Experience, Knowledge, Resources

The lawyers at LaMarca Law Group, P.C. have handled a wide variety of interstate trucking collisions resulting from air brake failure, mechanical failure, maintenance defects, tire failure, wheel and hub failure, along with inattentive, impaired and incompetent operators.

More than any other type of motor vehicle case, interstate collisions involving heavy trucks, tractor-trailers or commercial buses require prompt investigation and evaluation. It is imperative that a timely and properly-scaled investigation take place. Typically, in order to properly evaluate and then present these cases to an insurance carrier or a jury, a combination of [computer generated animation, collision reconstruction technology](link to animation/reconstruction page) and expert testimony must be employed.

Early Response Team Concept

LaMarca Law Group, P.C. has established relationships with a number of highly experienced and qualified experts to assist it with early response investigations of interstate truck and tractor-trailer collisions and commercial bus collisions. Because of their nature, these types of collisions, often involving multiple vehicles, require a high level of timely and thorough investigation. These investigations typically include crash site measurements, evidence recording photography and onboard vehicle data collection and analysis.

An early response with the proper team of experts ensures that valuable information such as roadway debris, braking, tire scuffing and fluid drop patterns are preserved. Also, witnesses have a better memory immediately after the event, and this also adds to their credibility when giving a statement, deposition or courtroom testimony.

While the investigation of the scene and of the physical damage to all involved vehicles and objects is of utmost importance, to get a complete reconstruction and analysis also requires an understanding of the professional driver’s health, on-duty hours, driver log and other regulatory requirements, together with complete analysis of the vehicle’s repair records, mechanical condition, and brake, tire and rim component forensic failure analysis.

Experts we may need to employ include, but are not limited to:

  • Accident Reconstruction Expert
  • Cargo shift or loading or tie down expert
  • ECM (electronic control module) Expert
  • Safety Regulations Expert
  • Human Factors Expert
  • Illumination/Conspicuity Expert
  • Professional Driving Standards Expert
  • Truck Safety Expert
  • Sleep Deprivation Expert
  • Fleet Management Expert

Our Investigation

At LaMarca Law Group, P.C., we conduct all of our case investigations assuming every case will go to trial, and therefore collecting all evidence needed for trial. This keeps us focused on gathering and preserving reliable forms of evidence. Later, when we use this information, whether in negotiating with the insurance company, mediation or other alternate dispute resolution procedures, the opposing parties know that we are well-prepared to go to court. Along with our extensive trial experience, this preparation typically makes for a more favorable settlement.

The truck or bus driver’s background information can be invaluable in determining what caused the crash. Essential information can be learned from the following data sets:

  • Accident history
  • Criminal record
  • Drug and alcohol history
  • Employment history
  • Medical history
  • Training history
  • Violation and/or suspension history

Limits of Law Enforcement Investigations

Personal injury and wrongful death actions are civil proceedings to obtain compensation for the victims (and their families) of the careless acts of others. Law enforcement investigations of motor vehicle collisions are primarily criminal investigations and, as a result, have a number of inherent limitations in civil proceedings. First, the scope of their investigation is usually limited to determining whether or not there has been a violation of law for which a statutory or criminal citation should be issued. While some agencies have the benefit of highly experienced technical accident investigators, that is not always the case. Moreover, even the jurisdictions that have such expertise often do not have the personnel resources to interview witnesses and collect other data that will be useful or necessary in the civil case for monetary compensation to the victims.

Demonstrative Evidence Is Key

“Demonstrative Evidence” means evidence that illustrates or explains a key fact to a jury.  Demonstrative evidence is a critical part of every interstate truck or tractor-trailer collision. George A. LaMarca has extensive research, writing and speaking experience concerning the courtroom use of demonstrative evidence. He is frequently invited to speak on this topic at continuing legal education programs for not only Iowa trial lawyers, but for those in other states as well. For a list of Mr. LaMarca’s presentations – click here.

Mr. LaMarca has also lectured and written extensively on the use of computer animation in the reconstruction of motor vehicle collisions. He has given professional presentations to trial lawyers on “Use of Computer Generated Graphics in Motor Vehicle Litigation.” To view some excerpts from his work click here.

