Truck Accident Lawsuit - News and Settlements
Truck Accident Lawsuit News: Texas Appellate Court Overturns Ruling in Truck Driver Death Accident
On May 30, 2012, Fabian Escobedo was doing his job as an oil-field truck driver, operating a Mo-Vacs 2007 Mack truck tractor that was towing a tank trailer. Suddenly, the vehicle changed direction, drifting across the shoulder to a grassy area alongside the road where it collided with a pole. In an apparent attempt to regain control of the vehicle, Escobedo swerved, causing the truck to roll over.
In the aftermath, Escobedo tragically suffocated to death in the wreck.
Following Escobedo’s death, his parents and sister sued Mo-Vac Service Co. Inc. alleging that the company had overworked the deceased trucker, causing him to fall asleep on the job and resulting in the fatal accident. They sued under the Texas Survivor Statute, which permits the representative of a decedent’s estate to bring suit for pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to his or her death.
In the case of Escobedo, his family claimed that the nature of the incident demonstrated that he had suffered prior to suffocating to death. First, they argued, Escobedo’s attempt to redirect the truck showed he had regained consciousness. Second, the nature of his death—suffocation—showed he had not died immediately on impact.
At trial, however, the court disagreed and dismissed the family’s suit, ruling that worker’s compensation was the appropriate venue for seeking recourse in such a case.
But on Friday, July 24, 2018, an appellate panel overturned that ruling, paving the way for a new trial under the Texas Survivor Statute.
Agreeing that there existed evidence to support the claim that Escobedo had endured pain and suffering prior to his death, the panel wrote, “The evidence showed that Fabian [Escobedo] took evasive action which caused the vehicle to roll over and that he did not die from his injuries but instead suffocated…This evidence constitutes circumstantial evidence that would allow reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions regarding whether Fabian was conscious after the accident occurred. And, there is nothing on the record indicating that Fabian died upon impact.”
The case will now return to the lower court for a trial on the merits.
If you or a loved one ever is injured by in a trucking accident, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com right away for a free legal consultation!
Truck Accident Lawsuit Settlement: FTS to Pay $101.1 Million Over Trucking Accident
In September 2013, Joshua Patterson’s vehicle was struck from behind by an 18-wheel truck. In the ensuing crash, Patterson suffered injuries to his spine that rendered him unable to work for the rest of his life, according to his attorneys.
In the aftermath of the accident, it was discovered that the driver of the 18-wheeler Bill Acker had been convicted of three moving violations in the year and a half before he was hired by the Fort Worth-based oil and gas shipping company FTS International Services LLC. Beyond that, Acker had been involved in three previous accidents while working for FTS and was on probation at the time the vehicle he was operating struck Patterson’s.
Acker also was discovered to have methamphetamines and marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. In 2011, a federal audit had accused FTS of failing to sufficiently drug test its drivers.
And, according to Acker’s testimony at trial, he had received no new driver training, defensive driver training, or drug and alcohol awareness training from FTS, despite his having signed a form stating that he had.
It all added up to what a spokesman for Patterson’s attorney has described as “one of the most egregious liability cases I’ve seen,” according to Law360.
On July 23, 2018, a Texas jury in Upshur County District Court agreed, finding the trucking company FTS liable for Patterson’s injuries and ordering the company to pay $101.1 million in damages.
Unfortunately, the situation represents an all-too-common occurrence in today’s trucking industry, in which many inexperienced, underpaid, and over-taxed drivers are tasked with meeting the increased demand and tight timetables of modern e-commerce.
“I think it exposes what’s going on in the trucking industry as a whole,” the spokesperson for Patterson’s counsel at Goudarzi & Young LLP said, per Law360. “The guy never should have been hired in the first place, per the company’s policies and procedures.”
If you or a loved one is ever injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation with an actual attorney!
