An eighty-two-year-old minivan driver tragically died on Highway 101 in California when a baseball-sized metal object crashed through his windshield and struck him in the neck, causing him to veer into a median.
On the same road that day, a Caltrans water truck traveling between jobs blew out a tire, and when the rig was examined, a brass water-tank cap was missing. Although the two vehicles were traveling in different directions, and the piece would have had to fly across several traffic lanes to hit the oncoming minivan driver, someone made the connection that this might be the missing piece. It was later found under the driver’s seat of the minivan.
Commercial Truck Debris Can Be Dangerous
While riding on highways, most of us have noticed debris falling from the back of dump trucks and other large vehicles. Even if they seem like small bits and even if they don’t crash through a windshield, they can certainly take a person by surprise and force them into swerving suddenly and hitting another vehicle, rolling over, or crashing into a fixed object. If the load is liquid, it can make the road slippery, especially with oil. Industrial chemicals can even release hazardous toxins and flammable gasses into the air.
Federal laws mandate that trucks have secured loads, but what if human error or a faulty part that does not stay attached end up harming someone? Who is to blame in these accidents?
Someone Was at Fault
In assessing whether to bring a personal injury or wrongful death case, some of the things that should be considered are as follows: Was this a freak accident, or did someone’s actions or failure to act cause this tragedy?
At the center of every personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit is the issue of liability (also called fault). For example, potential defendants in the accident described above could include: Caltrans, the driver, the part manufacturer, a mechanic, an inspector, the water company, or anyone else involved in the operation, maintenance, or inspection of this vehicle. All could be eyed as potentially guilty parties if they did not exercise the care that a reasonable person would.
Close family members of a victim can usually sue for damages. The financial compensation they might seek is a difficult subject, because it’s heartbreaking to put a price on human life.
However, sometimes the financial contribution the deceased made to the family is needed or the family wants to send a message that the dangerous behavior exhibited by the defendant was unacceptable.
What one may seek in terms of compensation, according to California Code 377.34, are as follows: “damages recoverable are limited to the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement.”
Contact a San Francisco Car Wreck Attorney
The Law Offices of J. Chrisp have extensive experience practicing law in car accident and personal injury cases. If you or your loved one were harmed in a highway incident or by someone else’s wrongdoing, call us today to discuss your options for free at (707) 549-8166. We’re here to help you understand your rights and represent you at this difficult time.