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Wrongful Death in Orland, FedEx Hits Bus Head-On

On April 10, 2014, several Southern California parents received horrific news. A terrible traffic accident caused the wrongful death of five high school students, three chaperones and 2 vehicle drivers after a FedEx truck collided head-on with a chartered bus.

According to investigators, the FedEx truck may have hit another vehicle and then careened across a grassy median colliding head-on with the bus. Both vehicles burst into flames, killing the students, chaperones and drivers of the vehicles. The accident was on Interstate-5, 100 miles north of Sacramento, in Orland, California.

The bus, chartered by Humboldt State, was bringing high school students to campus for orientation.

Authorities are investigating the accident, including highway conditions. It may be months before the investigation concludes.

FedEx and others will find themselves in complex litigation, as multiple victims and their families seek justice for injuries and for some the wrongful death of loved ones. For over 35 years our office has represented victims in complex litigation involving multiple parties. 

In California, employers are liable for the actions of their employees. This is known as respondeat superior. This means that employers are responsible for the damages caused by their employees while the employees are in the course and scope of their employment. In this case, the FedEx driver was on the clock when the accident took place. Therefore, if the FedEx driver was negligent, so is the company and liable for the damages caused by that negligence.

Additionally, the driver of the vehicle that the FedEx truck side-swiped could also share liability for the accident. If it is discovered that the driver of the other vehicle contributed to the accident, that driver, and if "on the clock" his employer, share in the responsibility and liability for the losses sustained by the innocent victims and their families.

If investigation reveals the driver of the chartered bus was negligent that company, and perhaps even Humboldt State and thus the State of California, will also share responsibility. Finally, the condition of the highway will be examined and if a dangerous condition the State may also be liable.

This tragedy mandates that all sources of recovery be determined and preserved. If the State is involved as a liable party, an administrative claim must be filed within 180 days of the incident.

Retaining experienced personal injury counsel in complex cases is important. Determining culpable parties and companies is crucial. Determining all sources of recovery is vitally important.

The Law Offices of David P. Beeson represents victims in complex lawsuits involving multiple parties resulting from traffic accidents, big rig accidents, bus accidents and freeway accidents. Experience counts. Visit our website or call us at 619-233-6078 to make an appointment.


Thank you for taking the time to visit the blog and for commenting. The fact that the FedEx truck was on fire before it hit the chartered bus is a crucial detail. Thank you for raising this issue, because it raises additional legal questions that need answers. The biggest issue is one of negligent maintenance, and whether FedEx and its employees failed to maintain the truck properly to prevent overheating and other malfunctions that can cause a fire. A thorough investigation is the only way to get to the bottom of this issue. Keep following the blog for a legal analysis of the issues as they continue to be released.

UPDATE: The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is investigating the accident. Preliminarily the investigation seems to indicate that in fact the FedEx truck was not on fire until after the collision. This demonstrates how important it is to retain your own counsel as soon as possible after an injury causing event. Witness statements are not always reliable and forensic analysis can lead to different conclusions. Complex cases with multiple culpable parties and many victims with varying degree of injuries to death such as this call out for experienced legal representation. At our office, for over 35 years, we have represented victims and their families who have been hurt or killed in similar types of matters. Experience counts in complex cases such as this. We can be reached at (619)233-6078. Thank you for following this blog and your comment.

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