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July 5, 2011

Truck Driver Crashes Into AmTrak Train - Wilmington Passengers Safe

nevada train crash.jpgA tractor-trailer driver slammed his big rig into the side of an AmTrak train at a public crossing in a rural Nevada town on Friday. The collision ripped several of the train cars apart and caused a terrible fire. The LA Times reported at least 6 people, including the truck driver, were killed and scores were injured.

The passenger train was traveling from Chicago to California at the time of the crash. Two of the passengers on the train were from Wilmington, North Carolina. Grandfather Jay Peterson and his grandson Chris Lachance planned for their train journey to be a great summer adventure - destined for a toy train convention - but it was full of more excitement than they expected. The two North Carolina citizens stayed calm during the disaster and provided much needed help and aid to those who were injured.

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December 13, 2010

How To Avoid A Truck Accident In Asheville

truck accident avoid.jpgWith over 5,000 people dying in truck crashes each year on our nation's highways, it is important for every driver to understand all of the ways to avoid being involved in such a collision.

1. Stay Out Of The Truck's Blind Spots - If you are sharing the road with a commercial motor vehicle such as a tractor-trailer, either trail behind the truck at a safe distance or pass it quickly. Do not ride along beside the truck! Most crashes between cars and trucks occur when a truck changes lanes and collides with a passenger vehicle. Don't get caught in the blind spot.

2. Leave Yourself An Escape Zone - When passing a tractor-trailer, you should always plan on the truck coming over on you in your lane. If you plan for such an emergency, then you will be prepared in the event it happens and have a plan for what to do. The most important thing to plan for is where to move your car. For example, if you are passing a large truck on an interstate highway, do not attempt to pass while you are crossing a bridge. Why? Because there is no where to move your vehicle in the event a truck comes over into your lane. Instead, wait until you have an open stretch of highway with a wide shoulder before you start your passing maneuver.

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June 3, 2010

Reckless Truck Driver Kills North Carolina DOT Worker On I-40

DOT Worker KilledI-40 Truck 1 6-2-10.jpgA distracted tractor-trailer driver ran-over and killed a North Carolina Department Of Transportation (NC DOT) worker on Tuesday morning. The crash occurred as several NC DOT workers were beginning to place Work Zone signs and cones in preparation for a lane closure on I-40 West in Duplin County. North Carolina DOT was closing the lane so that workers could perform maintenance on a bridge at the intersection of NC Highway 24 and I-40 West. This is a rural area where Interstate 40 is straight and level, and the line of sight for approaching drivers is at least one-half (1/2) mile. Click here for 27 photos taken at the scene.

ABC News Channel 11 (WBTV) out of Raleigh dispatched a helicopter and crew to the scene and obtained areal footage of the crash site:

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May 8, 2010

Lack Of Enforcement Leads To High North Carolina Truck Accident Ranking

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weigh station.jpgA lack of manpower in the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Enforcement Section means that many tractor trailer trucks are running illegally on North Carolina roads and highways.

North Carolina currently ranks sixth (6th) in the nation for truck accidents. This staggering statistic is certainly related to the fact that so many trucks and their drivers are operating outside of the law. In 2009, more than 50 percent (50%) of the tractor trailers inspected in North Carolina had serious safety and/or equipment violations. Of those found to be in violation, more than twelve percent (12%) were in such bad shape that they were shut down and "put out of service." Being "put out of service" means that, as a result of serious safety violations, a tractor trailer or its driver are deemed an imminent danger to the general public.

Of the almost 10 million tractor trailer trucks coming through North Carolina weigh stations each year, only a mere one percent (1%) are inspected. If more than fifty percent (50%) of those inspected are in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, then one can conservatively surmise that at least every other truck you see on the road is operating in violation of the law.