As the photo depicts, this was a head-on collision between two semi tractor-trailers on a state highway in north central Iowa. The photograph was taken from an Iowa Highway Patrol aircraft. In this case, we were able to prove that our client’s tractor-trailer unit was completely within his lane of travel when the other tractor-trailer unit crossed over the centerline and struck it, causing our client serious and permanent injuries.

Jury Verdicts and Settlements in Trucking and Interstate Collision Cases

Click here for a list of our jury verdicts and settlements, including many multi-million dollar results in truck and bus collision cases.

Protecting the Safety of Our Roads – Membership in APITLA

George A. LaMarca is an active member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. The APITLA is a national association of committed trial lawyers who have joined together to help eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices. Through the combined efforts of its member attorneys, this organization supports education, litigation and legislation to make America’s highways a safer place tomorrow for our families, our clients and all Americans.

The mission of APITLA is to dramatically reduce the number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths across America that are caused by trucking companies that are unsafe. Its members are committed to the organization’s motto of “Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies.” APITLA attorneys have attained extremely high levels of professional and national achievement and recognition in the area of law known as interstate trucking litigation. Membership in this prestigious organization is open only to ethical plaintiff’s lawyers who pledge to join together with other member attorneys to accomplish the stated mission of this organization.

APITLA membership enables Mr. LaMarca and the firm to access vast libraries of technical, engineering, scientific and regulatory sources involving all aspects of truck and tractor-trailer operations and crash investigations.

Collision Scenes from LaMarca Law Group, P.C. Firm Cases

Head-on collision between two semi tractor-trailers on a state highway in north central Iowa. We were able to prove that our client’s tractor-trailer unit was completely within his lane of travel when struck by the other tractor-trailer unit.

Truck Drivers – Expanded Duties

Unlike regular motorists, commercial truck drivers are subject to a significant number of government rules and regulations which are designed to make our roads a safe place for large trucks and tractor trailers units to share with automobiles. Also, a truck driver is subject to trucking company rules and policies that are designed to minimize driver error and fatigue.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Transportation 49, Parts 400 to 999. These standards are applicable to both vehicle and trailer manufacturers.

Included in the above total of 44 vehicle safety standards are the following standards most often implicated when mechanical conditions collisions:

  • FMVSS 108; Lamps, reflective devices
  • FMVSS 120; Tire and rims
  • FMVSS 121; Air brake systems
  • FMVSS 211; Wheel nuts, wheel discs and hubcaps.

Vehicle Operation Regulations

A detailed understanding of the relevant federal regulations and trucking industry standards is key to assisting legal counsel with the accumulation and analysis of appropriate records in each case.

Significantly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations have the force and effect of law, but they are only minimum safety standards. Motor carrier companies are free to and often have established their own safety standards and policies which are more safer the minimum standards set forth in the F.M.C.S.R.

Fatigued Truck Drivers Present a Danger to Your Family

Fatigue has the potential to create serious hazards on the nation’s roadways. When a person who is fatigued is behind the wheel of a tractor trailer rig, others on the road are put at risk of injury or death. It is no surprise that researchers found that driving while drowsy increased an individual’s crash risk by four to six times.

Increased driving time increases the risk of fatigue. Fatigue causes a variety of operational errors, and is clearly the No. 1 underlying reason and preventable cause of operator error responsible for tractor-trailer crashes.

A recent survey found that 38 percent of truck drivers find themselves falling asleep while driving. Thirteen percent admitted that they “often” fall asleep while driving. A staggering 47 percent admitted that they had actually fallen asleep at least once in the previous year.

As described below, since July 1, 2013, commercial truck drivers have new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations with which they must comply when operating commercial motor vehicles. The stated purpose of the rule is to set a maximum number of hours a driver is allowed to work on a continuing basis, to reduce the possibility of driver fatigue. Long daily and weekly hours are associated with an increased risk of crashes.

