The Associated Press reported that several members of a Los Angeles fire crew comprised of inmates and one Los Angeles County firefighter, were injured and two were killed in a head on auto accident on Tuesday November 23, 2010. The fatal crash occurred on Highway 138, south of Gorman, when a Subaru Forester being driven by 83-year-old Milton Bacon of Gardnerville, Nevada veered into oncoming traffic and hit the fire crew’s truck. A dozen firefighters were hospitalized, four were seriously injured and in critical condition. Mr. Macon as well as one crew member, San Diego resident Fernando Sanchez, who was ejected from his vehicle, were fatally injured.
Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the deceased.
Applicable California Law
All of the injured and the heirs of the deceased will have personal injury and wrongful death claims against Mr. Bacon (see my prior Blog post on California’s wrongful death law). In addition, the crew’s foreman can make claims for workers compensation benefits since he was injured while on the job (see my prior Blog post for California law on workers compensation/injury law). Since the inmates who were on the fire crew truck were in the custody and control of the corrections department when they were injured or fatally injured, they and their heirs also have potential claims against the corrections department and or the county Fire Department if the vehicle they were riding in was not properly equipped with seatbelts or otherwise unsafe. A timely claim must be filed with the proper agencies and strict compliance with the government claims statutes pursuant to Government code section 945.4. Although the cause of the crash is still under investigation, the fact that Bacon crossed onto oncoming traffic would strongly suggest he was the primary if not the sole cause of the accident (see my prior Blog post on California’s driving law).
Regardless of who caused the accident, the loss of life and critical injuries are devastating. The assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial in order to properly handle auto accidents and truck accidents resulting in serious injuries or wrongful death.