Train vs. Truck: Lawsuits Filed Over Blame for Deadly Accident

rail road crossing sign

A June 2011 accident involving a California Zephyr passenger train and a tractor-trailer left six people dead and dozens injured. Truck driver Lawrence Valli was among the deceased, as well as the conductor and four passengers. The wreck took place in the Nevada desert.

According to officials, the semi truck skidded for more than 100 yards before shattering the crossing gates and hitting two train cars. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation, and a report on the cause is expected in the next few months.

Lawsuits Filed by Three Companies

Amtrak filed a federal suit against John Davis Trucking Company of Battle Mountain, Nevada, the carrier that owned the tractor-trailer involved in the accident. This suit claimed that the trucking company negligently owned, operated and maintained its tractor-trailer. Amtrak also claims the trucking carrier failed to properly train its driver.

In response, John Davis Trucking Company filed a lawsuit against Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad (UP), in the U.S. District Court in Reno, claiming the rail companies failed to maintain a safe crossing.

UP has filed a countersuit against John Davis, also claiming negligence on the part of the trucking company.

Additionally, five other lawsuits have been filed against John Davis Trucking by passengers on the rain or families of the victims. One employee has also sued Amtrak for locking one of the train doors, which the employee said contributed to injuries.

Complicated Legal Battles

Accidents that kill and injure this many people and include two companies are bound to be complicated.However, even a smaller wreck involving one passenger vehicle and a semi truck can turn complex once the trucking company and its insurance company become involved. Victims of accidents or their families should be able to focus on recovery but often find themselves dealing with an onslaught of paperwork, communication and quick decisions brought on by trucking carriers and insurance companies who want the matter wrapped up quickly and on their terms. Hiring a trucking attorney with years of experience dealing with pushy and often unscrupulous lawyers for insurance and trucking companies alleviates this stress and lessens the chance that an accident victim will be taken advantage of.

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If you have been injured or have lost a loved in a trucking accident, contact us for a free consultation. We will listen to an account of the accident and explain your legal rights and options. Once hired, we will immediately launch a full investigation into the accident and ensure that evidence is not overlooked or tampered with by insurance companies who hope to pay out as little compensation as possible. To see some of our past case results, click here.

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