Julio Alas, 42 of Norwalk was killed and his passenger, 40-year-old Salvador Pena of Los Angeles, suffered serious injuries in a fiery big-rig rollover accident on the 60 Freeway in the City of Industry on July 4th according to the Pasadena Star News. The fatal truck accident occurred east of Fairway Drive, according to California Highway Patrol Officer D. Hogge.
Alas was driving his big-rig in the No. 3 lane when a 1991 Toyota pickup truck driven by 47-year-old May Figueroa of La Puenta suddenly made an unsafe turning movement directly into the path of Alas' big-rig. While Figueroa and her passenger, Antoinette Monroy, 49, of La Puente, only suffered minor injuries, the big rig caught on fire. Figueroa is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail although it is not clear on what charges she is being held.
My condolences go to the family and friends of Mr. Alas. It appears that the truck accident was not his fault and that he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. His family and Salvador Pena have substantial workers' compensation rights as well as "third party" rights against the driver of the Toyota, assuming that Figueroa is responsible for this accident.
The news reports give no information about whether Figueroa was driving under the influence, if she fell asleep on the wheel, had a medical emergency or whether she was a distracted driver who lost control of her vehicle. There is also no information about whether there was a mechanical malfunction in her pickup truck, debris on the roadway, a pothole or another vehicle that made her lose control.
It would be in their best interest of the victims and their families to retain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who has experience dealing with big rig or large truck accidents and how a "third party" claim is impacted by workers' compensation subrogation rights.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's statistics, more than half of all big rig accidents are caused not by the driver of the big rig, but by drivers of passenger vehicles. This accident is a reminder for all of us to drive carefully and responsibly.