Early morning tractor-trailer accidents on I-95 in Connecticut
Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Aug 15, 2015 in Truck Accidents
Local news outlets have reported two separate crashes on I-95 in Old Lyme involving three tractor-trailers, one fatality, and multiple injuries. The first reportedly occurred near 4:30 a.m on the Southbound side near Exit 70; the second was about an hour later, on the opposite side.
Major trucking companies have their own teams of investigators positioned along the routes that their trucks travel so they can get to accident scenes quickly. These investigators respond to the scene even when the first responders are still there, speak with the driver, and advise him or her through the post-accident process. Their goal is to minimize the trucking company's liability. It is yet another disadvantage ordinary drivers are at when they are involved in a collision with a tractor trailer.
Incidentally, driver fatigue and hours of service violations are one of the most common causes of serious and preventable truck accidents. Investigators of the I-95 crashes early this morning will be able to identify if any of the tractor trailer drivers involved in these crashes were in violation of the hours of service regulations using fuel receipts, E-Z Pass records, data from trucking industry communications systems (like Omnitracs by Qualcomm), and other GPS coordinates (derived from cellular phone data and trucking communications programs). Comparing GPS data to driver logs is the best method of identifying falsifications because it is difficult for drivers to tamper with GPS data whereas other sources of information can be manipulated. Also, most trucking companies use some type of satellite- and computer-driven system to communicate with their drivers. Such communications between the driver and the company are not allowed to occur when the driver is in the sleeper berth or off duty however, so these records can reveal driver log falsifications as well.
Some evidence in tractor trailer crashes may be evanescent. [http://goo.gl/vT9nyA] The sooner these investigations begin, the more apt they are to get to the truth.
The Hartford Courant has updated its coverage of the two crashes that occurred early Saturday morning on I-95 in Old Lyme, reporting that Connecticut State Police have identified two out-of-state citizens who were killed in the second crash, which may have been caused by traffic that had slowed in response to the first crash on the other side.
The decedents were passengers in the same vehicle, and the driver of that car is also reported to have sustained a “suspected serious injury.”
Police reports indicate that the first crash occurred on I-95 southbound around 4:30 a.m. when a truck drove off the highway near the Whippoorwill Road overpass, struck the guardrail, and then a concrete bridge support. The cab of that truck caught fire, and was engulfed in flames when rescuers arrived.
Multiple others were reportedly injured in the 5:30 a.m. accident, which involved two tractor trailers and five passenger vehicles, about a half mile past the Exit 70 off ramp. The Courant reports that northbound vehicles slowed in the area of the first crash, and were struck by a tractor trailer.
Both accidents remain under investigation.
Incidentally, under Connecticut law, a driver or a trucking company is responsible for all the harms and losses which his or her or its negligence or recklessness is a "substantial factor" in causing. Negligence or recklessness is a substantial factor in bringing about an injury if it contributes materially to the production of the injury. It need not be the only cause.
The Connecticut Appellate Court has held that where a defendant’s negligence or recklessness is a proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injuries, the defendant may be held liable for the entirety of the plaintiff’s damages even if there is a concurrent negligent cause. Marchell v. Whelchel, 66 Conn. App. 574, 588-90 (2001) (affirming trial court’s instruction that “the defendant's conduct need not be the only cause, the sole proximate cause or the sole cause of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff in order to permit the plaintiff to recover, but to impose liability on the defendant, that failure on the doctor's part, if you find such a failure, must be a substantial factor in producing the result that occurred”); see also Wagner v. Clark Equipment Co., Inc., 243 Conn. 168, 183 (1997) (“[a] concurrent cause does not relieve the defendant of liability”).