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Who Is at Fault for Truck Driver’s Death?


The driver of a Ford F-150 that collided with a CalTrans vehicle Thursday morning on Interstate 5 died at the scene and his passenger was transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance according to an article on The Signal’s website. The Signal is a Santa Clarita newspaper.

According to the newspaper, the accident occurred at about 10:15 a.m. on southbound I-5 before the Parker Street overpass in Castaic. A CalTrans signal vehicle that was following a street sweeper was struck from behind by a white Ford F-150 pickup truck. The Ford pickup sustained severe damage. The signal vehicle’s collision impact cushioning device was only grazed. The street sweeper was working on the shoulder of the far left lane of southbound I-5.

The report did not mention any injuries to any CalTrans employees.

Determining the cause of this accident is going to be challenging. Was the deceased driver inattentive? Was there something about the operation of the signal vehicle that confused the pickup truck’s driver or otherwise created a dangerous condition? Did CalTrans provide sufficient warning to oncoming traffic of the street sweeper ahead?

Whatever the CHP’s traffic collision report ultimately says, the injured people and the family of the deceased may be well served by having the report reviewed and the accident investigated by independent professionals. The accident does not sound severe enough to cause a fatality to its driver. I am wondering if there is some type of defect in the Ford F-150 that contributed to the injuries. Was there a restraint system failure? Did the roof system collapse and cause the fatality?

It has been my experience that many CHP reports have a CalTrans bias when an accident involves CalTrans vehicles, construction sites or maintenance issues. Do not take a CHP traffic collision report as a full, complete and unbiased final determination of the cause of an accident like this one. You can bet that CalTrans has already had its investigators on the scene and has checked out the involved vehicles.

In not one of our successful traffic accident cases against CalTrans has the CHP traffic collision report blamed CalTrans or even hinted that CalTrans may have some responsibility.

My condolences to the family of the deceased driver and my best wishes to the injured for a full and speedy recovery.

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