Articles Posted in Wrongful death

Screen-Shot-2016-12-06-at-11.44.23-AM-300x175Picture the scene  in a small West Texas town after its small high school’s football team had just won a big playoff game. The mood was celebratory — until the worst tragedy imaginable happened. An 18-wheeler crashed head-on into a bus bringing the school’s cheerleaders home. The sponsor was killed and another adult and seven students sustained severe injuries. It was a Friday Night Lights nightmare.

The heartbreak and injuries from a truck or auto accident can be devastating. Then there are vexing questions for the injured persons, including who is at fault and who will pay for their medical bills, lost wages and damages. And how can we stop this from happening again so others are not injured or killed?

Here, could a median barrier have prevented the head-on collision, not to mention countless others?

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just released a report that shows the dangers of distraction and sleepiness on our roads.

More than one fourth of all 18-wheeler accidents are caused by driver inattention or fatigue. This is just what’s reported. Based on what I’ve seen as a personal injury lawyer, I believe the number is much higher.

I am filing suit on behalf of a woman who was seriously injured when a distracted tractor trailer driver shown here crashed into her vehicle and killed her boyfriend as they were at a complete stop on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth.

Several years ago, I represented the family of a young tow truck operator who was tragically killed when an 18 wheeler driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered off of I-35 north of Dallas-Fort Worth and crashed into another tractor trailer he was underneath.

In June, three people were killed on I-30 in Royse City in East Texas when a tractor-trailer veered into the path of another tractor-trailer. The eastbound travelling rig dragged a small car with it as it jumped the center median into oncoming traffic. The driver fell asleep at the wheel.

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Why are criminal charges so rare when drivers and trucking companies break the law?

As an early Christmas present to Tracy Morgan, the Wal-Mart driver who severely injured the comedian and killed his close friend was indicted yesterday. 

The driver was severely sleep-deprived and speeding at the time of the June 7, 2014 crash. Before beginning his long-haul shift, Kevin Roper drove 700 miles from his home in Georgia to report to a Delaware Wal-Mart. 

Roper raced along the NJ highway at 65 mph in a 45 mph zone moments before the crash. He also failed to heed multiple warnings about construction lane closures and resulting slow moving traffic ahead. Having been awake for 28 hours, Roper could not react in time to avoid hitting Morgan’s limousine. 


The devastating 18-wheeler accident did not result from a mistake, bad conditions or any other unavoidable cause. The collision was entirely preventable, except for the criminal conduct of the driver and his employer.

That a driver faces criminal consequences is very rare. People are injured and killed daily by negligent truck drivers who ignore speeding, distracted driving and hours of service laws, but drivers typically get a light reprimand and the company a small fine. Drivers and trucking corporations face no real consequences when the victims are less famous than the well-regarded Tracy Morgan.

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Synthetic drugs

Last year, when a truck driver killed four North Central Texas College softball players in a horrific traffic collision, I was appalled to hear the driver’s excuse. He claimed that he was distracted by something in the cabin. Why would that cause him to drive across the highway and cross over the median into oncoming traffic?

The real reason just came to light. Th truth is what you might have expected, but with this wrinkle: Russell Staley was high on synthetic drugs when he crashed into the NCTC bus.

Synthetic Drugs Put the Public at Serious Risk

For those who do not know what synthetic drugs are, they are chemicals that can be smoked or vaporized to cause elevated mood, altered perception and psychosis. Often the synthetic cannabinoids, a/k/a “fake marijuana” and “K2” also cause confusion, extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.

Until recently, synthetic drugs were openly sold at gas stations and convenience stores. The Texas Poison Center reported 464 cases of synthetic marijuana exposure in 2013 and that number increased by almost 60 percent to 782 in 2014. So far this year, poison centers nationwide have seen a fourfold increase in reported exposure, in part due to highly dangerous batches in Texas and six other states. 

Texas is behind only Mississippi and New York in numbers of K2-exposure cases reported to the poison control center. 

Make no bones about it, this is an extremely dangerous drug. And that a commercial truck driver would attempt to operate a tractor-trailer on this substance is nothing short of shocking.

Fortunately, a Texas statute banning K2 that took effect in September. Unfortunately, manufacturers change the chemical compounds regularly in order to skirt legislation. This makes the drugs harder to detect and harder to regulate.