Truck Accident Lawsuit Settlement News: Indiana Appellate Court Orders JB Hunt to Pay $4.8 Billion
Kristen Zak was a passenger in a vehicle traveling along I-65 in Indiana one day in 2006 when the car she was in struck a jackknifed big rig left behind from a crash that had taken place approximately an hour earlier. The semitrailer had been wrecked by JB Hunt driver Terry L. Brown, Jr., who failed to comply with company policies regarding securing the scene of the crash prior to leaving it. Properly securing the scene of the accident would have involved steps such as activating the vehicles emergency flashers or placing reflective triangles around the disabled vehicle to make the wreck more visible to other motorists.
In the accident, Zak suffered brain trauma and other serious injuries that left her permanently disabled. A jury later awarded her $19.5 million in damages.
On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, a three-judge panel for the Indiana court of appeals affirmed a lower court decision granting Zak’s guardianship an additional $4.8 million in prejudgment interest, finding that Zak’s lawyers had made a settlement offer within a reasonable amount of time after receiving critical documents from JB Hunt and that extended delays resulted from JB Hunt’s foot dragging in providing those documents.
Lawyers for JB Hunt had argued on appeal that the prejudgment interest was inappropriate because delays were due to attorneys for the plaintiff, who failed to make a settlement offer within a year of suing JB Hunt in October 2016.
But the Indiana appellate panel rejected that argument, finding that JB Hunt and not Zak’s attorneys were responsible for the delay. In fact, lawyers for Zak’s guardianship had made a settlement offer less than one week after receiving documents crucial to their case, the court found.
“The record further reveals that the guardianship made a settlement offer six days after receiving the last of the critical documents,” the appellate panel wrote, according to Law360. “The trial court, being in the best position to gauge the importance of the critical documents to the case, found that the guardianship made its settlement offer within a reasonable time after receiving the last of the documents.”
If you or a loved one ever is injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced attorneys at TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation with an actual attorney!
Truck Accident Lawsuit News: Recent Verdicts Have Experts Reexamining US Trucking Practices
As reported on TheLawFirm.com, in May 2018, Werner Enterprises was hit with a $90 million verdict by a Texas state court jury in Houston over an accident involving a Werner truck. The large monetary award has sparked a reexamination of trucking practices throughout the United States, with some experts citing worrying trends across the industry.
According to attorney John Jose writing in Law360 on July 18, 2018, trucking accidents resulting in fatalities have been on the rise since hitting a low point in 2009. In 2016, there was a 6% increase in deadly trucking accidents, with 4,400 large trucks and buses being involved in fatal incident in that year alone.
In the Texas case, a Werner student driver was rushing to make a delivery to California by the following day, traveling at unsafe speeds in icy conditions. This is in spite of explicit instructions in the Texas Commercial Driver’s License manual mandating that truck drivers “slow to a crawl” and promptly exit the highway in icy conditions. Had the driver followed these rules, it could have prevented the tragedy that occurred when the 18-wheel truck he was driving struck a pickup truck containing a family.
As Jose writes, “Unfortunately, Werner isn’t the only trucking company that allows student drivers to take the wheel with insufficient training. The question is, how are they getting away with it?”
Part of the problem, according to Jose, is a shortage of experienced truckers, forcing the industry into an overreliance on less trained, less experienced drivers. The issue is compounded by a sky-high 95% turnover rate, which is due largely to poor working conditions that involve low pay, long hours, and life almost perpetually on the road. Further, many experienced truck drivers are now reaching retirement age, further depleting the market for skilled drivers.
Many of the problems also arise from a cost-cutting ethos among trucking companies, who increasingly push their drivers to do more for less. As Jose points out, “As in every industry, the cheapest source of labor is in the entry-level employee pool. Carriers typically pay student drivers less than $10.00 an hour, significantly less than what a long-time driver would make.”
The shortage of drivers comes at a time when the shipping industry itself is booming thanks to the growth of online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, and shipping companies are facing increased demand to execute their deliveries on tight deadlines. Put together, these factors make for an increasingly dangerous situation on the roadways.
Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest legal news on trucking accidents, and if you or a loved one is ever involved in a vehicular accident, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com right away for a free legal consultation!
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.