Truck versus car accidents can be fatal or cause serious injuries to motorists because of the large size differential between trucks and cars. But truck accidents caused by a negligent truck driver can also be fatal to other truck operators. A Texas appeals court, in one case, affirmed a $16.5 million trial award to the family of a truck driver killed in a pileup accident.
2013 truck crash
The accident took place in Nov. 2013 in the early morning hours during winter weather conditions on I-40 west of Vega. A New Prime Inc. truck jackknifed. After it came to a stop, that truck blocked two eastbound lanes.
According to the lawsuit, the driver and co-driver of New Prime truck abandoned their vehicle without turning on lights, flashes, or flares. This caused a pileup involving other tractor-trailers and a van.
The victim was standing outside of another truck when he was killed. Two other occupants of a van were also killed in the pileup.
Wrongful death lawsuit
The truck driver’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and, following a trial, was awarded $16.5 million for mental anguish and the loss of past and future companionship. In upholding this multi-million award, the appeals court ruled that mental anguish claims did not require as much evidence as other types of damages.
The judge who authored the court’s majority decision wrote that, for surviving relatives, the emotional impact of the death of a beloved person is the most significant damages they can suffer. Proof of mental anguish in wrongful death cases does not require proof of sleeplessness, weight loss, nervousness, personality changes or other physical symptoms. Proof that there was familial relationship by itself establishes some evidence of the mental anguish experienced by a surviving family member.
This was not the only lawsuit stemming from this accident. In Nov. 2017, a jury awarded $22 million to the family of the two van occupants killed in this pileup.
Victims of an accident caused by a reckless or negligent truck driver, or their families, may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help determine liability and pursue their rights to compensation and damages in lawsuits.