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Fatal collision raises questions about cause and liability

Automobile collisions usually happen in only a few seconds and without warning. Sorting out the facts of an accident in order to explain its cause and to determine who may be liable for damages may take days or weeks. A recent collision between a passenger car and a petroleum tanker truck in Anaheim shows how even a relatively simple car accident can be difficult to untangle.

According to preliminary reports, a Honda sedan was struck by a tanker truck near the intersection of two urban streets in Anaheim. Some witnesses said that the car had run a red light. Authorities extricated three people from the Honda. One was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other two were in critical condition. After being taken to a nearby hospital, both were declared to be brain dead. The driver of the tanker was apparently uninjured. Marijuana was found in the Honda, but police did not know if it was a factor in the collision.

At first glance, the fault for the accident would appear to rest on the driver of the Honda, but police did not say who was driving. If this turns out to be the case, the families of the two deceased passengers may have a cause of action for wrongful death against the driver's estate but only if the passenger and the driver were not related by blood or marriage. The driver of the tanker at first appears blameless, but police have not yet said whether the tanker was obeying traffic signals or traveling at a lawful speed. If the driver had been speeding, he (or she) may be at least partially at fault for the accident.

Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a car/truck collision may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in such cases. An experienced attorney can help sort out questions of potential liability and provide a helpful estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "1 Killed, 2 Critically Injured After Crash Involving Tanker, Sedan in Anaheim," Oleevia Woo and Corey Arvin, May 21, 2016

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