Melissa Sandoval, 28, died in a big-rig accident on the 15 Freeway in Utah after her northbound car was struck twice and forced into a median by a big rig truck, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Sandoval’s car then rammed into the rear trailer of a southbound semi tanker rig.
Utah County police have arrested the truck driver, 43-year-old Marcus Winzer of Los Angeles, on suspicion of reckless endangerment. Winzer was the driver of the northbound big rig truck that forced Sandoval’s car into the median. The driver of the southbound semi tanker rig, who has not been identified, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
My condolences to the Sandoval family and her friends. Nothing can make up for such a tragic loss. The news article did not mention if she was married, had children or was supporting a parent. Other than a lawsuit there isn’t much the family can do but hope that the Utah judicial system prosecutes the truck driver appropriately and fully.
In 2006, almost 5,000 people in the United States died in large truck accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) statistics. More than 40 percent of those accidents were the fault of the truck drivers’ negligence such as reckless driving, driving under the influence, falling asleep at the wheel or distracted driving. In almost all big rig accidents, the occupants of the passenger vehicles tend to suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries because of the size and weight of these large commercial trucks. Some of these vehicles weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
In a case where it is proved that the big rig accident was caused by the truck driver’s negligence, both the truck driver and the trucking company will be held responsible for the accident, injuries, deaths and damages. Victims and their families will be entitled to compensation in these cases.
Being that this big rig accident resulted in a fatality with criminal charges pending, Utah law enforcement officials will conduct a thorough investigation into this accident to determine the appropriateness of criminal charges. Their traffic collision report may not be released for months due to the potential of criminal proceedings.
It would be wise for Sandoval’s family to consult with a top personal injury law firm with the skill and resources to obtain appropriate compensation for the family, especially if Sandoval has children. If Winzer is responsible for Sandoval’s death, Sandoval’s heirs could sue Winzer and his trucking company in Utah, where the accident happened, in California where Winzer is a resident or where his trucking company is located. Many times there are significant advantages to suing in one place over another. The best attorneys will know the more advantageous places to file the family’s lawsuit.
A “semi-trailer” is a trailer without a front axle. The “semi-trailer” attaches to a road tractor either directly or by way of a detachable front axle assembly called a dolly. The dolly then attaches to the road tractor. The “semi-tailor” can also be attached to the back of another trailer or “semi-truck”. A semi-trailer attached to a road tractor is commonly referred to as a semi-trailer truck or “semi”. Many times the are also referred to as a “big rig” or an “18 wheeler”.