Federal trucking law can be complicated and wonky. The one thing you need to know about it right now: the trucking company and truck driver are responsible for making sure the truck and its equipment is safe
A truck trailer tire comes off—and causes a devastating car crash.
The car in that picture belonged to a really nice young family.
They were heading home on I-5, in Washington State, on a sunny March afternoon.
Rory was driving. His wife Jennifer was in the passenger seat. Their young daughter was in the back seat.
A trucker on the opposite side of the highway was hauling a truck and trailer back to Canada when a rear wheel came off his trailer.
That tire crossed over several lanes of traffic. It bounced across the highway median, and slammed into the family’s car, causing it to flip over.
This was not an “accident.”
The truck’s trailer tire did not spontaneously fall off and jump onto a car.
- The truck driver hadn’t done all the required pre-trip— or a post-trip—inspections.
- The trailer’s owner did not have a proper maintenance program; nor did the truck’s owner.
- Neither the truck driver nor the trailer owner could certify that the wheels and tires had been correctly mounted and torqued onto the trailer.
This was, at best, a predictable result of shocking neglect and sheer incompetence.
An in-depth look at the trucking law and maintenance duty violations in this case.
The effects of a trucking company’s negligence
After the crash, Rory was unconscious. He was cut out of the crushed car. Someone held his head until paramedics arrived.
In the end, it was determined that he suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Before the crash, Rory was an effective, well-liked preschool teacher. Rory always had a passion for teaching young children, and truly enjoyed his work.
After the crash, Rory tried so hard to return to the job he loved.
But Rory was forgetting things.
The names of his students and people he knew well escaped him. He was losing track of time.
Recently, it was determined that he was no longer capable of performing the required duties of his job. It’s a sad loss.
Rory wasn’t the only person hurt that day.
Jennifer, his wife, had her own injuries to address—and the added burden of learning to live with Rory as a traumatic brain injury victim. Both are trying to help their young daughter cope with her injuries, and the trauma of seeing her parents hurt.
A just—but not fair—resolution of injury claims.
It’s been more than 4 years since this crash.
It took years for the full extent of Rory’s brain injury to be understood. The effects will follow him for the rest of his life.
More about Rory and how his traumatic brain injury changed his life—and reminded me why I became a lawyer.
I’ve represented this family for the last 2 years: their attorney contacted me to handle the litigation because of my experience in trucking injury cases.
Recently, the family accepted offers of settlement from the trucking company and trailer owner.
It’s a just resolution. It will pay for past medical bills, cover some lost income, and help their family recover. The family still has many challenges ahead of them.
But what it won’t do—what nothing or no one can do—is put life back to the way it was on that March day, before that trailer’s tire smashed into their car.
My clients’ lives have been changed, permanently, just because a trucker and the owner of the trailer couldn’t be bothered to check the trailer’s tires.
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