Girardi | Keese

Cause of California truck accident still unknown

Most everyone in California -- and the rest of the country -- has heard about the tragic accident that occurred between a charter bus and a FedEx truck on a busy Interstate highway. Agencies investigating the truck accident are still attempting to figure out exactly what happened, including why the driver of the FedEx truck veered into oncoming traffic. Statements from witnesses failed to shed any definitive light on the circumstances leading up to the crash.

A woman whose vehicle was sideswiped by the truck just before it slammed into the bus indicated that the underside of the trailer was on fire. However, according to another witness who saw the crash from his home, no fire was visible before the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board does know that the truck left no skid marks, while the bus left a trail of at least 145 feet. This evidence seems to indicate that the bus driver attempted to avoid the collision.

Neither driver survived the accident, so information ordinarily obtained from those in control of the vehicles will need to come from other sources. The black box of the charter bus survived the crash, but the one for the FedEx truck -- which is arguably more important -- did not. It could be some time before investigators make an official determination as to the cause of this horrific crash.

In addition to the drivers, five students and three chaperones lost their lives in this truck accident. While it may be that the drivers' families can receive workers' compensation benefits, the families of the bus driver and the eight other deceased passengers may decide to pursue wrongful death claims. Such causes of action may possibly be filed against the FedEx driver's estate, the owner of the truck, FedEx, and others. Successfully litigated claims could result in an award of damages for surviving family members as allowed under California law.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Bus crash: Report of fire in FedEx truck, no skid marks add to mystery", Chris Megerian, Melanie Mason and Hailey Branson-Potts, April 13, 2014

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