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When Is A Car Wreck More Than A Car Wreck?

There was a horrific car wreck yesterday morning on Highway 290.   A pickup truck driven by Rudy Cruz had a collision with an electricity truck driver.  Both Cruz and the electricity truck briefly pulled over.  But then Cruz took off again and ended up driving on the wrong side of 290.  He hit a an Acura driven by Dr. Bishal Anand and then hit another pickup truck, driven by Carl Bonn.  Sadly, Dr. Anand and Mr. Cruz were both killed.

From a civil liability standpoint, this is obviously a car wreck case. 

But the thing that struck me, other than the obvious tragedies with the deaths involved, was the damage to the vehicles involved.  One of the vehicles was literally ripped apart.  It isn’t supposed to happen that way.

In tragic cases, it’s easy to spot the easy car wrecks and leave it at that.  But as attorneys, we need to look farther.  In many cases, such as this one, an attorney might ask whether the vehicle involved held up like it was supposed to.  These days, vehicles are designed to withstand collisions and protect those inside of vehicles.  When they fail to do that adequately, then there might be a products liability case against the vehicle manufacturer.  These types of cases are called “crashworthiness” cases — and the issue is whether the vehicle was reasonably well designed to stand up to crash forces. 

An attorney might also look at the seat belts — did the seat belt stand up to the collision like it is supposed to?  Or a personal injury attorney might investigate to see whether there were other factors that might have contributed to the wreck. 

In this wreck, it doesn’t sound like many of these factors will apply.  But a personal injury lawyer has to keep an open mind to really analyze when a car wreck presents more than just a car wreck case.

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