Two men died and two others were seriously injured when a pickup truck slammed into a dump truck on a recent Wednesday morning in Durham. It was shortly after 7 a.m. when the pickup, exiting Rabbit Road onto Route 9, slammed into a crossing dump truck driven by a 42-year-old. Two of the men inside the pickup, ages 21 and 24, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third, age 35, was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to a Lewiston hospital. The dump truck driver also suffered injuries, although he was reportedly in fair condition.
Several of the details we know about this case so far suggest there may be complex legal issues that trucking accident attorneys will likely explore in civil litigation.
The dump truck was reportedly owned by a local construction company, according to The Portland Press Herald. The pickup struck the dump truck near the gas tank. The pickup truck burst into flames almost instantaneously as the dump truck flipped onto its side. Three men who happened on the scene pulled the three men out of the burning pickup truck.
A construction company owner spoke to a reporter and confirmed the three men inside that pickup truck were co-workers. They were on their way to work, and the pickup truck belonged to the company. The lone survivor of the crash, according to his employer, suffered numerous broken bones and had to undergo surgery. Authorities haven’t indicated who exactly was behind the wheel of the pickup or whether they believe it was the pickup truck operator who was at-fault.
The employer believes the 24-year-old was driving. He had recently been having car trouble, his boss said, and the employer allowed him to use the truck to go to and from job sites. He likely agreed to pick the other two up along the way to a job site, where they were scheduled to work as flaggers on a road construction project. The three hadn’t been on the job long. The 24-year-old had worked for the construction company for about a month. The 21-year-old started just two weeks before the collision. The 34-year-old had only just started a week earlier.
“I feel so guilty,” the boss said, “like I sent three men to their death.”
Investigators are trying to ascertain what exactly happened. The pickup driver would have faced a stop sign at the intersection, but it’s not clear if the driver actually stopped before pulling out into the roadway. The posted speed limit on Route 9 is 50 mph. Burn marks on the road are likely indicators that at least one of the vehicles was traveling very fast.
A sheriff’s office official said there have been “a fair share of accidents” at this particular intersection.
All of these facts – and these are just the basics of what is known early in the investigation – indicate that this could turn into a complex situation in terms of liability. Here’s why:
- You have the potential liability of the dump truck driver, who was likely working, which means his employer could be held either directly or vicariously liable if he was negligent to any degree.
- You have the potential for workers’ compensation claims by the workers who died, although it will depend on whether the men were considered to be acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the collision. The coming-and-going rule would generally prevent liability if they were only just commuting to work, but they were also in a company vehicle, and one could make the argument that this meant they were acting in the scope of their employment.
- You have multiple victims, which is likely to reduce the overall amount available for each individual plaintiff.
- You have the potential liability of the pickup truck driver and his own personal insurer. However, liability claims by his co-workers could be limited if it’s determined he was acting in the course and scope of employment.
Truck accidents in general tend to be more complex than most other auto accident cases because they often cause more serious injuries and involve a number of different victims, employers, and insurers.
If you are injured in a Maine truck accident, we will fight to help you pursue damages.
Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Two dead after fiery collision of dump truck, pickup in Durham, Sept. 22, 2016, By Dennis Hoey and Edward D. Murphy, Portland Press Herald
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Maine Mother’s Tireless Fight Against Tired Trucking Marches On, July 10, 2016, Portland Truck Accident Attorney Blog