It is common to hear or read about accidents in which drivers claim they could not prevent a crash. Pennsylvania law enforcement officials, legal investigators and courts do not depend solely on accounts given by people involved in car or
. Witness testimonies and physical evidence must concur with what drivers say.
No driver wants to feel responsible for another person's injuries or death. Saying "I couldn't stop in time" can be a conscious or unconscious attempt to avoid fault.
An out-of-state woman and her husband recently died in an 18-wheeler accident on Interstate 81 near Harrisburg. The couple was nearing their Mechanicsburg destination to attend a memorial service for the wife's father, who had passed away three weeks earlier.
The couple's SUV was caught up in slow interstate traffic during rush hour when the vehicle was struck by a tractor trailer. The force of the collision caused an accordion effect. The SUV was shoved into the back of semi-truck which in turn was pushed into another tractor trailer.
State troopers said the 64-year-old wife, a retired school teacher, was killed immediately. Her 63-year-old husband sustained catastrophic injuries and died shortly after hospitalization.
Investigating troopers may find the truck driver's claim that he could not stop was legitimate. On the other hand, evidence also could show that driver negligence like fatigue, impairment or distraction contributed to the crash.
Police will look for clues through accident reconstruction and a thorough mechanical inspection. Investigators will learn the truck's speed, the driver's braking response and whether the tractor trailer was operating properly. The driver's blood will be tested for alcohol or drug use. The operator's driving record will be scrutinized.
The truck driver's employer or leasing firm could also bear responsibility in a wrongful death claim. Plaintiffs can be awarded damages from a trucking company where lax hiring, service or safety records reveal negligence.
Source: thelcn.com, "Daughter of former sheriff official dies in Pennsylvania crash" No author given, May. 14, 2013