Truck Accident Lawsuit - News and Settlements
Truck Accident Lawsuit News: Texas Trucking Plaintiff Gets new Trial Over Improper Reference to Immigration Status
In 2013, Rosa Mendez was driving her car down a Texas highway when a large tractor-trailer driven by Javier Salinas and owned by Antara Trucking LLC swerved into her lane, striking her vehicle.
Following the accident, the truck driver Salinas apologized and admitted fault for the accident while Mendez stated at the time that she was uninjured. However, in the days the followed, Mendez began to suffer from back pain for which she sought medical treatment. She sued Salinas and the trucking company, and, at trial, her orthopedic surgeon testified that Ms. Mendez’s back pain was a result of injuries she suffered during the accident.
Prior to the trial, the judge had made it clear to the defense that there was to be no mention before the jury of the fact that Ms. Mendez was an undocumented immigrant, as such a revelation had the potential to be highly prejudicial while bearing little if any relevance to the matter at hand.
Despite these explicit instructions, during the trial, an attorney for the defense asked a rehabilitation physician whether the expert’s estimates of Ms. Mendez’s future medical expenses were based on the plaintiff’s remaining in the United States.
Ms. Mendez’s attorneys objected immediately, telling the trial judge, “It was pretty clear what skunk they were trying to throw into the jury box, I think, to everybody in the courtroom.”
On Thursday, June 14, 2018, a Texas appellate panel agreed, granting Ms. Mendez a new trial after finding that “[t]he question posed by appellees’ counsel to [a witness]—regarding whether his opinions assumed Mendez would remain in the United States—is highly problematic,” while adding, “we agree with Mendez that appellees’ counsel’s veiled reference to her immigration status was so prejudicial as to be incurable by an instruction to disregard.”
In a direct reprimand to legal counsel for the lower-court defendant, the panel wrote, “In light of the [trial] court’s pre-trial order, it is difficult to understand counsel’s question as anything other than a veiled reference to Mendez’s status as an undocumented immigrant.”
If you or a loved one are ever injured in a trucking accident, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com immediately for a free legal consultation! As this case demonstrates, your actions from the first moments following an accident can have serious implications for your entire case, so make sure you have a dedicated lawyer on your side right away!
Truck Accident Lawsuit Award: Family Awarded $90 Million In Texas Trucking Accident
In 2014, student truck driver Shiraz Ali was driving along Interstate Highway 20 in Texas. The weather conditions at the time were hazardous, with a frozen rain falling from the sky and black ice present on the roadways. Yet the vehicle Ali was driving, provided by Werner Enterprises Inc., lacked essential safety equipment that might have alerted him to these conditions, standard equipment like an external-temperature gauge or a radio. Apparently oblivious to the danger, Ali barreled down the highway at an average speed of 60 miles per hour.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the two-way road, a vehicle containing the Blake family lost control and veered into the pathway of the truck being operated by student-driver Ali. In the ensuing collision, Zack Blake (age 7) was killed. His sister, Brianna “Destiny” Blake (age 12 at the time of the accident) became quadriplegic, a condition for which she will require specialized, 24-hour care for the remainder of her life. Their mother Jennifer and brother Nathan suffered severe head trauma.
Such was the tragic tale told to Texas jurors by lawyers for the Blake family, ultimately resulting in a $90 million verdict against Werner Enterprises announced May 17.
While some of the facts—such as the presence of icy conditions—were disputed by counsel for the defendant trucking company, which continues to deny that its truck or its driver were in any way responsible for the accident and immediately stated its intent to appeal, representatives for the Blake family believe this very approach ultimately may have contributed to the jury’s verdict.
“I think [the jurors] got disgusted with it. What was striking to me was the arrogance of this trucking company to come in there and take the positions they did,” Chris Penn, attorney for the Blake family, told Law360, citing a number of company executives who testified that, because the company had done nothing wrong, there was no reason to make any safety changes. This is in spite of what Penn characterized as “amazingly poor” internal safety policies, particularly for one of the largest trucking companies in the United States.
