It just might be. The assumption most people make is that the guy pulling out from the stop sign is clearly at fault, but that’s not always true. Road and weather conditions can be a reason to slow down, even when you have the assumed right of way. Here is the story that brings this up on today’s Iowa legal radar screen.
A Little Rock truck driver was killed on Monday, in early December 2012, his name is Steven Rosenboom. This was an early morning accident between two semi-trucks at the intersection of Iowa Highway 4 and 390 Street, Airport bypass, just south of Emmetsburg. Read the description in the Emmetsburg News:
“According to Trooper Kevin Krull of the Iowa State Patrol's District Six Office in Spencer, the accident occurred at 6:08 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at the intersection of Iowa Highway Four and 390 Street (the Airport Road bypass) south of Emmetsburg. A 1999 Volvo semi tractor-trailer owned and driven by 64-year old David Ruehle of Graettinger was southbound on Highway Four when a 2001 Freightliner semi tractor-trailer owned and driven by 52-year old Steven Rosenboom of Little Rock, pulled out from the stop sign at 390 Street and in front of the Ruehle semi and was hit broadside. Following the impact, the tractor driven by Rosenboom burst into flames and came to rest in the west ditch of Highway Four, while the Ruehle truck jackknifed and to rest in the southbound lane of Highway Four.”
Okay, so why is this important? For several reasons it may be of interest for the accident participants to see an attorney. First, there is the aspect of workers' compensation. The injured driver has the right to receive benefits and the other driver's dependents do as well. If this driver who died was from out-of-state [or in this instance from Little Rock, Iowa] his widow and dependents would be entitled to Iowa workers’ compensation benefits, even if he was at fault. Out-of-state clients often times don't understand their rights under Iowa law. Fault has nothing to do with being awarded workers’ compensation benefits, but it plays a key role in determing fault in the truck accident case. [Third-party case] It's important in fixing liability in the car accident case. Two or more insurance companies will be attempting to push blame to one of the drivers. Again we look to the widow and the dependent claims which can make all the difference in their ability to live after the breadwinner dies. In the car accident case someone wins and someone loses. These are important considerations to both sides. Neither side should be without sound legal advice.
There is always something interesting about an accident involving people's lives. The collision between two semi-trucks is usually even more interesting because of the speeds, the weights and how they lumber along; they don’t just pull out from a stationary location. Things happen in real time and therefore lookout becomes an important factor. Nothing happens quickly. The drivers are normally professionally trained and have a commercial driver’s license. [CDL] This means either driver can be found to be at-fault and therefore their employers liable for both workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury damages. In this instance we have fog, a factor that must be taken into consideration by both drivers; even the one with the assumed right-of-way. Barreling along through the fog on a state highway isn’t always a good idea and may even be considered negligence in some instances. Were there skid marks? Were there witnesses? How severe was the impact? Does the impact indicate the speed of the truck on Highway 4? If so, what was it? Will the insurance company preserve or destroy the evidence? Will the one insurance company be wise enough to protect their own interest by ordering an accident reconstruction to determine speeds and site distances? Can’t tell really, but assume that the law requires everyone to drive according to the existing road and weather conditions. In fog we need to slow down. It’s really pretty simple, you can’t drive beyond your sight distances; meaning you’d better drive according to how far you can see and how quickly you can stop. Now that’s the rub of this case.
As you can see in this instance the liability could go either way.
So where is Little Rock, Iowa? Little Rock, Iowa is a small town in southeastern Iowa with a population of 459 people. Small by comparison to most Iowa towns, but still an interesting place with interesting people I’m sure. The median age is around 42 and the estimated household income around $47,500 versus Iowa’s of $122,000. Appears to me to be in Lyon County.
Tomorrow let's look at a knee implant case. Until then, I remain...
Fiery Semi Collision Claims Life - Emmetsburg News - A fog-shrouded, fiery collision between a pair of semi tractor-trailer rigs ... 3, at the intersection of Iowa Highway Four and 390 Street (the Airport Road ...