Sara Miller of Milford, Michigan, has become the third person to die from a semi-truck crash caused when the truck’s driver failed to stop as he approached traffic that was backed up due to construction. The 18-wheeler plowed into nine vehicles, instantly killing Miller’s fiance, Robin D. Brown, also of Milford. Also killed at the scene of the Sunday afternoon crash was motorist Roby J. Steele, 52, of Davison, Michigan.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Mr. Steele was a devoted family man who also served his fellow soldiers at VA hospitals in his region. He was remembered in a private, family service and his loved ones noted in his obituary that he enjoyed teaching his grandchildren how to fish and that he enjoyed playing live music. He played guitar with his band “SMACK Daddy and the Crawfish.’’
Ms. Miller and Mr. Brown were engaged to be married. They were the subjects of a feature story that described them as quiet, unassuming, and fun-loving people who fostered rescued Siberian husky dogs. They had adopted two of the pets, named Powder and Casper. In Ms. Miller’s final days, she was cared for by a medical team at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.
Civil Lawsuit vs. Criminal Investigation
According to crash reports, the 2015 Freightliner failed to stop for traffic along U.S. Highway 23, south of Lee Road, in Green Oak Township. The 62-year-old truck driver was jailed, then released pending a criminal investigation by Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt, the Associated Press reported.
This rear-end semi-truck crash happened April 23. By the time Ms. Miller died eight days later, no decision had been made on whether to file criminal charges against the trucker, who is from Snover, Michigan.
Any semi-truck lawsuit against the driver would be handled separately by private attorneys in civil court. Surviving family members of the three victims have legal rights, usually spelled out under wrongful death statutes. You may have a semi accident wrongful death claim if the person who died was your husband, wife, child, parent, grandparent, brother, sister or other close relative.
Rear-Ended by Semi-Truck
At-fault truck drivers are sometimes let off the hook when it comes to criminal charges, because prosecutors must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt’’ that the driver was reckless, impaired, distracted or intended to cause harm. But the burden of proof is lower and easier to meet in civil litigation, including semi-truck fatal accident lawsuits.
You can sue a truck driver or sue a trucking company and win the case if the “preponderance of evidence’’ is in your favor. That means evidence placed upon the scales of justice tips towards you or supports your case. In rear-end crashes, the question becomes: Why was the truck out of control? Fred and Eric once proved that an out-of-control truck was faulty and had been misrepaired. Quite often, according to federal truck safety data, truck drivers in fatal accidents were driving while distracted or had fallen asleep.
Invariably, the people who pay for those mistakes are drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles. In 97 percent of big rig truck crashes, those who are killed or injured were in passenger vehicles.
Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles under-riding trucks in crashes. Truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes. Truck driver fatigue also is a known crash risk. Drivers of large trucks are allowed by federal hours-of-service regulations to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period. Surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted.
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At Pritzker Hageman, most if not all of our clients are motivated by the natural law of personal responsibility and holding truckers, trucking companies, freight movers, vehicle manufacturers and insurance companies accountable for wrongful behavior. The lawyers at our law firm have been interviewed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Lawyers USA and other publications. Contact our law firm for help if you want to hold negligent truck drivers, trucking companies, and others accountable for personal injury and wrongful death.
Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman of Pritzker Hageman, P.A. have recovered tens of millions of dollars for surviving family members, including a recent $2.5 million jury verdict for the spouse of a woman run over and killed by a semi-truck. The police report said the woman was at fault, but Fred and Eric proved through their own investigation that the driver was to blame… and for multiple reasons. On top of this, they also found evidence that the truck driver had violated the law and should not have been driving at the time of the accident. Even more recently, Fred and Eric won a $5 million settlement for a client who lost a limb after a semi-trailer crash.