A 4-year-old boy was killed and his 2-year-old sister severely injured after a box truck driven by an 18-year-old plowed into the back of their father’s vehicle early one Saturday morning.
The 4-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene in Davenport by emergency workers, while his sister was flown to a nearby hospital and listed in serious condition.
Authorities say the father was moving at a slow roll on U.S. 27 approaching a traffic light when the box truck, traveling at highway speed, braked just seconds before impact. The force of that crash sent the vehicle with the children forward into a pickup truck just ahead of them.
The violent crash resulted in the back of the box truck impaling the back seat where the children were located in their car seats.
The child’s father was injured but is expected to recover. The truck driver was treated and released for a hand injury, after he allegedly attempted to break the window of the car with his bare hands to assist the family after the crash.
Authorities say criminal charges are not expected to be filed, as the truck driver was not distracted or drunk or excessively speeding. However, it is still possible a traffic citation may be issued, and it’s also likely the family may have ample grounds on which to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucker individually as well as against the trucker’s employer.
This type of action of course does not bring back the precious life that was lost. No amount of litigation can totally make a family whole again after such a devastating loss.
But compensation can help a family begin to heal. Beyond the monetary, though, there is the goal of preventing other similar accidents in the future through accountability. Trucking companies that hire unsafe or inexperienced drivers and fail to properly train or monitor them can be found negligent.
Similarly, theories of vicarious liability hold the employer accountable for the negligence of the employee, even if the company itself was not negligent.
The trucking industry is notoriously fragmented for this very reason. The designated motor carriers are often different entities from those that own the trailer and from those whose haul is being loaded. Additionally complicating matters is the fact that many drivers aren’t directly employed by the trucking company, but are instead independent contractors. This can throw the whole vicarious liability theory for a loop, though just because a driver is labeled “independent” doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is. Courts will closely examine the working relationship between the driver and the company to determine the level of control the firm had over the driver’s work. That is ultimately the deciding factor in many vicarious liability cases.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were more than 3,960 people killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks in 2013. Additionally, another 95,000 people were injured.
The majority of those killed and injured in these collisions were not the truck drivers, but rather the occupants of other vehicles or non-occupants, such as bicyclists and pedestrians.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Boy, 4, Killed in U.S. 27 Crash, June 6, 2015, By Tori Walker, The Ledger
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