Lawyers in our firm have learned by reading driver logs and on-board data collection devices that driver fatigue is a very serious problem. It is often the case where it is clear to us that both driver and motor carrier company are complicit in these hours of service violations. A 2006 Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study by Wylie and others found that fatigue leads to:

  • Decreased alertness to danger
  • Decreased motivation to sustain performance
  • Decreased watchfulness
  • Increased lapses of attention
  • Increased subjective feelings of drowsiness
  • Longer reaction time to critical events
  • More variable and less effective control responses
  • Slower information-processing and decision-making

Despite its importance for safe operation, many trucking companies do not have the procedural safeguards to monitor and prevent violations of the Federal on-duty hour regulations. In fact, some companies put profit over safety and encourage or require drivers to violate hours of service regulations in order to maximize their revenues. When these policies lead to fatigue and collisions, then the employers or motor carriers are complicit with the driver and the law can hold them equally responsible for causing the collision. Note: See Section on Vehicle Telematics Systems below.

Hours of Service Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a part of the United States Department of Transportation, creates the rules that control how much a person can drive a tractor-trailer before he or she must go off-duty to rest.  The purpose of these rules is to prevent fatigued driving.  Every fatigued driver is dangerous, but a fatigued driver at the wheel of an 80,000-pound truck is like a ticking time bomb.  A tractor-trailer takes more time to slow or stop than a standard car or truck, and therefore the driver cannot let his or her reaction time be degraded by fatigue.

There are several different types of “Maximum Duty Limits” within the hours of service regulations.

The 11-hour Driving Limit and the 14-hour Driving Window: Tractor-trailer drivers cannot drive more than 11 total hours before they “reset” for the day by taking 10 continuous hours of rest.  The 11 hours of driving must all be within a 14-hour “driving window.”

The New Thirty-Minute Break Rule: A new regulation, effective July 1, 2013, states that a driver cannot drive more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute off-duty break.

The 60-Hour and the 70-Hour Rules:  If the motor carrier operates vehicles every day of the week, its drivers cannot drive for more than 70 hours in any period of 8 days.  If the carrier doesn’t operate vehicles every day of the week, its drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any period of 7 days.  These are “rolling” 8-day and 7-day periods – they don’t reset at the end of the period.

These and other FMCSA rules are complex, and only a complete analysis using the facts of an individual case can determine whether these rules were broken by a driver or motor carrier who caused a crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial drivers to comply with a number of laws and regulations separate and apart from the rules of the road in the states in which they are operating their vehicles. Nearly all collisions and other catastrophic events precipitated or caused by over-the-road trucks and tractor-trailers are preventable by compliance with federal regulations for the operation and maintenance of these vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, along with the State of Iowa’s rules of the road, are all encompassing and designed to prevent unsafe operation and vehicular failures which are known to cause these incidents. Below are key topical areas of the Code of Federal Regulations to be considered and researched in these collisions:

  • 49 C.F.R. § 376 – Lease and interchange of vehicles
  • 49 C.F.R. § 383 – Subpart G – Required knowledge and skills
  • 49 C.F.R. § 390 – General applicability and definitions
  • 49 C.F.R. § 392 – Driving of commercial motor vehicles
  • 49 C.F.R. § 393 – Parts and accessories necessary for safe operation
  • 49 C.F.R. §396 – Inspection, repair and maintenance
  • APPENDIX G to Subchapter B – Minimum periodic inspection standards

Unsafe Equipment Resulting in Trucking Collisions

Many motor carrier companies lease out their tractors or trailers, or both, to other entities or individuals, or they enter into joint venture agreements with owner-operators. The level of scrutiny over these lease/owner-operators is often less stringent and not as effective as those which can be imposed when the driver is an employee of the carrier that owns the equipment. Oftentimes these lease/owner-operators lack the financial resources and expertise to keep their vehicles in compliance with the level of inspection, repair and maintenance necessary for safe operation.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) are published in CFR, Transportation 49, Pars 200 to 399. These regulations are applicable to both vehicle operators and owners and are typically employed when the collision involves hours of service issues, such as fatigued drivers, driver’s logs, severe weather, maintenance and brake inspection requirements and cargo securement:

