As we tragically saw yet again this morning in a ten-car crash on Interstate 26 involving an oil tanker and another commercial vehicle, automobile wrecks involving tractor trailers can be catastrophic: engulfing cars in flames, strewing debris across the interstate, backing up traffic for miles, and potentially causing loss of life or limb.
Tractor trailers go by a wide variety of names: “trucks,” “eighteen wheelers,” or perhaps “big rigs.” But they all have one thing in common. Tractor trailers are vastly larger and heavier than traditional automobiles and thus often cause death and destruction when they are handled negligently.
Sadly, the enormity of the destruction caused by tractor trailer wrecks often makes it extremely difficult to determine the cause of the collision. Without a sound determination of the wreck’s cause, recovery from the responsible party for medical bills, bodily injury, or loss of life is very challenging.
Most trucking companies have expert accident reconstructionist firms on retainer. These individuals are dispatched to the scene of the collision within days of its occurrence to investigate and begin building the defense of the tractor trailer company. These investigators speak with police officers, witnesses, and even private citizens involved in the crash to begin crafting the strongest defense possible–and to avoid paying any compensation to those people injured by the possible negligent or reckless acts of their drivers. As a result, it is absolutely necessary that the lawyers representing the victims of tractor trailer collisions respond just as quickly and investigate just as thoroughly to protect the rights of the innocent people injured, maimed, or killed in such wrecks.
Chappell, Smith and Arden, P.A. takes a very aggressive approach to investigating catastrophic tractor trailer collisions. We have handled numerous deadly Interstate accidents caused by eighteen wheelers and are currently litigating a crash that occurred in Richland County, South Carolina. In the Columbia area, Interstate 26–particularly in the area known as “Malfunction Junction” near the Interstate 20, Piney Grove, and St. Andrews Road exits–is an infamously dangerous stretch of highway known for heavy trucking traffic and high speeds as eighteen wheelers and commuters rush to make their destinations on time.
Our trucking litigation group is led by Hugh McAngus, Jr. and Mark Chappell. Hugh and Mark respond to a catastrophic trucking case just as the eighteen wheeler companies do–they immediately retain the best experts in the business to begin reconstructing the cause of the accident to determine exactly what happened and exactly who is at fault.
Accident reconstructionists are trained in the forensic analysis of wreck scenes. They have the ability to take the literal pieces of a truck collision and recreate exactly what happened. Below is an example of a reconstructed video of an eighteen wheeler collision that occurred on Interstate 26, near its intersection with Interstate 95.
As you can see, in this case a wreck had occurred between several cars prior to the tractor trailer approaching the scene. From analyzing the damage to the various cars, the debris field, and the witness testimony, our accident reconstructionist was able to determine that the eighteen wheeler attempted to “thread the needle” of the wreck scene, rather than bringing his truck to a stop. As a result, the truck driver collided with several vehicles and caused tremendous bodily injury to the occupants of those cars.
Had we not acted quickly to retain this expert, investigate the tractor trailer collision, and aggressively litigate this claim on behalf of our client, however, the evidence needed to prove the fault of the tractor trailer driver may have been lost. In this specific case, the trucking company denied all liability and our firm was forced to file a lawsuit. But our expert’s conclusions were strongly rooted in the evidence and the case settled before trial.
The almost limitless resources of trucking companies and the insurance companies that represent them mandate this sort of aggressive representation. If you or anyone you know has been hurt in a trucking accident, do not hesitate–make sure you or they are in the hands of experienced attorneys that handle this sort of claim. Even a day’s delay could make a difference.
Hugh McAngus, Jr. and Mark Chappell are partners at Chappell, Smith and Arden, P.A. Hugh’s law practice focuses upon representing individuals injured in tractor trailer collisions and he is a member of the national trucking litigation section of the American Association for Justice. Mark is one of the firm’s founding partners and focuses his practice upon representing catastrophically injured clients in a wide variety of contexts. The law firm has offices throughout South Carolina, including Columbia, Sumter, Florence, Rock Hill, and Aiken.