The Panama Canal will soon be able to accommodate much larger cargo ships, which almost certainly means more large trucks on Interstate 35.
An extensive slate of renovations was originally scheduled to be in place by October 2014, but a string of labor difficulties and contract disputes kept delaying the project. That project includes mechanical gates that should reduce traffic congestion, along with larger locks that can accommodate post-Panamax ships (the Panama Canal’s prior maximum size) that are up to three football fields long and can carry 2.5 times as much cargo as smaller vessels.
The $5.2 billion upgrades will begin accepting ships on June 26, 2016.
For the last 20-plus years, Interstate 35, which runs from Laredo all the way to Duluth, Minnesota, has been the main route for consumer goods being imported from Latin America. In Texas, about a quarter of the vehicles on Interstate 35 are large trucks. More available goods mean more trucks, along with the significant possibility of more truck crashes.
Most fully-loaded trucks weigh about 80,000 pounds; tandem tractor-trailers and oversize flatbed trucks may weigh significantly more. Largely due to the weight, these vehicles are difficult or impossible to stop quickly (40 percent greater braking distance than passenger vehicles) or maneuver effectively (turning radius is twice the length of most two-lane highways).
This combination of factors often has tragic results in large truck-passenger vehicle collisions. Some of the damages include:
- Serious Blood Loss: Many times, the victims are trapped inside their vehicles for several minutes or even longer, so their wounds are unattended to as the clock ticks.
- Broken Bones: In addition to metal plates and screws, most victims require extensive physical therapy to regain lost mobility.
- Severe Burns: Gasoline burns at a different temperature than diesel fuel, accounting for the serious third-degree burns that occur in many of these crashes.
- Wrongful Death: Many times, the injuries that victims sustain are simply not survivable.
Compensable damages in a major truck crash include compensation for both economic losses, like destroyed property, and noneconomic losses, like emotional distress. In most cases, because the truck drivers are employed by shipping companies, the employers are legally responsible for the plaintiffs’ damages.
Large truck crashes are among the most serious highway wrecks. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.