Parked semi-trucks (tractor trailers) on the sides or shoulders of highways may not always be disabled. Often a truck driver will pull his big rig off to the shoulder of the road to rest, work on log books, text or get on the internet with his phone or laptop. Intentionally stopping or parking a tractor trailer along side of the highway for non-emergency reasons is illegal and extremely dangerous. When tractor trailers must park on the shoulder of road, they should attempt to get as far off the road and shoulder as possible so as to limit the chances of accidental impacts from others. When this happens, the truck driver is required to put on emergency flashers / hazard lights and set out triangular reflectors along the shoulder of the road at designated distances back to warn oncoming drivers of the disabled or parked tractor trailer. Often the drivers do not put out any reflectors and when they do, seldom are the reflectors placed at the designated location 100’s of feet away in order to give approaching motorists time to notice the warning reflectors and to timely react.
Every minute across America an 18 wheeler truck driver is pulling his rig off the side of the road near a restaurant, convenience store or fast food establishment to quickly go a grab a meal, a snack, buy supplies or just use the restroom. Often, problems arise because the location of these parked tractor trailers create a very dangerous blind spot or obstructed view for others trying to exit or enter driveways adjacent to these huge parked “billboards”. When the parked 18 wheeler is so close to the edge of the highway that pulling out onto oncoming traffic with reduced sight line visibility becomes an extremely dangerous situation to the driver and for the other cars on the highway. Additionally, the parked semi tractor trailers can also hide pedestrians and cars in the parking lots that might be approaching the entrance and cause them to be struck by exiting/entering vehicles.
Businesses that allow or condone the illegal parking of tractors and trailers can be held liable for creating such a condition or for not having parking available for the 18 wheelers. Such businesses should not be allowed to profit without liability when it is obvious from years of tire ruts along the roads outside their businesses that this dangerous activity is ongoing. When this does happen, signs should be installed, barriers installed, police called or extra parking provided. The businesses owe a duty to provide a safe egress and ingress without its customers having to face unnecessary dangers of an obstructed view or blind spot created by a truck illegally parked on the shoulder of the road. When a serious injury or death occurs, the truck driver and truck owner, driver’s employer and the business owner are likely defendants in a serious injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
A parked 18 wheeler (tractor trailer) parked on the highway shoulder becomes like a tall concrete wall as it is so close to the highway. Other cars and trucks traveling down the road need that extra shoulder for safety in case high winds blow them out of their lane, another car cuts into their lane or their own vehicle experiences tire failure or engine problems and is forced off the road. That extra 6-10 feet is also very needed with all the drivers that weave in and out of their lanes while temporarily distracted by text messages, cell phone conversations, fatigue and with normal distraction with passengers inside the car. When that emergency situation occurs and a parked tractor trailer is on the shoulder, catastrophic injuries and deaths often occur.
One such case of the Willis Law Firm occurred on US 59 near Wharton Texas, when a distracted driver crashed her car into the rear of an 18 wheeler that was having a rear tire repaired, killing our client’s husband and father of three children. Highway accident experts speculate that the woman driving the bullet vehicle got distracted and veered toward the lights that were being cast onto the rear of the tractor trailer and in essence the bright lights created the “moth effect” in which she subconsciously steered and aimed toward what she was concentrating on. This psychological phenomenon is well known by police and highway patrol that pull cars off the road especially at night. In this particular case, road flares and warning reflectors had been placed along road but to no avail. An out of court settlement was obtained in this case.
Whether the tractor trailer is illegally parked along the shoulder, disabled or parked extending into a highway even one inch, the results of contact with such a large almost stationary object with a car or truck are the same. Serious injuries, death and massive destruction at highway speeds are guaranteed. No matter how short of time a tractor trailer is parked or disabled, job one needs to be to warn approaching vehicles of the danger by use of flares, reflectors, flashing warning lights and even with a red flag manually waved at a far distance before the disabled vehicle to give time to safely move into another lane of traffic. Nighttime is of course the most dangerous time for a semi truck and trailer to break down due to the limited night visibility of the upcoming danger and immediate and effective warnings must be employed.
This was especially the case in another Willis Law Firm case on Central Expressway US 75 North in Dallas, Texas when a tractor pulling a trailer full of cows jackknifed on the slick roadway on the inside lane. The warning lights on the trailer were somehow disabled or broken due to the wreck into the guardrail. However, the truck driver failed to put out road flares or reflectors, instead relied on the Dallas Fire Department’s use of a handheld Q-Beam spotlight to flash at oncoming vehicles to “warn them” of the wrecked truck and trailer in the lane. Instead of warning our client and her husband, the Q-Beam spotlight in effect temporarily blinded her and she was unable to see the stalled out trailer until the last 100 feet of so and she crashed into the rear of it and her vehicle goes up under the rear bumper where upon she was partially decapitated and her husband suffered life changing catastrophic injuries. Attorney David P. Willis tried this wrongful death case in Dallas Federal District Court and on the third day of trial, the case was settled for a confidential amount.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured or a loved one killed due to an illegally parked semi truck and trailer or by an 18 wheeler that was parked and failed to properly use warning reflectors, flashing lights or flares, then call our personal injury law firm today. Mr. Willis is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in truck and auto accidents in Houston, Texas and Nationwide. Mr. Willis has been very successful in handling trucking accident cases dealing with negligent drivers, speeding trucks, illegally parked trucks, obstructed view cases and product liability cases. Call and talk to trial lawyer David Willis and get immediate help for your truck accident injury lawsuit.