In April of 2014, a tragic accident caused by a FedEx driver in California killed 10 people and severely injured many more. The truck crossed California Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway) and hit a charter bus that was transporting students. The vehicles burst into flames, which resulted in several students being severely burned.
Families who lost loved ones have been filing lawsuits against FedEx Corp. since the accident. Now another family has filed a wrongful death suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against FedEx Corp., Volvo of North America (the maker of the FedEx truck), Silverado Stages Inc. (the operator of the bus), and California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), according to news reports.
A Look at Liability
Let’s take a look at liability (legal responsibility).
When a FedEx truck causes a crash, the company is legally responsible. When our lawyers face off with FedEx, they immediately take steps to gather and preserve evidence. This involves inspecting the vehicle and scene of the accident, analyzing black-box data (event data recorder), sifting through reams of corporate documents and interviewing corporate officers. Attorney Eric Hageman is one of our lead lawyers for these cases.
As with a trucking company, a bus company is liable for accidents caused (even in part) by their drivers. If a bus driver is negligent in his or her response to a traffic emergency, the severity of the accident could be much worse than if the driver had been driving well. In these cases, the bus company may be apportioned a percentage of the legal responsibility.
The lawsuit alleges the truck was poorly designed and that this contributed to the accident. When a truck bursts into flame upon impact, defective design is an issue. In addition, the design of the brakes, steering and other parts of the truck need to be analyzed for design and maintenance problems. This part of the lawsuit is called a product liability claim.
The lawsuit alleges flaws in the road design, that the crash could have been prevented by having safety barriers in place that would prevent semitrailers from crossing the median. Proving this kind of claim requires hiring engineering and road construction experts.
Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman help clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases against trucking giants, including Federal Express (FedEx). You can contact them about their experience. They did not file the lawsuit discussed above.