A massive fatal accident in North Carolina involving nine vehicles on a Sunday evening in late October has claimed five lives. The accident occurred on I-26 near Asheville after a dump truck struck an overpass and traffic backed up in the eastbound lanes of the interstate. Soon afterwards, a semi slammed into the last of seven automobiles lined up behind another tractor-trailer, crushing the vehicles and dragging one across the median before finally coming to a stop.
A North Carolina state trooper told local media that there was no evidence that the driver had attempted to slow down before colliding with the vehicles at the tail end of the gridlock. The driver, an interstate trucker from Wisconsin, has been charged with manslaughter and assault. The severe impact killed four people on the scene: a couple in their early 20s, as well as a husband and wife in their late 50s. Another woman died two days later from injuries sustained in the truck accident, and another person was listed as critically injured.
This tragic accident points out the harshest aspect of motor vehicle accidents involving massive commercial vehicles. Simple physics dictates that passengers in an average-sized automobile sandwiched between two semis, one of which is traveling at freeway speeds, are at great risk of debilitating injuries and death. But such accidents are nonetheless incomprehensible when a negligent driver’s obvious failure to pay attention devastates a series of lives and causes untold heartache.
Federal regulations strictly regulate the number of hours that interstate truck drivers can spend on the road. The obvious reason behind these rules is the fact that fatigue begins to take a severe toll on a driver’s awareness and reaction time after hours and hours behind the wheel. Investigators will take a close look at the driving logs to see whether the driver violated those rules.
Whether or not trucking regulations were violated, those who survived the horrific scene and the families of the deceased will have legal options to hold the driver accountable. Other relevant factors that may come to light in a personal injury lawyer’s investigation are his medical records, past driving history and records of the load in the trailer.
Such evidence can point to other liable parties, including employers who negligently hire unqualified or irresponsible drivers, and shipping companies that cause hazards by overloading cargo. By considering all aspects of the accident and seeking to identify all parties who played a role, an avoidable tragedy can at least be given a just result.