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Contractor, subcontractor named in trucking wrongful death claim

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine exactly who is to blame for an accident.

Other times, there's simply more than one party responsible -- the accident was the result of a series of errors, made by different people, not just one.

Either way, that often puts plaintiffs in the situation of having to press their lawsuit against multiple parties at once in order to preserve their own right to compensation. Eventually, either a judge or a jury usually has to end up assigning a percentage of blame to each party involved -- once all the evidence has been presented.

For example, a California widow and her sons are filing a wrongful death claim against both the construction company and the subcontractor the construction company blames for not properly caring for the dump truck her husband was driving when he was in a fatal crash.

The truck driver was killed when one of its front tires blew out on the highway. The truck rolled as a result of the blowout, crushing the poor driver.

The truck, which was owned by Destination Anywhere, subcontracted to Granite Construction -- but it seems like everyone should have been aware the situation was unsafe for the driver and anyone else on the road:

  • The subcontractor had a history of having problems with the tires on its vehicles.
  • The driver had alerted his superior about the worn tires on the truck involved in the accident.
  • The trucking company purposefully overloaded the truck by almost 5,000 pounds, despite knowing the tires were in poor shape.
  • The supervisor purposefully instructed drivers to avoid state weigh stations in order to avoid inspections -- which is against the law.
  • The subcontractor had a history of serious tire violations with the State, including seven citations.

Under California's laws, a contractor is equally liable for any negligent actions of the subcontractors it hires. Larger companies often subcontract to smaller companies in order to cut costs. The smaller companies are often willing to take risks with costs -- and apparently the safety of their drivers.

Cases like this should remind the families of victims that they can often seek compensation from more than one party in wrongful death cases when a subcontractor is involved. While nothing can replace the person lost, the compensation can help keep the family on solid financial footing for years to come.

Source: www.santacruzsentinel.com, "Watsonville's Granite Construction named in wrongful-death lawsuit," Michael Todd, Oct. 31, 2017

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