The case boils down to a county road crew not doing its job to properly alert oncoming traffic to an obstruction dead ahead—in this case, a highway constriction zone situated past a blind, and a descending curve not immediately visible to drivers.
Normal procedure is the setting up of three warnings signs, in addition to flagmen at both ends of the roadwork to properly alert oncoming traffic of the dangers ahead. This would especially hold true in an area rife with natural obstructions.
Ironically, earlier in the morning of August 18th 2005, the construction crew got it right. However, for reasons unexplained as of 9am on that fateful morning work commenced without the proper warnings in place. A truck accident would soon follow.
A tanker truck travelling westbound on Keystone Road in Imperial County, California was suddenly forced to stop completely when it came upon the obstruction in the road. A tractor-trailer coming the other way was likewise forced to slow to a near crawl at the sight of road crews carrying out their construction duties up ahead.
Under normal circumstances, flagmen in contact via two-way radios would communicate with one another and keep traffic moving in a coordinated, choreographed fashion. One direction of traffic would be halted, while the other would be allowed to proceed along the only available lane, past the construction zone and beyond.
However, this appeared not to be the case here. And so it was that Antonio Rosiles, 54, of Stockton California, was piloting his tractor-trailer westbound along Keystone Road on that fateful morning, not knowing of the blockage that lay just ahead. Because the construction was taking place around a blind, Rosiles had no visual warning of the obstruction which lay ahead, and without proper signage or flagmen, there was no one to give him fair warning.
He didn't see the tanker stopped dead ahead of him, or the tractor trailer inching along in the other direction, until it was too late—and the incline impeded his capacity to stop. Rosiles slammed into the tanker truck immediately ahead, and sustained serious injuries. Among them: a ruptured aorta, numerous orthopedic injuries, punctured lungs, and vocal cord paralysis. His case went to a jury trial before the Hon. Joseph W. Zimmerman on October 8th of this year; the jury delivered the verdict less than a month later.
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The jury awarded Rosiles $2,390,790.00, with the majority of fault apportioned to Imperial County.
Tractor-trailers, tankers and other transport trucks are large vehicles and have to be driven with care. When semi truck accidents happen, the driver is all too often vilified for being careless and cavalier behind the wheel of a big rig. However, sometimes you need to stop not just because you are driving too fast, or recklessly. And sometimes you hit something not just because you weren't paying attention. Sometimes, a trucking accident happens due to the negligence of others. And sometimes, truck drivers need a lawyer, too.