    • FMCSR 392.2 -Applicable Operating Rules
    • FMCSR 392.3 -Ill or Fatigued Operator
    • FMCSR 392.7 – Equipment, Inspection and Use
    • FMCSR 392.9 – Inspection of Cargo, Cargo Securement Devices and Systems
    • FMCSR 392.14 – Hazardous Conditions; Extreme Cautions
    • FMCSR 393.47(e) – Push Rod Adjustment Limit
    • FMCSR 393.100-393.136 – Protection Against Shifting and Falling Cargo
    • FMCSR 395.3 -Maximum Driving Time for Property-Carrying Vehicles
    • FMCSR 395.8 -Driver’s Record of Duty Status
    • FMCSR 396.13- Driver Inspection
    • Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III – Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards
    • North America Standard Vehicle Out-Of-Service Criteria by Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)

An appropriate search of the FMCSR is vital when investigating, reconstructing and analyzing the causation of trucking accidents. But, in order for motor carriers to meet some of the required regulations, they need to purchase motor vehicles and trailers manufactured in compliance with FMCSR. This requires pre-purchase awareness and compliance before the vehicle or trailer is put into service.

Onboard Data Recording Devices (“Black Box”)

Today most commercial trucks and tractor-trailer rigs have a variety of devices for collecting and correlating vehicle operation and performance, as well as various operator activities such as cellular phone use and text messaging. It is important to select reliable and experienced experts for each device in order to properly retrieve and interpret data that will be admissible for courtroom use. Both federal law and state law only require the retention of potentially vital records for six months, and in some cases for a shorter period. It is crucial that the early response team move promptly to preserve these records or they will be no longer available, and as a result, potentially valuable information will be lost which could affect the ultimate settlement or verdict value of the case, or even prevent a recovery altogether.

The timely sequestering and competent downloading of onboard data recording systems is imperative. Care must then be taken to extract the data or remove and secure the data with the proper chain of custody prior to downloading the data.

Numerous electronic and computerized systems generating and recording vehicle performance statistics and the driver’s use of various communication devices at the time of the collision can be obtained. Sophisticated communication systems, computerized log books and intricate onboard data collection devices provide a wide-array of highly valuable evidence in the determination of the cause of these collisions.

DEVICE: DATA:
BLACK BOXESEngine Control UnitsEngine Control Modules

Event Data Recorders

Speed HistoryHard Braking EventsRapid Accelerations

Redlining/Over RPM

Throttle Status

Brake Status

Modifications to Device

 

Electronic LogsElectronic On-Board Recorder (EOBR) Time/Distance TraveledValidation of Log DataFalsification Detection

DOT HOS Compliance

 

Cellular Phone Tracking / Phone Usage GPS PositioningCellular Tower AssociationBlogging

Website Browsing

Text Messages Sent/Received

Phone Calls Made/Received

 

Global Positioning System / GPS

Realtime CellularPassive Cellular

Realtime Satellite

Passive Satellite

Local, In Truck/Vehicle Storage

Corporate, Central Data Storage

 

 

Unsafe Mexican Trucks Endanger the American Public

The United States and Mexico signed a trade agreement in March 2011 that ended a Mexican tariff on U.S. products in return for opening the border to Mexican trucks meeting American safety and environmental regulations. Unfortunately for the motoring public, the drivers of the trucks and the trucks themselves many times fall short of the American safety and environmental regulations.

The safety programs for many Mexican companies are highly deficient. This is a real danger because a lot of these shortcomings involve maintenance items required for the truck to operate on the U.S. interstate systems and primary roadways. One truck was stopped 18 times in a one-year period. Of the many violations, that truck was found to have defective or missing axle parts, brake defects, a cracked frame, inoperative signals, oil and grease leaks, and a brake violation. One Mexican company was cited 44 times in a single day for maintenance violations. The Mexican trucking company operating the most trucks on U.S. roadways has a vehicle-maintenance record poorer than 77 percent of all American trucking companies.

