Faulty Truck Brakes and Driver Inattention is Linked to Fatal Nevada Amtrak Train Crash that Left Six Dead
The combination of an inattentive truck driver with a past of speeding violations and faulty brakes is a nightmare one for other road users.
In northern Nevada last year it appears these two factors led to the deaths of six people when a truck collided with and derailed an Amtrak train on a railroad crossing.
Other factors in this crash highlight some of the most serious problems I see in the trucking industry as a Virginia Beach truck accident injury lawyer with 23 years’ experience.
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded “inconsistent sleeping patterns” meant the driver may have been suffering from fatigue and didn’t notice the train, Associated Press reported.
But this factor and the distracted driving theory that the driver may have been checking text messages at the time of the crash, were not entered as formal probable cause findings. The panel wasn’t able to verify these theories because truck driver Larry Valli, 43, was killed as well as the train’s conductor and four passengers.
Families of those who were killed and those injured in the crash have filed lawsuits against the trucking company and Amtrak. If a trucking company fails to maintain brakes on its vehicle and employs drivers with a record of speeding violations, there’s clear grounds for negligence and liability in a lawsuit.
AP also reported on a 5-0 vote, the panel found the “weakness of passenger car walls likely contributed to the number of deaths and more than a dozen injuries after the truck skidded 300 feet into the train” in the accident on June 24, 2011. The panel called for new strength standards to be developed.
This finding could also strengthen the case of those bringing lawsuits against Amtrak. It’s a clear concern to me as a railroad injury lawyer in the week Amtrak resumed services to Norfolk, Virginia for the first time since 1977.
A railroad can also be held liable if a crossing is poorly maintained or warning lights malfunction. Board members ruled this possibility out as a cause of the accident, pointing out the crossing was functioned correctly.
NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman concluded Valli had adequate opportunity to see and react to the flashing crossing lights.
“This accident could have easily been prevented if the driver had acted appropriately or the motor carrier had acted responsibly in maintaining the vehicle,” she told AP.
This tragic crash demonstrates the major potential for death and destruction when big rigs are not properly maintained and drivers fail to pay attention.
See our frequently asked questions about tractor-trailer wrecks.
The Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton, VA personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley, handles automobile, truck, and motorcycle injuries as well as wrongful death, railroad injury cases and medical malpractice. John Cooper and Jim Hurley have over 40 years of combined experience in handling auto injury accident claims. Attorney John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout VA, and always put the best interests of our clients first. The firm is recognized by other lawyers as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, for our top level of legal skill and highest ethical standards. Our motto is: “Your Injury. Our fight.” If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us at (757) 455 -0077 or contact us through this website.