Fatal Tractor-Trailer Wreck in Louisville

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2020 | Car Accidents, Truck Accidents

A runaway large truck plowed into a passenger car near the Kentucky Truck Plant outside Louisville, killing the passenger car driver almost instantly.

Few details were available. Apparently, a large truck driver lost control of his vehicle as he entered KTP’s parking lot and collided with an exiting vehicle.

Other than the driver of the passenger car, no injuries were reported.

Large Truck Crash Injuries

Fully-loaded large trucks weigh over 80,000 pounds and carry hundreds of gallons of highly-flammable diesel fuel. Additionally, state bureaucrats routinely allow oversize and double trucks to roam Kentucky freeways.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the anti-safety trend. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently waived a number of safety laws, including some HOS (hours of service) restrictions. More on that below.

Even experienced drivers have a hard time maneuvering these massive vehicles. When these drivers cause crashes, the resulting injuries are often quite serious.

  • Severe Burns: Diesel fuel burns at a different temperature from gasoline. So, when this fuel ignites, it usually causes third or fourth-degree burns. These wounds always require treatment and specialized burn centers.
  • Head Injuries: Seatbelts and airbags cannot possibly absorb the massive force in a truck/passenger car collision. As a result, trauma-related head injuries are quite common in these cases. Head injuries are permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate.
  • Broken Bones: Frequently, victims are pinned underneath large trucks until first responders arrive. The heavy weight usually crushes bones instead of simply breaking them. These wounds are much harder to address.

On a related note, since emergency responders usually have trouble reaching victims, they do not immediately get the medical treatment they need. In this context, a few minutes could almost literally be the difference between life and death.

First Party Liability

As mentioned, driver fatigue causes a number of large truck crashes. That’s especially true since the government has relaxed some key safety rules.

Lexington personal injury attorneys typically use the ordinary negligence doctrine to obtain compensation in these cases. Negligence is basically a lack of care. Truck drivers, Uber drivers, and other commercial operators in Kentucky are common carriers. These individuals are practically insurers of safe conduct from Point A to Point B. 

Fatigue and other driver impairments, like driving with a serious medical condition or driving under the influence of drugs, clearly breach this duty of care. If that breach substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is responsible for the crash.

Operational negligence, such as speeding and making an illegal lane change, also causes a number of large truck crashes. Other common violations include overweight violations and equipment issues. Overweight trucks are nearly impossible to maneuver, and a small brake or other mechanical flaw in a large truck could cause a tragic accident.

Issues like these sometimes involve the negligence per se shortcut. If the law establishes the standard of care, there is no need to independently prove a lack of care. So, tortfeasors who break safety laws and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Third Party Liability

Large truck collisions usually involve the respondeat superior doctrine. Shipping and transportation companies are legally responsible for their drivers’ negligence if:

  • Employee: Many truck drivers are independent contractors or owner-operators for tax purposes. But these individuals are employees for negligence purposes. The shipping or other company controls these drivers in terms of things like cargo carried or final destination.
  • Scope of Employment: Kentucky law also defines this phrase in a broad, victim-friendly way. If the driver’s conduct benefits the employer in any way, that conduct is within the scope of employment. Most people would not consider something like driving an empty truck to a warehouse part of a driver’s job description. But legally, such acts fall within the scope of employment.

Third party liability theories like respondeat superior are particularly important in large vehicle wrecks which cause catastrophic injuries like the ones outlined above. Frequently, individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation. Vicarious liability gives these victims an additional source of recovery.

Large truck wrecks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.