While many are questioning the decision to reopen the stretch of I-75 where the car pileup happened in the early morning hours of last Sunday, authorities are still trying to identify some of the victims of the fiery crashes that occurred near Gainesville. The latest victim was identified as Christie Nguyen, a 27 year old college student. Ms. Nguyen was the 7th victim to be identified. Authorities are still trying to identify three bodies that were badly burnt in their vehicles, making the process hard to complete.
No Federal Guidelines To Shut Down Roads
Apparently, there are no federal guidelines for the closure of highways. Be it a sandstorm in Arizona, a whiteout in Maine or a wildfire in Florida, the decision to shut down a highway rests with local state troopers, according to cbsnews.com. Typically, those on the scene will relay to their local supervisors information based on their visual appreciation of the conditions and these supervisors will then make a decision to close the highway or not.
Closing a highway can be a costly decision, given the volume of merchandise that’s moved through our road system in large commercial trucks everyday. Timely delivery of those goods affects the profitability of trucking companies and freight forwarders alike. Therefore, local troopers “making the call” are likely to be under a lot of pressure to reopen a road.
However, there is no evidence that such was the case when troopers decided to reopen the stretch of I-75 where the pileups occurred. This part of the highway had been shut down earlier due to a previous accident. However, after being closed for three hours, a sergeant and a lieutenant from the Florida Highway Patrol decided that conditions had cleared enough to reopen the road. Apparently, conditions quickly deteriorated soon thereafter, causing the fiery pileups that ended up costing the lives of ten people and injuries to 18.
Florida Likely to Have More Smoky Roads
Florida has one of the nation’s most active prescribed fire programs. That means that it is more likely to find brush fires (set up by authorities to combat larger fires) than in other states and, in turn, to find more areas where smoke hinders visibility. However, there has been some speculation that the wildfire that caused these accidents was arson because there were no prescribed fires programmed for that area or lightning storms that could have initiated the blaze. Authorities are still investigating the origin of this wildfire and should it be determined that someone was to blame for it, that someone may face at least ten counts of manslaughter if caught.
Responsibility in this case may also lie with some of the tractor-trailer drivers who may not have followed proper driving protocol when faced with poor visibility. Fog, smoke and other conditions are not unique and professional tractor-trailer drivers are taught how to deal with them to maintain their own safety and the safety of the motoring public. Investigators must look into the actions of each and every driver, whether in an auto or a truck, to see their actions. Many trucks and cars have Engine Control Modules (ECM) which yield important data to crash reconstructionists just as a “black box” does in an airplane crash. This important data can be lost if not properly retrieved and downloaded. The lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano work together with highly qualified experts to use all available information to determine who is at-fault for a crash.
With more than 60 years of combined experience handling cases related to tractor-trailer accident which have resulted in catastrophic injuries and/or wrongful death, the attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano can help. We currently represent the estate of a young man recently killed when his car collided with an eighteen-wheeler. Please note that our practice has been extended with a new satellite office in Aventura to better serve clients that reside in Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Dania & Dania Beach, Miramar, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Aventura, Miami Beach, Surfside, Sunny Isles and Miami Gardens.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. The