Today on the anniversary of my wife’s death I am thinking of the many injustices that can occur in the U.S. concerning truck parking enforcement. In many counties the trucking companies will be the largest employer giving generously to campaigns of prosecutors, sheriff’s and judges. It is common for high level law enforcement including state police officers to take high paying positions with the trucking industry upon retirement. Many states openly excuse illegal truck parking and refuse enforcement. It is common for victims to be blamed solely for their own deaths. Triangle use and the cleaning of reflective tape are rarely enforced.
I will give examples from our experience that might help victims in similar situations. The truck that killed my wife was parked in front of a sheriff’s office in between new no parking signs for months, the driver claimed deputies had given him permission to park there. This was a county road with high speeds of 40 mph and no street lighting in the vicinity and narrow paved shoulders with no lane markings. It was next to an open field that allowed fog to roll across the roadway on a regular basis and just in front of a bus stop. Virtually every county official including deputies, judges, prosecutors and even state police had witnessed and took no action to this dangerous illegal activity. When we entered the office after the crash to file a complaint that the truck was continuing to illegally park in the same spot where my wife had died including on foggy nights just like the night of my wife’s death we witnessed in the picture window behind the office secretary the illegally parked truck filled the picture window just like a painting. You could not miss it! Supervising deputies came in response to our complaint and claimed the truck driver had to witness both front and back no parking signs from his cab at the same time to be in violation of the law so he could not be issued a ticket or even be asked to move. I witnessed a bus take emergency braking to avoid this truck as he pulled into the bus stop. The truck continued this illegal parking with no triangles or lighting even though there were no street lights.
After my wife was killed I was not notified of her death. When I found out from a relative hours later, she died in an area visible from my back porch, it was too late to photograph the heavy fog. I was banned from seeing the accident report until I threatened to sue! The deputy prosecutor told me he had trouble driving to the scene in the heavy fog, then changed his story when I informed him we would sue the county. Witnesses said they could not see the side of the truck due to the heavy fog from across the street. The truck had no reflective tape as none was required until the Underride Network and CRASH got the U.S. laws changed.
The deputy prosecutor informed me incorrectly how to sue the county a year before we filed against the county and we did not give 30 days written notice to the county as he had not informed me this was required. The county was let out of the lawsuit by the judge whom was best friends with the trucking company attorney. The trucking company attorney had originally been our attorney but quit, we assumed he had found out he was representing both sides and knew my poor financial siuation giving him the ability to eventually bankrupt us out of the case, the common outcome in the American rigged against low-income justice system. Justice is the last issue they are concerned with! I informed the investigating deputy the day after my wife was killed the truck did not have the required triangles or lights lit, he leaned over with a big grin and said “whom are they going to believe me or you”! He proclaimed they would not ticket or investigate the truck! In emails, the deputy prosecutor claimed to him “Mr. Hadley might be correct about the trucks violations and the county’s liability”. In response, the deputy claimed he had done an investigation and the bright moonlight equaled street lighting and thus the federal and state laws requiring lights lit when not under street lighting were met, the moon equaled street lighting! High level U.S. DOT official concurred with this travesty, and it took over a year to get the U.S. DOT to clarify the moon did not equal street lighting under the rules. The County testified in depositions that the road shoulder was outside of all laws, state and federal and local as it was not marked. Federal laws banning parking on shoulders on unincorporated county roads were thus invalid! They simply lie in costly depositions without any fear of retaliation or punishment and the extra thousands in costs bankrupt the victims out of their lawsuits. (If you are low-income you might wait and save tens of thousands of dollars and question parties in court rather than using depositions costing thousands of dollars)!
My father had performed chemistry forensics for the County Sheriff’s for free and thus I was allowed to speak to the Sheriff about my complaints. The Sheriff in my opinion, verbally assaulted me, he leaned over, a very large man, and yelled at the top of his lungs an inch from my nose that “he would not ticket or investigate the truck”! I tried several times to talk to the prosecutor to file complaints against the deputies and the investigating deputy and the deputy prosecutor but was never allowed to talk with him. I guess the poor and powerless are not allowed to report crimes in America. The Sheriff gave the investigating deputy a big promotion, his right-hand guy! The trucking company did give the untrained truck driver a quiz on driving regulations, he failed all 4 parking questions and was hired without any parking training. They did have a local fenced parking lot, the truck driver would save ten minutes by illegally parking on the street on a 40 mph road with a 25 mph underride guard. He took 60 years of my wife’s life to save ten minutes, he knew the dangers of parked truck crashes but felt like many drivers if you were killed it would be your own fault. He laughed in my face about her death at deposition and bragged about his many grandkids. We felt my wife was pregnant so we will never know how many kids and grandkids were taken from our family. The trucking company continued this drivers employment as he continued to violate parking laws. We could not sue the driver or have him charged with anything, he knew risk to public and dire harm of his actions but was completely protected, this is legal homicide in the U.S.
The government will spend big resources to counter your case and will allow the trucking companies access that you are denied. They will refuse to enforce laws. They will hamper your investigation and not allow you to make criminal complaints. Judges might even disallow evidence the truck violated laws. You might be held liable for a false suit! Most victims families are bankrupted after their loved one’s are negligently, in our opinion, murdered. Do not trust anyone including law enforcement, have your attorney review your interactions and watch your costs like a hawk! One attorney we tried to hire was in terror someone had seen me enter his office, he was convinced judges would retaliate against him in future cases if he even talked with me. A retired official (unnamed by request) apologized for the County Prosecutors behavior, he was ashamed! One of our attorney’s claimed County Judges committed felonies on a weekly basis but public was unaware, proclaiming now you know what I see every week! There were even problems with the way the autopsy was performed, in secret no less! You might want your own autopsy, again trust only your own people. You can win but be prepared for a painful and expensive fight during heavy grief, good luck and remember when you fight for victims you are fighting for all of us! Your case will change laws and perhaps save future victims!