A Preventable Accident: The Amtrak California Zephyr- Nevada Truck Collision

by Andrew R. Young | June 29th, 2011

The Nurenberg, Paris trucking litigation team expresses its heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the wrongful death and other injury victims of this past week’s Amtrak Crash in Nevada.

Prior to becoming a licensed driver of a big rig, one must pass a written test by reviewing and learning the Commercial Driver License Manual. This manual expressly discusses how commercial drivers should approach a railroad crossing. Prior to reaching the crossing, truck drivers should decelerate, brake smoothly, look and listen for trains and check for train traffic in all directions prior to crossing the tracks.

Unfortunately, based upon the latest media reporting on the this crash, it is the opinion of our law firm’s trucking attorneys that the driver, Lawrence Valli, did not approach the railroad crossing in a reasonable and safe manner. News reports from The Salt Lake City Tribune indicate Valli was going “at a considerable speed” before the crash. It is further reported that The National Transportation Safety Board is examining the truck’s wheels, tires and brakes for further details. It is our opinion that the driver was either driving at an excessive rate of speed and/or with faulty equipment. Both situations would be an explanation of negligent situations that needlessly endangered Valli and the victims of the Amtrak crash.

Additionally, it seems that Valli had a number of traffic violations. Negligent hiring, training, and retention present theories of liability wherein Valli’s employer, the John Davis Trucking Co, Inc. can be held responsible and accountable for this unfortunate accident.  In a recent firm blog, we highlighted the Pre-employment Screening Program that can be utilized by trucking companies when making a new hire.

It is our hope that the cause of this disaster will come to light and can serve to prevent future railroad-crossing accidents.

Authored by Attorney Andrew R. Young – Class A CDL License