Driver fitness scores have long been an indicator of a truck driver’s qualifications to safely operate a tractor trailer. The same Mexican trucking company that was cited 44 times for maintenance violations in a single day also has driver fitness scores lower than 99 percent of American trucking companies. The trade regulations require that these Mexican drivers be able to fluently speak English. This requirement is in place to assure these drivers can safely understand highway signs and signals, respond to official inquiries and fill out regulatory reports. Many of these drivers have been found unable to speak English at all.

Driver Distraction Due to Cell Phone and Electronic Devices

Perhaps second after driver fatigue as a leading cause of interstate trucking collisions is driver distraction due to cell phone or other electronic device usage. It is no longer unusual for crash analysis to determine that drivers were distracted by using computers, watching movies, texting, or using a cell phone in other ways.

It is unfortunate, but only in the most unusual of cases will state and local law enforcement investigation of interstate trucking collisions involve criminal subpoenas to look into the cell phone records of drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) now includes a rule that restricts the use of cellular phones. The FMCSA rule has a $2,750.00 per violation penalty. Proving a violation of the rule can be done in one or more of the following ways:

1. Driver Admits to Using Cell Phone. Typically there are no such admissions, unless you have a driver who is caught off-guard or there is a witness who reports such information at the scene in the presence of the driver and the investigating officer and the driver simply believes he or she must admit it. Also, investigating officers can threaten to take some of the other measures listed below if the driver does not voluntarily provide truthful information on cell phone or computer use at the time of the collision.

2. Observations by Law Enforcement. While it is difficult for law enforcement officers into the cab of a truck, certain surveillance, check-posts and sometimes just “blind luck” can lead to such evidence. In such cases, the officer can file charges based on his or her sworn statement.

3. Examination of Driver’s Cell Phone Records.  A subpoena to the cellular carrier will result in data that includes the dates, times and durations of phone calls. It can also obtain the information about the tower that the cell phone was attached to at the time of the call. The same data can also be obtained for text messages. Each call or text is compartmentalized as an individual transaction, and the following data for each transaction (call or text) can be retrieved from the cellular company:

  • Connecting date and time
  • Number dialed
  • Originating phone number
  • Cellular tower number / location
  • Cell phone serial numbers
  • GPS location at time of call or text
  • Call duration

4. Examination of the Data Stored on Device.  The cell phone itself has detailed records about its use. A skilled forensic cell phone expert can usually extract most or all data during a given time period. This data can then be put into a timeline that draws an accurate picture about the cell phone’s use in relationship to the collision. Smart Phones create and store event logs that record the type of transaction (photo, Facebook, email, video download, etc.), date and time of each usage and the length of usage.

In addition to letters which put a driver and/or carrier on notice of our firm’s investigation and requests them not to destroy evidence, such as the vehicle involved, photographs of the vehicle, onboard data collection systems, driver logs, bills of lading and shipment manifests, we also include a notice and request to preserve all cell phones owned by the driver at the time of the collision. Actual forensic examination of the cell phone provides the most comprehensive data set, in that cell phone records from the cellular service provider only provide the information listed in paragraph 3 above.

Telematics Data Communications and Storage

Truck telematics is the sending, receiving and storing of data with mobile telecommunication devices. Truck telematics systems have become commonplace equipment on commercial trucks and trailers that are part of a for wireless fleet management system.

Some of the more common truck telematics systems are:

  • DriverTech
  • PeopleNet
  • Dynafleet
  • Teletrac
  • FleetMatics
  • XataNet
  • MobileNet
  • Xdata

Most telematics systems can report a real-time vehicle location, vehicle location history, driver-to-dispatch two-way text messaging, and turn-by-turn navigation. Highly advanced systems display real-time truck onboard network sensor data, log historic truck onboard network sensor data, and snapshot truck onboard network sensor data.

Every truck telematics system will have a service provider. They use cellular data networks, low-orbit satellites, and Wi-Fi to relay data to the service provider’s computer system where it can be viewed and accessed by the owner through a web portal. The truck telematics device is registered to the owner/service provider using the device’s Electronic Serial Number (ESN). ESNs are required by the Federal Communications Commission on all mobile telecommunications devices. The device’s ESN is on the manufacturer’s label and will direct where its data is going.

