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The Worst Truck Accidents in the U.S.

Trucking Accidents

The vast majority of traffic accidents are minor, with smaller amounts of damages and less serious injuries. However, every once in a while, there is an accident that garners national attention because of its size and/or severity. These accidents can involve hundreds of vehicles and cause multiple injuries and, in some cases, death

From a legal perspective, these cases are very difficult for everyone involved because of the number of vehicles involved, the number of people and injuries involved, the amount of physical and property damage, and the confusion of assigning fault for the accident.

The U.S. has had its share of spectacularly bad accidents involving trucks. They often take the form of chain-reactions collisions, each causing the one behind it. Big trucks are commonly involved because they take longer to stop, are harder to control on slippery surfaces, and occupy plenty of space across the highway, making it difficult for following cars to maneuver around.

On the other hand, some truck-related crashes are notable simply because of their particular tragic circumstances. If you have been involved in a truck accident of any size in Florida, a Florida truck accident lawyer at Searcy Denney can help.

What Are the Most Tragic Truck Accidents in U.S. History?

Some of the most tragic truck accidents in the U.S. include:


On Birmingham’s I-59, a truck accident killed a local fire chief and seriously injured his daughter. An 18-wheeler unexpectedly crossed the median, hitting two vehicles, including the SUV of the fire chief. The collision broke off the vehicle’s top, killed the 54-year old fire chief, and left his 26-year old daughter seriously injured.

South Carolina

A driver from Georgia driving a truck to New York crashed into a median and sliced through the cable barrier, causing a head-on collision with another truck on the southbound lane near Blacksburg, South Carolina. The crash ignited a huge fire that burned the Georgia driver beyond identification, requiring dental records to identify the body.

North Carolina

Two sisters were killed in an impact with two trucks. Traveling with their parents heading for Texas, the fatal accident occurred when a truck sideswiped their car, which sent the car off into a spin, then struck again, pushing the spinning car under another truck. The other truck’s underride guard collapsed, which led to the death of the two teen sisters.


The worst truck accident in Montana history happened when a school bus collided with a fuel tanker truck during a snowstorm in January. The bus passengers included the high school wrestling team returning from a meet when a double tanker truck jumped from the opposite side of the highway and came down right in front of the bus. A huge fireball resulted from the accident that surrounded the bus. Nine people on the bus, including the coach, his wife, and child, were mortally wounded, while 19 others suffered serious to minor injuries.


In 1976, a truck carrying 7,500 gallons of ammonia lost control in the Houston freeway. It crashed through the guardrail and jack-knifed off a ramp onto a crowded highway below. The accident killed five people and injured 180 others, most of whom became trapped in a cloud of poisonous gas. The speeding truck driver was held to have caused the accident.

New Jersey

On October 24th, 1973 visibility along a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike near Secaucus rapidly declined. Multiple semi-trucks were involved in a large-scale pile up. This incident involved sixty-five vehicles. It also resulted in nine deaths and more than forty injuries.


On April 7th, 1982 a gasoline tanker truck set off a fire in the Caldecott Tunnel. This accident resulted in major damage to the tunnel, and it had to be closed to traffic for several months. Seven individuals died and two more were injured. It has been reported that if that accident had not occurred late at night, and had occurred during rush hour instead, hundreds more could have died.

What Are the Biggest Pile-Ups Involving Trucks in U.S. History?

Most of the monumental pile-ups involve both trucks and other types of automobiles. Some of the worst include:

Los Angeles

The largest multi-car wreck in the U.S. occurred approximately 25 miles south of Los Angeles, California on Interstate 10 on November 3, 2002. 216 vehicles were involved, causing 41 injuries.

Fortunately, no deaths were reported. In the middle of morning rush hour, a semi-truck that was traveling on the Interstate crashed into the center divider, which started the long chain reaction on both sides of the interstate. Fog is believed to be the leading cause for the series of wrecks.

Due to the accident, authorities closed a two-mile stretch of highway until late in the afternoon so that emergency services could render aid to the injured and begin cleaning up the massive amount of wreckage.

