The family of a truck driver have filed a suit against the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and several companies in an effort to receive damages for the wrongful death of the 56-year-old driver. The plaintiffs allege negligence on the loading dock and at the Bay Bridge’s dangerous S-curve . The driver was killed after his pear carrying semi toppled off the bridge, plunging 200 feet.
The suit against Caltrans claims the S-curve, introduced to drivers as part of the rebuilding of the Bay Bridge, did not have adequate warning signs to inform drivers to the then new curve. The suit was filed in the San Francisco Superior Court by experienced wrongful death lawyers and asserts that the public was not aware of the sharp curves nor to the extent at which drivers should reduce their to safely navigate them, without the opportunity to take the necessary precautions. In a sense the new route was a “concealed surprise.”
At this particular curve there have been a documented forty-three crashes prior to the driver’s fatal accident. Since the lethal fall, Caltrans has made a serious effort to increase signage, add rumble strips, flashing lights, and other advisories to alert drivers of the need to slow down. Virtually no accidents have been documented after the advisory escalation and public awareness effort.
Investigations into the fatal trucking accident indicate that the driver was driving 10 mph over the marked 40 mph limit. Most sections of the Bay Bridge has a speed limit of 50 mph.
The suit, filed by the driver’s wife and two children, also claims companies involved in the loading, transporting, and importing of the pears were negligent in that the cargo was dangerously overloaded by more than 7,000 pounds above the legal limit of 80,000 pounds, compounding the dangerous curve in the fatal on the job accident.
Damages sought by the family include loss of income, future earnings, and funeral expenses. In wrongful death actions the deceased’s estate and/or family members may be entitled to a host of damages including, but not limited to, loss of earnings, loss of enjoyment of life, as well as a loss of consortium for the loss of services to their spouses.