Earlier this year, six people from Wisconsin were tragically killed in a truck accident involving an SUV and a semi. The crash occurred on I-65 near Elizabethtown, Kentucky, about 15 miles from where a 2010 truck accident killed 11 people in a van. In the most recent accident, the SUV caught fire after being rear-ended by the semi, and only two children survived.
In April, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by an attorney representing four of the victims who were killed. Even though the victims were all from Wisconsin, the lawsuit was filed in Kentucky because that was where the accident took place. While this arrangement seems very inconvenient for those affected by the accident, it is fairly standard across the U.S. for any legal action to be taken in the same state in which the accident occurred. Because most people do not have connections with out-of-state attorneys, many personal injury law offices can recommend someone in another state. If the referring attorney stays involved in the case, they may act as co-counsel to the other firm.
The lawsuit named both the driver of the semi and the company he works for as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the truck driver had been on the road without a break longer than federal regulations allow, and that he kept two sets of log books to keep regulators from finding out. The lawsuit most likely claims that the company he worked for knew he was doing this and perhaps even encouraged the behavior to decrease his downtime. Their claim is certainly strengthened by the fact that the company and the driver have both been declared imminent hazards by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and are prohibited from moving freight. An investigation by the agency in March determined that the driver was indeed driving longer than he should and that the company knew about it and didn’t stop him.