Friday afternoon about 2 pm, I nearly became a statistic in the kind of trucking accident case that I see too often as a lawyer.
Leaving Atlanta for the weekend with my wife, we were on I-285 approaching I-85 at "Spaghetti Junction" when traffic in our lane designated for I-85 North ground to a halt. I had been sitting there for maybe 15 to 30 seconds, about a car length behind a tractor trailer with my hazard flashers on to alert drivers behind me. Having seen so many cases of rear end collisions when freeway traffic stalls, I always hit the hazard flasher button in these situations. I know we were sitting there long enough to wonder why just our late was stopped, read the writing on the back of the trailer in front, and to note that it had the older style of rear underride bar.
Then I heard tires screeching. Looking in my rear view mirror I saw a tractor trailer with tires smoking, angling from my lane into the lane to my right.
Conservatively estimating the speed of the flow of traffic before the stoppage at 40 miles per hour and the time I had been stopped at 15 seconds, the trucker behind me would have traveled 879 feet – nearly the length of three football fields — with a clear view of traffic stopped and my flashing hazard lights, before he stopped inches from my rear bumper.
Fortunately, he was able to stop. But not before the image of a car pushed through the rear underride bar of a trailer in front flashed through my mind. That’s not how I want to die.
Was the truck driver behind me fatigued, inattentive, or both? Was he in the 11th hour or more of driving that day? Fortunately, no one will have occasion to ask. And fortunately, there will be no occasion for the surviving truck driver to falsely claim that the person he killed had suddenly slammed on brakes without warning, hoping that no accident reconstruction would prove otherwise.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, bus wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.