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Truck driver inattention causes New York truck accident that kills 6

Written by Steve Gursten Posted June 24th, 2013

But reports say he was not driving distracted… how could this be?

We came across an Associated Press story about “driver inattention” that caused a truck accident that killed six people in New York.

The article stated that the truck driver, James Mills Jr., “wasn’t paying attention” when he rear-ended a line of cars stopping for a paving project in rural upstate New York, which triggered a fiery chain-reaction truck accident that killed six people.

Yet the same article said the truck driver didn’t “appear to be impaired or distracted,” as an inspection of his cell phone showed no activity before the accident.

Is this a contradiction?  The news story attributed “driver inattention” to the crash, but the same story says the driver was not driving  distracted, according to police.

It’s far too early to say all the choices and decisions that led to this fatal  truck accident (and surely without a thorough analysis of log books, fatigue, sleep apnea, driver health, etc.) to conclude that the driver was NOT distracted. Here are some points to consider:

  • Since the truck driver is typically the only person alive after a catastrophic crash, usually we are left to take the truck driver’s story of the crash. Usually it isn’t until a full accident reconstruction has been completed, or if there is some luck, eyewitnesses are present, to give both sides. Most state agencies and law enforcement don’t have the funds and resources to audit a truck driver’s log books, or to determine whether there are actually two sets of books.
  • Again, in our own experience as lawyers who only help people seriously hurt in trucking accidents across the U.S., we have found time and again that the true facts emerge after the truck accident investigation. Again, most state agencies don’t have the funds, time or resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation. This is what experienced truck accident attorneys do.

Proving the true cause of this and other commercial vehicle accidents takes time and experience, and it is critical for the victims’ surviving family members to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer.

An experienced truck accident attorney is often the only one that can uncover every safety violation that led to the accident, including whether the driver was distracted or fatigued.  Often, police do not do full investigations or look into the log books, the maintenance, and whether the truck was in service or out of service at the time a crash occurred.

At the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, our lawyers have handled many distracted driving truck accident cases that resulted in preventable injuries and deaths. There have been truckers on their cell phones, eating, fatigued, and even surfing the Internet and watching movies that have caused these accidents.

This is a tragic case, and we send our condolences to the accident victims and all of the parties involved.

Related information:

Evidence in semi-truck crash cases

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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