Frances Margay Schee, 13, a North Marion Middle School student, died shortly after 4 p.m. as a result of a rear end crash caused by a Tractor Trailer that may have some connection with CSX Railroad, a large corporation based in Jacksonville, Florida. It is interesting to note the CSX web site states that its vision is “to be the safest, most progressive North American Railroad, relentless pursuit of customer and employee excellence.” If CSX had some role or responsibility regarding this accident, CSX certainly fell well short of the vision.
Nine people were taken to the hospital and two students were reported to have critical injuries. Witnesses to the incident noted that the semi tractor trailer never stopped prior to the crash. Apparently, the school bus was stopped on a clear day. The impact shoved the large yellow school bus 275 feet. A few minutes later, a series of explosions started. The tractor trailer was carrying fluorescent tubes for Home Depot. There are serious questions that arise from an accident of this nature.
*Was it just mere inattention by the driver of the tractor trailer that caused the accident or something more?
*How many hours had the driver driven in the past 24 hours?
*What was his experience in driving a semi tractor trailer?
*Who owned the semi tractor trailer?
*Who was the employer for the driver of the semi tractor trailer?
*What general laws apply to these matters?
In Florida, the driver, the owner of the vehicle, and the employer can be held liable for the negligence of the driver. Florida has a doctrine called the dangerous instrumentality rule which holds the owner of a vehicle liable if there is an accident caused by the driver of the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle does not need to be negligent. It is the ownership and control of the vehicle that imposes liability under the dangerous instrumentality rule. The employer can be held liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In other words, the employee is serving the interests of the employer and driving at the employer’s direction and control. Under vicarious liability, the employer doers not need to be negligent. It is the employment itself that imposes liability under the vicarious liability rule.
It is important to have a Florida Child Injury Lawyer / Attorney review the facts, legal issues, insurance issues, scene investigation, corporate issues, employment issues, and other factors in cases of this nature. It appears from the initial reports that the driver of the semi tractor trailer could have prevented this accident by paying attention to the road, driving at a safe speed, and maintaining a safe distance from the yellow school bus.