Trucking Accident Leads to Huge Verdict: Jury Sends Clear Message
Accidents involving tractor-trailers can leave any victim and their family devastated. The size of these vehicles – which can be as much as 40 tons – makes them inherently dangerous for everyone else on the road, but other factors can make that danger even worse. Drivers are often under pressure to deliver their loads within a short period of time, which can cause them to drive somewhat recklessly. That sort of pressure can also lead drivers and companies to forego necessary maintenance, which can also enhance the danger.
Because of the danger tractor-trailers pose in the nation’s roadways, several agencies have been set up, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which has created a massive number of rules covering the gamut, from how long a driver is allowed to drive to requirements that all trucks be properly maintained to manufacturers specifications.
Well, one company working in the Eagle Ford Shale apparently didn’t heed the requirements requiring proper maintenance, and they’re going to pay big for it. In one of the largest jury verdicts in Texas history, Texas jury has awarded $281 million to the family of Carlos Aguilar, a man who was struck and killed by a drive shaft that broke away from a truck belonging to Heckmann Water Resources, a company operating in the region.
The huge verdict was rendered late on Dec. 5, after a trial in a case in which Aguilar’s family had sued the company and one of its employees, Ruben Osorio Hernandez, for an incident that happened back on May 29, 2012. On that date, according to the lawsuit, Osorio was driving a tractor-trailer belonging to Heckmann through Dimmitt County on FM 133. As he was driving along, the drive shaft broke away from the underside of the truck, and ripped through the windshield of a pickup truck in which Aguilar was a passenger, killing him. The lawsuit alleged that a lack of proper maintenance caused the drive shaft to break, and the jury obviously agreed. The jury found Heckmann negligent, but not Osorio. Most of the damages were compensation for Aguilar’s children, but the jury also awarded $100 million in punitive damages, as well.
In the aftermath of a tractor-trailer accident, families can feel very vulnerable, and allow trucking companies and their insurance carriers to get away with offering settlements that are far less than the families deserve. Too often, accident victims accept a settlement quickly, to get it over with, without talking to a Texas truck accident attorney. When that happens, they often find out the hard way that the money they received wasn’t nearly enough to cover their costs, let alone pay for their pain and suffering. Cases like this one should serve as a reminder that speaking to a Texas Truck Accident Attorney is worthwhile. No one can tell you they’ll get you a $281 million settlement, of course, but there’s a strong likelihood that a good attorney will get a lot more than the initial offer.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a large truck and suffered injuries or has been killed, contact the Texas Truck Accident Lawyers at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation.