One Killed in Truck Accident on Highway 99 in Fresno County, CA
Fresno County, CA — July 7, 2022, one person died in a fiery collision with a tractor-trailer on Highway 99 in Fresno County.
According to reports the incident happened around 7:30 a.m. on northbound Highway 99 near Manning Avenue, between Fowler and Selma. Preliminary investigation suggests that a tractor-trailer was headed north on the highway in the center lane when the driver started to merge left. The truck then crashed into a Toyota Prius that was already in the lane next to it. After the impact the Prius and the truck's trailer caught fire.
The Toyota's a 57-year-old driver was killed in the collision. A 10-year-old girl riding in the car was rescued by an onlooker. The truck driver was unhurt.
The crash remains under investigation. No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Truck Accident in Fresno County
It seems from reports that the truck driver made an unsafe lane change and that had tragic results. Some may see the matter as fairly cut-and-dried and responsibility for the crash so clear that the trucking company would have no choice but to make things right; unfortunately, things are rarely so simple after a commercial vehicle accident.
People who haven't crashed with a big rig, lucky as they are, don't always realize what battles await the folks that do. It's the default position of just about every trucking company to deny and deflect liability whenever possible, no matter what preliminary reports say. They're free to dispute police findings all the livelong day, and often do just that. Rather than acknowledge their driver made a mistake, long experience has taught me they're far more likely to send out their own investigators and cobble together a different version of events where something--anything--else is to blame for the damage done.
Some of the most troubling defenses I've seen involve blaming the victims themselves for their injuries. In Fresno County, for example, the company might argue the victims were in the truck's blind spot or that the car's driver should either have fallen in behind the truck or passed it rather than travel next to it. I'm not saying either of those defenses are justified or even accurate, only that the company's attorneys might try to toss them and several other excuses at the wall in hopes something will stick.
The uncomfortable truth is that trucking companies are highly unlikely to try and set things right out of the goodness of their hearts. No matter how terrible the damage done by their employees, they have assets and reputations to protect and will fight like hell to do so. Making them take responsibility usually requires the right kind of arm-twisting and a great deal of clear and convincing evidence. Police don't often dig deep enough to get that, which is why I often suggest that victims and families work with independent investigators who will do the job right. With the right allies and the facts on their side, many people have gotten the help they needed.