The growing problem of fracking truck accidents

by Eric Pearson

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is booming across the country. The boom means the rest of us are sharing the road with lots of extremely heavy trucks. Unfortunately, sometimes those trucks have not been properly maintained and sometimes the trucks are being driven by tired and overworked drivers in a hurry to get to back to the well.

$5.44 million settlement for man paralyzed by fracking water tank truck

A 23 year-old Pennsylvania man was a passenger in a car waiting to turn left when it was rear-ended by an overweight water tank truck. Such trucks deliver the water that is essential to the process of drilling for natural gas using hydraulic fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses millions of gallons of water per well and the water is brought to the well by trucks. As a result, fracking employs far more trucks making far more trips— roughly 500 to 1,500 truck trips per fracking well — than traditional drilling.

The man suffered a burst fracture of the spine at multiple levels and will remain totally paralyzed from mid-chest down for the rest of his life.

He was airlifted from the crash to an urban trauma and spine center. During a mediation held just eight months after the wreck, his attorneys negotiated a $5.44 million settlement to help provide for his needs.

Two children killed in fracking truck accident on March 9, 2013

Earlier this year, police found a water tank truck for Marcellus shale fracking laying on top of a four-door sedan in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Two children, 7 and 8, were dead on the scene. The drivers involved in the crash were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the water tanker truck that rolled and crushed the car told police his truck’s brakes failed. The local police investigated and found no deficiencies with the truck’s brakes.

Truck accidents are the #1 killer in the oil industry

Between 2003 and 2008, one third of the all oilfield worker deaths were caused by highway crashes. Inexplicably, oil field truck drivers are not required to follow the same rules as other truckers regarding hours on the road and rest. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules contain an hours-of-service exemption for oil well service truck drivers. Most commercial truckers must stop driving no later than 14 hours after their workday begins. Many oil and gas industry drivers, however, do not have to count time spent waiting at the well site while other crews finish their tasks. These wait times can sometimes stretch over 10 hours. If most commercial truckers work 60 hours over seven consecutive days, they must take at least 34 hours off so they can get two full nights of sleep. Oil and gas truckers who work that long are required to take only 24 hours off. These exemptions can have serious safety consequences not only for oilfield crew but also for the rest of us who to drive on the same roads.

Need help with a fracking truck accident?

While trucking company lawsuits serve many valuable purposes, they aren’t for the faint of heart. There are unique laws and regulations that are designed specifically to protect motorists from the negligent actions of truck drivers and trucking companies.

Trucking lawsuits can also be time-consuming and challenging. Many trucking companies and their insurers are well-funded and are willing to fight tooth and nail to avoid liability for their negligence. To even the playing field, victims need experienced, aggressive attorneys who will protect them in their time of need and force the trucking companies and their insurers to take responsibility for their actions.

HO&P has the resources and experiences to see your case through

Trucking lawsuits can be expensive. To properly prepare a case, an attorney may need to hire expert witnesses in the fields of trucking, trucking regulations, accident reconstruction and life care planning.

Given the complexities of this area of the law, the high costs associated with bringing such cases and the enormous damages often at stake, the last thing a victim of a trucking accident should do is entrust their 18-wheeler case to a lawyer with little or no experience with trucking accident litigation. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, our attorneys have tried dozens of cases involving accidents with 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. Our attorneys have helped achieve a $36 million verdict for the family of a teenager injured in a bus crash in East Texas. They have negotiated a $15 million settlement of a case involving an 18-wheeler accident that killed several members of the same family. And they achieved verdicts or settlements of $7.25 million, $5.2 million, $5 million, and $1.8 million in other 18-wheeler cases, just to name a few.

If you or a loved one has been injured or if you have lost someone in an accident involving a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering. Contact us today by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.