The California Highway Patrol says that a 10-vehicle collision on Highway 17 injured seven people and took the life of one man. The accident happened near Bear Creek Road shortly before 8 a.m. on July 10 and forced authorities to close the northbound lanes for nearly 10 hours.
The CHP did not release many details about the crash. However, the driver of the big rig involved in the accident described what happened. He said that his load was too heavy and his speed was too fast to stop for slowing traffic on the other side of the hill. The truck was pulling two trailers full of dirt. When the driver pressed the brakes, the truck did not slow down, and the brakes started smoking. His training taught him to turn into the guardrail to help the truck stop, which he did.
Despite the truck driver's efforts, the vehicle crashed into the traffic ahead. Along with the truck, nine other vehicles were involved in the accident. Seven of the vehicles' occupants were injured, including one who was hospitalized in critical condition. A 26-year-old man also died.
In traffic accidents that involve large commercial vehicles, the drivers of those vehicles or the companies that own the vehicles might be held liable for property damage and personal injuries. The family members of deceased crash victims might be able to recover economic and noneconomic damages via wrongful death claims.
Some of the economic damages that the families may recover might include funeral and burial expenses and the loss of income and household services. Compensation for noneconomic damages might pay for loss of moral support, companionship and affection.
Source: Official California Legislative Information, Code Of Civil Procedure Section 377.60-377.62
Source: KTVU, "All lanes reopen hours after Santa Cruz pileup on Highway 17", July 10, 2014