The “Bad” Truck Driver in a Chehalis, WA I-5 Truck Accident

Michael GrossmanJanuary 13, 2017 4 minutes

On January 6, 2017, there were two accidents on Interstate 5 in Chehalis, WA. According to reports, on the southbound side of the highway, an SUV collided with a pedestrian who was attempting to cross the road. In that accident, the 15-year-old pedestrian was killed. Naturally, this accident slowed traffic in both directions. A short time later, a semi-truck came upon the slowed northbound traffic, when an allegedly intoxicated driver plowed into the back of a car. The driver the car, a 30-year-old man was taken from the scene via helicopter with serious injuries. The truck driver was arrested.

When we read about this accident, it reminded us of a truck driver who commented on our blog a couple of weeks ago and even took the time to give us a phone call. The driver felt that some of our articles did little more than bash truckers and their profession. Such complaints are not unusual in our line of work, and we take the time to explain our position to each and every driver who reaches out to us; The truck accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices don't bash truck drivers, but we are absolutely ruthless with bad truck drivers.

I know that this can seem like a matter of semantics, but one of the things that struck the person who fielded the call from the upset truck driver was when that driver said that he felt afraid of some of the other drivers on the road. For us, he was preaching to the choir. Doing the work that we do, we get to see the worst of the worst that the trucking industry has to offer. It's not the good drivers, who have millions of safe miles under their belt and just happened to have had a bad day that end up in our cross-hairs, but the drunks, the druggies, and those who are so incompetent that they should never be behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, the kind of truckers who end up drunkenly rear-ending slower traffic.

What many drivers don't realize is that in roughly 1 in 5 truck accident cases that we handle, our client isn't the driver of a passenger car, but a truck driver who was injured by another truck driver. Bad truck drivers represent a danger not only to non-commercial drivers, but other truckers as well.

While a driver in a car can obviously do something stupid that causes a truck driver to be involved in an accident, in the vast majority of accidents between cars and truck drivers, the trucker walks away. It makes sense, cars weigh between 1 and 4 tons, fully-loaded trucks are 40 tons. When another driver comes along who is drunk, high, or doesn't know what he's doing with a 40-ton ride of his own, that poses a mortal danger to the upstanding truckers on the road.

If we were truly anti-trucker, instead of anti-"bad" trucker, we would hide the fact that in 66% of accidents that involve passenger cars and trucks, the passenger car did something to cause the accident. However, in that other 33% of crashes (and the wreck on I-5 in Chehalis, WA looks like it falls into that category), a "bad" truck driver did something reckless that injured someone else on the road.

Whether it's crime, driving, the legal profession, or nearly any other human endeavor, it is usually an incredibly small minority of bad actors who cause problems for everyone else. Take lawyers for example, if you look at the back of the Texas Bar Journal every single month, you see a list of lawyers who were disbarred or disciplined. From a period that ran from August of last year through December, 27 lawyers either lost their licenses, had them suspended, or were publicly reprimanded. That's a small sliver of bad actors in a pool of over 86,000 practicing attorneys in the state.

It's safe to say that the proportion of bad truck drivers to the hard-working professionals that make up most of the industry is about the same as the percentage of crooked lawyers to honest honest attorneys. I bring all this up because I don't know of too many attorneys who feel the least bit sorry when someone says something critical of an attorney who wasn't practicing the right way. Lawyer jokes aside, most of those attorneys know that an attack on one attorney isn't necessarily the same as an attack on all attorneys.

The same should hold true when criticizing bad truck drivers. No attorney wants to take away an honest truck driver's living. At the same time, criticizing drivers like the one in Chehalis, WA, who was allegedly driving drunk and severely injured someone, that's not smearing every truck driver, just the idiots who think it's okay to drive an 18-wheeler under the influence. For everyone's sake, anyone who thinks they should drive an 18-wheeler under the influence deserves whatever consequences come their way.

Getting upset with lawyers who talk about suing negligent truck drivers is a lot like getting mad at the police when they talk about their efforts to arrest lawbreakers. Most people aren't put off by the police arresting criminals, because in their minds, a clear distinction exists between a criminal and a law-abiding citizen. However, negligence isn't as clear-cut as criminality. While sometimes a broken law indicates negligence, most often it results from an act that violates the expectations we have for a reasonable person performing a particular task.

Not to get lost in the weed of a complex idea like negligence, but if you're a trucker who drives safely and doesn't break the law, the likelihood that you will be negligent and cause an accident is remote. If you're not negligent, then a lawyer will never be able to successfully sue you: Just like if you don't break the law, you really don't have to worry about getting arrested. This isn't to say that their aren't bad lawsuits and bad arrests, but the likelihood of an honest truck driver getting caught up in one is pretty remote.

So when we highlight the alleged awful, unlawful, and reckless behavior of a truck driver like the one who seriously injured a 30-year-old man in Chehalis, WA, we're not disparaging all truck drivers; We're pointing out the dangers posed by truck drivers who are reckless enough to drive while they're intoxicated. Grossman Law Offices doesn't just sue truck drivers, we sue bad truck drivers.