San Francisco personal injury attorney and National Trial Lawyers member Cynthia McGuinn has been featured in the news discussing updates in a case involving a fiery Santa Rose traffic accident that catastrophically injured her client. The incident, which occurred in early February, involved a defective runaway dump truck that caused a devastating multi-vehicle accident.
Attorney McGuinn is representing 76-year-old Barbara Schmidt, a driver of one of the vehicles involved in the collision, and her family. Just months before, in October 2017, Schmidt and her wife were among the many Sonoma County residents to lose their home in the fires that raged through the area. That tragedy was compounded in February when the defective truck, carrying debris from those very fires down a steep hill on Fountaingrove Parkway, lost control at high speed and crashed into Barbara's vehicle, causing a fiery collision that injured seven victims in total, including three critically.
As a result of the crash, Barbara suffered severe internal injuries and was rendered paraplegic. As Attorney McGuinn notes, her client's life has been profoundly and permanently changed, as have the lives of her wife and their daughter. Barbara presently resides in a long-term rehabilitation facility, though she has been re-hospitalized several times since the incident due to complications with her injuries, and her family is still reeling from the emotional and financial consequences of the crash.
New updates into the accident, including a recently released police report, reveal that the collision was preventable, and that the driver involved had committed a vehicle code violation for failing to maintain the truck in working order. According to investigators, several sets of brakes on the dump truck had failed prior to it losing control, and the driver admitted to missing an inspection and adjustment. McGuinn believes that the evidence will show that speed, vehicle overload and failure to comply with industry standards and governmental safety requirements are factors contributing to the crash. The police report provides further justification for claims filed by Barbara and her family against the company and other entities responsible in the operation of the commercial vehicle.
The findings of investigators demonstrate that the crash was preventable had basic safety requirements been followed. McGuinn observed that the evidence known to date shows the actions of the trucking company and its employee were particularly egregious and reckless as the truck was transporting large, heavy loads in high traffic areas in knowing violation of safety requirements. Depending on what further investigation reveals, such activities may support the imposition of punitive damages in a civil action.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn. Further information about the crash and Attorney McGuinn's comments can also be found on The Press Democrat and ABC 7.