Tractor Trailer Accidents-Fatigue and Fatality
July 09, 2014 | Leonard L. Finz, Former NYS Supreme Court Justice
Several weeks ago, Tracy Morgan, a celebrity performer, having appeared on the stage of an Atlantic City casino hotel, was returning to New York City with a fellow performer when the limo he was in was violently struck by a tractor trailer. The impact was so severe, killing the passenger and sending Morgan to the hospital where he is still fighting for his life. The cause? The driver of the heavy rig allegedly fell asleep at the wheel.
What the Morgan case did was to focus attention once again upon truck-driver fatigue with the serious and sometimes fatal accidents it causes.
An article titled, “When Mileage Means Money”, was published in the New York Times on June 17, 2014 describing how fatigue can play an ominous role in many of the truck accidents on the nation’s highways. The article described an accident that occurred in Oklahoma when a tractor trailer plowed into a number of cars that were stopped on the interstate that was undergoing road repairs at the time, killing 10 people in all. The cause? The operator of the tractor trailer had been driving for almost 12 hours straight without a break, when fatigue overcame him, causing that horrific tragedy on the highway.
A shocking study of 182 truck accidents conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board in 1990 found that fatigue was a significant factor in 31% of the cases reviewed - a higher percentage than drug and alcohol related truck accidents. In fact, there is at present, a continuous debate as to how much rest truck drivers must have over a given number of driving hours. This is a controversy that pits truck driver unions against national transportation safety agencies. But while the hot sparks fly between these opposing groups, tractor trailers with their heavy loads move swiftly along our increasingly crowded highways as fatigue carries out its dark and deadly toll.
The current disturbing issue brings to mind the many tractor trailer accidents that the Finz firm has handled in its 30 year history: In one case, our client was stopped at a toll booth in New Jersey when a tractor trailer slammed into the rear of the vehicle. Several passengers in the car sustained significant injuries with a final disposition that resulted in the highest settlement recorded in New York State on behalf of an individual in a truck accident case. Fatigue was a factor- a conclusion reached by our team of tractor trailer accident reconstruction engineers who made an exhaustive study of the truck’s dynamics.
In another case, our client was stopped at an intersection when a tractor trailer moving down a hill at high speed, struck two vehicles, killing the driver of one, and severely injuring the driver of the other. Our engineering team of experts concluded that fatigue of the truck driver was a substantial factor in causing that accident. Within a brief time, the case was settled for a substantial sum in Pennsylvania where the tragedy occurred.
In a most recent case, while strapping up the mud flaps on his tractor trailer, our client was pinned against his rig by another tractor trailer that struck him. Once again, our team of experts was mobilized and remarkably, within five months of the accident, Stuart Finz, the firm’s CEO and senior trial lawyer, through his aggressive action, together with instituting a lawsuit without delay, settled the case against the tractor trailer driver when the insurance company agreed to offer its entire substantial policy (in 7 figures). In addition, the case is currently being pursued against the underinsurance carrier. In all, the initial settlement that was accomplished in only five months from the time of the accident, probably sets a national record regarding the disposition of a complicated and substantial case.
But then again, setting new records on behalf of its clients, is no stranger to the Finz firm. It reflects a proven record as one of the nation’s most aggressive, skilled and experienced attorneys on behalf of those who are seriously injured by tractor trailer drivers, and a record that has provided the Finz firm with the coveted national reputation it has earned in achieving such extraordinary results.
Additional Info: Truck Accidents
Tags: Truck Accident, Driver Fatigue