A trucking accident lawsuit in South Carolina against a North Carolina manufacturer was recently settled for $3.75 million. That money will be partially payable to a couple who were seriously injured when one of the company trucks rear-ended their vehicle as they slowed to turn into their own driveway.
The conclusion of the case was good news for the couple, looking for closure after an arduous ordeal after a crash that nearly killed them. And there is more good news. The settlement could result in the rest of us enjoying safer roads. Specifically, some believe it may result in fewer trucking accidents, owing to the fact that more trucking firms are going to start adopting bans on driver use of mobile phones.
According to The Post and Courier, the trucker involved in this collision was talking on his cell phone at the time of the crash. Part of the settlement agreement made by his employer was that it would from now on agree to ban drivers from using their phones – or other electronic devices – while operating commercial vehicles on the road. That alone may be a significant contribution to our safety, given that on any given day in South Carolina, this firm has 60 trucks on our roads. Until this settlement was announced, all of those drivers were permitted by company policy to operate 80,000 pounds of steel while talking on the phone.
The hope now is that more companies will follow suit. They will see how costly it can be to allow drivers to engage in such perilous behavior.
At the time of this trucking accident, company policy was reportedly that drivers were only allowed to use their phones for two-minute stretches while operating their rigs. If they were using phones, they had to be hands-free, wireless Bluetooth devices. But as has been concluded after extensive research by the National Safety Council, hands-free devices generally aren’t any safer for drivers, even though our current laws don’t reflect that truth. Drivers can be distracted as much by the content of the conversation as by visually taking their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.
But even this rule was not uniformly enforced, according to the plaintiff’s injury lawyer. In fact, phone records show this particular driver had been on his cell phone for seven hours straight over the course of his 8.5-hour shift. Phone records pulled from other drivers at the company showed this was a pattern of behavior at this firm, and the company wasn’t following up on it. In fact, all the firm did was require drivers to sign a paper promising not to use their phone for more than two minutes. Clearly, no one took that seriously, and the firm never spot-checked drivers’ phone records.
Initially, the trucker denied having been on his phone at the time of the crash, but the call logs proved otherwise. His credibility was marred too when he said the couple stopped in the middle of the road with no headlights. Black box records on the couple’s vehicle showed the headlights were on, and the vehicle had decelerated normally with the turn signal activated.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Lawsuit settlement could lead to more cellphone bans by trucking firms, Nov. 21, 2016, By David Wren, The Post and Courier
More Blog Entries:
Martin v. Gray – Applying the Correct State Law in Car Accident Lawsuits, Nov. 18, 2016, Charlotte Truck Accident Lawyer Blog