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I just read online about a horrific tractor-trailer accident that happened in December of 2006 where two children were killed. Apparently, the story recently made the news because counsel for the injured party filed their lawsuit just prior to the statute of limitatons passing. It’s not uncommon for a lawsuit to be required in serious cases like this, and most states (including Indiana) generally allow for a party to file the lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the children’s mother was involved in an accident on icy roads just prior to their vehicle being slammed into by the semi driver.

Authorities say Sanders’ vehicle lost control on the icy highway and collided with a van. Both vehicles came to rest in the road before being struck by the semitrailer driven by the Wisconsin driver.

The lawsuit alleges that Creager was driving too fast for conditions and failed to take action to avoid the crash.

Ultimately,this story is unbelievably tragic. As a parent, I simply cannot imagine anything worse. The unfortunate reality is, though, that there are 3.3 million semi-tractor trailers that operate on our nation’s higways, and when one of them is involved in an accident, there are rarely only minor injuries to the people involved.

Lawsuits involving tractor-trailers can be especially complex. First, because of the enormous size of the semi tractor-trailer compared with the plaintiff’s vehicle, the plaintiff is usually bringing either a wrongful death claim or is bringing claim for severe, permanent injuries. Also, these claims often require expert medical testimony regarding the nature and extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, whether the injuries are temporary or permanent, whether future medical expenses will be incurred, and whether the injuries are related to the collision with the semi.

Second, these cases can be especially interesting in light of the various federal motor vehicle safety requirements that trucking companies are required to follow. Often times, the trucking company has written safety policies and procedures that their drivers are required to follow depending on the situation, such as when they encounter icy conditions or when they come upon vehicles that have been involved in accidents. Obtaining this information and taking sworn deposition testimony from both the driver and the company’s safety director can yield a wealth of information to strengthen the injured party’s case against the company.

In the end, lets all use this tragic case as a reminder to ourselves to be extra careful. While we cannot stop other people from making mistakes, we can do everything in our power to make our vehicle safe. I’ve said it before, but make sure your tires have sufficient tread and are properly inflated. In bad weather, drive slowly or avoid traveling at all if the weather is too bad. I’m not saying any of these things would have changed the outcome in this story. I just want to remind everyone that terrible things can and do happen, and we all need to take whatever precautions we can.

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