trucker asleep at the wheel while drivingOn June 30, 2015, at approximately 4:50 am, a family was driving East on I-20 in Merkel, Texas, a west Texas town near Abeline. The family was driving into the Dallas Fort Worth area and starting a road trip. The car in which our clients traveled consisted of the grandparents and grandchildren in the backseat. 

In the same area, there was an 18-wheeler towing its trailer west on I-20. The truck driver’s employer is notoriously known as a bad trucking company based in Rock Hill, South Carolina. One driver was driving while the other was sleeping in the sleeper. 

The truck driver fell asleep and lost control of his rig. This caused the 18-wheeler to go through the highway barriers and across the grass median into oncoming traffic, hitting the family’s car head-on killing everyone inside. 

How The Button Law Firm Helped A Texas Family Dealing With A Wrongful Death Claim Achieve Closure

To understand how we helped the family in this situation, we need to all understand what claims were involved when someone was killed due to someone else’s negligence. 

First, a wrongful death claim is separate and different from a loss of survivorship claim. Let’s walk through what they meant in this case and how we helped.

An example of a wrongful death claim is a father’s loss of his son and daughter. This claim covers what the father will be losing out on over the remainder of his life, not having his son and daughter.  In this case, our client wanted to make sure the trucking company knew the horror of losing a son before his time. 

A loss of survivorship claim on behalf of the estate is where we represent the executor of the estate going after the defendant for the deceased victims. Some members in the car survived for a small amount of time after the wreck. There were outstanding medical liens that we were able to reduce and resolve for the estate significantly. They had pain and suffering for the hours they were alive before passing. 

The closure the family needed to make all this work was to know that all medical bills and medical liens were paid for and know the truth about what happened in the wreck. We were able to show that the truck driver lied, and the truth was that he was 100% responsible for being a reckless driver. Once this was brought to light and confirmed, the family was able to be at peace that the truck driver’s lie was brought to light and resulted in holding the company accountable for its lack of safety-conscious drivers.  

How We Helped The Referring Personal Injury Attorneys in Texas?

The case was initially signed up by another personal injury law firm in Austin, Texas. They saw that the police report was clear and extensive damages when they got on the case. Thus, they called us to come on the case due to our experience in major trucking cases. 

As soon as we got involved, we sent a preservation letter to the trucking company and got an inspection with our accident reconstructionist at the scene. Our expert was able to reconstruct the entire wreck and show how the police report was wrong because the truck driver lied about what really happened. Instead of the “truck losing control due to weather-related conditions,” we discovered that the truck driver was over his hours-of-service limits, not paying attention, and fell asleep, causing his truck to go across the median and head-on oncoming traffic. 

Once we learned this, we immediately filed suit to make sure that we knew all the available limits on the auto insurance policies for the trucking company and truck driver. After receiving the commercial auto insurance policy, we took the trucking company’s corporate representative's deposition to ensure all the available insurance policies and assets. A Stowers demand was then made, which is a policy limit demand in Texas to make sure that insurance companies operate in good faith when dealing with policy limit cases.

We were able to schedule a mediation with all the different parties and their attorneys. At the mediation, we made sure that with the limited amount of insurance available for the significant losses here – an entire unit of a family – that all needs for closure were met. Continue reading how we were able to achieve closure for our clients after losing their son and daughter when there were so many claimants but a limited amount of available insurance.

The Full Policy Limits Were Paid On This Claim, But Was It Enough?

In the end, the total policy limits of the trucking company were paid in this case. However, we had to share parts of that with the other family member claimants. Our clients had some underinsured motorist insurance coverage (UIM) but not a lot. While we also obtained those policy limits, we were able to help teach our clients to go and get more underinsured coverage to protect their families and loved ones in the event of a tragic circumstance like this. We want our clients to go out and buy as much UM/UIM insurance coverage they can afford. The more, the better. Sign up for our VIP Program if you’d like my team and me to review your auto insurance policy and explain it personally. Please, please, please let us review your auto policy.  

Car wrecks can be overwhelming - that's why we created a guide to help you and your loved ones if you've been hit by a reckless driver. Download our guide below or contact us to have a member of our team send you your free copy.

Russell Button
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Dallas, Houston, and Midland Texas trial and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients' cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case.