What a tragic El Paso accident can tell us about truck drivers’ liability
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas is one of the most dangerous states in the country when it comes to accidents involving trucks and large vehicles. And given the increased dangers for serious injury when a large truck is involved, a high percentage of these accidents are fatal.
Tragically, these trends came to life in El Paso recently when a tow truck driver was run over by a semi-truck while working underneath the truck’s axles.
According to the El Paso Times, AD Towing & Recovery driver Carlos “Flaco” Olague responded to a call for help after a semi-truck driver attempted to turn out of a parking lot and got his trailer stuck on the sidewalk.
As Olague worked to help the truck driver dislodge his vehicle from the sidewalk, there was a miscommunication between the two, and the driver pulled the trailer forward while Olague was still working underneath the truck’s axles. The wheel of the truck crushed Olague’s leg, leading to serious injuries, and he died later that night in the hospital.
While the circumstances of this accident are tragic, similar events happen all the time around the country. At Harmonson Law Firm, we represent people every day in El Paso and Las Cruces who have been injured or lost loved ones as the result of truck accidents. We know how dangerous these large, commercial vehicles can be.
What can we learn from this news story about who is liable to pay damages for these accidents, and why they are unfortunately so common? Families often face serious financial and emotional losses when these types of accidents result in injuries or even fatalities. That’s why families often come to attorneys like our team at Harmonson Law Firm to make sure they are getting all the compensation they deserve.
Luckily, when the truck driver involved acted in a negligent or careless way, they might be liable for damages. The most common causes of truck accidents that result in catastrophic injury or death often have to do with negligence on the part of the truck driver or the company they work for. Here are some examples:
- Fatigue: Trucking companies often push their employees to work long hours with breaks few and far between, in violation of federal regulations. As a result, fatigue and drowsy driving are something of an epidemic in the over-the-road trucking industry.
- Speeding: Truck drivers also usually have tight deadlines that they have to meet, and as a result, they are often pushed to drive as fast as they can to get their cargo delivered on time.
- Driving under the influence: Whether drivers are using drugs to stay awake, taking over-the-counter medications that make them sleepy, or just drinking and driving, the influence of drugs and alcohol can often be a factor in these accidents.
- Distracted driving: Truck drivers use their cellphones while driving just like everyone else– but the consequences can be even more deadly when the distracted driver is behind the wheel of a semi-truck.
Those who are seeking compensation as a result of a truck accident often have to prove that one of these factors, or a similar act of negligence, was the cause of the injuries or loss that they suffered. In the case of last week’s El Paso truck accident, it’s hard to know who was responsible for the injuries that led to Olague’s death.
While it may seem like it was simply the result of a miscommunication, the truck driver had a duty of care to not injure anyone on the road, especially when he knew there was someone working underneath his vehicle.
The fact that the driver breached this duty of care may be enough to prove that he acted negligently, and is liable for Olague’s death– even if there’s no evidence that he was fatigued or under the influence.
In addition, the article in the El Paso Times makes it clear that Olague and the driver had difficulty dislodging the truck because the truck’s landing gear was down. If this problem was the result of a mechanical malfunction, it could be that the truck’s manufacturer or the company responsible for the truck’s upkeep could be liable. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to a trucking accident, you may be wondering what you can do to seek compensation for your losses. Once you’ve gotten medical attention, filed a police report, and taken all the usual steps after a car accident, here’s what you need to do:
- File an insurance claim, even if you suspect you may need to go to court
- Contact an experienced truck accident attorney
- Begin gathering evidence that will help you to determine if the truck driver or trucking company acted negligently:
- Driver hour logs
- Prior violations by the driver
- Accident-site drug testing
- Event data recorders
- Dashboard cameras
It can be difficult to determine who is liable for a truck accident because there are so many factors and parties involved. That’s why you need an attorney with years of experience representing victims of truck accidents in Texas and New Mexico. Contact Harmonson Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your case today.