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Pennsylvania man injured in crash

A 75-year-old Pennsylvania man was left in serious condition following a Dec. 17 collision with a propane truck. The propane truck pulled out of a driveway and collided with the man's vehicle, sending it into a ditch where the 75-year-old man became trapped.

A number of emergency personnel responded to the scene, including Pennsylvania State Police, volunteer firefighters and a volunteer ambulance service. Firefighters extracted the 75-year-old man from his vehicle, which had rolled onto its roof during the crash. The driver of the propane truck was uninjured. Authorities have kept quiet regarding details of the collision, including whether the drivers were wearing seat belts, whether alcohol is suspected as a factor in the crash and whether or not there was any propane leak at the scene.

There may be complicated questions of civil liability in a car accident like this one, which involved the transportation of dangerous materials. In order for the driver of the vehicle to maintain a personal injury suit for damages, he would most likely need to show that the crash occurred as a result of the propane truck driver's negligence. Ordinarily, the question of negligence depends on whether the defendant behaved as a reasonable, prudent person would under the circumstances.

In this case, however, the transportation of hazardous materials may subject a driver to a higher standard of care. Because certain materials, like propane, have a greater risk of causing injury, there may be additional legal obligations that apply to a person who transports those materials. In a case like this one, a court might want to know whether the driver of the propane truck was engaged in commercial transportation, took special precautions to secure the propane or received relevant training. All of these factors could influence a ruling on the propane truck driver's civil liability.

Source: The Meadville Tribune, "Cambridge Springs man in serious condition after two-vehicle crash", December 17, 2014

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Gregory R. Gifford
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