Tens of thousands of people are injured or killed in accidents with big trucks — 18 wheelers, big rigs, tractor-trailers — every year. It is no surprise that when a fully loaded big rig (weighing as much as 80,000 pounds) collides with a passenger automobile (weighing 3,500 pounds), the occupants of the passenger vehicle are likely to fair much worse than the driver of the truck. I recently spoke at the “Fatigued Truckers — From Crash to Closing Argument” seminar sponsored by the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America on the topic of Written Discovery. Over three days, there were over 25 nationally recognized experts — including lawyers, doctors and engineers — who shared their knowledge of prosecuting cases against truck drivers and trucking companies who negligently harm others while using our public roads.
The statistics are quite compelling: When someone dies from an accident caused by an 18 wheeler, three out of four times the person who dies is in the passenger vehicle. And when there are non-fatal injuries, three out of four of the injured come out of the passenger vehicle. Trucking companies are not doing everything they can or should to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that occur on our roadways every day of the year. Our government regulators are simply understaffed and underfunded to catch all of the trucking companies who regularly and without apology violate the rules and regulations of the roads set up by both our state and federal governments. For these reasons, the private lawyer is often in the best (and sometimes is the only one) position to pursue the violators and bring them to justice.
Walking away from the seminar, I was more proud than ever to be a trial lawyer. I am as committed as ever to track down the responsible parties who have injured, maimed or killed my clients and hold them accountable. And they should be held accountable for not only what they have done, but for stopping them from harming others in the future. And the tools that were added to my tool box in this seminar will be a welcomed addition I look forward to using in the future.