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Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Following Big Rig Crash Aiming For Stricter Safety Regulations

A Santa Cruz, CA family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit hoping to seek stricter safety regulations in the trucking industry.

In July 2014, traffic had slowed to almost at a standstill on Highway 17 when a big rig plowed into a line of ten vehicles, killing a 25-year-old man and injuring seven others. One of the injured was a 37-year-old woman who suffered spine injuries and a laceration to her liver; firefighters used the Jaws of Life to get her out of the car.

The rig driver told reporters at the scene that the weight of the two dirt-filled trailers he was hauling, combined with the steep grade, prevented him from stopping in time. He said the truck’s brakes failed and he swerved into the guardrail to try to stop the descending rig.
The driver had just under three months’ experience driving such a vehicle at the time of the crash. The owner of the trucking company said a safety check was conducted on the truck the morning of the crash, and that it was inspected by the CHP two weeks ago. The suit seeks an unspecified amount.

The lawsuit was filed against three trucking companies, a construction firm and a truck owner. Alleging negligence in hiring, supervision and training of drivers. “This gut-wrenching tragedy would have never happened had the responsible companies taken steps to ensure that an unskilled trucker driving a faulty big rig not be allowed to traverse a complicated, mountainous journey,” said Robert Allard, the plaintiff’s attorney. He said separate from the civil suit, that he wants trucking industry leaders to require new driver’s license “tiers” based on the trucker’s experience. For example, inexperienced truckers should be limited to certain load weights or restricted from steep, mountainous highways.

The lawsuit is the second filed as a result of the crash. The seriously injured woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the truck driver and Tracy-based SBT Trucking Co. – also known as Saini Bros. Trucking Inc. Her lawsuit also alleges negligence in the driving, hiring, training and supervision of the tractor trailer. The suit does not seek a specific sum, but attorneys said they want to cover the woman’s medical expenses.

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