If you or a loved one should ever be injured in a trucking accident, the experienced attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are standing by to provide you with a free legal consultation to discuss your rights. The trucking companies and insurance companies all have highly paid attorneys representing their interests, make sure you have an experienced attorney protecting yours! Remember TheLawFirm.com when you need a lawyer.
Truck Accident Lawsuit News: Tennessee Court Of Appeals Upholds Lower Court Dismissal Of Truck Accident Lawsuit
Once again demonstrating the importance of quality legal representation in every stage of the post-accident decision-making process, a Tennessee court of appeals affirmed a lower-court ruling dismissing the claims of a plaintiff trucker who alleged that a faulty axle caused the rollover accident that injured his wife, who was a passenger in his trailer at the time. Agreeing with the trial court judge and the defendant transportation company, a three-judge appellate panel found that the dismissal was proper in light of the vehicle having been scrapped before it could be examined by the defendants, essentially destroying evidence vital to the case.
Plaintiff John A. Gardner alleged that the tractor R&J Express LLC hired him to haul had an axle that had not been properly maintained, causing the vehicle to overturn while in motion at highway speeds, resulting in serious and permanent injuries to his wife and passenger Esther Gardner. However, his insurance company took possession of the trailer and sold it for scrap prior to its being examined by representatives for the defense. On that basis, the Court of Appeals found that it was within the lower court’s discretion to dismiss the case in its entirety.
“Without the ability to inspect the tractor at issue, the parties are placed in quite disproportionate postures,” wrote the panel in its decision, as reported by Law360.
This situation is yet another example of how our highly complex, sometimes-archaic legal system oftentimes relies more on idiosyncratic rules and procedures than simple notions of justice in reaching its conclusions, just another example why—if and when the time comes—it’s essential to have a knowledgeable, experienced, diligent attorney on your side. If you or a loved one should ever be injured in an automobile or trucking accident, call the team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com right away for a free legal consultation.
Hankook Tire Liable for $37 Million in Cement Truck Crash
On an otherwise-normal morning in 2014, Robert Benedict was on the job, driving a cement-mixer truck to his first stop of the day. Suddenly, a loud bang rang through the cabin. Unbeknownst to Mr. Benedict at the time, the tread on the front passenger-side tire had burst apart, causing an immediate loss in tire pressure that sent the cement truck veering uncontrollably to the right. The mixer hit an embankment and did a complete roll before coming to rest again in an upright position. In the process, Mr. Benedict suffered a severe spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic, likely to be wheelchair bound for the remainder of his life.
Despite his tragic tale, Mr. Benedict received some measure of justice when, on March 9, a jury in Virginia found Hankook Tire Co. Ltd.—maker of the problem tire on Mr. Benedict’s truck—liable for his injuries, awarding him nearly $38 million in damages. Attorneys for Mr. Benedict had argued that the tire’s internal components had not been bonded together appropriately during the manufacturing process, stating in the complaint that, “[t]he tire’s compromised integrity by virtue of inadequate bonding and adhesion predisposed the tire to failure by way of tread/belt separation during the service life of the tire.”
The defective tire was a Hankook Aurora TH08 Radial. The tire was manufactured abroad by the Korea-based Hankook before being passed on to its American subsidiary, who sold it to it a distributor. Benedict’s lawyers had argued vigorously that the defective product should never have been allowed onto the market, and apparently the jury agreed.
“Despite the defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the tire,” plaintiff’s counsel wrote, “the Hankook Entities sold the tire into the stream of commerce and breached the duty they owed to consumers and users of their products (including Mr. Benedict) to refrain from manufacturing and/or selling products that are defective and unreasonably dangerous for their foreseeable uses and misuses.”
Have you or a loved one been injured in a trucking accident? The expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are standing by now for a free consultation.