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Accident Lawyers Network

Friday, March 21, 2008

Woman’s Traumatic Accident Leads to Creation of New Law

An accident that occurred in February 2004 has ushered in the creation of a new law in Washington. Called "Maria's Law," it increased the penalty for causing injury or death as a result of failing to secure a load. Instead of being a minor traffic citation with a maximum $250 fine it is now a gross misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Maria's Accident

The accident was caused by a piece of particleboard from an entertainment system that had fallen from a U-Haul trailer onto I-405. The piece of wood became airborne and crashed through the windshield of 24-year-old Maria Federici's Jeep Liberty. It glanced off the steering wheel and hit her in the face. As a result of the accident, Ferderici suffered brain damage, the loss of both eyes, and her sense of taste and smell. She requires a service dog and looks little like she did before the accident due to multiple surgeries.

The entertainment system was secured to the U-Haul by improvising ratchet strips to the outside. This was done because there was a lack of internal tie-down points inside the trailer. The driver, James Hefley, rented the U-Haul and did not stop when the entertainment system fell out. He was eventually found through a thumbprint on the particleboard and arrested.

Verdict

A jury eventually found that both Hefley and U-Haul were to blame for the accident and awarded Federici and her mother $15.51 million. Hefley has filed for bankruptcy, and U-Haul is appealing the verdict. Federici's lawyer stated, "We believe this result is appropriate because U-Haul manufactured the unsafe open trailer and rented it to Hefley without any guidance on load securement."

Maria's Law has already been used in the prosecution of two men who caused a fatal accident as the result of an unsecured load.

If you, or a loved one, have been involved in an auto accident due to someone's unsecured load, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 11:42 AM

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