A fatal truck crash early Saturday morning on I-285 south of Atlanta highlighted an important safety rule governing interstate commercial trucking.
According to an article by George Mathis and Ty Tagamihe of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the incident began when the tractor-trailer was involved in a minor collision with another large truck and the two trucks had pulled over. The other truck pulled into the median, but the tractor-trailer stopped in the right lane of traffic.
A woman then drove under the tractor-trailer at highway speed and was killed.
A couple of years ago I spoke on trailer underride accidents at a national trucking litigation seminar in New Orleans. This is not the place to elaborate on the injury pattern in such crashes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, at 49 C.F.R. § 392.22, requires that when a tractor trailer stops on a highway or shoulder, the driver must activate hazard warning signal flashers, and within ten minutes must place either bidirectional reflective triangles or flares.
In a situation like this, there is a question of proof of how long the truck had been stopped. That involves comparison of various electronic records — in the electronic control modules of both trucks, possibly a Qualcomm or similar satellite communications system, cross referenced with 911 records and cell phone records of whoever called in the report of the crash, all of which are likely synchronized with either the national atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado, or the Naval Observatory.
Quick action is necessary to assure preservation of all data.
Ken Shigley, author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice, is a board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group, 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 . He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. He is also president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia. This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.