Truck Driver Rear-Ends Minivan, Man Dies: Part 1 – Driver’s Responsibility
This post is the first of a multipart series that examines the many facets of a personal injury and wrongful death case as a result of an accident involving a large commercial truck.
Resident of Bowie County, Texas, Sue Smith has filed a personal injury and wrongful death suit as next friend of Thomas Smith and as representative of his estate, and on behalf of herself against Bernard McDaniel and his employer, Dowell Transport, Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. Melanie Wagstaff is listed as a co-plaintiff in this suit. If you or a loved one has been injured in Texarkana, El Paso, Lubbock, Houston, or anywhere in Texas, please contact us for a free consultation.
18-Wheeler Hits Stopped Minivan
On June 25, 2013 at around 3 p.m., 73 year-old Texarkana resident Thomas Smith was driving a Dodge Caravan minivan on Interstate 30. Traffic slowed and Smith followed suit. An 18-wheeler owned by Dowell Transport, Inc. and driven by Bernard McDaniel hit Smith’s minivan from behind, causing fatal injuries to Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith was pronounced dead on the scene at 3:50 p.m. The driver of the 18-wheeler, McDaniel, was not injured.
Why is the Driver of the 18-Wheeler Responsible?
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The tragic death of Mr. Smith and the injuries of Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Wagstaff were likely avoidable. A rear-end collision is often the result of negligence on the part of the driver that does the rear-ending. The legal definition of negligence is very similar to the lay definition, which is almost synonymous with carelessness. Legally, according to common law, someone acts negligently when he or she fails to take reasonable care in a situation in which they have a legal duty. Said another way, a person behaves negligently when a reasonably prudent person would have acted with heightened care. As a driver, one has a legal duty to ensure that he or she does not injure others when operating a vehicle. For example, a reasonably prudent person would not have a cup of coffee in one hand and attempt to apply makeup in the mirror while driving. Further, a driver has a legal duty to obey all traffic laws. So, a reasonable law-abiding citizen would know not to text and drive, speed, or follow too closely in traffic. Otherwise, the driver is acting negligently.
In civil law in Texas, there is a civil concept called “gross negligence.” Gross negligence is defined in by statute as an act or lack of action that, according to an objective person, is extremely risky given the probability of injury, or given the magnitude of the injury that could occur.
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A reasonable person knows that an automobile of any sort is dangerous. Therefore, an objective person should know that a large 18-wheeler is more dangerous than a non-commercial vehicle. As a result, the driver of the truck had a heightened obligation to ensure the safety of those that shared the road with him. By negligently failing to slow down with traffic, Mr. McDaniel caused the death of Mr. Thomas Smith.
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We at Loncar Lyon Jenkins believe that drivers of commercial trucks should be held accountable for their failure to properly ensure the safety of those around them. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an accident with a truck, please contact one of our highly skilled and experienced attorneys for a free consultation.