The driver of the semi truck that crashed into an Amtrak train just outside of Reno on June 24 has been found to have had multiple prior speeding tickets and other allegations of unsafe driving. The driver, Lawrence Ruben Valli, 43, was killed along with five train passengers headed to San Francisco. Nine train passengers were seriously injured and treated at Renown Regional Medical Center.
Witnesses noted that Valli was traveling "at a considerable speed" as he approached the train crossing marked with signposts and flashing lights. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will be looking at the brakes and tires of Valli's truck to help them determine if or when he attempted to brake. Investigators will also look at Valli's cell phone to see if he was distracted at the time of the crash.
Recent Crash One of Many for Dangerous Driver
Alexandra Curtis, an injured Amtrak train attendant, filed a lawsuit against Valli and his employer, John Davis Trucking, claiming that Valli was negligent and careless in ignoring the railroad crossing signs and lights.
This is not the first suit against Valli due to his driving and involvement in trucking accidents. In 2007, Valli was sued by the victims of another crash he caused while driving a big rig truck. Valli rear-ended a Toyota Camry on Interstate 80, seriously injuring all three occupants. Additionally, Valli had received a number of speeding citations throughout his career as a commercial driver, but were they were spaced out over enough time and were not at high enough speeds for his commercial driver's license to be revoked.
The recent lawsuit involving the truck-train accident includes Valli's employer, who continued to employ Valli after exhibiting many instances of careless driving.
Dangers of Commercial Truck Accidents
A new rating system introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this spring may help reduce the number of careless commercial drivers allowed to slip through the cracks. The new system will rate each trucking company and driver in categories such as unsafe driving, fatigued driving, vehicle maintenance and crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 3,380 people were killed in traffic crashes involving large trucks in 2009. Only 503 were occupants of the big rigs themselves, with 2,551 of the fatalities being occupants of other vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to an accident caused by a commercial truck driver, speak to an attorney to help you preserve your rights and hold the driver responsible for his or her actions. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and help stop a dangerous driver from causing another accident and leaving more injured victims in his or her wake.