The family of a driver who died in an Oregon truck crash earlier this year has filed an Oregon wrongful death lawsuit against the other driver involved in the accident, according to a report in the Eugene Register-Guard.
Because the driver of the truck that caused the accident is already serving an 18-month prison term in connection with the fatal Oregon big rig crash, this case offers an especially clear reminder of something I have frequently mentioned in this space: the fact that the search for justice does not end in our criminal courts.
According to the Register-Guard the fatal accident on Highway 58 east of Eugene took place last March. Driver Bon Puckett “pleaded guilty last month to criminally negligent homicide and hit-and-run in connection with the pre-dawn wreck.” The accident took place when 28,000 pounds of hay Puckett was hauling that morning came loose and crushed the cab of a paint truck driven by Gregory Muller of Nevada. Prosecutors later contended that Puckett had not secured the hay properly and that his truck had not been properly maintained.
The Oregon wrongful death suit filed this week by Muller’s family broadens those charges, citing Puckett’s father and mother and their farm company, for whom the younger Puckett driving that morning, in its request for damages. The suit alleges that the elder Puckett knew his son was not properly qualified to secure the huge load of hay, that the load itself exceeded the legal limit and that the destination it was bound for was “outside the 150-mile radius in which Oregon farm-use vehicles are permitted to carry cargo” without a commercial hauling license.
In widening the circle of responsibility, the Muller family’s Oregon wrongful death lawsuit recognizes that responsibility for preventable accidents like this one often extends beyond the person who was driving at the time of an accident. Justice often requires the casting of a wider net. The role of an Oregon wrongful death attorney is to help clients determine the best approach to difficult questions like this, based on the specific circumstances of their case.
Eugene Register-Guard: Hay crash victim’s family files lawsuit