Mechanical Failure Claims Life of Mother & Unborn Child
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Bolingbrook Truck Center after a broken brake drum unlatched from a tractor-trailer and crashed into the windshield of Melinda Cortez-Cullen (38) killing her and her unborn child. The crash occurred in Joliet, Indiana in March of 2018.
The plaintiff’s attorney maintains that Bolingbrook Truck Center made repairs and did maintenance work on one of the axles on the Volvo semi that caused the fatality. The work included the removal and reattachment of the dual wheel assembly and brake drum. The very next afternoon, that same semi was heading eastbound on the I-80. Melinda Cortez-Cullen was heading westbound. The brake drum detached from the semi, was slung through the air, crossed the median, crashed through the windshield, and came to a rest in the back seat of the 38-year-old mother’s vehicle. She then crashed into a guardrail.
Eight Instances of Carelessness and Negligence
Attorneys for the plaintiff have outlined eight instances in which Bolingbrook Truck Center, the service center that performed maintenance on the vehicle, was negligent for the accident that occurred. Among them are, Bolingbrook Truck Center:
- Failed to properly repair the driver’s side axle two
- Failed to secure the dual wheel assembly and brake drum
- Failed to properly tighten the lug nuts
- Failed to inspect the semi before releasing it to the motor carrier
- Failed to warn the motor carrier that the truck was not safe to operate
Is the Motor Carrier Liable for the Woman’s Death?
Motor carriers are expected to make routine inspections on vehicles prior to allowing them to leave for delivery. The exact nature of these inspections are outlined by federal law. If in the course of performing (or not performing) the routine inspection, there was something that could have been caught (but wasn’t) then the motor carrier would also share some liability.
Thus far, it does not appear that the motor carrier has been named in the lawsuit, but this doesn’t preclude the possibility that the plaintiff is in separate talks concerning a settlement. However, given the evidence provided in the article, it seems clear that the majority of the liability will fall on the maintenance shop that installed the defective brake drum and wheel assembly that resulted in the death of Melinda Cortez-Cullen.
Is the Truck Driver Liable for the Woman’s Death?
Truck drivers are required to perform inspections on vehicles after every 24 hours out on delivery. If the defective parts that led to the plaintiff’s death could have been caught during one of these routine inspections, then some liability would fall on the truck driver.
This, however, is ancillary to the first cause which was the defective installation of the brake drum. Any liability that either the truck driver or the motor carrier he works for is secondary to the first cause, the defective repair work.
Talk to a Florida Defective Tire Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident, call the Coral Gables tire defect attorneys at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert for a free consultation.