Fire truck accident caused by mechanical failure

Two vehicles crashing aftermath

A devastating motor vehicle accident occurred just outside Helena, Montana recently, claiming the lives of a Townsend family and the chief of the Three Forks Fire Department. KRTV.com reports that the family of five was traveling westbound toward Helena on the highway when a fire engine heading eastbound from Helena crossed the oncoming lanes of traffic and struck the family’s vehicle.

The driver of the car attempted to swerve to miss the fire engine, but was unable to do so and the two vehicles collided on the westbound shoulder of the highway. Both were quickly engulfed in flames from the truck’s leaking diesel fuel tank. It appears that the two adults in the car were restrained, but the three children, a four-year-old and a pair of three-year-old twins, were not in car seats. All succumbed to the smoke and flames at the scene of the accident.

Six Montana Highway Patrol troopers performed extensive investigations and determined that the fire truck’s drive train failed, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and veer into the path of the family’s oncoming car. The Associated Press reported that recalls were issued for the type of fire engine involved in the crash, one citing excessive driveshaft angles that could accelerate the drivetrain’s failure. However, the truck involved in the accident had either passed an inspection or been repaired to correct the issues mentioned in the recall.

Fire truck accidents

This deadly truck accident could have easily occurred in Illinois.  According to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, fire trucks are involved in around 30,000 car accidents every year, or 82 daily. Of the 195 instances where fire trucks were involved in fatal accidents, 146 of the fatalities were the occupants of other vehicles.

Product liability

In this instance, the families of the deceased may be able to seek a product liability claim against those responsible for the fire truck’s defective parts. This may include the following:

  • Manufacturer of the fire truck
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Whoever sold the fire truck to the Three Forks Fire Department
  • Shipper or anyone who was part of the chain of distribution between the manufacturer and retailer.

In many cases that involve a defective motor vehicle, claimants may be able to pursue both a product liability claim as well as a traffic accident claim. Those who have sustained a serious injury in a car accident that was due in whole or in part to a defective vehicle should contact a Chicago attorney to help them navigate the often difficult statutes and requirements related to this area of law.