Most states operate their inspection and weigh stations for commercial motor vehicles on a 24/7 basis. But not North Carolina. In North Carolina, weigh stations operate approximately 15 hours a day, five (5) days a week. At many weigh station locations, there is no State Trooper present to chase down truck drivers who refuse to stop at the weigh station. In the truck industry, North Carolina is considered "trucker friendly" due to our low number of inspections.The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says the problem is manpower. If that is the case, the North Carolina General Assembly needs to dedicate some funding toward increased enforcement. It should crack down on the truck industry by requiring that more trucks be inspected, by putting dangerous truck drivers and their unsafe rigs out of service, and by levying heavy fines to the truck companies that allow these drivers to be on the road.

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May 6, 2010

ABC News Features North Carolina Truck Accident Case To Illustrate Truck Industry Abuses

Doug Harrell.jpgOn October 13, 2005, a young man road his bicycle on the side of a rural North Carolina highway from his cousin's house back to his own home. At the same time, a truck driver had been driving his tractor trailer for 23 hours in a row and was heading back to the truck terminal. As the trucker came up from behind the bicyclist at 73 mph, he didn't see the bicycle or rider until the last second. The collision killed the young man on the bicycle, and then the truck company cover-up began. Because of the cover-up, no criminal charges were filed, but a relative decided to go under-cover and work for the truck company. The hidden evidence he discovered became the foundation of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Channel 11 ABC Eyewitness News (WTVD) decided to run a feature story about this case because of the disturbing evidence Truck Accident Attorney Brian Davis discovered during the litigation of this case. Click on the below window to view the ABC News Video and see how greed and big business drove one North Carolina truck company to ignore the law and the safety of the general public.

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April 12, 2010

North Carolina TV Station Is Focusing On Truck Accidents

Pate-Dawson Co.gifToday, a senior producer from a regional television station contacted me about Truck Safety in North Carolina. She started the conversation off by noting how many recent tractor-trailer accidents appear to be the result of either truck driver fatigue or unsafe truck equipment.

The producer told me that she was working on an upcoming program that will focus on truck safety and how some truck driver's and truck company's failure to be safe have seriously injured or killed North Carolina citizens. She wanted to know if I had any former clients whom I thought would be willing to be interviewed for her news article. One case immediately popped into my mind. The case was against a motor carrier called the Pate-Dawson Company.

One evening a few years ago on a dark rural highway outside of Goldsboro, NC, a tractor-trailer truck owned by restaurant food distributor Pate-Dawson Company ran over a young boy on a bicycle. At the time, the boy was riding his bicycle on the side of a two lane road outside of Goldsboro. The tractor-trailer came up from behind and ran him over.

After the wreck, the truck driver lied and told the police that the bike had darted-out from a side road into the highway, and that he had no time to react. The truck driver also lied and told the Trooper that he had only been on duty for 11 hours at the time of the wreck. The truck driver lied again telling the Trooper that his on-board electronic computer (black box) was not working and contained no electronic data about the crash. This information was confirmed to the Trooper by several company executives (including the owner) who rushed to the scene trying to perform damage control.

When the investigating State Trooper looked inside the cab of the big rig, he found two separate driver's daily log books. In the truck business, this conclusively shows that a truck driver is trying to beat the system and driver more hours than the law allows. The Trooper charged the driver with falsifying his logs.The Trooper did not charge the driver with anything else at the time because all he had to go on was the trucker's and company executives' word. Little did the Trooper know that everything he had been told was a bald-faced lie.

We were extremely lucky in this case in that after the crash, a cousin of the young boy who had worked in the trucking business applied for and took a job as a dispatcher at the company that owned the tractor-trailer - Pate Dawson Company (PDC). His sole goal was to find out what happened to his younger cousin. As a dispatcher, the cousin secretly investigated the crash and discovered the hidden electronic evidence proving the truck driver had been on duty and driving for 23.5 hours at the time of the wreck. When the family showed the Trooper what the cousin had found, the Trooper re-opened the investigation and did a reconstruction of the crash - concluding that the truck driver could have seen the young as far back as 1200 feet from the point of impact - significantly more than enough distance to stop a tractor-trailer that's going 55 mph.

