Recently, an 18-wheeler rumbling along U.S. Highway 271 in east Texas veered across the center line and crashed into a car driven by a Mount Pleasant High School track coach following a school bus filled with students.
The head-on collision, which occurred in Talco, about 100 miles northeast of Dallas, killed both drivers and sent several students to the hospital.
Unfortunately, 18-wheeler crashes that result in death or catastrophic injuries are common. Within the last nine months alone, at least three Texas juries have awarded substantial verdicts to family members of people killed in 18-wheeler crashes.
- In March 2017, a Dallas County jury awarded a $6 million verdict to two Texas men who endured broken bones, multiple surgeries and lengthy hospital stays after a truck driver rammed the 18-wheeler he was driving into the rear of their pickup truck and other vehicles slowed or stopped to maneuver around a minor traffic accident.
- The truck driver was allegedly traveling at normal highway speeds when he “careened out of control” and plowed into congested traffic in 2014, according to the lawsuit.
- A jury found the truck driver, an independent contractor working for Olmsted-Kirk Paper Company, 70 percent responsible for the crash, which involved another vehicle. As a result, Olmsted-Kirk Paper Company was vicariously liable for its driver’s negligence.
- A Dallas County jury in Sept. 2016 awarded $35 million to the daughters of a 42-year-old nurse killed in a 2015 head-on collision with an 18-wheeler on an icy highway in Wood County.
- Velma Ruth Dismukes was killed instantly when an 18-wheeler that wasn’t equipped with snow chains slid across State Highway 11 and slammed into her car, according to the lawsuit. The truck driver was ordered to pay 10 percent of the verdict and his employer, AAA Cooper Transportation, was ordered to pay the remaining 90 percent.
- In July 2016, a Dallas County jury awarded $37.9 million to relatives of Manuel Galindo Camacho, a drywall laborer whose minivan collided in 2015 with a jack-knifed 18-wheeler blocking his lane on Highway 29 in Dallas County. The verdict was later reduced, with a final agreed judgment of $5.2 million.
- The truck driver allegedly failed to control his speed, according to the lawsuit filed by Galindo Camacho’s family, which also claimed that O’Reilly Auto Parts negligently hired, trained, supervised and retained the driver.
The High Cost of 18-Wheeler Crashes
The average 18-wheeler runs between 70 and 80 feet in length, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and takes 40 percent longer than a car to skid to a stop. The average car weighs between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds. When these disparate vehicles collide, injuries can be devastating.
The estimated cost of a large truck crash was $91,112 in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). In a 2009 report, the USDOT estimated the average cost of an injury crash involving a combination truck and trailer to be around $321,000. A fatal crash involving the same type of truck averaged $7.2 million.
Medical bills and expenses for brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, quadriplegia and other life-altering disabilities can be substantial, especially if those conditions render the accident victim incapable of working.
Most 18-wheeler crash lawsuits don’t go to trial. The cases are usually settled by the truck company and the plaintiff’s attorney. However, because high liability insurance amounts and large sums of money are at stake, most truck insurance companies won’t agree to a fair settlement without a fight.
That’s why 18-wheeler crash victims or surviving family members need to hire a qualified truck accident attorney to obtain just and fair compensation for injuries, pain and suffering and lost wages.