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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Trucker Charged After Crash Killed Three Teens


A Florida trucker is facing three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter after a crash that took the lives of three teens just days before Christmas. Sometimes it is best to let the criminal case against the driver play itself out before any civil jury trial of the personal injury lawsuit filed against the driver or his company.

According to prosecutors, the truck driver made an illegal left-hand turn and then parked his truck in such a way that it blocked two lanes of oncoming traffic. The truck driver was attempting to signal workers at the delivery site to open the gate. However, before that happened, a passenger vehicle carrying three teens broadsided the truck.

There are at least two elements of negligence in this fatal truck accident that could form the foundation of a personal injury lawsuit filed on behalf of each of the teen’s estates. In this article, we will outline the elements of negligence present in this case.

Elements of criminal negligence 

Criminal and civil negligence are two related but distinct concepts. The concept of negligence remains the same. The defendant owed the complainant or plaintiff a duty of care, did not render that duty of care, and injuries resulted from that failure. In cases of criminal negligence, or in this case, gross criminal negligence, the conduct must be so reckless or wanting of care that it made injury or death likely.

Gross negligence in civil trials follows the same basic standard, although the standard of proof in civil cases is lower than in criminal cases. Since the driver committed at least two infractions that resulted in an unsafe road condition that took three lives, he has been charged with gross manslaughter involving a motor vehicle.

Elements of civil negligence 

The truck driver’s negligence has already been discussed. But was his company also negligent? Companies are vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees when executing their work-related duties. Since the truck driver operated his vehicle illegally and dangerously, if the police report is accurate, the driver’s company will be liable for the damages even if the company did not commit any negligence.

However, one element of this case has not been discussed. The passenger vehicle carrying the teens broadsided the truck. Many trucks now have rails on the sides of vehicles to prevent what happened in this case. After the car struck the truck, the top of the smaller vehicle was sheared off. Anyone inside of the vehicle would have been decapitated.

Federal regulations require guardrails, known as underride guards on the backs and fronts of vehicles. There is no regulation for the sides of vehicles. However, if a company chooses not to employ a potentially life-saving technology, that can be used against them in a civil trial, and probably will be.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Truck Accident Attorney Today 

If you’ve been seriously injured or lost someone you love in a truck accident, call the Tampa fatal truck accident attorneys at Matassini Law Firm, P.A. today. Since 1976, we have provided legal counsel to injured plaintiffs and can help you recover damages for your injury too. Call today to learn more or visit our website at .


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