Tractor-trailers are an integral part of interstate commerce, carrying goods across the country on a daily basis. As a result, the roadways are filled with these large vehicles, which can often pose serious hazards to other drivers. In the event of a truck accident, the property damage and personal injuries suffered by other drivers is often greater than in a collision between two smaller vehicles. In many cases, what would have been a relatively minor collision, had it happened between two standard-sized automobiles, instead becomes a fatal accident.
On a recent morning on I-81 northbound in Virginia, a multi-vehicle accident occurred involving three vehicles and a tractor-trailer. The initial crash resulted in the second collision, when it caused the tractor-trailer to brake suddenly in an effort to avoid hitting the two vehicles in front of it. A Saturn traveling behind the semi rear-ended the semi as a result, and then burst into flames. The driver of that vehicle died at the scene of the accident, while the other drivers involved suffered only minor injuries or none at all. Police are still investigating the cause or causes of the accident.
When multiple collisions are involved in an accident, it can be difficult to determine exactly who is at fault. While the first accident likely played a large role in the occurrence of the subsequent accident, the drivers involved in the second accident may have been at fault as well. For example, it may be discovered that the second accident would not have occurred but for the driver's own negligence or recklessness. Perhaps the driver was following too closely, using his telephone negligently or driving while intoxicated. All of these things could indicate the driver's fault in the second accident, even though he had no part in causing the initial accident.
Although many people may believe that all motor vehicle accidents are the same when filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, this is not accurate. Truck accidents are different and should be investigated and analyzed differently. In addition, there are additional sources of liability when a tractor-trailer is involved in a traffic accident. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the trucking company or other third parties may be held liable, in addition to the driver.
Source: WDBJ7.com, "UPDATE: One killed in multiple-vehicle wreck on I-81 in Augusta Co.," March 18, 2014