SpaceX Faces a $20 Million Lawsuit Over Fatal Car Accident

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SpaceX Faces a $20 Million Lawsuit Over Fatal Car Accident
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In June 2020, the Venegas family was camping on a beach when rising tides forced them to load up their family pickup truck and drive onto Highway 4 where they collided with a stalled 18-wheeler outside SpaceX’s launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Father and husband Carlos Javier Venegas was killed while Mrs. Venegas and their three children suffered spinal cord and orthopedic injuries. Almost a year later, the surviving family is suing SpaceX for damages caused by the crash, including the death of Carlos Venegas.

The lawsuit alleges that the collision was caused by gross negligence from SpaceX.

According to an article from WFLA News Channel 8, the court documents allege that “SpaceX failed to equip and update the highway to account for the heavy-duty and constant use… SpaceX should have added adequate lighting, warnings, and procedures to direct obstructive third-party delivery vehicles, so that beachgoers could travel through the site safely, especially at night.”

The crash occurred around 4am when visibility was likely poor, and the stalled 18-wheeler was not reasonably visible. However, this brings into question where liability sits, with the truck driver or SpaceX. The lawsuit alleges that SpaceX should have accounted for increased traffic during construction and therefore should have widened the two-lane highway rather than relying on local government to take the necessary measures.

The surviving Venegas family claims the truck was not visible at all.

Surviving members of the family continue to assert that they could not see the truck at all. With no reflective signage, lights, or other traffic safety measures in the area, at 4 in the morning, the family alleges the truck was all but invisible. These allegations seem to be supported by the fact that Boca Chica is a relatively small town, not prepared for the heavy traffic likely to be drawn from the construction of a large facility like SpaceX.

SpaceX argues that Mr. Venegas failed to operate the vehicle with reasonable safety.

Lawyers for SpaceX argue that Mr. Venegas was the negligent one in the accident and that he “...failed to use the degree of care and caution which would have been exercised by persons of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances, and was, therefore, negligent in the operation in question.” The Venegas’ lawyers argue that SpaceX’s drive for profits was what led to their negligence in maintaining the area outside their location where the accident occurred. An article from TechTimes notes that the narrow road on which the accident occurred was already subject to severe traffic jams and road closures and that the adjustment of the highway might not be the responsibility of SpaceX after all, but that of the local government.

These and other allegations will all be heard in court in the coming months to decide who was liable for the accident that took the life of Carlos Venegas and permanently affected the physical and emotional life of his surviving family.

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