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Fatal truck crash reveals need for maintenance and recordkeeping

Owners and patrons alike in a Pittsburg restaurant received a rude surprise recently when an 18-wheeler truck towing two trailers smashed into the premises. Although all inside the restaurant apparently escaped injury, the driver of the vehicle died in the accident, and the restaurant incurred extensive property damage. Witnesses claimed that the truck lost its brakes before plowing into the restaurant.

The unpleasant surprises for the people in the building may pale in comparison to the surprises that may be in store for the company that owned the big rig. The California Highway Patrol has revealed that it is in possession of documentation evidencing multiple vehicle maintenance violations by the firm, and a veritable parade of former employees of the company have come forward leveling accusations of poor maintenance practices that, as one of them put it, showed a consistent pattern of putting profits ahead of safety considerations.

The list of maintenance-related accusations against the company includes problems with tires, brakes, steering mechanisms, at least one case of severe vehicle overloading and defects with assorted air, water, and oil lines. Company recordkeeping was also found to be substandard. According to a CHP representative, when the company underwent a yard inspection in October of last year it failed in every inspection category.

Whenever a commercial vehicle is involved in a truck accident like this one, which causes injuries, deaths or property damage, the company that owns the vehicle may be subject to legal claims of responsibility that can be civil as well as criminal in nature. In this case, the fact that the CHP has publicly referred to having "a stack" of violations suggests that the state government may take action against the company. The same maintenance and recordkeeping violations can also form the basis for civil legal claims against the company from the restaurant owners and possibly even surviving family members of the deceased driver.

Source: ABC7 News, "Fatal Pittsburg big-rig accident could have been prevented," Wayne Freedman, March 7, 2015

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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