We previously discussed a Nebraska lawsuit that invoked a statute allowing wrongful death claims on behalf of unborn children. The case involved a truck accident that took the lives of a family and their unborn child. The lawsuit, Baumann v. Slezak, et al, also invoked Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations governing the length of time truck drivers may operate a vehicle or be “on-duty.” The driver who allegedly collided with the family’s car had, according to the complaint, been driving longer than the maximum time period allowed by the regulations.
The accident occurred in the early morning of September 9, 2012. The family, which was traveling cross-country in two cars, was stopped at the rear of a traffic jam on westbound Interstate 80 in western Nebraska. A semi-truck driven by the defendant Josef Slezak approached the line of traffic at about seventy-five miles per hour. The driver allegedly failed to slow or stop the vehicle, hitting the family’s rear car at full speed. This propelled the car into the family’s other car and into another vehicle, killing the occupants of both cars.
The lawsuit names Slezak and his employer as defendants, asserting causes of action for negligence per se, violations of FMCSA regulations, and vicarious liability. The complaint accuses Slezak of violating two FMCSA regulations: a prohibition on operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired by fatigue or some other cause, and hours-of-service (HOS) rules. Slezak had allegedly been driving for almost nineteen hours. He arrived at a terminal in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to the complaint, at 10:49 a.m. on September 8, 2012, and departed at 1:49 p.m. The accident occurred at about 5:19 a.m. on September 9, approximately 920 miles from Milwaukee.