What Trucking Safety Failure Led to a $2 Million Verdict for an Injured Driver?
Most commercial truckers know and understand that their operation of an 18-wheeler or another type of large vehicle carries certain important safety responsibilities. Most truck drivers also understand that the failure to meet these responsibilities can have terrible consequences. In some cases, the truck driver may damage his cargo and vehicle. However, in other scenarios, a lapse of judgment or cutting corners can lead to life-altering injuries or death to the truck driver or other motorists.
Unfortunately, a 2008 accident on Interstate 65 in Tippecanoe County in Indiana could have been avoided but for a truck driver’s failure to meet certain safety requirements. A recent verdict rendered by a Tippecanoe County jury found the truck driver and his firm liable for $2 million in injury damages due to the accident.
What Safety Rules Are Truck Drivers Required to Follow?
Commercial truck drivers are required to follow an array of federal, local, and state rules, regulations, and laws when operating their vehicles. To start, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires drivers to adhere to an array of federal rules and regulations. These rules and regulations concern nearly all aspects of operating a large commercial truck including qualifications for drivers, a vehicle’s required equipment and parts, drug and alcohol testing requirements, the need to keep inspection and maintenance logs, the obligation to keep driver logs, and restrictions on a truck driver’s allowable hours of service.
For instance, rules are regulations regarding the required parts and accessories a commercial vehicle must have are set forth in 49 C.F.R. § 393. The section sets forth driver requirements for headlights, hazard warning signals, reflectors, rear-crash guards, braking systems, coupling devices and methods, speedometers, rear-view mirrors, and many other aspects of the truck. The regulations cover far more types of equipment and far more aspects of the truck’s operation, but these items provide a brief overview of the extremely thorough level of regulation.
Drivers are also subject to any traffic rules and any additional rules or regulations set forth at the state or local level.
What Rule Did the Truck Driver Break that Resulted in a Large Jury Award?
Brittany Johnson and her fiancé Josh Horne were traveling on I-65 at night. Unbeknownst to the couple, a truck driver had pulled over after crashing into a deer. Unfortunately, the truck driver failed to turn on his hazard flashers or put out warning triangles. On the dark highway, Horne apparently failed to see the stopped truck. The vehicle crashed into the truck causing catastrophic injuries to both individuals.
Horne was tragically killed in the accident. Johnson suffered an array of injuries including injuries to her skull, broken ribs, hearing loss, and memory loss due to a traumatic brain injury. According to friends and family members, her brain injuries were so severe that she was in a coma for several days. When she awoke, could not recognize her family members. Perhaps even more heart-rending, she could not remember that her fiancé had passed away. She was forced to relive this tragic realization because she had to be retold multiple times.
The FMCSA rule violated by the truck driver is § 392.22: Emergency signals; stopped commercial motor vehicles. This rule states that whenever a truck or other commercial vehicle comes to a stop in a highway travel lane or on the shoulder for reasons other than a routine traffic stop, the driver must immediately activate the truck’s hazard warning signal flashers. The driver must keep the flashers activated until he or she places the triangle warning devices. The warning devices must be placed as soon as possible and must be placed within 10 minutes of the stop.
Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligent or careless behavior and actions of a commercial truck driver, you have options. You may be entitled to a recovery for your medical bills, property damage, and your pain and suffering. If you believe that you are the victim of a commercial truck accident, contact The Reiff Law firm. To schedule a no-cost, confidential legal consultation, call us at (215) 246-9000 or contact us online.