Family Sues Construction Companies After Unlicensed Forklift Driver Causes Fatal Accident
You might get annoyed when sections of the road are blocked because of construction. In fact, you might fume with frustration when two workers, communicating by walkie-talkies from opposite ends of the construction site, hold up signs that say “stop” and “slow,” letting just a few cars pass at a time. The delays, however, are much better than an alternative version of events in which cars have to share the road with enormous construction vehicles. If you think it is dangerous and scary to drive near an 18-wheeler, imagine what it is like to be within collision distance of a construction vehicle like a crane or forklift. You can probably imagine how catastrophic a collision between a passenger car and a construction vehicle would be for the car, but such accidents rarely happen, because construction projects must adhere to strict safety standards, including extensive safety training and licensing for the people who operate construction vehicles. If someone in your family has been killed in an accident related to a construction project, contact a South Florida wrongful death attorney.
Details of the Zakos Case
On November 17, James Zakos, 70, was driving his Mercedes-Benz convertible near Fort Lauderdale Beach. Ulises Mondragon, who was working on a road improvement project near the beach, was driving a forklift, and he attempted to stop at a red light. He did not stop in time, and his vehicle entered the intersection, colliding with the Mercedes and killing Zakos.
Zakos’ family sued the contractor responsible for the road improvement project for negligence, also naming as defendants three subcontractors employed by the contractor; they are seeking $25 million in damages. They claim that the defendants demonstrated egregious negligence by allowing Mondragon to operate a forklift, given his driving record and lack of professional qualifications. Not only does Mondragon not have a license to operate a forklift, he does not have a driver’s license at all. He has received three traffic citations for driving without a license in Palm Beach County since 2011.
Meanwhile, Mondragon could face criminal penalties for his role in the accident. He is currently in jail on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, which is a felony. Bay News 9 did not report any criminal charges of vehicular manslaughter, but it is possible for defendants accused of causing fatal accidents to receive this criminal charge, also.
The Legal Issues
Although it is clear that Mondragon caused the accident, the issue in the lawsuit is whose responsibility it was to prevent an unlicensed forklift operator from operator heavy machinery in traffic. Either the contractor or the subcontractors should have conducted background checks to make sure that the people operating their heavy machinery had the required licenses and permits. Even a minimally rigorous job interview process would require employers to ask prospective employees to show their certifications to do the jobs for which they were applying.
Reach Out to an Attorney Today
If a family member on whom your family depended financially died in a preventable accident, a wrongful death lawsuit could help you recover the financial support you need. Contact Palm Beach County wrongful death lawyer Scott Smith for a consultation.