Seven motorists were recently injured in a chain-reaction collision between a volunteer fire department truck, a tractor-trailer and an SUV on the Beltway. According to investigators, the fire truck was attempting to make a U-turn in a cut-through meant for the exclusive use of emergency vehicles when the tractor-trailer hit the fire truck from behind with such force that the two vehicles hit the SUV, which subsequently overturned.
Emergency crews had to rush the most severely injured victim, one of four firefighters hurt in the crash, to the hospital in order to have his arm surgically reattached. Motor vehicle accidents involving tractor-trailers can often result in catastrophic injuries. 18-wheelers are large, heavy and unwieldy vehicles that require skill and caution to handle safely; so truck drivers must act with care in order to avoid hitting their fellow motorists.
Tractor-trailer accidents can happen when truck drivers work while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, when mirrors are defective or when they are tailgating in heavy traffic, leaving insufficient room to brake -which can cause rear-end accidents. Any driver who fails to take the standard level of care under the circumstances while driving may be found legally negligent and, therefore, at least partly responsible for any injuries caused by that negligence.
In addition, if a driver has an employment relationship with a trucking company, then a court may find that under the doctrine of respondeat superior, the company can be held liable for the truck driver's negligence since it holds supervisory power over the truck driver's actions. In such a case, it may be possible for truck crash victims to receive compensation for their injuries from the company as well as from the driver himself.
According to local authorities, the firefighter injured in the recent crash did have his arm reattached. However, no further updates on his condition were made available.