Fireball Crash Kills Four People
Some combination of a violent collision and smoke inhalation killed four people in a Ford truck that smacked into an illegally-parked dump truck.
The wreck happened on I-85 South between University City Boulevard and West W.T. Harris Boulevard. According to investigators, the victims were riding in a Ford truck that hit an improperly parked dump truck on I-85 South. One witness said he tried to free the four people in the pickup. “At the time, the driver was, he was fighting, but smoke was just filling the cab,” he said. “And it filled up really fast. It filled up really fast.”
“As soon as I started to spray the flames [with a fire extinguisher], the whole vehicle exploded,” he added. “Like all the windows busted out. And it was pretty much at that point, nothing we could do. There’s nothing else I could do.”
Fault vs. Liability
If a driver hits a fixed object, like a wall or a parked vehicle, emergency responders and insurance adjusters almost always conclude that the driver was at fault for the crash. Even following such a fault determination, a Columbia personal injury attorney can still obtain compensation for you in court. There’s a difference between fault and liability, just like there’s a difference between a halftime score and a final score.
Responders and adjusters base fault determinations on the evidence that’s immediately available at the scene, and on no other evidence. Especially following a fireball wreck, little physical evidence may be available. Furthermore, highway collisions usually have few witnesses, at least right away. For various reasons, very few people stop what they are doing and loiter at accident scenes so they can give official statements to police officers.
Subsequent physical evidence is usually available, like the information on a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. This information includes critical data like vehicle speed and steering angle. Additional witness statements are usually available as well. Frequently, several people saw the wreck but they didn’t linger at the scene.
Legal issues come into play as well, such as comparative fault. Frequently, both drivers were partially at fault for a wreck. In a few states, drivers who were partially at fault are ineligible for compensation. But the law is different in South Carolina. Partially at-fault victims could be entitled to up to 51 percent of their requested compensation.
Speaking of legal issues, commercial drivers, like dump truck drivers, usually have a higher duty of care in South Carolina. The higher duty of care makes it easier for a Columbia personal injury attorney to prove negligence, or a lack of care. This duty applies as long as that driver is on the road, whether or not the driver is moving, or even whether or not the driver was behind the wheel at the time.
Third Party Liability
Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are legally responsible for the crashes they cause. Third parties are often financially responsible for the damages these collisions cause.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Respondeat superior usually applies in commercial driver wrecks. This legal theory has two basic elements in South Carolina:
- Employee: Even if they are independent contractors or other non-employees for most purposes, commercial drivers are always employees for negligence purposes. That’s because their employers exercise some control over their behavior.
- Scope of Employment: Similarly, any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That could include parking a dump truck on the side of the road, if the truck is going to or coming from a job.
Other third party liability theories include dram shop alcohol provider liability and negligent entrustment owner liability.
Reach Out to a Thorough Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.