Two Massive Pile-Ups
In the spring of 2015, Wyoming saw two of the biggest highway pile-ups in its history. One happened in mid-April during one of Wyoming’s typically massive spring snowstorms, which dropped 10 inches of snow in just a few hours. 70 vehicles were involved in the pile-up, most of which were commercial vehicles or semi-trucks. Unfortunately, many of the drivers didn’t slow down in the treacherous conditions and truck after truck slammed into the traffic stopped in front of them.
Some of the collisions were caught on video and have been posted to YouTube. Like this one:
The video captures the horror of driving on a highway in the Mountain West, particularly on I-80 in Wyoming and I-25 in Wyoming and Colorado, where semi-trucks rule the road. Miraculously, no one was killed in this accident, but several people were seriously injured, including one of our clients, who broke his femur and sustained a concussion.
Just a couple weeks after this 70-vehicle pile-up, another massive pile-up occurred. This one was also on I-80 but involved thick fog and slush rather than a blizzard. Like the first pile-up, this one featured drivers going too fast for conditions. Troopers stated that a semi-truck started it all when it crashed into another truck and jackknifed over both lanes of I-80. 64 vehicles were involved, with several serious injuries, two deaths, and a fire that was started because of a leak of hazardous material.
Trucking Accident Statistics
Thankfully, these types of pile-ups don’t happen often, but they still happen. And too often, they are the result of truck drivers violating nationwide or state standards regarding the safe operation of commercial vehicles. They are the result of drivers not being properly trained and educated, or drivers and trucking companies motivated more by money than safety. The following statistics are telling:
One out of every eight car accident fatalities involve large trucks.
When a commercial truck is involved in an accident, 86 percent of fatalities and 77 percent of those injured are the drivers and passengers of the smaller vehicles involved in the crash.
Commercial trucking accidents have been increasing since the early 1990’s.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation issued the following figures in its latest traffic accident report for 2016:
There were 13,846 crashes in Wyoming in 2016, 100 of which were fatal, and 2,457 of which resulted in injury.
713 of the crashes were alcohol-related, and of those, 302 resulted in injury and 28 resulted in death.
Tractor trailers or semi-trucks (light, medium, and heavy) were involved in 20 of the 100 fatal crashes.
Tractor trailers or semi-trucks were involved in 270 of the 2,457 crashes that caused injury.
What to Do if You’ve Been Involved in a Trucking Accident
As with any other accident, the victim might be confused, traumatized, and injured. But with trucking accidents, there’s a better chance that your injuries are more serious, or worse, that someone has been killed. The first thing you must do after a trucking accident is to call 9-1-1 and get medical attention. If you’re able to document the crash or the aftermath with photos or video, do so, but your first concern must be your health.
Your next step is to hire a trucking accident attorney. Unlike a typical car accident at a city intersection, trucking accidents implicate federal and state regulations and safety standards and often require engineers and other experts to reconstruct the scene, download and interpret electronic data, and investigate the employment and driver files of the trucking companies. There can also be issues with vicarious liability, lease agreements between drivers and companies, and issues regarding apportionment of fault. You will absolutely need an experienced truck accident attorney to represent your interests and navigate the complexities of your trucking accident case in order to give you the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve. And while your attorney is focusing on maximizing your recovery, you can focus on treatment and recovery.