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Bizarre Traffic Death Prompts Multiple Lawsuits


A San Rafael man crashed into a tractor-trailer in his Mercedes. For some reason, the man decided to flee on foot from the scene of the accident. He hopped over a median wall and fell 150 feet to his death. Now, everyone is scratching their head to try to figure out who to sue.

The driver, Joaquin Terry, had one passenger in the vehicle who sustained serious injuries when the passenger side of the Mercedes was crushed under the underride of the tractor-trailer. The central question is: Why did Terry get out of the Mercedes and then leap to his death.

The family contends that the truck attempted to pull over to the shoulder with the Mercedes still crushed underneath it. In that case, Terry may have made the decision to exit the vehicle as quickly as possible and then get off the main road in order to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic. In a panic, Terry neglected to realize that the median he jumped over led to a 150-foot drop. He died. If that’s the case, the trucking company might be held liable for his death.

Injured Passenger Files Multiple Lawsuits

Terry’s passenger, John McFarland, has filed a lawsuit against the truck driver, the trucking company, and Terry’s estate. Highway Patrol blamed the accident on Terry. They believe that Terry was speeding and suspected that alcohol may have been involved.

In the case of commercial trucking companies, commercial trucks are required to have underride guards that prevent smaller vehicles from getting crushed beneath the trucks. While federal law requires these underride guards be placed in the backs of the trucks, there is no law requiring that they be placed on the sides. However, if a passenger car is crushed beneath the side of a tractor-trailer, a plaintiff can generally sue because a safer alternative exists and was not employed by the trucking company. Additionally, if the rear underride guard fails that would also be the fault of the trucking company.

McFarland claims that he was asleep during the accident and simply woke up in the hospital not knowing what happened. This provides a problem for Terry’s lawsuit but not necessarily his own. Since Terry walked away from the crash and fled the vehicle, the trucking company can establish Terry’s fault as a bar to recovering any money in a wrongful death claim. However, McFarland’s lawsuits remain valid since cars are not supposed to be crushed beneath tractor-trailers and he sustained serious injuries as a result of that.

McFarland required that his arm be amputated and currently lives off a disability check. He is seeking damages related to his lost income (past and future), grievous bodily harm, and pain and suffering.

Talk to a Vero Beach Traffic Liability Attorney

If you’ve been seriously injured in a traffic accident, the State of Florida allows you to sue the at-fault party. Talk to the Vero Beach truck and bus accident attorneys at Vocelle & Berg, LLP today and we can set you up with a free consultation.