The amount of information wirelessly transmitted can vary tremendously depending on the type of system. Transmitted data can be viewed by fleet managers in real time or historically in data logs or data snapshots. Data logs are continuous recordings of vehicle data at a preset time interval. Data snapshots show time windows of data after a vehicle behavior triggers an event recording. Common triggers for data snapshots in truck telematics systems can be hard brake events, hours of service violations, stability control events, speeding events, pressed emergency button events, excessive idle time events, and engine over speed events. Both data logs and data snapshots will be stored on the service providers’ computer servers where the data can be accessed by fleet managers. Additionally, data snapshots are often sent by email to a fleet manager and can be viewed immediately following certain trigger events.

Among the basic information mandated by truck telematics systems are the following:

  • Active and historic DTCs
  • Approaching vehicle too fast
  • Fuel level
  • Cruise control active/inactive
  • Hours of service
  • Engine hours
  • Odometer miles
  • Engine idle time
  • Oil level
  • Engine over speed
  • Time at full throttle
  • Engine temperature
  • Time in top gear
  • Following too closely
  • Time on brakes
  • Fuel economy Vehicle
  • GPS location
  • Vehicle speed

Truck telematics systems have a messaging function that allows drivers to communicate certain trip milestones to fleet managers. These typically include a notice every time the load is assigned, the load is delivered, the truck is fueled and includes the truck’s location.

These messages can be freeform or macros. Freeform messages allow driver and fleet managers to type anything into the message window. Macros are fill-in-the-blank message templates limited to certain designated activities. Common activities that use macro messages include:

  • Appointment time
  • Leave stop
  • Arrive at consignee
  • Load assignment
  • Arrive at stop
  • Projected time available
  • Cargo delivered, empty
  • Request for directions
  • Check call
  • Request for time-off
  • Fuel stop

Electronic Log Systems

The telematics systems described above can be programmed to keep electronic logbooks instead of a handwritten logbook. With an electronic log system, the driver changes duty status by touching a button on a telematics screen to log start/finish times for on-duty driving, on-duty not driving, time in sleeper-berth, or time off-duty. Electronic log systems can also automatically change the driver’s duty status such as: when the parking brakes are released, the system may change the driver’s duty status to on-duty driving; or when the parking brakes are set, the electronic log system may change the driver’s duty status to on-duty not driving. Electronic log systems can record the distance in miles over a given timeframe each day. It will also compute the average speed for that period. A very practical application is the automatic clocking/calculation printout of the remaining driving and on-duty times that the driver has left and it can automatically create a graph grid log. This gives the driver an easy and up-to-date computation of hours of service data. The data will always be updated in real-time and visible on the telematics screen. The data can also be sent to the trucking company or a law enforcement agency.

What is Brake Fade?

Brake Fade describes the condition that occurs when brake drums expand due to heating. When heated to a sufficient level, the brake shoes cannot effectively create enough pressure to grip the drum so as to enable effective braking.

A semi-tractor rig (18-wheeler) will have ten separate mechanical systems: one on each end of every axle. This is where timely and expert adjustments need to take place. To have one brake out of adjustment means an unbalanced system and the loss of at least 10% of the braking or stopping ability of the entire rig. Two brakes out of adjustment means a 20% loss, and at this point DOT regulations require the rig to be out-of-service.

You can also find trucks that have an adjustment on one end of an axle, such as 21/8 inches on a C-30 chamber. Theoretically, this would be properly adjusted, but in the use of that brake, the heat developed can put it out of adjustment – especially as the drum wears down closer to its limit. One quick stop can put drum temperature over 500°. When the adjustment is different on the opposite wheel, then the truck would be operating with an unbalanced system. Just stopping at lights at proper speeds would have very little effect, but a hard stop can cause overall adjustment problems. In collisions involving emergency stopping, a very intense inspection of the tractor-trailer braking system needs to take place.

