GRAY COUNTY, Texas—Bradley Ritchie, 31, died on August 24, 2022, around 5:05 p.m. after the service truck he was riding in rolled over into a ditch on US-60.
Police reports state that the accident occurred in a construction zone when the driver of a Ford service truck lost control, entered a side-skid, and rolled the truck. Ritchie was a passenger in the truck and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the service truck reported minor injuries. The driver also told investigators that he had lost control due to a problem with the front steering axle, noting that the vehicle’s wheels locked up while the truck was in motion.
No further information about the accident was immediately available.
Thoughts on the fatal truck accident and potential remedies for the deceased’s family
Given the severity of this crash, it is remarkable that the driver survived to explain what happened in the moments before he lost control of the vehicle. Otherwise, investigators might overlook the possibility of the truck malfunctioning as a potential cause of Ritchie’s untimely death.
Oftentimes, when a driver suddenly loses control of a vehicle, the crash is attributed to the distraction of the driver or some other outside force. Rarely do investigators independently determine the cause of the accident to be a system failure within the vehicle, especially problems with steering systems, since those issues readily appear as user error. Although authorities have not confirmed the driver’s statements, the validity of the driver’s statements must be determined before concluding that this accident was a driver error. As it stands now, this accident very well could be the result of a manufacturer defect, in which case, the manufacturer would need to compensate the victims appropriately.
If the driver’s allegations are true, the manufacturer and/or owner of the service truck may have to answer to Ritchie’s grieving family. The steering axle is an integral part of any truck, and to have such an important part fail is a clear sign of negligence by the vehicle manufacturer or the service company itself.
Private companies hiring service crew members are expected to maintain their trucks in a safe condition before sending crew members to work in the trucks. If the service company did not take proper precautions to ensure its vehicle was in working order, then the company would likely share in the responsibility for Ritchie’s death and the driver’s injuries. Alternatively, if the service company was unaware of a defect in its service truck caused by a faulty product sold by the manufacturer, then Ritchie’s family could pursue justice by bringing a direct claim against the truck manufacturer.
Either way, Ritchie’s family will need to hire lawyers specializing in accidents with large trucks and defective products so they may get all the answers needed to determine whether Ritchie’s death could have been prevented. Our firm has ample experience holding manufacturers liable for defective products and can help determine if those affected here have a right to recover under the law.