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The employer of the tractor-trailer driver involved in a fatal Dallas accident Monday had numerous traffic safety violations. The Red Bird area accident tragically killed four people, including two children and a pregnant woman.

Southeastern AG Transport Inc. based in Rienzi, Mississippi transports lumbar, poles, beams, logs and other building materials. The company racked up multiple unsafe driving violations and speeding tickets. One of its drivers was involved in a nonfatal accident in August 2014 and another  was cited for using or being under the influence of drugs a month later. 

Inspection violations included inoperative turn signals, broken lights, unsecured vehicle equipment and worn tire treads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) violation records indicate that Southeastern AG Transport had enormous recent out of service rates of 33.3 percent for its trucks and 10.7 for its drivers. The national averages were 20.7 percent for vehicles and 5.5 percent for truck drivers. 

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Texas North Central Texas Softball Team

All Occupants of Team Van Were Seriously Injured in the Tractor-Trailer Wreck

The driver of a tractor-trailer was charged on Friday with four counts of fatal tractor-trailer accident occurred on Interstate 35 near Turner Falls in Southern Oklahoma. The North Central Texas College softball team was returning to their Gainesville, TX campus from a game they had played in Oklahoma earlier in the day. 

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Driver Failed to Slow Down in Stalled Construction Area Traffic

Two people died yesterday afternoon in a collision between a bus and a tractor-trailer in Central Texas. An additional 30 people were injured in the deadly crash. The initial collision between the passenger bus and the semi truck started a chain reaction that involved at least two other vehicles. Traffic had slowed due to construction on the highway. But the bus driver didn’t notice the delay and slammed into the back of the tractor-trailer, which then hit another 18-wheeler and an SUV.

The incident occurred in Weimar on I-10 about 85 miles west of Houston at 12.30 p.m. The Transportes del Norte bus is operated by the Turimex International division of Grupo Senda, a Mexican company that regularly transports passengers between Mexico and several U.S. cities. At the time of the accident, the bus was enroute between Laredo and Greensboro, N.C., carrying migrant tobacco laborers to the farms in that region.

Kevin Roper, driver in Tracy Morgan Wal-Mart truck crashSpeeding Driver Had Been Awake for More Than 24 Hours

A year ago this week, comedian Tracy Morgan and his colleagues were on their way home after a performance when a speeding Wal-Mart truck plowed into their limo. 62 year-old James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, was killed and 45 year-old Tracy Morgan was severely injured.

The popular star of SNL and Thirty Rock suffered serious traumatic brain injury, broken ribs and a broken leg. After a full year of extensive medical treatments and therapy, Tracy still has not been able to return to the stage. He made his first public appearance Monday and said he has bad days and good days. Although he continues to suffer from headaches and memory loss, Tracy told the Today Show host that his most difficult loss is the death of his close friend Jimmy Mack.

The fatal Wal-Mart accident might have been even worse. Tracy’s family typically travels with him to his comedy shows. But, fortunately, they remained home on this occasion. Otherwise, his children and fiancée may have been in the vehicle when the tractor-trailer plowed into them.

Confidential Settlement Agreement

Tracy’s settlement with the world’s largest retailer is confidential. Although the details are not public, Tracy expressed gratitude toward Wal-Mart, and the CEO of the company plans to make a personal apology, so these details give a small measure of insight into terms of the deal. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart settled with Jimmy Mack’s family for $10 million.

Driver Faces Criminal Charges, But What About Wal-Mart?

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Names Truck Driver and Trucking Company as Defendants 

An injured victim and her family in Sunday’s deadly 18-wheeler crash have filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer, Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc. The horrific Fort Worth big-rig crash killed five people and injured 12, most of them good Samaritans who had stopped to help the victim of an earlier accident.

It’s been a bad few years for the good citizens around here who help out other stranded motorists — witness the “affluenza teen” case where I represented a severely injured young man.

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Deadly Crash Killed Comedian and Friend of Tracy Morgan

Wal-Mart settled a wrongful death claim arising out of the June crash that killed James McNair and severely injured his friend comedian Tracy Morgan. The retail giant will pay Mr. McNair’s children 26 year-old Jamel McNair and 19 year-old Denita McNair in annuities installments starting at $3,000 per month and increasing over time for the rest or their lives. 

Although the settlement terms are confidential, the $10 million settlement amount was included in a motion for attorney’s fees filed by the McNair family’s lawyer in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court in New York where the 62 year-old father lived.

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