Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

An Alabama Circuit Court jury signed a verdict in favor of the family of Larry Albritton who was killed in a rollover crash on Oct. 7, 2013.  Albritton was driving a log truck when it overturned. An eyewitness to this incident said the rollover occurred not at a high speed but as though it were happening in slow motion.

The load of logs apparently shifted when the truck rolled over and crashed through the truck’s cabin, killing the driver. The jury determined that the cab guard on this particular truck was defective in design, manufacture and in warnings. This was a truck product liability lawsuit.

The jury also determined that the manufacturer of the cab, Merritt Equipment Co., acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others and in the way it designed the guard, manufactured and provided warnings related to its cab guards and that the cab guard itself did not protect Albritton as it was designed to do. The defendants included Merritt Equipment Co. as well as Pitts Enterprises and Volvo Trucks North America Inc. Pitts and Volvo trucks settled prior to the entry of the verdict. The verdict was entered against Merritt Equipment Co. as the only defendant.

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The American Trucking Association is the largest trade association for the truck industry and is the lobbying arm of trucking businesses and companies. It is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.

The American Trucking Association is pledging to seek passage of a new federal law when the Republicans control both the White House and Congress. This association has tried to block state laws that require additional rest breaks for truckers beyond what the federal rules require.

In other words, the American Truck Association is pushing hard to undo safety transportation regulations.

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Richard Black worked for a hospital’s housekeeping staff.  He went to the loading dock to throw away trash into a dumpster.  Richard Cea, an employee of Royal Carting Service Co., had just delivered the dumpster.  It was still attached to the back of his truck.

As Black was throwing trash in the dumpster while standing with one foot on the loading dock and the other on the edge of the dumpster, Cea suddenly moved his truck. The dumpster moved away from the dock and Black fell. Cea then reversed the truck, causing the dumpster to hit Black’s left knee.

Black, 55, suffered a fractured distal femur. The femur bone is the largest bone in the human body. It is also known as the thigh bone. Black underwent open reduction and internal fixation followed by extensive physical therapy. The non-union of the femur necessitated revision surgery and the application of a bone graft. Black underwent additional physical therapy but later developed arthritis in his knee, and that required a total knee replacement.

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Karen Ann Whitaker was 60 when she started home from the church where she worked as a daycare teacher. Driving alone, she exited the church parking lot and turned onto the adjacent road. As she entered the northbound lane, southbound trucker Clarence Risher, who was driving a tractor-trailer while under the influence of methamphetamine, lost control of his truck.

The Risher truck jackknifed and crossed the center line. In doing so, the truck broadsided Whitaker’s car. She died on impact. She is survived by her husband, four adult children and five grandchildren.

Earlier on the day of this crash, Risher had delivered a load of chickens for House of Raeford Farms Inc., which had hired his employer, CRE Trucking LLC, as an independent contractor, to transport the chickens. Risher pleaded guilty to DUI involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving and operating without a valid driver’s license, among other serious criminal charges. He was also sentenced to 4 years in prison for this accident.

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Christopher Arnold was 19 years old and riding in a pickup truck driven by Jonathan Ortiz when a friend traveling behind them called to say that furniture had fallen off the friend’s truck. Ortiz pulled the pickup truck onto the road’s shoulder, preparing to make a U-turn so he could go back and help his friend. As Ortiz pulled back onto the road and began turning, a van coming up behind him struck a glancing blow to the pickup truck. The truck spun around and came to rest with Arnold’s side facing oncoming traffic. Moments later, Robert Sims, driving a pickup truck for Weatherford U.S. L.P., struck the truck’s passenger side.

Arnold was not wearing his seatbelt. He suffered multiple injuries, including a burst fracture at L-1, resulting in paraplegia. He suffered spinal fractures at T7-9 and T-12. He also had two rib fractures, a collapsed lung and lacerations to his spleen. Arnold was hospitalized for more than a month and underwent a spinal fusion at T12-L2 among other procedures. He has undergone extensive rehabilitation. He now uses a wheelchair and requires assistance with daily living activities.

Arnold’s past medical expenses total about $345,900 and his future life-care costs are estimated at $5.85 million.

