semi tractor-trailer collided resulting in at least 55 people injured. A tractor-trailer got stuck on tracks while trying to make a left-hand turn, and an Amtrak train slammed into it. The state highway patrol reported that the oversized flatbed trailer was transporting a modular building wrapped in blue plastic and filled with electrical equipment. At the time of the incident, a trooper was trying to help the truck driver complete a difficult left-hand turn across the tracks and onto a two-lane highway. However, the truck, being 164 feet in length, couldn’t make the turn. This attempt lasted for about five minutes, and the trooper reported that during this time there was no indication of a train in the vicinity. Even though they were alerted by the lights and gates when the train began to approach, there was not enough time to reverse off the tracks before the train collided with the truck. In addition, it was difficult to get off the tracks because while the truck was attempting this maneuver because traffic had backed up behind it.

One witness shot a video of the accident with her cellphone. She saw the truck driver jump out of the truck as the train approached, right before the collision. State officials have said that 55 people were injured as a result of the crash, but federal authorities believe the number may be as high as 62. Those injured include the conductor of the Amtrak train. A spokesperson from the Federal Railroad Administration stated that it appeared that the locomotive and two cars derailed, out of a total of one locomotive and seven cars.
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It is known that the railroad and trucking industries come with many inherent dangers, but that such dangers can be mitigated and prevented through proper attention to and dedication to safety. Where federal regulations are in place that companies and operators must abide by, accidents and dangers can be prevented.

In a recent article by Government Security News Magazine, the National Transit Safety Board has recognized common dangers that have been increasingly present in rail tank cars and commercial trucking accidents. That is why these issues have been included in the Board’s focus for the remainder of 2015. They have identified areas for needed safety improvements, including requiring that transportation operators be medically fit for duty, strengthening commercial trucking safety, and requiring pilots to strengthen procedural compliance. Among such issues are distraction and impairment. The article relays that in 20102 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration every 1 in 10 drivers in fatal crashes was distracted. In almost a third of fatal crashes, a driver was under the influence of alcohol and impaired.

Our lawyers understand that truck accidents are unfortunately all too common. Illinois is a major hub for trucking and train transportation so these announcements are relevant to us. With its central location and large metropolitan area, there are many trucks going on routes in and out of the Chicago area as part of the interstate commerce that goes on throughout the country. With a high frequency of truck stops, truck accidents are also in high frequency, especially when drivers are negligent and do not act with the care and diligence required in long routes. Crashes can commonly involve distracted drivers, intoxicated drivers, sleep-deprived drivers, overloaded or unsafe trucks, hit-and-runs, rear-end collisions, and rollovers.
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Trucks are extremely important modes of transportation for commerce throughout the country. Fleets of trucks are employed by companies to transport goods across long distances. What we might not consider though, is that when these trucks are traveling long distances and at high speeds on our highways and interstates, an accident can cause quite a bit of damage and mess and require serious clean-up to make the roads useable and safe again. Not only are trucks large vehicles that are massive in size and can cause serious damage and the potential for injuries when involved in a truck accident, but spilled cargo can complicate things, too.

According to one recent article by ABC, a truck accident caused a large spill of ramen noodles that blocked off Interstate 95. According to the highway patrol, a driver of a tractor-trailer fell asleep at the wheel and crashed, spilling the cargo of the truck across the road. The driver was quoted as saying how he thought he would be able to make it to a truck stop, but ended up dozing off, and the next thing he knew he had taken out the guard rail on the road. The truck hit a bridge and then broke apart, splitting in half. Thankfully, no one was injured in this accident.
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We have frequently discussed how truck accidents are extremely dangerous. Trucks are very large vehicles that are immense in height, length, and weight. Due to these factors, a collision with one can cause serious damage, especially when traveling at high speeds on highways and interstates. However, combine these factors with winter weather conditions and a large number of vehicles, and the accident can be even more extreme.

While we unfortunately frequently hear of truck accidents, it is rare to hear of an accidents involving tens or even hundreds of vehicles.. However, in recent news by the Chicago Tribune, one recent Midwest accident involved a pile-up of 123 vehicles.
According to the article, 123 vehicles were involved in pileups along the snowy Interstate 94. As a result of the accident, one truck driver died. The accident ignited a fire and an explosion on a semi-truck that was carrying fireworks. Police have discussed that there was snow, wind, and poor visibility at the time of travel. Police then urged everyone within a 3-mile radius to evacuate the area due to the hazardous materials. People were not allowed to return until the hazardous materials, including acid, had burned off. In addition to a death of a truck driver, 23 people suffered personal injuries and required hospitalization. Other motorists who did not suffer serious injuries needed to be transported by bus to a warming center.

The article relayed accounts from several people on the scene. One driver, who was driving behind the truck with the fireworks, had to slam on his brakes, which resulted in him skidding. He stopped his pickup truck on the shoulder of the road and knew he needed to run away from the scene on foot. He said how he saw all of these trucks approaching and knew they wouldn’t stop. He left his truck and ran through the trees to get away from the danger. Another driver described how his Jeep became sandwiched in the front and rear. He then heard fireworks begin to explode and also ran away.
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Time and again we are reminded about the dangers of drinking and driving, but unfortunately alcohol remains a factor in many fatal accidents. There is no reason that anyone should ever get behind the wheel after drinking, and accidents as a result of drinking and driving are always preventable.

Fox News recently reported that a Kenosha County crash took the lives of two people and left one in critical condition. The crash occurred near Highway 83 and Highway 50 in the 34500 block of the westbound lanes of Highway 50. A pickup truck was traveling east in the westbound lanes of traffic and then struck a westbound car head-on. The driver of the car suffered serious injuries and was transported to the local hospital where he later passed away. The passenger of the car died at the scene. The driver of the truck remains in critical condition.

According to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s department, alcohol is believed to have been a factor. The department received several 911 calls that alerted them of this pickup truck driving the wrong way. Unfortunately, they were too late to prevent this crash. The pickup truck driver will be facing an Operating While Intoxicated charge and a traffic citation for driving the wrong way on a divided highway.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol comes with serious penalties under the law and needlessly endangers the lives of others on the road, but these accidents continue to happen much too frequently. In 2012 alone, 10,322 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. To get an idea of how frequent this is, every day in the United States about 30 people die in motor vehicle accidents involving an impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is one death every 51 minutes.
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As we have talked about in our blogs before, two of the most dangerous vehicles to be in a collision with are trucks and trains. Being vehicles that are extremely large in both height and weight, collisions with these vehicles often result in extremely serious personal injuries or deaths. That is why it is so important to talk about these types of accidents so that members of our community can be aware of the dangers and know what to look out for and how to protect themselves.

According to a recent article by My State Line, a Rockford truck driver died in a collision with a train in Winnebago County. The truck was crossing over the tracks, and the train was unable to stop. The train engineer sounded the horn, but it was too late to avoid a collision. According to the Winnebago County Police, the semi-truck traveled in the front of the train, but it is unclear why this occurred, so the accident is still under investigation. There are no gates at this particular crossing, but there are crossing lights. Investigators are researching whether there were any mechanical failures with the truck, a medical issue with the driver, or any mechanical issues with the crossing.

Pictures of the aftermath of this accident show how violent of a collision this was. The semi-truck trailer was bent and ripped open. Its cargo – corn – was spilled and strewn on the scene. The semi’s cab was demolished and lying on the other side of the tracks than the trailer. Debris was scattered everywhere.
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