New regulations implemented last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA) made it easier for the agency to shut down intercity bus and trucking companies with a history of repeated safety violations. But a fatal accident in Pittsburg this March that claimed the life of the truck driver raises questions about why one trucking company wasn’t put out of business, and whether the family of the driver killed could possibly have a wrongful death claim against the agency for failing to shut it down.
Mechanical Failure Kills Driver in East Bay Truck Accident
In March of this year a truck driver coming over Kirker Pass between Walnut Creek and Pittsburg lost control of vehicle, clipping two motorists before slamming into a Mexican restaurant in a strip mall on Railroad Avenue in Pittsburgh.
Witnesses to the crash said the truck’s brakes appeared to have failed, and that the driver knew it – he flashed his lights and swerved to avoid passing motorists, and seemed to have crashed into the restaurant in an attempt to minimize further injuries. The truck exploded almost immediately upon impact, gutting the restaurant and a neighboring business, and claiming the life of the driver.
Documents ABC7 News obtained from the California Highway Patrol suggest that this was more than just a tragic incident. Instead, the investigation uncovered a history of known safety and maintenance issues in the trucking company’s fleet, raising questions as to why the company wasn’t shut down under the FMCA’s new regulations.
Records obtained would be instrumental in proving liability on the part of the trucking company for knowingly putting trucks on the road with subpar maintenance. Evidence would support a wrongful death claim brought by the surviving spouse and/or children of the truck driver as well as personal injury claims brought by the drivers of the cars hit by the truck driver as he lost control.
But it also raises questions as to whether the FMCA itself would be liable for damages due to its failure to shut down the trucking company. The agency was tasked with the role of inspecting trucking companies for safety compliance, and given the authority to immediately shut down those companies with a history of repeated safety violations. The trucking company in this case, based on records obtained by ABC7 and at least one employee who spoke with the news agency, seems to have a history of placing more importance on their bottom line than the safety of their drivers and other motorists on the road. If this is true, it seems a given that the FMCA should have shut the company down until it brought its fleet into compliance and was able to pass safety inspections. The FMCA’s failure to do so could open it up to liability for negligence in the truck accident and make the government liable for injuries.
Negligence claims against the government can be tricky, with specific rules about who can sue and for what. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate these rules and ensure your claim is properly filed.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one to a truck accident, Appel Law Firm LLP can help. Located in Walnut Creek, our personal injury attorneys have more than 60 years’ combined experience helping truck accident victims and their families recover damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases. We ensure that every case gets our full attention. Our goal is to get you the maximum compensation possible for your injuries. Your first meeting is free, so you have nothing to lose. Pick up the phone today and call us toll-free at 888-527-0674 to schedule your appointment.