Legal Questions In 23-Vehicle-Accident On Interstate 5 in Mt. Vernon, WA

semi truck accident mount vernonA northbound semitruck crossed the I-5 median and drove into on-comming traffic in the southbound lanes on Saturday around 8:45 AM near exit 224. Traffic was backed up due to an investigation into a drive-by shooter that happened hours earlier. Many southbound cars were hit and/or went off the highway to avoid a collision.

Local media outlets are reporting the semitruck driver may have suffered a medical emergency, which could have serious implications for the victims of the accident. A "medical emergency" defense could prevent an injured driver from recovering any compensation for damage caused by the collision.

Overcoming The "Medical Emergency" Defense

To find out the difference between a medical emergency and just a "medical emergency" defense a few questions need to be asked:

  • Was he warned by his doctor about the condition that may have caused him to lose consciousness and/or go off the road?
  • Were there other signs of medical problems as reported in the driver's medical records? 
  • Was the trucking company aware of the driver's medical condition?

In one case that the Davis Law Group handled, the driver passed out and hit our client, causing our client life-threatening injuries. The passed out motorist claimed a medical emergency. But a review of the motorist's prior medical records showed that he was repeatedly warned by his doctor of his "diabetic condition" and that it could cause low blood sugar, which in turn could lead to dizziness and loss of consciousness. As a result of this information, We were successful in getting the "medical emergency" defense thrown out by the judge.

As is the case with any accident involving a semi truck, an investigation needs to ask:

  • How long had the driver been driving without sleep?
  • Was the driver on his cell phone at the time of the accident?
  • Had the driver been using drugs or alcohol?
  • Had the driver recently begun taking a new prescription?
  • Was the truck in proper working order? 
  • When was the last time the truck had been serviced?

Trucking Company Lawyers Are Already Preparing For Legal Claims

If you are pursuing a claim against the semitruck driver and/or his employer trucking company, you also need to understand that most insurance companies will have their lawyers and accident reconstruction experts travel to the scene on the day of the collision!  The insurers begin immediately to start preparing their defense on behalf of their trucking company clients. Most people that have been seriously injured in a trucking accident should hire their own attorney as soon as possible to protect their rights and preserve the value of the claim.

Truck Drivers With Medical Conditions

According to a 2010 U.S. Government Accountability Office study, nearly 600,000 commercial truck drivers have some sort of dangerous medical condition but are still allowed to drive commercial semi-trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict guidelines and regulations for the fitness of truckers. All commercial truck drivers must be medically certified.  Despite the fact that the FMCSA is becoming more and more serious about keeping potentially dangerous truckers off of the road, drivers with serious medical conditions are still on the road.  

This is a serious public safety issues. The trucking companies need to be held accountable when their unsafe drivers cause accidents. 

Sources:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office (US GAO)
  • KOMO4 News, Seattle, WA
  • KING4 News, Seattle, WA
Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
Be the first to comment!
Post a Comment