Truckers have a tough, dangerous job. While my trucking accident law practice in Atlanta, Georgia, is often focused on representing folks in smaller vehicles who are on the receiving end of highly unfavorable physics in collisions, I also represent some truckers.
Two news stories this week highlight one of the dangerous realities of trucking. The cabs of road tractors are not built with driver safety as a primary consideration.
A 26 year old truck driver in New Jersey was killed at Whitehall, NY, when his tractor trailer skidded, jack-knifed and rolled over. Virtually the same thing happened in another fatal truck rollover on the Maine Turnpike.
While many passenger cars today have strong internal frames equivalent to a roll cage, the roofs of most road tractors have little or no occupant protection design. There are at least a couple of possible factors in that, including the lack of occupant safety rules governing manufacturers and the desire of trucking companies to avoid any additional weight that is not directly related to moving freight. When a huge road tractor has a roof with the structural integrity of a soft drink can rolls over, the driver doesn’t have much of a chance.
I won’t speculate on how much of a factor it may be that many road tractors are chosen by employers for drivers on whose lives they purchase “dead peasant” life insurance, rather than by parents as vehicles in which to transport their children. There may not be a causal relationship there at all.
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 a background in automotive products liability litigation, and 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).
Mr. Shigley served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute and is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group. He is currently Treasurer of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia, of which he will become President-Elect on 6/19/10 and President in on 6/4/11. This blog expresses only personal views of Mr. Shigley, and nothing in it should be construed as expressing any opinion on behalf of any organization of which Mr. Shigley is a member or officer.
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. This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.