When a tractor trailer from Alabama crossed the median on I-65 in Kentucky last week and struck a passenger van head-on, it killed 10 devout Mennonites en route to a wedding. The truck driver also died in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating why the tractor trailer crossed the median and collided with the van. However, one thing that has to come to light is that the trucking company had an unsatisfactory safety rating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Hester, Inc., of Fayette, Alabama, had a Safestat rating of 88.4 based on failed safety inspections. Any Safestat score above 75 is considered unsatisfactory. An official of the American Trucking Association stated to the Washington Post that Hester should not have been operating, based on that Safestat score.
There is no report yet as to specific violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations related to this crash. But in my experience companies with Safestat ratings that bad have a terrible safety culture and we find multiple violations of safety rules when a crash occurs.
Ken Shigley is a trucking safety trial attorney representing seriously injured people and families of people killed in tractor trailer, big rig, semi, intermodal container freight, log truck, cement truck, dump truck, log truck and bus accidents statewide in Georgia.
Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in interstate trucking collision cases, and in the past two years has spoken at national interstate trucking litigation seminars in Chicago (trucking insurance), New Orleans (trial tactics and side underride issues), St. Louis (punitive damages), San Francisco (dealing with insolvent trucking companies), Atlanta (trucking insurance, closing argument), Nashville (use of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), and Amelia Island (overview of trucking litigation).
He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute in 2005, is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, and is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.
A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he 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). In addition to trucking litigation, he has broad experience in products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Mr Shigley is president-elect-designee of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia, of which he will serve as president in 2011-12.
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