As a trucking trial attorney, I see it all too often.  And now again.  Early yesterday morning a tractor trailer loaded with sand ran a stop sign in south central Florida, striking a van on the right side. and killing six men.  According to an Associated Press report by Christine Armario, investigators were still trying to determine while the West Coast Aggregate 18-wheeler failed to stop for the stop sign. Authorities were still seeking to identify the six victims who were thought to be HIspanic.

Cristela Guerra and Janine Zeitlin of the Fort Myers News-Press

reported that the tractor-trailer was  hauling sand out of Ortona Sand Co., five to six miles from where the accident occurred.  The van, registered to a farm labor contractor, was not authorized to transport farm workers and had not passed vehicle safety inspections. 

According to USDOT information, West Coast Aggregate Haulers is based in Venice, Florida, and reports operation of only one power unit, hauling aggregate on interstate trips only. In the past 24 months West Coast Aggregate had two truck inspections, failing one of them. 

Florida requires only $300,000 liability insurance for trucks of intrastate haulers with a gross vehicle weight of 44,000 to 80,000 pounds, compared with the minimum $750,000 required for interstate truckers and the measly $100,000 required for intrastate haulers in Georgia.  However, we often find in Georgia that trucks hauling timber and  building materials such as sand actually carry $1 million liability coverage due to contractual requirements.


Ken Shigley has served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, co-sponsored by the Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Associations.  He is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and will speak this week at a seminar in Chicago sponsored by  the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates, he has successfully tried truck, bus and passenger van accident cases with multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements.  He has lectured on truck and bus litigation topics at  continuing legal education programs throughout the United States. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he is also a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School, a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program, and was recently elected Secretary of the 39,000 member State Bar of Georgia.