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On Dec. 16, 2009, Terry Smith was employed by Sycamore Specialized Carriers.  He drove his tractor-trailer to the defendant Casini Warehousing Corp.’s warehouse in Bensenville, Ill. Casini’s personnel used an overhead crane to load an injection molding machine onto Smith’s step-deck trailer.

After the injection molding machine was loaded onto the step-deck, Smith was attempting to cover it with a 20-foot by 20-foot tarp that weighed 150 pounds. While he was attempting to cover the machine, he fell from the top of the machine to the ground.

In the lawsuit that Smith filed, he argued that the trucking industry custom and practice required Casini Warehousing to use its crane to assist him in draping the heavy tarp over the machinery. Smith said that he asked Casini workers for assistance, but they refused and chose to go to lunch instead.

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On Sept. 12, 2008, Garfield Teddy was driving a semi-tractor-trailer westbound on Route 36 in Tuscola, Ill. He was stopped at a red light at Main Street when his truck was rear-ended by the defendants’ westbound tractor-trailer rig.

Teddy was 56 years old at the time and maintained that the impact of the crash caused numerous injuries including a herniated cervical disc, which required surgery. He also claimed to have developed pneumonia, which led to multiple hospitalizations. Teddy incurred $225,575 in medical expenses.

The defendant truck driver, Gary Miller, admitted that he briefly took his eyes off the road while checking his passenger side rear-view mirror as he was about to change lanes. When he looked in front of him he saw that the plaintiff’s truck had stopped and he slammed on his brakes but was not able to stop in time.

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James Langholf was a truck driver for Howe Freightways Inc. On Sept. 13, 2011, he pulled his truck onto the shoulder of Interstate 80 in Iowa after his tractor-trailer broke down.

Jesse Inman worked for Hanifen Co. Inc. headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, as a heavy-duty tow truck driver. He responded to Langholf’s call, parking his freight line wrecker directly in front of Langholf’s tractor-trailer.

Another Hanifen employee, Daniel Walsh, also responded to the call and parked his tow truck just behind Langholf’s. At that point, Herbert Terrell, a trucker for Hiner Equipment, LLC sideswiped Walsh’s tow truck and then crashed into Langholf’s tractor-trailer.

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John E. Mulholland Jr. was alleged to have chosen not to stop at a stop sign while driving on a secondary road. He died when his car crashed into the vehicle driven by Joseph A. Cohen, who was driving on the intersecting preferential highway.

As the trial judge was persuaded that Mulholland’s conduct was the sole proximate cause of the crash, summary judgment brought by Cohen was granted. That was the order in a lawsuit brought by Mulholland’s daughter against Cohen. Cohen was reportedly talking on his cellphone while driving down a steep grade at 50-55 mph on Route 3, south of Chester, Ill. He was driving a Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck that was towing an 18-foot trailer loaded with a Bobcat T-190 skid-steer. According to Cohen, his vehicle, trailer and skid-steer weighed around 14,000 lbs.

Mulholland was driving a Chevrolet S10 pickup truck on Water Street headed toward the intersection with Route 3. There was a stop sign facing him at the intersection. Cohen did not have a stop sign of any kind.

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Colin Lacy was a truck driver for an oil recycling company. He took his Freightliner tanker truck to Empire Truck Sales for preventative maintenance. A mechanic at Empire replaced leaking oil seals on the truck’s rear differential but allegedly chose not to replace the lock nuts on the bolts of the lateral control rod.

A month later Lacy took the truck back to Empire complaining that it was vibrating at higher speeds and making grinding noises. The same mechanic test drove the truck but did not inspect the lateral control rod, which had loosened as a result of the earlier improper repair. The mechanic also allegedly found that the truck’s antilock braking system (ABS) was not working properly but chose not to correct it anyway.

When Lacy picked up the truck three days later and began driving it, the ABS warning light came on. He called Empire but was told that the braking system was fine. Later that day, while Lacy was driving in the rain, the truck began shaking. He applied the brakes, but the ABS system locked up. The truck went out of control, struck the median and rolled over.

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