A rental truck carrying kegs of beer to a fraternity tailgate party entered the Yale Bowl’s crowded parking lot. Most drivers would have slowed and proceeded cautiously, due to the number of other rental trucks and tailgate parties outside the site of a Yale-Harvard football game. This truck did not. It accelerated after turning left in the lot and struck three women.
A 30-year-old woman was taken to the Yale-New Haven Hospital but was pronounced dead less than an hour following the accident. Another 30-year-old woman was taken to the hospital and released with leg injuries, while a 23-year-old Harvard employee was taken to another hospital and released with minor injuries, according to CBS News.
Following the fatal accident, the New Haven Police Department impounded the rental truck for a forensic review. Police will also review witness statements before deciding whether to bring criminal charges against the truck’s driver or passengers, CBS News reported. So far, it has not been determined who is civilly liable for the woman’s death and the other women’s injuries, but the driver has hired a lawyer.
Who is Liable?
The driver, according to the Yale Daily News, is claiming the accident was the result of a “vehicle malfunction.” This claim could be directed at either the rental company or the vehicle’s manufacturer. The rental company issued a statement denying liability, claiming the attorney had no factual basis for the allegation. Similarly, a police spokesperson stated that the allegation was “premature.”
The estate of the woman killed in the accident might be able to file a wrongful death action — a type of personal injury lawsuit — against the driver, the rental company or the truck’s manufacturer. The injured victims could also file personal injury claims.
Liability in this type of motor vehicle accident case is likely based on negligence or product liability. To succeed in establishing liability, the victims would need to show that the truck was defectively manufactured or designed, that the driver was negligent or that the rental company improperly loaned the truck to him.
People who have been injured or have had loved ones taken from them in motor vehicle accidents should consult with a personal injury attorney to determine who may be liable for such devastating losses and to learn about possible legal claims.