Drivers often mistakenly assume that brake inspections are not critical due to the utility of the automatic slack adjusters. This is a dangerous assumption. The automatic slack adjuster can get out of adjustment. Each wheel needs to be checked every day for viability of components (linings, drum integrity) as well as leaks and adjustments. It is the driver’s job to know the condition of his or her equipment.

Federal Regulations require commercial drivers to have knowledge of the operational status of their equipment. For example, a driver needs to know that all 10 drums on an 18-wheeler are “sound.” This requires the operator to visually inspect each drum and to rap each drum with a wrench or hammer to make sure they ring like a bell. Note: See Section on Federal Motor Vehicle Standards.

Collision Scenes from Actual LaMarca Law Group, P.C. Law Firm Cases

Two men standing on the shoulder of the road were struck by a tractor-trailer driver who swerved onto the shoulder.  One was killed, the other was seriously injured.

This incident was a “hit and run.”  The truck driver who hit two men on the side of the road kept driving, and was followed by a witness who called 911 while trailing him.  When he was finally pulled over by an Iowa Patrol Trooper, the driver denied that he had hit anyone.  The officer nearly let him go because there was no evidence of impact on the front of the tractor.  But, on the way back to his patrol car, the officer spotted this fuzz on the back of the trailer, which was torn out of the victim’s coat when he was hit.

Our client was a tow-truck driver, who was on the shoulder removing this wheel from a broken axle when he was hit by a semi that had swerved off the road and onto the shoulder.

This photo shows the damage done by a tractor-trailer driver who was fatigued and allowed her vehicle to drift over the white fog-line and onto the shoulder where our client’s tractor-trailer was disabled, but lawfully parked completely on the shoulders.  She was violating several different FMCSA hours-of-service laws at the time of the crash.

This photo shows more damage caused by the same fatigued tractor-trailer driver.  When she drifted off the roadway and onto the shoulder, she was so fatigued that she failed to be alerted by two different parallel sets of rumble strips on the shoulder – first an intermittent rumble strip closer to the road, and then a second set of constant rumble strips further out on the shoulder.

In this case, we were able to determine from the truck’s “black box” that the driver was so fatigued she did not even hit her brakes before the crash.  The black box gave us a second-by-second account of the final minute before the crash, which showed that the brake pedal was pressed down for the first time about one second after the crash.


Another view of our client’s trailer unit after the collision described above.

The driver of this tractor/trailer was our client. He was on the interstate in a construction zone where there was only one lane of traffic in each direction.  He was approaching an entrance ramp, but could not change lanes because there was no left lane to move into.  A 40-foot bus swerved suddenly from the entrance ramp acceleration lane into our client’s lane, causing a crash.  You can see in this photo that the rear-view mirror from the side of the bus is actually lodged on the front of our client’s trailer.

Legal Notice Required Before Alcohol Related Suit

Pursuant to Iowa law, any person who is injured by an intoxicated person has the right to bring an action against any licensee or permittee who sold and served beer, wine, or other intoxicating liquor to the intoxicated when the licensee or permittee knew or should have known the person was intoxicated, or who sold to and served the person to a point where the licensee or permittee knew or should have known the person would become intoxicated. Iowa Code §123.92. The injured person must give written notice, however, within six (6) months of the occurrence of the injury to either the licensee or permittee or to the licensee or permittee’s insurance carrier of that person’s intention to bring an action pursuant to Iowa’s dram shop statute. Iowa Code §123.93. Such written notice must indicate the time, place and circumstances causing the injury. Iowa Code §123.93. Iowa courts have held that if an injured person or their legal representative fails to give written notice pursuant to Iowa Code §123.93 within six months, that person is forever barred from bringing a claim under Iowa’s dram shop statute.

Don’t Let Delay Destroy Your Rights

You should be aware that the Statute of Limitations (the deadline imposed by law within which you may bring a lawsuit) may severely limit the time remaining for you to file any potential claim.

Protect your rights by contacting an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced trial attorney can also provide timely advice and service regarding preservation of evidence and other time sensitive matters that can affect your rights. Click here for time limitations and other requirements to recover for injuries or deaths caused by intoxicated persons.

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