Bartow County was the scene of a terrible set of events that cascaded into tragedy last week. This series of events could not have been anticipated and demonstrates again the damage that large trucks can cause. One family’s life has changed forever and our hearts go out to their family, friends and community. The tragedy occurred when a truck driver, who has since been arrested and charged under Georgia law with first degree vehicular homicide and driving under the influence, was outside his tractor-trailer apparently performing a safety inspection. As he inspected the truck, it began to roll down a hill, tragically crashing into a pick-up truck that was in the wrong place at the wrong time, traveling innocently north on Georgia Route 41. The impact caused the pick up truck to turn over and the family inside was trapped for hours while rescuers frantically worked to get to them freed.
A Cartersville mom who was also a dedicated missionary worker was riding in the pick-up truck and was reportedly killed when the truck slammed the family’s vehicle into a guard rail. Her two young children, ages 2 and 4, have been hospitalized and in serious condition at Scottish Rite. Her husband, who was driving the pick-up truck, was at Kennestone Hospital in stable condition for several days and was released.
It has now come to light that the tractor-trailer was loaded with hazardous materials. It is also thought that the parking brake was either defective or was not set by the driver as he inspected the truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 392.3 forbids impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel when they are impaired for any reason. Further Sections 392.7 and 392.8 require that drivers inspect their trucks before getting on the road, including the inspection of emergency equipment. Even greater caution is required when the truck is loaded with hazardous materials, which this truck apparently was.
This tragic crash reminds us again of the dangers involved with large trucks. A large truck rolling out of control onto a highway with no one driving or able to stop it is an obvious deadly weapon. When these trucks are on the road, their weight and height make them more harmful when they impact other vehicles. We have often posted about the duty of truck drivers to inspect their vehicles. But if that inspection is being performed by a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the inspection is essentially meaningless as the driver’s judgment and perception are likely impaired. And when that causes serious injury or death, both the truck driver, the trucking company and possibly others, such as the truck manufacturer, may all be held responsible.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, it is important to get legal guidance as soon as possible. Scholle Law is here to help, with the expertise in serious injury and trucking accidents to help you and your family with the legal and medical support, as well as the important investigative work needed after such an accident. Contact us for a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.