According to the Associated Press a tractor trailer was driven through blinding fog and smoke on a coastal highway in North Carolina, near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and struck and killed  Deputy Steven Boehm and a Firefighter Gene Thomas early Saturday, killing them. The deaths were tragic and, worse, easily preventable.

The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, specifically 392.14 states that "extreme caution in the operation of commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by ….fog….or smoke, adversely effect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced if such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued…"  Clearly the driver did not pull over when he should have and drove blindly into the fog and smoke. The driver had no idea what was before the tractor trailer as he traveled down the road and was driving faster than his ability to see a person, recognize that someone was in the road, and then stop. The only other alternative is that the driver did this intentionally. Can anyone else think of another explanation?

It is tragedies like these, where a delivery schedule and a few dollars are given a higher priority than life, that truly make me angry. I am sure the driver and his company are "sorry." I am also sure that insurance adjusters are, as I write this, talking to the families of these men, telling them that it was a "terrible accident" and they will "do the right thing" by the family. In my opinion unless they explain that the FMCSR’s were violated for profit, and that they either didn’t train the driver because they were too cheap to have a safety program, or had such a culture that the driver felt he had to keep driving to deliver the load even though he couldn’t see, justice won’t be done. They should also, to be fair, tell the families that while they are grieving, and making funeral arrangements, the tractor trailer insurance company has hired investigators, photographers, and others to protect the insurance company, not the families. This insurance investigation team, called a rapid response team in the industry, starts to work as soon as the collision is reported. Their job is  to make sure the fault of the trucking company is minimized in every possible way. I think not telling the family all of this is what an adjuster means when he says the insurance company will "do the right thing." They mean do the right thing by the insurance company. They sure are not out there protecting the family.

If anyone knows these families and wants to give them my name I will be happy, free of charge and with no obligation, to tell them exactly what needs to happen to protect their rights and find out why this tragedy really happened and what is being hidden from them. If these families don’t get in touch with a lawyer with trucking experience they may get some money, but they will never get justice.

This is not how I had planned to write my Father’s Day blog. Tonight I will pray for the families and ask that you do so as well.

 The Law Offices of Morgan Adams represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases arising from motor carrier accidents across Tennessee, Georgia, and throughout the country.  Morgan Adams is an Officer of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group, American Association for Justice and one of only two lawyers in the country honored with the Life Member Award by the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. He has served as chairman of the Tennessee Association of Justice’s Trucking Litigation Seminar since 2004. Morgan Adams’ firm focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailer accidents, truck wrecks, bus wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks, rollovers, cement mixers, tanker truck wrecks, fires and explosions involving trucks, hazardous chemical and materials truck and tanker wrecks.)