From time to time I see collisions on I-80 involving cars that have broken down and are in the breakdown lane. It may seem odd, but I see these cases. In one of these cases we represented a couple who pulled off because the wife, who was the passenger, was having labor pains. The husband stopped the car way off to the right and in the break-down lane, only to have a semi-truck plow right into their car as the husband was assisting his wife through the passenger door.

The Iowa State Patrol (ISP) is reporting on another such accident out of Adair County on April 29, 2017. But this one is slightly different because the driver with the mechanical problem didn’t pull into the breakdown lane – he actually appears to have stopped in the right travel lane. That fact might make him the cause of this accident.

In case number 2017011375, there was a 2001 Nissan Sentra that appears from the report to have broken down for mechanical reasons after which it stopped in what is described as the “right travel lane”. Not really the place to stop and it is not explained why the driver didn’t coast the car into the breakdown lane, but according to the report he didn’t. Than a semi-truck driver from Niles, Michigan came along driving a 2014 Volvo and ran right into the Sentra.

What don’t we know? We don’t know why he stopped, exactly where he stopped, if he turned on his emergency flashing lights, or how long he was stopped and why no one got out of the car. We don’t know why the semi-truck driver didn’t notice a car stopped on I-80 and we don’t know the weather conditions. We do know the time was 2125, which in layman’s terms is 9:25 PM. It must have been after sunset, although how dark it was isn’t known. We don’t about lights in the area or traffic flow. So there is a lot we don’t know and would need to know before judgments can be made about comparative fault.

The Sentra driver from Omaha, Nebraska (Both Thoch) died and the passenger (Kek Yok) was taken to the hospital.

This accident created several insurance claims involving both property damage and personal injury. All claims, outside of workers’ compensation, will present issues of comparative fault. Because even though the truck driver plowed into the Nissan, it was the Nissan driver, Both Thoch who stopped in the travel lane of an interstate highway; which is something you should never do, at least not without it being an emergency. Of course the lawyer who represents the Nissan driver will argue, his client’s car was in plain sight and so it’s difficult to know why the truck driver didn’t see what was plainly in front of him.

The semi-truck driver has another avenue to receive compensation. It is likely he will have a workers’ compensation claim. Work comp claims are completely different than personal injury cases from a car accident and in this instance that driver will have both. Comparative fault doesn’t matter in work comp. The issue will never be raised. Consumption of alcohol might be an issue, assuming there are any blood tests, but beyond that comparative fault is not an issue.

Any lawyer handling the personal injury case will also need to handle the work comp case and vice versa. And any lawyer handling any of these cases will need to be licensed to practice law in Iowa.

As always, if you have questions about the things we write about, then call to discuss having us handle your case.

Additional articles about how to avoid problems with your wrongful death claim.

  1. NE man killed, another injured in Adair County I-80 crash « KJAN
  2. Bellevue man killed and Omaha man injured in I-80 crash - WOWT.com
  3. Nebraska man killed on Interstate 80 after car breaks down - KCCI.com

Iowa State Trooper’s Description of the Accident

UNIT 001 TRAVELING WEST BOUND ON I-80 UNKNOWN MECHANICAL ISSUE CAUSED UNIT 001 TO BREAK DOWN IN THE RIGHT TRAVEL LANE UNIT 002 TRAVELING WEST BOUND ON I-80 DRIVER OF UNIT 002 DID NOT SEE UNIT 001 AND STRUCK UNIT 001 BOTH VEHICLES CAME TO REST IN THE NORTH DITCH.

OFFICER NAME: TROOPER DICESARE #59. POST: 03

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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