TT MaysTrucker Gets 20 Years for Hitting School Bus While Naked Wife in Cab

I am constantly surprised by what some truck drivers do while operating a 40-ton tractor-trailer. As a personal injury lawyer, I have handled many truck crash cases in which the trucker was texting, surfing the net, chatting on the phone, eating lunch, reaching down for a soft drink, and/or not watching the road in front of him.

Yesterday I wrote about a Fort Worth collision I’m filing suit over where the 18 wheeler driver was distracted and slammed into my client’s stopped SUV at 68 MPH.

But a Florida truck driver took distraction to a whole new level.

The 37 year-old truck driver plowed his log-hauling rig into an elementary school bus that had slowed to drop off kids. The driver was so distracted he failed to notice the bright flashing lights and the “stop” arm jutting from the side of the bus. No wonder!

After listening to the heartbreaking testimony of the seven severely injured school children on Wednesday, the judge showed the distracted truck driver no mercy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2014 crash. Continue reading

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 3.35.19 PMTruck crash cases are difficult high-stakes litigation that involve complicated liability issues and massive damage. Finding out what happened and who is responsible is the first step in filing a claim. Meticulously gathering evidence and presenting it in a way that jurors can understand are key to winning a tractor-trailer claim.

Since I’ve handled car and commercial truck crash cases for the past 36 years, This is a photo in a case I am about to file suit on where my client was seriously injured and her boyfriend was tragically killed.

I have refined investigative techniques and trial preparation to help my clients win the compensation they deserve. Here are a few things I do.

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CltCDBaUgAEx7PHPotential disaster averted

In a harrowing close call, an intoxicated truck driver was arrested early Saturday morning when witnesses spotted his tractor-trailer speeding down C.F. Hahn Highway in the eastbound lanes — going west.

The driver was pulled over at Buckner Boulevard where Dallas Sheriff deputies administered a field sobriety test.

Due to the quick action of the deputies — and luck —  nobody was hurt before the intoxicated driver was stopped.

Which company hired this man and allowed him to be driving a 80,000 pound vehicle drunk at 3:00 a.m.?

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fw-crash_1466449410250_3220112_ver1.0If you were driving anywhere in North Texas in the past few days, you may have gotten stuck in some lengthy back ups. Police had their hands full helping victims, clearing the wreckage and investigating two major truck crashes.

On Monday on Loop 820 in Fort Worth, a westbound tractor tumbled over the barrier and crashed to the ground level embankment between the two elevated lanes. The trailer teetered precariously along the edge of the guardrail for hours, with its back wheels still propped over the road. Here’s a photo of this crazy crash. Four people sustained injuries, one serious, but miraculously nobody was killed in the crash. Several lanes of the highway were shut down for hours while crews removed the Texas Lone Star Materials 18-wheeler.

On Tuesday there was a second catastrophic wreck between a dump truck, a trash truck and a tractor-trailer in Arlington. Tragically, the driver of the trash truck died in the crash. The trash truck was speeding around a corner when it clipped the tractor-trailer and overturned. The dump truck then rammed into the wreckage.

And I was just retained in a major collision case where a trash truck and truck collided in Fort Worth last week, causing serious injuries to two people. Continue reading

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You guessed it — Texas

Why do we manage to win the top spot in every category, year after year? And what are we doing about this horrific problem — if anything?

The latest available Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2014” statistics show that no other state comes close to Texas in these statistics. The crash data covers the decade ranging from 2004 to 2014.

Texas shockingly took the top spot every single year in every single category.

In 2014, the last year that tractor-trailer crash statistics are available,

  • 481 fatal tractor-trailer crashes in Texas had at least one fatality
  • 553 total fatalities resulted from Texas tractor-trailer crashes
  • 101 tractor-trailer deaths in Texas occurred from single-truck crashes
  • 380 fatalities resulted from multiple vehicle crashes in Texas

There is no reason other than 18 wheeler driver and company negligence that the number of tractor-trailer crash deaths increased by 77 percent in Texas since truck crashes hit a statewide and nationwide low point during the study period in 2009.

Across the United States, the number of fatalities increased from 3,211 to 3,744, only an increase of 17 percent.

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An employer can’t claim it didn’t know about driver’s past safety violationsdreamstime_xs_54664492

Employers cannot blindly hire truckers without reviewing their work history and safety record.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has detailed regulations to help prevent unqualified drivers from being hired.  This minimizes the possibility that a driver jumps from job to job to hide his history of crashes, safety violations, drug and alcohol use,  medical issues, or other problems that create dangerous driving conditions.

As an injury lawyer, I see companies failing to follow FMCSA regulations.

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dreamstime_xs_5561245Proposed New Rule Should Be Implemented 

You have probably experienced that terrifying moment when a tractor-trailer is barreling down on you at high speed. If you needed to apply the brakes in anticipation of a road obstacle or slowed traffic or the truck driver misjudged your speed, he couldn’t possibly slow down in time to avoid crashing into you.

Truckers need substantially more time than other motorists to stop because of the larger size and heavier weight of the vehicle. The faster the truck is travelling, the greater time needed to slow down or stop.

A three axle single unit tractor (GVWR more than 10,000 pounds) and trailer travelling just at 60 miles per hour with average brakes  needs up to 404 feet to come to a stop, compared to 246 feet for a standard size automobile. Of course, slick roads require even more braking time.

To force truckers to slow down, the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule that requires big-rigs to install speed limiters that limit the trucks’ speed to 68 mph.

It’s about time.
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dreamstime_xs_51904826Sophie’s Choice of Safety Funding

As mosquito season heats up, the buzz is on the Zika virus, which has made its way to the United States. Although the virus causes only mild illness to most infected people, pregnant women face the frightening prospect of infecting their babies, resulting in a severe brain defect called microcephaly. Already Texas has reported 35 cases of Zika infection, a number that is likely to grow without aggressive intervention.

So what does the Zika virus have to do with tractor-trailer safety?

If your first response is absolutely nothing, you are in theory correct. But, unfortunately, once again politics trumps common sense when you’re talking about public safety.

A new spending bill pits Zika intervention against a crucial trucking safety measure. Whether Zika prevention is funded rides directly on whether service of hours rules are relaxed. If Obama signs the legislation, the country will have the money to stop this devastating virus from spreading. However, by signing the bill, rules that keep sleepy drivers off the road will be suspended.

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dreamstime_xs_19279247Truck driver error was a critical reason for almost all (87 percent) of all tractor-trailer accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If we could improve drivers’ performance of their jobs, we could avoid thousands of tractor-trailer crashes every year.

Or maybe we could just cut out the driver altogether.

Although this may seem like a crazy idea, it is actually a viable solution to a serious problem. And this idea is closer than you may realize.

It was just announced that a Silicon Valley company is working on a self-driving big-rig that might be near completion.

And in an interesting twist, California laws forbid self-driving automobiles, so the vehicles will not likely launch in the state where they are being created. However automated vehicles are legal in Texas.

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dreamstime_xs_34071659Beyond Compliance Program Encourages Safety Investment

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a new rule to implement its “Beyond Compliance” program. A directive to the FMCSA to create the incentives program was included in the America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), passed in December 2015. The legislation requires the FMSCA to implement the program at least 18 months from the law’s enactment date.

Under the Beyond Compliance program, the FMSCA will either give a carrier credit through the new Beyond Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) or improve its Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile if the company:

  • Installs advanced safety equipment
  • Uses enhanced driver fitness measures
  • Adopts fleet safety management tools, technologies, and programs
  • Satisfies other standards determined appropriate by the Administrator

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