A Connecticut man died on Wednesday, December 12, 2012, when his vehicle collided with a tractor trailer in a rest stop off of Interstate 95. The tractor trailer was allegedly parked illegally in a “no parking” area, where the driver had stopped to rest. Accidents like this are not uncommon in Connecticut and the New England region, and they are often fatal for drivers unlucky enough to hit a parked truck. Federal trucking regulations set strict limits on where drivers may park their rigs, as well as limiting the number of hours drivers may be on the road.
The tractor trailer had pulled onto the left shoulder of the rest area entrance ramp, which was located on the southbound side of I-95 in Fairfield, just south of Exit 21. According to the Connecticut Post, the area was clearly marked as a “no parking” area. The truck driver later told police that he had pulled over so he could rest in the truck’s sleeper berth. Although the rest area has designated parking spaces for commercial trucks, they are frequently full. The victim, driving a Nissan Sentra, reportedly exited I-95 for the rest area at about 10:50 p.m., collided with the right rear of the trailer, and hit the left side of an SUV that had entered the rest area just after it. The Sentra came to rest under the truck, and emergency responders pronounced the driver dead at the scene. The drivers of the tractor trailer and the SUV were not injured.
Less than twelve hours after the accident, according to the Post, another commercial truck was parked illegally in almost the same spot. Accidents involving vehicles striking parked tractor trailers seem to be quite common. On December 1, 2012, a truck driver pulled into a rest area along northbound I-95. Reports do not indicate if the truck was parked illegally. A Toyota Corolla entered the rest area, somehow rolled over and became airborne, and collided with the cab of the truck. The truck driver died from his injuries. The driver and occupant of the Corolla were not seriously injured. An accident in Bridgeport in August 2012 involved a truck that had parked on the right shoulder of northbound Route 25. A car drifted off the highway at about 5:00 a.m. on August 26 and collided with the parked truck, killing the car’s driver and passenger.
To meet the need for immediate step by step on scene assistance for Connecticut motor vehicle drivers involved in an collision a new Car Accident app has been made available without cost. Very few persons involved in a car crash would think to get legal advice or retain a lawyer instantly in order to know what to do at the scene of the accident and in the immediate aftermath, what to document and how to assemble useful information for an attorney to eventually assist with the claim if need be. The accident app provides that level of instruction. Both i-phone and Android versions of the app have gone live and may be downloaded for free at the links provided herein.
The free release of the car crash app is part of the continuing effort on the part of a law firm dedicated to provide injured people with competent and aggressive legal representation on personal injury matters including automobile, motrocycle and truck accidents. We also represent people in a full range of personal injury litigation including car accidents and truck accidents, construction accidents, work injuries and those caused by dangerous or defective products.
Attorney Levin is rated by AVVO ( Independent Lawyer Research Organization) as “Superb” and has been recognized by Hartford Magazine as a Top Personal Injury lawyer in the Greater Hartford, CT area. BV Distinguished Peer reviewed rating issued by Martindale Hubbel. Office location- 40 Russ Street, Hartford, Connecticut though cases presently handled in Waterbury, New Haven, Middletown, New London and LItchfield regions.
The woman responsible for a fatal crash in May 2011 pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in late November. Yadira Torres, a 26 year-old warehouse worker, agreed to serve between five and eight years in prison. A judge will determine the specific length of sentencing in February. Torres has not driven since the accident. She is free on $35,000 bail.
The accident occurred at about 6:00 a.m. on May 7. Torres was driving north on Interstate 95, reportedly heading home to Hartford after a night of drinking in Manhattan. She lost control of her Dodge Caliber and hit the tractor trailer she was passing. The collision made the truck flip and spin around, detaching the cab from the trailer. The truck then burst into flames. Both the driver, 42 year-old James Sorto, and his passenger, 18 year-old Kelly Taborda, died in the crash. Sorto was pronounced dead at the scene, although officials would not be able to identify him for several days due to the extent of his burns. Taborda, who was pregnant, died from blunt trauma injuries at Stamford Hospital. Torres and three passengers in her car were treated for minor injuries at Norwalk Hospital. Police arrested Torres at the hospital that day.
Police charged Torres with vehicular manslaughter. In Connecticut, the combination of driving under the influence and a fatal car crash is known as “manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle” and is a class C felony. The law allows prison sentences of one to ten years for conviction of a class C felony. By pleading guilty, Torres has admitted to many aspects of the accident, including being at fault for the crash. Normally, personal injury attorneys would find this information useful.
According to news reports, Torres had minimal coverage under her automobile insurance policy. Taborda’s family reportedly decided not to pursue a lawsuit for damages or wrongful death against Torres. Although there should be more than enough evidence to support a wrongful death claim, a cardinal rule of civil claims is not to commit the time and expense of a claim when it is certain that the defendant lacks the ability to pay a settlement or judgment. With no insurance and a lengthy prison sentence looming, the defendant in this case most likely lacks the means to satisfy a judgment if one existed.
Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation establishing texting while driving as a “primary offense.” New York’s initial anti-texting law, promulgated in 2009, made texting while driving only a secondary offense, which meant police needed to pull drivers over for another offense first in order to ticket for texting. The upgrade of the law will make it easier for police to enforce the ban on texting while driving since police can now pull over a driver simply for texting.
New York’s new law aligns it with Connecticut, which has had a law since the middle of 2010 that made texting while driving a primary offense.
In Connecticut and throughout the Northeast Automobile accident statistics confirm that fewer people lost their lives last from automobile roadway and highway accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Secretary Ray LaHood, “the number and rate of traffic fatalities in 2010 fell to the lowest levels since 1949, despite a significant increase in the number of miles Americans drove during the year.” Secreatry Hood also stated that “Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”
Investigating and pursuing truck accident claims involves both traditional methods of accident investigation and Legal Discovery with Federal Law and regulations that may affect the outcome of the lawsuit. Unfortunately, given the size and mass of Trucking rigs on our roads, resultant collisions with passenger cars are often tragic, yielding all manner of fatal injuries, Brain injuries, serious fractures and paralysis. Common experience and statistics detailed below bear this point out. What is not so commonly understood nor intuitively obvious is the impact that Federal law has on regulating the conduct of commercial Trucking operators and therefore, the Discovery needs of Plaintiff’s lawyers litigating such claims on behalf of injured clients or the Estates of those who did not survive such accidents.
Sometimes, unlikely events occur. Getting struck by a police cruiser on a street just blocks from the Police Department falls into that category. Having the Assistant Police Chief( Officer Melendez) behind the wheel at the time adds to the misfortune. Losing consciousness at the scene and being removed by ambulance with head and facial injuries only to awake from the fog of it all to find out that the accident investigation is likely being carried out by officers, junior in rank to the Assistant Chief with no evident referral to the State Police or some other mechanism offering a higher indicia of reliability as to the eventual findings and investigative deliberative process borders on the incomprehensible. That, however, is exactly what seems to have happened in the case of a recent client whose Family simply contacted my office to look into what may have happened and take any appropriate steps to pursue a personal injury claim on his behalf should the facts so warrant.
In Connecticut as well as many other Jurisdictions, in the case of accidental deaths whether occuring on the job, while operating a motor vehicle or opertaing machinery or simply the result of substandard medical care lawsuits may be initiated on behalf of those killed. Legally, this may be accomplished through the appointment of an Administrator of the Estate by the Probate Court who then engages legal counsel to investigate and file the lawsuit if warranted by the circumstances.
From a personal injury perspective, wrongful death claims are often complex and challenging cases to pursue, not only for the Law Firm entrusted with this task but also for the family members left behind who must interact with lawyers and provide information and insight into the life of the decedent. In Connecticut, accidental death lawsuits must generally be initiated within two years of the event causing the death in order to fall within the Statute of Limitations period. It is not uncommon for the investigation of such claims to take an extended period of time to complete so prompt retention of an experience lawyer is always helpful and sometimes critical. This is particularly the case when critical evidence or witnesses may no longer be easily ascertainable given any extended delay.
One of the more challenging categories of cases within the field of personal injury are Head injuries, Sometimes alternatively referred to as Brain injuries or Traumatic Brain Injury claims (TBI) these cases are often challenging and complex to pursue. For the Law Firm entrusted with this task of proving these claims while their clients are adjusting to all manner of symptoms ranging from Memory and speech to dizziness and headaches, the effort must be continuous. The importance of monitoring and studying the medical reports, assisting where necessary with making sure that the right specialists are evaluating and treating the clients cannot be overstated. In Connecticut, we have detected to some extent the existence of an institutional bias, even within the medical profession, where the more subtle types of Brain trauma are involved. My office has taken the deposition of well known neurologists tasked with performing an independent medical exam where they insisted that in the absence of evidence on an MRI or CT Scan of a brain injury that post concussive syndrome would simply not be a credible explanation for ongoing neuro psychological difficulties. That expert opinion, much like another, suggesting that a loss of consciousness was necessary to even have a brain injury , is not supportable under current guidlines nor peer reviewed clinical literature.
Injury to the spine is perhaps the most common body part reportedly affected from motor vehicle, industrial and construction accidents which take place regularly through the State of Connecticut. No doubt, a similar trend would be found to apply in other States as well. The severity of the injuries involved, naturally ranges from back strains and sprains to paralysis. It is safe to say though that anyone who has experienced the effects of any significant trauma to the spine can readily appreciate just how debilitating the effects of even a temporary severe strain may be.
From a legal perspective, the circumstances and cause of the injury event are critical in terms of figuring out who, if any person or company, may be legally responsible to compensate the injured party. In work circumstances, this is usually that individual’s direct employer. Sometimes, a third person or company can be held financially responsible even in the presence of a work injury. That is one reason it is particularly helpful if the attorney retained knows what to look for and how to pursue both types of legal claims.