In Nevada, a jury has found a trucking company liable for damages after one of its commercial vehicle operators hit a passenger train near Reno. Six people died in the crash, including the driver of the tractor-trailer, a train conductor and four passengers. There were dozens of injured victims, as well, and three rail cars were damaged or destroyed.
Defense attorneys working for the trucking company attempted to prove that the railroad crossing signals were defective, but video showed that the driver ignored both flashing lights and repeated train whistle warnings and hit the fourth car of the train. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the company was negligent when evidence revealed the driver had a history of traffic violations, and the truck had faulty brakes.
Negligent company behavior causes dangers
Negligence involves a failure to fulfill a required action, or acting in a way that is forbidden by law. Examples of negligent driving behavior involve the following:
- Neglecting vehicle maintenance
- Failing to display reasonable behavior
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires trucking companies to disqualify operators whose driving constitutes an imminent hazard. This includes any activity that makes serious injury or death a possibility if it is not stopped instantly. One speeding ticket alone would not cause a commercial driver’s license suspension, but two or more within a three-year period requires a temporary license suspension. Additional infractions lead to license revocation and even criminal charges.
Imminent hazard also applies to the condition of the vehicle. Although the operator is responsible for daily maintenance activities before the beginning of each day of driving, engine servicing and repair are the responsibility of the company. A braking problem should have been addressed long before it reached the point of complete failure that may have contributed to this truck accident.
Awards cover all accident-related expenses
Amtrak was awarded $4.5 million for property damages and employee medical costs caused by the crash. Union Pacific Railroad received $210,777, which included the cost of the damaged crossing signal system. The judgment added attorney fees and interest to the award. Families of those who were killed have also filed lawsuits.
Victims and family members who have suffered as a result of negligent truck driver behavior should receive adequate compensation to cover medical and legal expenses, as well as damages to property. A Nevada personal injury attorney can provide advice on the best way to proceed.