Mobile, Alabama

One of the worst multiple-vehicle accidents to occur in the history of the U.S. took place on March 20, 1995, on Interstate 10 near Mobile, Alabama.

In all, 200 vehicles were involved in the accident, resulting in 90 injured people and one death. The cause of the pile-up was the fact that the Interstate runs along a bridge over Mobile Bay, causing a thick fog that rose from the Bay below.


An accident on Interstate 96 in Michigan started with an SUV and about 10 other vehicles, including a semi-truck. From there, cars began piling up on both sides of the Interstate, involving approximately 114 vehicles on the eastbound side and 86 on the westbound side. Fatalities included a 14-year-old boy who was riding in the SUV that was involved in the initial crash and a man who rear-ended a tractor-trailer late during the accident. The cause again was a thick fog that resulted in less than a quarter-mile of visibility for drivers.

Galesburg, Michigan

An unlikely series of events caused this 193-vehicle pileup on I-94 near Galesburg, Michigan that caused 23 injuries and one death. The crash began just before 10:00 a.m. on the eastbound lanes but quickly spread to both sides of the interstate.

After the initial pile-up, one of the tractor-trailers that had caught fire was discovered to be carrying fireworks, resulting in multiple explosions. Another semi-truck involved was carrying acid, which began leaking onto the surrounding area, causing other hazardous conditions. These incidents led police to release a statement asking anyone who lived within one mile of the scene to stay in their homes until the accident could be cleared, which took about 12 hours.

Fort Worth, Texas

As recently as February 11, 2021, at least six people died and dozens more were injured in a massive pileup involving at least 133 vehicles on the North Texas Express toll lanes in Fort Worth. The cause appeared to be overnight sleet. All southbound lanes of Interstate 35W north of downtown remained closed through the day and overnight as dozens of firefighters and other first responders continued to work in freezing temperatures to clear the damaged vehicles from the highway.


Trucking accidents differ from car accident cases in that they are more likely to involve multiple defendants. This is due to the fact that, in a traditional auto wreck, one will typically only sue the at-fault driver. In a trucking accident, by contrast, the driver of the big rig can obviously be a defendant. However, the owner of the truck and possibly any third-party management company can also be potential defendants. This is due to the fact that business owners can be held liable for the actions of their employees and subcontractors. In turn, if one has been hit by a semi-truck, then they will likely need to name multiple defendants in a lawsuit.

The owners and managers of a trucking company, if they are separate from the driver, can also be liable for additional causes of action. One such cause of action is for the negligent hiring and supervision of a driver. Which causes of action to bring against each defendant will depend on the specific facts of the case. It is important that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in such matters as failing to name all parties, and to bring all relevant causes of action, can result in you receiving less than the full amount of compensation that you deserve.


The calculation of damages in such matters can become complicated. The victim will be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering which have been incurred due to the accident. If the victim was seriously injured, which is common in such cases, then they will also be entitled to the cost of future lost wages, medical expenses, etc. If the victim’s injuries are severe enough that they cannot return to their former profession, then the amount of lost income, less what they can earn in another line of work, can also be awarded.

The determination of future lost wages and medical expenses will typically require the retention of expert witnesses. A vocational expert will likely be required to offer testimony as to how much the victim would have earned, if not for the injury. This professional will also offer an opinion as to how much they can be expected to earn after the injury, given their limitations. Also, medical professionals will offer opinions as to the victim’s likelihood of recovery, the expected cost of care, the amount of pain they can be expected to go through, etc.

It is important to note that if a victim was partially at fault for an accident then their compensation will be reduced by their share of the liability. If, for example, a jury finds that a victim was forty percent responsible for the accident, and the victim incurred $100,000 in damages, then the victim will receive $60,000 ($100k – 40%). The determination of comparative fault is always made by the jury and it is, therefore, important that you retain counsel who can explain the matter to jurors in easy to understand terms. 

A Florida Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Crash

Fortunately, most truck accidents are not nearly as tragic or monumental as the accidents described above. Nonetheless, if you have suffered injuries resulting from a truck accident, contact a Florida truck accident lawyer at Searcy Denney for help. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis.

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