The lawyers of Cook Law Group have handled several collisions which occurred at nighttime with tractor trailers or other commercial vehicles. In many of those cases, the cause of the wreck was not immediately apparent to the first investigators or personnel on the scene. In cases where someone is killed, often family members or untrained persons may not understand the science of nighttime collisions. More than once, we have helped families who have lost loved ones in wrecks when the blame was initially thought to rest with the deceased.
Picking the right lawyer means choosing someone that is experienced with your type of case, has a proven track record of results in that field, and can supply the effort, creativity and resources to get results for you. You need someone who knows what issues will arise in these cases and knows where to look for to determine what the true cause of the wreck was. Solving the mystery of why a nighttime collision occurred requires qualified accident reconstruction experts as well as experts in the field conspicuity, and sometimes nighttime photography experts to accurately re-create the lighting conditions and could or could not have been seen. Who you pick as a lawyer will determine the experts who will investigate your case. Choosing a lawyer who has the financial resources and judgment to hire the best and most qualified experts can mean the difference in winning and losing.
For example, in one nighttime collision case, the wife of our client was returning home from a friend’s house when she encountered a tractor trailer backing across her lane of traffic into an intersecting road. Although the wreck occurred at the end of a straight area in the road, our client’s wife was unable to see the trailer across her lane in time, struck it and was killed. The insurance company for the trucking company blamed our client’s wife and for several months he did not even seek legal advice. We hired two accident reconstructionists and a conspicuity expert who were able to solve the mystery of why our client’s wife could not see the trailer in time to stop. First, we were able to recreate the wreck scene and determine that as our client’s vehicle approached the tractor trailer, the tractor portion of the rig was in the opposite lane of travel from our client with its headlights pointing down the road. Thus, from our client’s wife’s perspective it appeared that she was simply meeting an oncoming vehicle properly in the opposing lane. Second, the position of the tractor’s headlights diminished our client’s wife’s ability to see the trailer. Third, we were able to determine that during our client’s wife’s approach to the trailer, the trailer was sitting at a shallow angle to our client’s wife. The significance of the angle of the trailer was extremely important because of the science that applies to the reflective tape required on tractor trailers. Our nighttime visibility and conspicuity expert was able to prove that the reflective tape diminishes its ability to reflect light back to the source as the angle of reflection is decreases from 90 degrees. We were able to rely upon peer reviewed, scientific research conducted by our experts to prepare the case for trial. While the insurance company and defendants in that case hired their own experts, their opinions were discredited by our experts and the case resolved for a significant amount which is confidential at the defendants’ request.
In another case, a company left heavy equipment parked on the side of and partially into a gravel roadway just around a curve. The defendants failed to place any barrels or warning devices that would alert motorists to the presence of the equipment. When a vehicle carrying our clients rounded the curve late one night, they struck the heavy equipment. One was person was killed and another was seriously injured. Again, the science of the wreck was absolutely key to proving the case. The case resolved after much litigation for a significant sum that is confidential at the request of the defendants.
We have handled several other nighttime collisions. Rarely do these cases look promising in the beginning, but with work, knowledge and determination, justice can be had.