Sometimes, through no fault of the driver, a vehicle breaks down on the road. When this happens, the driver should do their best to pull off the side of the road because there is always a risk that oncoming traffic won’t stop in time to avoid an accident. However, sometimes pulling over simply isn’t an option.
That was the case when the 63-year-old driver of a semi-truck was in the middle lane of a busy highway. The brakes on the semi seized up and locked while traveling. He was able to bring the truck to a full stop without incident but due to the failing brakes, could not move to the side of the highway. So, as correct safety protocols dictate, he turned on his four-way flashers and called for help.
Second Semi Unable To Stop
A second semi, being operated by a 50-year-old driver, was also traveling on the highway.
What many people forget is that, due to their length and weight, semi trucks are far from agile and need a much longer distance to come to a complete stop. If there is a bend in the road or traffic which obstructs their view and the driver is unable to see an obstacle ahead, they may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
That’s exactly what occurred on this highway. The second semi, which was carrying heavy steel beams, was unable to stop and even though he attempted to move into the left-hand lane, the merge didn’t happen in time and the front of the truck struck the rear-end of the first semi. The impact then forced the second truck to crash into the center median.
The steel beams tied down to the back of the semi came loose and rolled onto the highway. Each of these beams, which individually weigh around 2,500 pounds, flew into oncoming traffic on both sides of the highway.
One of the beams struck a 2014 Toyota Corolla and the 56-year-old driver within. The car was crushed and, although he survived and is expected to live, the driver sustained serious injuries for which he remains hospitalized.
Another beam rolled into a 2005 Ford Escort being driven by a 48-year-old man. He informed emergency responders that he was experiencing chest and back pain and was also rushed to the hospital.
The police officers who were called to the scene remarked that they were surprised there weren’t more collisions and injuries due to the beams which had spread all over the highway, blocking traffic for several hours.
How Will Insurance Handle Multiple Accidents?
In New York, car and truck insurance is considered “no-fault”. This means that each driver will seek compensation from their own carrier. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
If a victim, such as the drivers of the Ford and Toyota, sustained a serious injury, they may go outside of the no-fault system and attempt to gain additional compensation through a truck accident lawsuit. The law specifically defines serious injuries as:
- Any injury that results in significant disfigurement or scarring.
- A fractured bone.
- Permanent damage which results in the limited use of a body part or organ.
- An injury that results in the limited use of a body system or function.
- An injury or injuries that mean the victim will be on full disability for 90 days or longer.
Although it hasn’t been reported what types of injuries were sustained by the two men who were struck by the steel beams, it is highly likely that at least the driver of the Toyota would have sustained injuries which would allow him to file a lawsuit.
Compensation Is Meant To Help Victims Recover
A plaintiff typically has two options:
- Agree to a settlement offer made by the defendant. The first offer does not need to be accepted, in the majority of cases, the plaintiff’s legal team is able to negotiate a higher settlement.
- Take the matter before the court. If the judge and/or jury sides with the plaintiff, they will award “damages” which are meant to compensate them for their losses – both monetary and nonmonetary.
The decision is left in the hands of the plaintiff, however, it is always wise to work with an attorney who can identify the pros and cons of each option.