The infant child of a young couple from Douglasville, my hometown, has died of injuries sustained when a tractor trailer ran over their car from the rear on I-75 near Windy Hill Road last Saturday night.
The truck driver, Henry Lipps, 59, from Indiana, has been charged with following too closely and second degree homicide by vehicle.
Police investigators said Lipps did not brake when he approached stalled traffic on a southbound lane of I-75 north of the Windy Hill Road exit. His 18-wheeler crashed into the back of a car in which the child and two adults, Donald Morgan, 25, and Candice Morgan, 24, were riding.
The child was taken to Scottish Rite with critical injuries while the parents were taken to Atlanta Medical Center. Two other adults riding in another car, Ramon Mcelrathbey, 24, and Cornelius Mcelrathbey, 21, were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.
The tragedy of what happened is obvious. The unanswered question is “why?”
In my trucking accident trial practice in Georgia, I have seen this scenario too often.
In one case, a truck driver from Ohio ran over a family on I-75 a night, and showed Georgia state troopers a driver log that made it appear he was well within his legal hours of operation. But when, in the wrongful death lawsuit, we got all the documents and took his deposition in Ohio, his story slowly unraveled.
In the end, he admitted that his driver log was a complete fabrication. He actually had been driving 20 of the 24 hours immediately before running over a family and killing their child.
When we dug into the company’s records, the evidence was such that a federal judge wrote that the company “turned a blind eye” to habitual safety violations.
When such evidence is uncovered, the potential damages can be increased well beyond a “normal car wreck” tragedy.
Ken Shigley is an Atlanta, Georgia, trial attorney. He has been designated a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), one of the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend), and rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory. He is author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice (West, 2010), a Certified Civil Trial Attorney of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and currently president-elect of the 42,000 member State Bar of Georgia. He has extensive experience in litigation and trial of cases involving serious personal injury, wrongful death, trucking accidents, automobile accidents, products liability, premises liability, and insurance. Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. This blog post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.