Puyallup, WA- Two people were killed and four others were injured after a wrong-way crash involving several cars on Highway 512 near Parkland on Sunday evening.
Troopers said the incident began just before 4p.m. as the driver was heading north on SR-7 at SR-512 and collided head on with a vehicle atop the off ramp of SR-512 to SR-7. The driver then went west in the eastbound lanes of the off ramp, eventually coming on to the eastbound lanes of SR-512, still heading west troopers said.
The driver collided with three others cars before slamming into a fourth car head-on just west of SR-7, and his car became engulfed in flames, troopers said. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle, later identified as Robert Delacruz, 37, of Tacoma, was killed at the scene. A passenger in the fourth car, later identified as Jonathon Vivar, 35, of Puyallup, also died.
A 6-year old child in the fourth car was seriously injured with multiple broken bones and was rushed to Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Hospital, but troopers say he’s expected to survive. The driver of the fourth car was also hospitalized and is in critical condition at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma. Troopers added the driver in the third car was also hospitalized and sent to Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, while the driver who was stuck atop the off-ramp had minor injuries that were treated at the scene.
Who is responsible for this collision, and how do the injured people pay for their medical bills? At first blush, the answer might seem easy: Mr. Delacruz is responsible because he drove his car the wrong way, right? But why? Did his brakes give out? His steering? Both? Or, did he intentionally drive into innocent people? If it was an intentional act, the injured people may be prevented from suing Mr. Delacruz successfully because automobile insurance policies do not cover intentional, or criminal, acts. They only cover “negligent” acts. “Negligence” is a legal word that really means carelessness; no “intent” is involved.
At this stage, it’s not clear at all how the injured people will cover their medical bills, or if they can at all. It would help considerably if the injured people had their own health insurance, or if they selected a unique – but optional – form of coverage on their own automobile insurance policies that pays specifically for medical bills.
The law requires your insurance company to specifically present you, the consumer, with this optional coverage known as “Personal Injury Protection” and another very important optional coverage called “Uninsured Motorist Protection”. Both of these important coverages, if present on your own car insurance policy, can really help out in a situation like this one. When insurance companies do not offer these critical coverages to you specifically, and you do not waive these coverages with your signature, your insurance company is bound by law to give you these coverages in the event of a collision – even though you have not paid any premiums for them! They are that important! Unfortunately, we have seen many cases where a person’s own insurance company does not let them know about their right to coverage in situations like these.
One thing’s for certain. The accident involving Mr. Delacruz and the many other injured people involved in the crash is a tangled legal mess for the time being. However, the legal advice to be given to everyone involved is so simple: Call an attorney on the telephone and get free initial guidance. No one has to hire an attorney just to talk to one. It’s very important to do so because the insurance companies that may have to pay out for the damage are self-interested – they make money by not paying claims. In fact, most large insurance companies are publicly traded on the stock exchange. They want to report annual profits to their shareholders. How do they do that? Simple. Avoid payouts to insured people by interpreting car insurance policy language in their favor. They do it all the time. And every once in a while, even the Washington state Supreme Court slaps the wrist of an insurance company for their bad behavior in tragic situations like this. To the estate of Mr. Delacruz, and all of the innocent injured people involved, sincere condolences are offered. When the emotional dust begins to settle, and it’s time to start picking up the pieces, take solace knowing that free initial legal consultation is at your doorstep.
At Bishop Legal, we investigate all aspects of a collision to determine the responsible parties for the injuries caused. We seek the maximum possible compensation from the liable parties.
If you have sustained serious injury in an auto accident as the result of a negligent driver, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-299-7679 or 206-592-9000.