• December 03, 2021

Fatality Reported in 18-Wheeler Accident on State Route 97 near Toppenish, WA

Toppenish, WA -- December 2, 2021, at least one person was killed in a collision between two tractor-trailers on State Route 97 near Toppenish.

Authorities say the incident happened Thursday morning along Route 97 at LaRue Road, around one mile south of town. The circumstances of the crash aren't yet known, but images of the scene show two heavily-damaged 18-wheelers. One of the trucks appears to be blocking the travel lanes of the road and the other is overturned on the roadside.

At least one fatality was confirmed in the collision.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on 18-Wheeler Accident on WA-97 near Toppenish

Thorough investigation is important after any wreck, but that's even truer when the collision is between commercial trucks because fault may turn into a matter of "hot potato" between the trucking companies. Most of them are anything but shy about deflecting blame, so when two of them pass it back and forth the victim's loved ones may be stuck waiting for the help they deserve.

As things stand the cause and circumstances of the collision are pretty unclear, and investigators will have to look into numerous potential factors when trying to learn what happened: Possible driver-related issues like distraction or speeding, certainly, but also problems with the trucks themselves, road conditions and design, adequate signage, visibility, lighting and sightlines, inclement weather, any other traffic in the area, and many other elements that could have influenced or even caused the crash.

Fatality Reported in 18-Wheeler Accident on State Route 97 near Toppenish, WA

Some may not think such careful scrutiny is necessary since "workers' comp will handle it." It may provide the victim's loved ones with some assistance, but it's still critical to find out exactly what happened and why. Here's a couple of reasons for that:

  1. It’s a matter of principle. It's only right that the responsible party should bear the costs of the damages after an accident.
  2. Workers' comp is far from perfect. Its benefits never approach what victims earned before they were hurt, creating a net loss that can be problematic as they and their families struggle to recover. It's certainly better than no help at all, but countless people have been frustrated by its limitations.

The best way to ensure the truth is found and not disputed forever between companies is to learn all the objective facts through careful investigation. It's hard to say whether law enforcement is up to the necessary level of scrutiny to find them all, though, which is why I generally advocate for independent investigations to make sure the accident is best understood. Those affected deserve to know every effort was made to bring them the whole truth and that the right parties will be held accountable without enduring years of courtroom back-and-forth.

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