Tired Trucker Causes Fatal Accident
Atinderpal “Gavan” Singh, a commercial truck drive, was driving his semi-truck eastbound on I-80 in Nebraska. Also eastbound on I-80 that day was Freddie Galloway, a trucker for Ecklund Logistics Inc., Galloway was some distance ahead of Singh. Late summer in Nebraska meant grass fires, and the median was burning on the highway median. Local fire and police departments were on scene and were trying to both contain the fire and control traffic. Galloway heard about the fire on his CB radio while still several miles away and proceeded to slow his truck to 5 mph in a 75-mph zone, driving that speed for approximately 10 minutes as he approached the scene of the fire.
Singh, 23, came upon Galloway’s truck and was unable to slow down in time, As he steered left to try to avoid the truck, the front of his cab struck Galloway’s trailer. Singh’s truck exploded on impact and he was ejected from the cab. Singh sustained massive injuries and he was pronounced dead at the scene. At the time of his death his wife was pregnant with the couples first child, who was born one month after his father’s death.
Singh’s wife, individually and on behalf of his estate and the couple’s infant son, proceeded to sue Galloway and Euckland Logistics, alleging that Galloway was negligent in driving too slowly under the circumstances and in failing to activate his hazard light, driving while fatigued and distracted, and failing to properly control his vehicle and keep a proper lookout. The plaintiffs also alleged negligence per se for Galloway’s violation of state statute prohibiting slow driving that impedes the flow of traffic.
The lawsuit included a claim against Euckland Logistics for negligent hiring, but the defense obtained summary judgement on that claim.
The plaintiffs presented evidence that at the same time as the crash, Galloway was driving in violation of federal hours-of-service regulations and had falsified his logbook. The plaintiffs asserted that two days before the collision, Galloway filled out his logbook in a way that showed he was off duty for a 24-hour period. He also completed a log for the same day, however, showing that he spent that day on duty, driving and making stops. Galloway reportedly admitted at deposition to being on duty and expressed confusion when confronted with a second logbook page for the same day showing that he was off duty. When the accurate logbook page was considered, the plaintiffs contended, it showed that Galloway had been driving or on duty more that 70 hours over the maximum allowable time for an eight-day period.
The plaintiffs also offered Galloway’s deposition testimony, in which he admitted that he was talking on his cell phone at the time of the crash, and his testimony acknowledging that he had slowed to 5 mph.
The defendants argued that Galloway was using his hazard lights and that Singh failed to keep a proper lookout and observe the lights and trailer.
To counter the lookout claim, plaintiff presented video obtained from the local sheriff’s office showing Galloway’s truck immediately after the crash. In the video, the truck’s flashing lights are blinking on the left side only. At trial, the plaintiffs showed the video to the Nebraska state trooper who had inspected the truck after the crash and determined that the lights were worming properly. The trooper testified that the video showed that the truck’s left turn signal was illuminated after the wreck, not the hazard lights.
The jury allocated fault at 55 percent to Galloway and 45 percent to Singh and awarded approximately $2.25 million. After reduction for fault, the verdict totaled approximately $1.24 million. As of this writing a defense motion for a new trial is pending.
Contact Jones Brown
Whether you were in a collision involving a semi-truck, or you are the driver of the semi-truck, you must take immediate action after a truck accident. The trucking company and its insurance provider may have investigators on the scene immediately, looking for evidence to use against the truck accident victim.
Here’s what you need to look for:
Black boxes → Modern trucks have event data recorders that look like black boxes. It records speed and any other important information at the time of a truck wreck. Truck companies may erase this critical information while repairing damage, so a lawyer must act quickly to recover important information.
Truck maintenance records → these records will show whether or not tires were replaced, brakes were repaired and other truck parts were properly maintained. Failure of truck maintenance at the driver’s or company’s expense is important for your case. The attorneys at the law offices of Jones Brown can help you recover this important information.
Driver logbooks → Truck drivers are required to record their hours. Some drivers may have two logbooks. One book may appear as though all laws were followed and the other may have the true number of hours, which could be less than their requirement. This is a violation of regulations, and a lawyer can investigate this side of the case to make sure all information is accurate.
There are many differences between truck accidents and regular automobile accidents. Trucking companies have significant ways of minimizing claims, and their rules differ from rules that apply to other drivers. You must have a lawyer on your side who knows these rules, and one who will walk you through this process every step of the way.
Truck accidents have a variety of different origins, including:
- Overloaded trucks
- Driver fatigue
- Careless lane changes
- Following too closely
- Tire blowout
When you need legal help, finding the answers you need can be overwhelming. No fear, you can contact us! We’re here to take the guesswork and searching out of the equation. Contact us: call, text, and we will contact you within 24 business hours.
You May Call Us
855-JBLAW99 (855-525-2999) We answer our phones 24 hours a day.
Text Us For A Quick Response