Girardi | Keese

Large flatbed causes truck accident by hitting oncoming car

When a large flat-bed truck towing a trailer crosses the center line and is about to hit your vehicle head-on, there's not much left to do. Unfortunately, a similar truck accident happened in California recently on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County near Dos Pueblos Canyon. A large flatbed truck hauling a trailer was headed north when it crossed the center divider and collided with a vehicle going southbound.

The Santa Barbara County Fire department says there were two people in the southbound vehicle. One of them died at the scene. The other was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries. The driver of the truck had minor injuries that were treated at the scene, says the department.

The Fire department does not know why the truck crossed the center line. The California Highway Patrol was also participating in the investigation to determine cause. Generally, when a driver loses control and crosses the center of the highway into oncoming traffic, that driver is at fault. That's equally true for the driver of a large flatbed truck.

The injured victim and the estate of the decedent have likely claims against the truck driver and, if it was a commercial truck, then also against the owner of the truck. An owner is liable for the negligence of his agent or employee who is driving the vehicle. Thus, the law imposes a legal obligation on the employer to be responsible for the injuries caused by the employee's negligence committed in the course of the employment. Generally, this is the kind of obligation that is called 'vicarious liability'.

California law permits a decedent's estate to bring a wrongful death claim against the negligent wrongdoer or wrongdoers that caused the death in a truck accident. The truck driver's insurance company can decide to settle the case out-of-court by paying an agreed amount to the decedent's estate, or the estate may have to file a wrongful death lawsuit to compel the accused to pay a civil judgment obtained as a result of a civil trial. The injured victim may bring a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver and truck owner under the same principles.

Source: Central Coast News, "Fatal Accident on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara Leaves One Dead," David Lee, July 9, 2013

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