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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

414-272-3636 877-412-7409

Product defect testimony allowed in fatal truck accident case

Personal injury claims are common across Wisconsin. When someone is hurt or killed in an accident caused by another driver, for example, seeking compensation may be a financial necessity for victims and survivors. Even if it isn't, the claims process and litigation can help recovery by assuaging a family's emotional needs.

This may be the case in another state. A lawsuit was filed based on a situation that could easily have occurred in our community. It involves a tractor-trailer crash on a busy interstate. A difference in this case is a design defect is alleged to have contributed to the suffering and death of the husband and father.

Driving his truck in the early morning hours, the victim saw a van crashed into the guardrails of an overpass. The complaint reportedly alleges that although he avoided the van, his truck hit the guardrails, caught fire and fell off the bridge. The burning vehicle passed through high voltage power lines, and the man allegedly suffered greatly before his death. The man's widow, on behalf of their three children, is suing the tractor manufacturer, van driver and others. One aspect of her suit is based on allegations that a design defect caused the fire when sparks from batteries torn from the tractor ignited a pierced fuel tank.

When personal injury or wrongful death claims are being considered, professionals with expertise in relative areas are brought in to investigate and opine. In this case, it was recognized that determining what caused the fire was critical. Accident reconstruction, investigation and data review led the professional to the conclusion that a defective design – mounting the batteries too close to the fuel tank – caused the fire. The defendant manufacturer objected, requesting the theories be ruled inadmissible.

The federal judge ruled against the manufacturer. He found the methodology used to be in line with the National Fire Protection Association Guide, and that the plaintiff created sufficient question of fact as to whether the victim's burns would have occurred if the battery was located under the rails rather than as designed.

Whether a claim appears simple or requires complex analysis, it can be skill, procedural knowledge and sound strategy that successfully maneuvers it to a positive outcome. Different approaches apply when multiple defendants play a role in an accident. It can be possible, however, to achieve accountability of each.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Widow’s Suit Over Fatal Crash May Pin Daimler" Rose Bouboushian, Jan. 06, 2015

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