Earlier this week we talked about a California family's wrongful death lawsuit. Three parents are suing to hold a trucking company and its employees accountable for a tragic three-truck crash that killed a family of four. This post will look at some of the interesting aspects that could affect how this case plays out.
As we mentioned in our last post, this accident involved three trucks. The family's wrongful death claim targets all three truck drivers and their employers, claiming that all of the parties did something wrong that contributed to the wreck.
Most states hold employers liable for their employees' misconduct. Some limits apply to this rule, but it often allows victims to seek compensation from an employer instead of an individual employee. One of these limits is that the employee must have caused the injury "while in the scope of employment." This generally requires that the employee was doing something related to his or her job.
In a case like this, truck companies hire drivers to operate their trucks. If an accident occurs while the driver is driving a truck for a company, then this rule probably makes the company responsible.
This accident also points out another common factor in truck accident cases: violations of trucking rules. Federal rules require truckers to rest a certain amount of time before and after driving a truck. Truckers must rest 10 hours before driving and can only drive for 14 hours before stopping to rest again for another 10-hour period. Trucking companies often do a bad job of enforcing this rule and truckers frequently overshoot those limits to make faster time.
The plaintiffs claim that this happened here, pointing to evidence that the driver who crashed into their family members was already three hours past the 14-hour limit. Driver fatigue is involved in many fatal truck accidents and, if these allegations are true, this will help them prove that the driver and his employer were at fault.
There is no excuse for ignoring safety requirements and endangering other lives simply to make a faster delivery.
Source: Contra Costa Times, "Dead family's relatives sue truckers for Neb. crash," Grant Schulte, Oct. 30, 2012