While highway accidents are always bad news, our North Carolina truck accident attorneys understand that accidents involving an eighteen wheeler or some other large truck often result in substantial injuries, if not fatalities.
An eighteen wheeler tanker rig traveling eastbound crashed and burned on April 3, 2012 at 10:08 PM near mile marker 54 on I-26, close to Flat Rock, North Carolina in Henderson County. The driver of the truck was listed to be Allan Thomas Vandamme, 43, from Ontario, Canada by the Highway Patrol. He narrowly escaped death by crawling out of the cab of the truck before it was engulfed in flames and was taken to the Mission Hospital for treatment and observation. The accident occurred in a curve before the Peter Guice Memorial Bridge and the Highway Patrol has been unable to determine if speed, driver inattention or mechanical failure caused the accident however, charges are pending. Western North Carolina Haz Mat closed down I-26 in both directions and evacuated nearby residents, since the tanker was carrying sulfuric acid. Engineers will examine the bridge for damage done by the sulfuric acid or the intense heat from the fire, as reported by WSPA-TV.
North Carolina is ranked 6th in the United States for having fatal accidents involving eighteen wheelers. Make no mistake about it, being involved in an accident with a tractor trailer rig is a serious matter that often ends up inflicting victims with catastrophic injuries or fatalities. Whether the accident is a head-on collision, a rear-end collision, a sideswipe, a jacknife or a rollover, the physics involved in such a collision is mind boggling. A standard car, pickup truck or SUV generally weighs between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds. A fully loaded eighteen wheeler can tip the scales at around 80,000 pounds (40 tons) and when traveling at speeds between 55 and 70 miles per hour, tragedy is only a blink of the eye away. In an effort to reduce truck accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has reduced the number of hours that professional drivers can work in a week in order to promote safety. Important provisions are: a reduction of the number of hours that truckers can drive from 82 hours in seven days, down to 70 hours; drivers cannot drive after working 8 hours without taking a 30 minute break and they can take a break whenever they need one during the 8 hour window. The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit. Companies that violate the 11 hour driving limit by 3 or more hours can be fined $11,000 per offense and the drivers themselves could be fined up to $2,750 for each offense.
Whether an eighteen wheeler accident like the one in Henderson County is caused by speed, driver inattention or some other negligence on the part of the driver of the rig, parties who suffer catastrophic injuries or death can recover under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Respondeat superior is a Latin term which means “let the master answer” and was established to define the legal liability of an employer for the actions of an employee. Therefore, the employer-trucking company can be held responsible for the injuries to others caused by the negligent acts of its employee-driver that occur within the course and scope of his employment.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers at Auger & Auger have nearly 40 years of collective truck accident experience dealing with major insurance companies who represent large trucking firms. Please contact us to schedule your confidential, no obligation consultation to discuss the particulars of your case. All of our cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means that you will owe no attorneys’ fee unless there is some a monetary recovery made for you.
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