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Chon Buri crash victims’ families can sue several parties: lawyers

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‘Clear civil law violations’ implicate family and employer of driver, insurance carrier.

THE FAMILIES of 25 people killed when a public-transport van and a pickup truck collided in Chon Buri province this month can seek compensation from various parties, including the late van driver’s family and his employer, according to lawyers. 
Law experts have pointed out that the affected families may even sue Transport Co Ltd, which partnered with the van driver’s employer to deliver services that turned deadly on January 2.
The horrific accident took place when the van belonging to Ployyok Limited Partnership veered out of its lane and crashed into the pickup travelling in the opposite direction. On impact, the two vehicles erupted in flames, killing 25. Two passengers survived. 
Each family of those killed will get Bt600,000 compensation through insurance coverage.
However, lawyers suggested that the relatives could sue for more damages from Ployyok and Transport Co.
Lawyer Akkharaphon Thuean-phueng, who is also an online legal consultant who operates the Facebook page “Drama Lawyer”, said the victims’ relatives could ask for compensation from three groups: the family of van driver, the employer of the van driver, and the relevant insurance company, as the accident involved a clear case of civil law violation.
Akkharaphon said the relatives had a legal right to ask for more compensation by suing the driver’s family and his employer.
“For the driver, he was dead at the scene, so the sufferers will have to sue his family for compensation and it will be his inheritors who will have to pay, but the amount must not be a larger than the sum of all the inheritances,” he explained.
“This way it is less likely that the driver’s family can afford the damages for all the victims’ relatives, so suing the driver’s employer will provide a greater chance to get the compensation. According to the law, the employer is also responsible for their employee’s action in such a case.”
The lawyer said the amount of compensation would depend on negotiation between both sides and would cover funeral expenses and lost earning opportunities.
Another lawyer, Kerdphol Kaewkerd, said that in such a case affected families could sue Transport Co – a state enterprise – for compensation as well, because it was the partner of the van operator.
“There are already examples of the Supreme Court ruling that the partner companies also have to be responsible for the damages. The clearest one was that if the private affiliated bus causes damages to others, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority will have to be responsible for the damages too,” Kerdphol explained.
“This is because the company [Transport Co] allows private companies to operate under its name and it has a duty to control the service of its partners.”
Both lawyers said the families could also sue the Land Transport Department if it was viewed that the authorities made a mistake in this case.
Kerdphol stated that if there was clear evidence that the Land Transport Department made a mistake that caused the accident, it would have to pay damages too.
Therefore, he added, the authorities should be strict with law enforcement to prevent future accidents and avoid being sued.

Published : January 11, 2017