The parents of the boy hired us approximately 2 years after the truck accident. Our team of experts thoroughly investigated the case and conclusively proved that the boy did not dart-out from a side road, that the collision actually took place just outside of the truck's lane of travel - on the shoulder, that the truck driver was speeding (73 in a 55 mph zone) when he struck the bicycle, and that the trucker had been on duty for 23.5 hours when the fatal collision occurred. Most importantly, we were able to show that the truck driver's employer not only knew about his numerous safety violations, but it encouraged, endorsed and at times demanded it.

During litigation, we uncovered unbelievable information about how this motor carrier had thumbed its nose at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by not adhering to the hours of service regulations. We discovered internal company memos that showed this particular driver had been found to be "habitually driving more hours that the law allowed," and one manager at the company tried to persuade the President of PDC, Matt Sullivan, Jr., to put a stop to the illegal driving, but Matt Sullivan refused and knowingly kept putting this and other illegal drivers back on the road. A significant number of this company's tractor-trailer drivers were driving over the legal hours limit and had been for years. Unfortunately, this boy's death was the result of their refusal to operate safely and within the law.

Not surprisingly, the case settled as it neared the courtroom. At the time of the settlement conference, the owner of the company told the boy's father that his company had been doing some things it should have not been doing, and that they had changed their (evil) ways. It is just horrible that someone had to die and a family had to be torn apart for the truck company to understand why these safety laws are in place. Sadly, if the cousin had not gone undercover and discovered the damning evidence, the truck company would have completely gotten away with reckless homicide.

After confirming the television producer's credentials, I contacted the young boy's parents and they agreed to participate in the news report and tell their story. The senior TV producer says the parents' story is compelling and the news article will air in a few weeks. I will try to post an update as to the program's date and time. It should be interesting....

Brian Davis is recognized as one of the nation's top experts in serious truck accident injury cases. He serves as a national adviser for the Association of Plaintiffs Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and is a member of the Interstate Truck Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Attorney Davis' goal is to help reduce the number of preventable truck accident cases in North Carolina.

March 31, 2010

Charlotte Truck Driver Charged With Reckless Homicide In KY Crash

truck crash in KY.jpgA Charlotte tractor-trailer driver, Arthur A. Davis, 44, has been charged with 2 counts of reckless homicide arising out of a crash that he caused on Tuesday morning in Kentucky at the intersection of US Hwy 460 and Kentucky State Road 1499. Authorities in Pike County, Kentucky are holding Davis under a $2 Million bond. In addition to the homicide charges, Davis faces charges that he had No Operators License, No Commercial Motor Vehicle License, a Driver's Daily Log that was Not Up To Date, and a Radar Detector In A Commercial Motor Vehicle. These are all serious violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Seven minutes prior to the truck crash, several other truck drivers heard Davis asking on his CB radio if there were any big hills in the area because his brakes were not working well. At the time of the wreck, the truck driver was hauling several mini-excavators and other heavy equipment. As Davis went down a steep hill, he lost control of his big rig, swerved to avoid hitting a building, and struck 2 men who were part of a tree trimming crew. Both pedestrians were killed by the run-a-way truck.

Investigators found that the reckless truck driver had 10 different brakes on his vehicle, but 5 out of the 10 brakes were not working at all, and 2 of the remainder were not working properly. To operate a commercial motor vehicle when one knows that the truck's brakes are not working correctly is reprehensible, and this truck driver should go to jail for a long time for his grossly negligent and recklessly indifferent conduct. If this truck driver was driving for a company, then the company's management should also face criminal charges for their complicity in failing to keep this driver off the road. In several similar truck cases we have handled, we have been successful in convincing the US Attorney's Office to pursue criminal charges against the management of the truck company. That should happen in this case.

This is a pure tragedy because this wreck was totally preventable. Truck drivers and the companies they haul for are required to inspect the brakes on a tractor trailer before the start of each trip. If there is a problem with the brakes, then the trucker is not supposed to start the trip. The repairs are supposed to be completed first. End of story. But unfortunately, some truck companies force their drivers to operate unsafe tractor trailers because in many instances, the truck company's philosophy is "profits over safety." In the industry, these are known as "forced trips," because the company tells the driver to either drive the truck as it is or lose their job. This philosophy is one of the reasons why there are so many unnecessary truck crashes.

