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Big rig and snow removal truck crash in NH reminds me of my first trucking case in GA

A truck wreck in New Hampshire sounds similar to the the first interstate trucking personal injury case I handled as a “puppy lawyer” about 25 years ago, before I learned the basics of anything as fundamental as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

In the New Hampshire accident this morning, a state snow plow truck on I-89 was struck in the rear by a tractor trailer. The tractor trailer driver was hospitalized for a head injury.

My case a quarter century ago arose out of a rare Georgia snow storm after Christmas. A Georgia DOT snow removal truck was outfitted with a blade in the front and salt spreader in back. With two workers in the cab, it was moving slowly clearing snow next to the median barrier. A flatbed tractor trailer running empty on the way home Texas was traveling way too fast, skidded on an icy spot, and skidded into the DOT truck. The Texas trucker clearly was not exercising the “extreme caution” required of commercial trucks in hazardous weather conditions.

The fellow “riding shotgun” in the DOT vehicle wasn’t hurt significantly in the initial impact, but was trapped, wedged between the median barrier and the 18 wheeler, when the snow removal truck caught fire. By the time someone broke out the windshield and pulled him to safety, he had second and third degree burns over much of his body. The case was a learning experience for me in that it was my first case involving a serious burn injury.

Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent national seminar speaker for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he was a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.