A fiery, multiple vehicle crash on Interstate 26 northwest of Columbia recently involved nearly a dozen vehicles, including a tanker truck carrying nearly 9,000 gallons of fuel that caught fire, engulfing numerous other cars nearby.
The incident shut down both lanes of traffic for nearly 12 hours as crews assessed the victims, transported them to local hospitals and surveyed the damage. Numerous motorists were injured, but so far, there have been no fatalities reported. The heat was so intense, emergency crews had a difficult time reaching the victims right away.
Still, authorities say it could have been a lot worse. Plumes of thick black smoke and shooting flames, if unchecked, could have easily reached a fireworks store adjacent to the accident site. That, say troopers, would have been ” a catastrophe.” Firefighters who responded put their lives on the line to make sure that didn’t happen, investigators said.
A fair amount of fuel also spilled into a local ditch, prompting environmental authorities to be called to assess potential contamination.
There are two factors here that are going to make this case potentially challenging for traffic accident lawyers who inevitably will take it on.
The first is that anytime you are dealing with a multiple vehicle crash situation where there is a chain reaction, determining fault is going to be an incredibly complex process requiring meticulous investigation. That’s especially going to be true in a case where half the vehicles were totally engulfed in flames and were charred to the frame.
Secondly challenging is the fact that we’re dealing with a trucking company. The trucking industry is notoriously fractured, pretty much specifically for the purpose of limiting liability among the various players. The truck is usually owned by a different company than owns the trailer, which are both separate from the firm that hired them to haul its load. The driver is also usually an independent contractor, which distances the trucking company from any claim of vicarious liability it might otherwise incur as an employer.
In both of these cases, there is an increased likelihood that injuries will be severe. Multiple vehicles means there is more of a potential for impact at numerous points. And of course when it comes to large trucks, smaller passenger vehicles are little match for a behemoth hunk of metal triple its size and weight.
Authorities on the I-26 investigation say it could be weeks or months before they have a clear idea of exactly what happened. In a case like this, those involved should consult an attorney right away to learn their rights and obligations and to preserve their best chance obtaining adequate compensation.
A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed 3,964 people were killed in 2013 in crashes involving large trucks. Another 95,000 people were injured. Large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal multiple-vehicle crashes as opposed to fatal single-vehicle crashes than were passenger vehicles (80 percent to 58 percent).
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Multi-vehicle crash closed S.C. interstate for hours, May 27, 2015, By Megan Rivers, USA Today
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Man Pleads Guilty in Fatal North Carolina Car Wreck, May 30, 2015, Rock Hill Car Accident Lawyer Blog