The Association of Plaintiffs Interstate Truck Lawyers of America (APITLA) has, as its goal, to eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer, then you should immediately consult with an experienced interstate truck lawyer. Attorney Brian Davis is a National Advisory Board Member of APITLA.

March 26, 2010

Trucker Crosses Median in KY Killing At Least 11 People

KY truck crash.jpgA truck driver crossed the median on I-65 in Kentucky early this morning and struck a church van head-on. At least 11 people are known to have died as a result. A Kentucky State Trooper reported that 2 children survived the crash. The truck driver also died in the collision, and his truck was burned beyond recognition. The people in the van were on their way to a wedding in Iowa.

The National Transportation Safety Board has already dispatched a team of investigators to the scene to try and find out how and why the crash occurred.Since the truck driver did not survive the crash, it is unlikely that authorities will ever truly know why the crash happened. In most instances where a truck unexpectedly crosses into the oncoming lanes, and particularly in crashes that happen early in the morning or late at night, the truck driver is usually fatigued and/or sleeping.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) require truck companies to monitor their truck driver's hours of driving and of being on duty. Truck drivers are also required to keep an hourly log of their time in what is called a Driver's Daily Log. As I have discussed in prior posts, in the cases where we represent the victims of truck crashes, we often find that the truck driver was over the legal number of hours at the time of the crash.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision with a large truck, then you should hire an attorney that is experienced in interstate truck litigation. The Association for Plaintiff Interstate Truck Attorneys of America is a good resource for finding qualified truck litigation attorneys in your area.

January 13, 2010

Tractor-Trailer Crash in Pilot Mountain Injures Driver

clark02_large.jpgA Kentucky truck driver crashed his tractor-trailer in the early morning hours on North Carolina Highway 52 South in the town of Pilot Mountain, just north of Winston-Salem. The truck was hauling bundles of tobacco to a cigarette manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem.

A spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol said that the driver of the truck apparently ran off the road around 2 a.m., causing the truck to overturn. The truck driver, Jeff Board of Sanford, KY, was not wearing his seatbelt and was partially ejected from the tractor. EMS transported Mr. Board to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. His treating doctors said that he was now in stable condition. They do not know when he will be released.

Single vehicle crashes like this one, involving tractor-trailers in the middle of the night, are often the result of the driver falling asleep at the wheel. Truck drivers are required by federal law to keep a detailed log of the time they spend driving, resting, and being on duty but not driving. The federal rules also limit the number of hours that drivers can work. At Davis Law Group, we often discover that the truck driver in a truck crash case was driving more hours than the law allows. Truck driver fatigue often leads to deadly consequences for innocent North Carolina citizens. More than 750 people are killed each year from truck driver fatigue, and more than 20,000 are seriously injured. Thankfully, this driver will live to drive again, and no other vehicles were involved.

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December 7, 2009

Tired Trucker in High Point Spills a Ton of Milk

A Pennsylvania tanker truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of his 18 wheeler early Sunday morning and spilled a few thousand gallons of milk onto the side of Interstate 85 Business in High Point.


The crash closed down I-85 in both directions for several hours while commercial wrecker crews worked to clear the totalled tanker and the spilled milk.

TMilk Tanker 1.jpghe truck driver told investigators that he was hauling 6500 gallons of milk at the time of the rollover. No other vehicles were involved in the wreck, and no injuries were reported. While it is tempting to make light of this crash and ask where was the Keebler truck, the cause of this wreck (fatigued driving) is no laughing matter and is epidemic in the trucking industry.

To avoid being a victim of a tired trucker, never drive alongside of a large truck. If you must pass a tractor-trailer on the interstate, you should first make sure that you have room to move all the way past the truck before beginning your passing maneuvor, and you should steadily accellerate your vehicle as you move past the truck so that you do not get hidden in the trucker's blind spot.

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