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Amtrak/tractor trailer accident lawsuits remind us of dangers of semis


The dangers of tractor-trailers are highlighted as lawsuits begin following a March accident involving a commercial truck and passenger train.

Lawsuits and legal complaints have recently begun following a March 2015 crash involving an oversized tractor trailer and an Amtrak passenger train. The accident, which took place on a Halifax, North Carolina, railroad track, injured nearly 60 people, including the conductor of the train and 54 passengers.

Details of this frightening accident

The accident happened when the truck – an oversized tractor trailer load carrying a prefabricated electrical station full of equipment – became stuck on railroad tracks while attempting to navigate a sharp turn onto a local highway. Witnesses report that the truck tried for some time (the exact number of minutes varied depending on the source of the eyewitness accounts; a spokesman for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol says that the driver struggled for around five minutes, but other witnesses report that it was nearly 20 minutes) to complete the turn, but the load was apparently so heavy it was impossible for the truck to move forward, and traffic behind the vehicle prevented it from backing off the tracks in time to avoid the accident.

Though this truck was much bigger than the average tractor trailer (it reportedly weighed in at more than 255,000 pounds instead of the 80,000 pounds of a normal fully loaded truck and required 13 axles of tires to support it instead of the typical five axles), this accident actually deals with some of the same issues commonly seen in tractor trailer crashes. For example, there are oftentimes weight, size and speed disparities between vehicles involved in commercial truck crashes, which is why they so often result in catastrophic injuries.

In addition, there are other commonalities between this accident and more typical ones, including:

  • Sheer size of the vehicle making it difficult to maneuver
  • Inexperienced or unqualified drivers attempting operations they cannot complete
  • Drivers unprepared for changing or unfamiliar roadway, weather or landscape conditions (this may be due to inexperience carrying a large and unwieldy load through a previously unknown area, as was likely the case in this instance, or just not enough hours on the road to learn how best to approach such situations)
  • Lack of communication between truck drivers and others who may be able to help avoid accidents (there are indications that the driver in this high-profile accident failed to inform CSX, the railroad company who owned and operated the tracks, that he was blocking them and that incoming rail traffic should be warned)

Trucking accidents are also caused by speeding, failing to maintain the complex inner workings of the truck and/or trailer, driving while distracted, “drowsy driving”/driving while fatigued, drunk driving and other negligent acts on the part of a trucker. Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been injured due to the negligence, carelessness or inattentiveness of a commercial vehicle operator or truck driver, you may have the right to recover compensation for your injuries. For more information about North Carolina trucking accidents, contact an experienced personal injury attorney like those at the Charlotte law office of Britton Law

Keywords: truck accident, crash, collision, wreck, tractor trailer, big rig, semi, 18-wheeler