A collision between a car and a tanker truck that was hauling chemicals sent the person driving the smaller vehicle to the hospital with injuries. The crash happened at the interchange between U.S. 158 and U.S. 17 South north of Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC), on the morning of January 28, 2021.
A State Highway patrol officer told WAVY-TV 10 that “three different witness … gave written statements that the tractor-trailer ran the stoplight.” The driver of the car had been making a left turn onto U.S. 17 when the tanker truck entered the intersection and hit the car broadside. It does not appear that any chemicals spilled.
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News reports do not contain details on how serious the injuries from the T-bone crash were. Decades of advising and representing victims of crashes caused by commercial truck drivers, however, have taught my North Carolina personal injury law firm colleagues and I that people in cars often sustain permanently disabling injuries when a truck driver hits them.
Brief details of the incident that have been made available to the public also suggest that the injured person could have strong grounds for seeking compensation from the at-fault truck driver and the trucking company. This is true even though the crash happened at a time when, according to the Highway Patrol officer, “there’s probably about two inches of slush on the road that hadn’t frozen.”
Slick Pavement Is Not an Automatic Excuse
Commercial truck drivers already have a high legal duty to operate their big rigs safely. The sheer size and weight of a tanker truck makes changing lanes, taking turns and stopping difficult. The difficulty of each of those maneuvers rises exponentially when snow, ice or slush makes the pavement slick.
Running a red light is always a risk for a tanker truck driver who speeds toward an intersection, becomes distracted or starts nodding off due to fatigue. Operating in wintry conditions makes running a red light possible even for a trucker who is traveling below the speed limit and focusing fully. Simply misjudging the time and distance needed to stop the big rig is enough to set the stage for a catastrophic or deadly collision.
The investigation into the crash at U.S. 158 and U.S. 17 remained open at the time this blog post was written. If, as seems likely, evidence shows that the tanker truck driver committed an error of some kind, the injured person from the car will be able to file insurance claims for medical expenses, the replacement of wages and earnings lost to temporary or long-term disability, and pain and suffering.
Partnering with a North Carolina personal injury attorney while pursuing such claims will make sense. If nothing else, the insurance company will surely put their own lawyers on the case and task them with finding any reason to refuse a settlement.