Authorities are seeking a warrant for reckless homicide for the arrest of Vicente Virola Rodriguez, a tractor-trailer driver that rear-ended several vehicles earlier this year, including a minivan in which the victim, 4-year-old girl Jada Bennett of Myrtle Beach, was riding. According to myrtlebeachonline.com, the little girl was properly restrained seating in a child safety seat, but that did not help avoid the head trauma that caused her death.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed
According to authorities' final report on the accident, the driver of the tractor-trailer was distracted while using a cell phone and traveling too fast for conditions when he rear-ended the minivan the girl was in, as well as another vehicle.
Jada's mother, Miriam Bennett, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in August against the truck driver and Hartt Transportation Systems, Inc. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, Jada suffered severe physical pain, mental anguish and emotional distress realizing her impending death after the crash. Similarly, the suit continues, the family suffered pecuniary loss, loss of society and companionship, loss of moral guidance, emotional distress and grief, shock and sorrow following the crash and Jada's death, which was caused by the "negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, wanton and willful acts of Rodriguez and Hartt Transportation Systems, Inc."
Finally, the plaintiffs blame Rodriguez for failing to keep a proper lookout, for failing to keep proper control of the vehicle, for failing to apply or adequately maintain the brakes in his truck, for failing to take evasive action to avoid the crash and for failing to keep a safe distance from the vehicle(s) in front of him. Consequently, Miriam Bennett and her beneficiaries seek to recover actual and punitive damages, as well as court costs.
Driver Negligence and Inadequate Training
Throughout our firm's many years of practice, we have seen how trucking companies fail to properly train their drivers. Could this have been the case with Mr. Rodriguez? Was he aware of regulations that required him to keep a safe distance from the traffic ahead of him? Moreover, didn't Mr. Rodriguez realize that given the size and weight of his rig, he should pull over to safely make the call? Was he on a tight schedule set by Hartt Transportation Systems?
Hopefully the investigation will determine why Mr. Rodriguez was on the phone while driving such a heavy rig in heavy traffic. Yet, we cannot help but wonder if he was adequately trained or if Hartt Transportation Systems set a schedule so tight that would not allow for him to pull over and make that call without making a late delivery that could subject him to penalties.
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